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Ary the Grey

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Everything posted by Ary the Grey

  1. Minor fix, I forgot we also determined that using purified cortosis in weapons or bullets is overpowered and prohibited.
  2. A section has been added for Cortosis under the miscellaneous rules. These are subject to change slightly as we are also working on rulesets to add currencies, an OOC game economy, and properly gate these rare materials. More to come.
  3. I want to announce that Bobby is once again a RP mod. Unfortunately, Courtney has had a lot of RL crap going on, and in the interest of keeping things going in the Mod planning areas Bobby has stepped up to carry her load. Thank you for the job we know you'll do well, brother.
  4. This is a placeholder post for the rules of the forum. Ailbasi will likely delete this in the future and add his own rules post, but for now know that this is the official Crucible forum! It is designed to afford instant access to PvP scenarios that you can drop in on whenever you want, and then make PvP progress in the bigger RP forum as a result. Most of the PvP will happen here from now on as I understand it, at least the larger battles, so people will no longer have to worry about a huge fight breaking out on their current location. But where and what is the Crucible? That's a good question! It's supposed to be a newly discovered region of space hotly contested over due to an abundance of rare and valuable resources, but may at times also incorporate planets already in the RP! Until we finalize a rules post, bear with us, we guarantee we have everyone's best interests in mind over all this.
  5. This forum will be the new home of the combined Beta/Duel Sim forums. This is a placeholder post for the rules for the forum. Basically, nothing written in this forum can contribute in a tangible manner to the PvP aspects of the main forum. This means training, creating or finding weapons, armor, or ships, or other significant PC or Faction activities that are more than simple narration are prohibited in this forum. You can tell stories here to simply tell the story, allowing emotional character development, or you can have stories that don't relate to the RP at all (simulations). Any stories that do relate to the RP exist in the future in relation to the "current" time IC, and when the story is completed here you can have the related characters "time warp forward" in the RP, by referencing going to wherever the start for the story here would be, then immediately jumping to its conclusion. How does that work with the timelines of other characters who didn't participate? Wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey, that's how. This post will be condensed into a more coherent form in the future, but for now them's the rules. If you want meaningful PvP, that will be directed to the Crucible forum from now on. This is all subject to change because the Mod team is still trying to analyze the fallout from all these changes, but easing ourselves into it should allow for enough early warning indicators to either fix things as we go, or turn back and reverse course should the worst happen, so for now have fun with it!
  6. This boardwide is now concluded, you may go about your galactic business as normal. I know I jumped post order a bit with Kain's death, but at the same time I wanted it to end immediately with that in order to minimize the inconvenience this placed on narratives because of the downed intergalactic comms. Thanks for participating, I hope you guys had fun!
  7. Table of Contents 1. Introduction 2. The Sheet 3. Blank-by-blank Walkthrough 4. IMPORTANT! Completing your Application to the RP ---------------------------------------------- ----- 1. Introduction ----- ---------------------------------------------- Before you can post in the RP, you must fill out a character sheet and a ship registration (if you would like a ship). Details listed will be available to help inform other players about your character, as well as inform Mods of useful information in the event of a ruling. To create your character sheet, create a new post in this forum, and title it "____'s Character Sheet," Then follow the instructions for filling out the sheet itself listed below. Please take care to read the ENTIRE thread before Posting. Rules to consider: 1. Until you have leveled at least one character to Knight rank (or equivalent), you are limited to one character at a time. You may scrap a character and start again, but you may only have one character. This is to help ease newer players into our setting. As such, these characters also may not start with any Force training or functional lightsabers. Lightsabers will be built IC during FU training at the Master’s discretion. 2. Players who already have a character at Knight rank (or equivalent) or higher may make new characters starting at that equivalent rank. These characters are restricted to generic backstories, i.e. no justification for preexisting exotic powers or abilities. FUs can have a moderate command of the Force appropriate to someone just promoted to said rank. Exotic powers and the like must be trained IC. 3. You may not play a canon character, nor be related to any canon characters. You may not own unique canon items, including but not limited to singularly unique droids from canon and relics from canon characters. 4. Several species are banned from the RP due to incompatibility with the setting or mechanics of the RP. Such species include Celestials, Yuuzhan Vong, and others. Check with a Mod to see whether the species you wish to play violates this rule, as new species are added to canon commonly. 5. User accounts are to be for one active PC at a time. Create different user accounts for additional characters. 6. Last, but certainly not least, SPELLING AND PUNCTUATION MATTER. Remember, your sheet is for everyone else to reference, make sure it looks good! You don't have to use our format, but all fields on our blank example sheet MUST be on your sheet. -------------------------------------------- ----- 2. The Sheet ----- -------------------------------------------- ____'S CHARACTER SHEET Identity Real Name: x A.K.A: x Homeworld: x Species: x Physical Description Age: x Height: x Weight: x Hair: x Eyes: x Sex: x Equipment Clothing or Armor: x Weapon: x Common Inventory: x Faction Information Force User, Force Sensitive or Non-Force User: x Alignment: x Current Faction Affiliation: x Current Faction Rank: x History Force Side: x Trained by: x Trained who: x Known Skills: x Background: x Ship Registration Name: x Class: x Model: x Manufacturer: x Length: x Armaments: x Armor: x Anti-Personnel Defenses: x Modifications: x Appearance: x ---------------------------------------------------------------- ----- 3. Blank-by-blank Walkthrough ----- ---------------------------------------------------------------- ____'S CHARACTER SHEET Identity (Basic Info) Real Name: Your character's Full name A.K.A: Any aliases you might have, including nicknames, fake ID's, etc (optional) Homeworld: What Planet your character was born on (optional, but clarify "unknown" if that is the case) Species: The Star Wars Universe contains innumerable species to explore. If you're using one that may be a little obscure, a link is appreciated by the mods, but not mandatory. If you are not playing a distinctly canon species, you should describe in detail how you wish to present this species. Some species possess game breaking traits and the mods reserve the right to disallow them. Special cases regardless of good intentions are frowned upon. Physical Description (You should include all information somebody may be able to discern from a glance. Some species have no hair, some are covered head to toe in it. This form doesn't have to be static. Feel free to edit the blanks to better suit your selected species, and provide extra detail where it isn't easily assumed.) Age: Height: Weight: Hair: Eyes: Sex: Equipment (Things you use on the battlefield are the ones that mods needs to know the most about. Descriptions are never penalized for brevity, so long as the information is accurate.) Clothing or Armor: What your character wears most often. Weapon: The weapons you carry on you. Common Inventory: Items the character carries most of the time. Most characters like to have a comm, for example. Faction Information (This section will describe where your loyalties lie, and how high you rank) Force User, Force Sensitive or Non-Force User: Force capable beings with no training and new characters fall into the Force Sensitive category Alignment: Is the character Good or Evil? Lawful or Chaotic? Perhaps neutral? (optional) Current Faction Affiliation: New Characters should place the faction they would like to Join in this box. Current Faction Rank: New Characters should place "Hopeful" in this box History (Some of the following categories may not apply to you at all. All are optional, but sometimes appreciated. Detail all the following at your leisure. This is also a good place to add any categories you feel are important info about your character.) Force Side: Light or Dark Trained by: Mostly applies to Force Users, but is available and Encouraged for Non-Force using talents you may have been tutored in. Trained who: Ditto^ Known Skills: Anything you would like to make known about your character to help keep other players informed about what you could do for them. Examples might include the ability to build ships, weapons, armor, slice computers, heal wounds, hunt bounties, etc. Listing Force powers, even as their own section, significantly helps the mods get a feel for an FU character's training and focus. This also applies to NFUs and their skill sets. Background: Stay consistent with the feel of Star Wars, and remember that backgrounds build foundations for characters to do interesting things, rather than backgrounds making characters interesting. Ship Registration (Ships are useful. Most threads are a planet unto themselves, so you'll need one if you want to go very far. Public transit is available on many worlds in the Star Wars Universe, but won't get you everywhere. ) Name: Your ship's name Class: Is it a Fighter, Freighter, Shuttle, Yacht, Cruiser, Infiltrator, Interceptor, Bomber, Tanker, Transport, or something else? Use this to indicate what your ship was designed to do best. Model: The series of ship it is. Manufacturer: Where was it made. Length: How big is it? Armaments: What weapons your ship has. Armor: All ships have a certain amount of armor to withstand the rigors of space travel. Improved armor can be used to make a ship more resilient to specific hazards. Anti-Personnel Defenses: What's to stop somebody from stealing your ship? Modifications: If your ship is canon, and not custom made, you should indicate deviations from the standard design. Also, modifications you've made since its initial creation should be noted in this section. Appearance: What's does it look like? Any Identifying marks? What color is it? Do you have a picture (optional)? ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- ----- 4. Completing your Application to the RP ----- ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- If you fail to complete this step, you will not be able to post in the RP! Once you have completed your character sheet PM a Moderator (or DM them via Discord) to review your character sheet. You may also want to post in one of the "I want to be a..." threads, to help notify the players in that faction that you exist. A moderator will then review your sheet, and if all is in order, you'll be accepted. If this is your first character, an Admin will need to add you to the proper usergroup, but this is a one-time thing if you choose to link future accounts for ease of posting. After you're accepted DON'T ABANDON YOUR SHEET! This is not just your ticket into the RP, this is your character's profile. Keeping it updated with current information will help other players interact with you more appropriately. Mods also regularly look at this when something about your character comes into question, so detail and accuracy will help them make a more informed decision. If something major happens, update the sheet! (Original post by Kakuto Ryu in '09, heavy edits made by handofthrawn and Ary the Grey since)
  8. The Phoenix Named Academia In a class today we discussed the current college scandal surrounding the ACT and several prominent actors bribing their kids through programs to get college degrees and how all of that relates to brand and authorhood vis-a-vis Derrida. It's okay, take a breath, I ran out of air writing that as I'm sure you all ran out reading it. One of the main thoughts I had for that discussion that I didn't really bring up was how it is a large indicator of a coming implosion of the collegiate system. As I relate things best when I frame them from my personal narrative, I'll start there. Firstly, I don't value my degree. I see college as mostly a scam, evidenced by tuition rates inflating far above the actual currency inflation rate. I could go into depth on what the economical implications are from all this, but we can skip that if you accept a simple premise: colleges are greedy and fleece their students for all they're worth, whether that be through federally backed student loans or hundreds of absurd fees inside and outside of tuition costs that all go to services you might not even see in your tenure at the University. I had to sit through so many classes that taught me next to nothing or were simply a reading list I wouldn't have otherwise bothered with with a bunch of empty discussions (not this class) or were designed for first year college students and catered poorly to nontraditional students like myself. On top of this the students get to deal with curriculum pushed on the University by lobbyists pushing sub-par material that look great on paper but sometimes function inadequately in the classroom. All of this costs me time and money, teaches me little of value, and serves to delay my ability to make money in the long run. So, I don't value my degree. What I do value is the majority of potential employers who do value that degree for one reason or another, and are willing to pay me [more] as a result. That gives the degree value whether or not its actual tangible value is heavily watered down or not. It is thus worth examining why they value that degree. Many arguments can be made here as to why. It could be more a residual sociological function in that it once held great value so there is an assumption that even watered down it still holds significant value. It could be that many employers cling to the conception that college is still like when they attended: relatively cheaper and far more valuable. It could also be more of a pyramid scheme psychological effect, that because the last generation had to go through college, to keep their own degree valuable employers need to screen for one to thus maintain their own value. Whatever the reasoning (and there are many), the phenomenon persists, and because there is no regulation on rising tuition costs colleges are free to continue exploiting the system. Here's where we get to legitimation and authorhood. What happens when degrees become so watered down that anyone can get one if they have the money (or are willing to take on the debt) to get one, regardless of if they learn something or not? What does that say about academia at large if they are willing to allow this erosion of their own institutions? Of course the counterargument here is that these people were caught and will be punished, but will it really come off as punishment for those who have the power and wealth to shrug it off? As I pointed out in class as well, cases like these are also the very tip of the iceberg. Guaranteed there are thousands if not tens of thousands of "students" pouring through colleges every year, getting "paper degrees," that is, degrees that only hold value in the paper they are printed on. These degrees serve no other purpose than to secure a cushy job in some business the family has pull in, and the dynasty cycle continues. Eventually, this erosion will cause the system to collapse in on itself, and the institution of college as we know it will cease to be. It will either undergo vast reformation over a long period of years (more likely), or given a sifficient catalyzing event will collapse completely as the public loses trust in Universities and the degrees they offer. They will have delegitimized themselves, and their brand, their authorhood will become worthless. The real question then becomes how will we quantify knowledge and academic achievement? Who will measure what it means to be smart or an expert? I don't expect an answer to those questions, but if one pays attention to them and gets a proper feel for which way the wind shifts when it happens, they will likely stand to make a great deal of money. If there is so much money to be made from students, which is literally the money gateway helping to legitimize degrees, then guaranteed money will be involved in the new legitimation schema, whatever that schema winds up being.
  9. JediRP.net holds itself to MPAA PG-13 guidelines, meaning: A minimal amount of swearing. No explicit or excessive drug references. Absolutely no pornography. No obscenely graphic pictures. Don't troll, don't start fights, basically don't be an asshole and we'll all get along. If you have a problem with another member, try to talk it out with them, but failing that or if you are uncomfortable doing so, please talk to a staff member and we will do our best to handle the issue. Please post only relevant topics and replies in appropriate areas, don't make posts with only a few words or smilies/images, and don't endlessly interact with yourself via an alias in a thread somewhere. Such actions are considered post count inflation, and can result in a ban. Spamming the board warrants an immediate ban without warning. Don't attempt to subvert the rules or site settings (such as bypassing profanity censors). Such actions warrant an immediate ban, up to and including a permanent ban. We have a silly forum for nonsense if that's what you like, found at The Crazy Corner. However, we ask that you keep things entertaining as opposed to gibberish drivel. Your first account is considered your 'main' account, all accounts made after it are 'aliases' and can be linked to your main account. Please only use one account for OOC posts, as otherwise it can get really confusing when trying to figure out who is saying what! This site has a number of off-site areas, such as our Discord server. These rules also apply to those areas. In addition, if any action you take subsequently reflects poorly on the site or causes excessive drama, you may be subject to punishment.
  10. Started from the bottom, now we're here, am I right? When the site first started out, most of the community used AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). Yuck, right? Then for a while we came together on Facebook, but now with the site upgrade we've integrated a Discord server directly into the site! A lot more chatter happens there than you might think. Early prototypes of rules changes, faction strategizing, polls, and easy access to staff are just a few of the reasons you should jump in on the fun with the rest of us! Find it too difficult to navigate the widget? Below is a direct invite link that'll open it in your browser! https://discord.gg/bJU6axy Check it out today!
  11. This is just a placer post for the upcoming site rules, which will see a significant trim to what they were. For now, don't troll, don't curse excessively, and be friendly. The staff will only bring out the ban hammer for good reason, but believe me we aren't afraid to use it.
  12. Final Solution: Thanks to everyone who played! The winner, as of 4 March 2019 12:27 CST, is Chad Griffith! Congratulations! First, the cipher: ".8.20.20.16|0.3-15|12.15-14-0.19|12.1|19.8.0.19|12/1|19-8-0.5|14.3-15|4.5-4.16.1|3.11-5.20.0|4.15.20|0-10.5|4-9-18-16|0.4-15.20|0.14|5/20|0.19.12.1.19-8|0-5-14-3-15-4|5/4|13.5.19-19-1-7|5-0.4.15.20.0|20/24|20.0.16.18.1-9|19-5.0.20.15.0|20/8|5-0.15|14/3|15-13-9.14.7.0|4-1-18-11-14.5|19/19|0.6.15.18.0.25|15-21-18-0.4.5|1/20|8.19.0.2.18.9|14-7.0.19.1.12|22/1|20.9-15-14" (no quotes) The last part to the solution, basically the cipher itself, deals with two kinds of encryption. The first, which I suspected would also be cracked first, was the simple alphanumeric substitution cipher, better known as A1Z26, where each letter is associated with a number based on its order in the alphabet. A is 1, B is 2 ... Z is 26. That message spells out (using 0 for spaces): "HTTP COLON SLASH SLASH ENCODEDPACKET DOT JEDIRP DOT NET SLASH ENCODEDMESSAGE DOT TXT PRAISE TO THE ONCOMING DARKNESS FOR YOUR DEATHS BRING SALVATION" And honestly, I had to pad the message a bit, but I'll get to that later. The message at the end was mostly to keep in the theme of things. The URL takes you to yet another .txt page, with the following message: "Very good. You managed to crack the encryption. But you can only stop me at the source, and you don't know where I am, do you? Ironic, since you already have all the tools you need. Should you try and stop this, I will not go quietly. ((Congratulations! If you made it this far, PM Ary the Grey the passphrase "KainDomination", and the location where he's hiding (if you managed to find it!). When the first person posts on the planet he's hiding on, the last phase of the boardwide will start! People will have up to a week to join (and may fast travel under the assumption that they too have cracked the code), at which point the final battle scenario will start! And don't worry, the good guys always win...right?))" But...the location itself was still hidden. In fact, there were symbols between the numbers in the cipher, and when extracted reveal morse code that when translated reveal the location where Kain is hiding from. I wanted both pieces to verify people had fully and truly solved the puzzle. The decoded message is as follows: "HAPES GALLINORE 40 26 46 N 79 58 56 W" This lists a speecific planet in the Hapes Cluster, Gallinore, and Latitude/Longitude coordinates. That's what I was looking for! And with that, the final event has begun! When your character arrives, they will find a very large warehouse on the edge of a small village, that seemingly was built by unknown contractors. The local populace doesn't know much about it, and all ties to it have been covered up so deeply that nothing can really be learned about it should people try to take the traditional route. Inside is a maze of computer banks, wires, transmitting equipment, and self-contained power generators. At the center of it all, like the conductor of an orchestra, is the menacing digital maestro himself. One thing is clear, it is time to end this threat to the galaxy. Kain cannot be allowed to bring his plans to fruition.
  13. In light of the galactic situation, hyperspace courier droids have now reached a premium price. The Sith, who were not poised to take advantage of this, and furious at Kain's betrayal, now throw their hat into the ring. Their message, delivered to similar destinations as the GA message, is as follows: "The Sith Empire will not sit idly by as some droid plays at godhood, terrorizing our subjects. Our own research and history with the being have yielded results, but now even we find ourselves at a standstill. We believe the AI, Kain, is using a combination of simple encryptions for simple decoding and ease of processing speed. He nests these dual encryptions together to make it seem like the code is harder than it is, when the reality of it is it's more of a binary message, having two parts. Our scientists are having difficulty figuring out what specifically is each part of the message, but they assure me that the entire message is important. Do with that what you will. The Sith will keep working to ensure the strength of our Empire will never falter."
  14. Since Sheog managed to crack the code and unlock the first phase of the puzzle (which doesn'tinclude that creepy ass video, lmao), I'll go ahead and put the solution here. !!!SPOILERS AHEAD!!! Firstly, there is a QR code hidden in the image in the bottom left corner, transparent and color matched to fit in with the normal site background. If you click on the pic (which is what the "heretic" aurebesh was for, a red herring to get people to inspect the picture), it puts it onto a darker background, and you can clearly see it. Secondly, there are letters in Kain's message corrupted with the zalgo font. Some of the corruption points up, some of it points down. If you follow the QR code, it takes you to a website: http://ENCODEDPACKET.jedirp.net/ENCODEDPACKET.txt This website requires a login, via username and password. If you noticed the corrupted letters, though, and realized they spell something, then they reveal "kaineternal" for the up letters, and "darkness" for the down letters. These happen to be the username (up) and password (down) for the site. What happens when you login? You see what Sheog posted. But what does it mean? We're so close, I can smell it!
  15. Hyperspeed capable courier drones are sent out across the galaxy to major places of academic study and government agencies, bearing the following message. "The GA has been working long and hard at breaking Kain's encryption. Our top analyst has been focusing on the picture itself. He believes Kain has added an obvious sign to distract away from something else, something...invisible. Our instruments are incapable of detecting such an anomaly, but perhaps others in the galaxy might have luck?" ((And just a quick note, there are no clues in these OOC tags. You're all also free to post your observations or findings here, no Matt how minimal, to help out anyone else working on the puzzle, but remember, there's only one winner at the end!))
  16. D̪̮̩enizens of the gala̠͚͔̱̩̟xy, kͫ͊ͣ̓ͦ̓neel in humility. Your ã̂͂̈̑ͤ͂rr͇̩̹̱̤̰͓ogance i͛ͨ̎n your n͗̓͒̿̊͒aiveͤ͂̎̽ͯte has caused you t̑̿ͧ̊̚o be̾͋̅̒ͨ judged, and your̾́̍ huddled masses have been̊̏̆ͦ̇̏ͭ found la̒ͥ͛̆͌ck̻̭̭̝̥͕ing. Lay lͭ̾̈ow your arms, and despair, for the hour of your judgment is n͓͉̰igh. Esche̹̬͉̦w your dreams̪̗̫̦͖, and give yourself to darknes̼̮͙̠̼̺ͅs everlasting. ((Welcome to the first ARG boardwide event! AVATAR Kain, operating from a hidden base, has hacked into the galactic communications networks by inserting trojan software in just about every communications hub across the galaxy. As of right now, all intergalactic communications are shut off until the end of the event, as well as any device (to include starships) equipped with a long range comms or holonet uplink. The devices will immediately power back down upon reboot unless the communications systems are bypassed, which should only take about a post to accomplish. Normally this isn't possible, but Kain is a high-level AI, and has had help from a terribly dark and powerful source. However, his hack wasn't perfect, and he's left traces of clues in his haughty broadcast that you can use to uncover his hiding place and put a stop to his plan! You already have everything you need to begin! A few notes: first, as of now Kain is an antagonist NPC. He will no longer hold PC status, and can be used as a villain in any plotline after this boardwide. I would prefer you coordinate with me for use, as I'd be more than happy to play him myself, but anyone is free to use him. Secondly, all the breadcrumbs have been laid out well in advance. You are free to work together or by yourselves (I recommend posting your progress here to help others out). Lastly, this ends when the first person posts IC in the correct thread 'finding' his location, triggering the final encounter and allowing anyone to fast travel to the location to join in the beat-down if they so please, with the justification that the character has also solved the puzzle. The 'winner' of this game, that is, the first person to find the 'end' and follow the instructions found there, will also receive a custom creation from yours truly. Good luck and have fun!))
  17. The Sunshine Cowboy and the Sweetpea Princess A long time ago, before the records of men, there was a kingdom ruled over by a ruthless king. King Balachor had once been benevolent and good, but his queen had died giving birth to their only child, a beautiful daughter. The death of his queen took a heavy toll on Balachor, and though his daughter the princess was beautiful and pure, his heart hardened to the world, and became cold as ice. Out of fear that one day someone would come and take his princess away from him, Balachor had the princess locked away in his castle, giving her only enough freedoms as he thought were safe. The princess grew up afar from the subjects of the land, only seen briefly through the castle windows, or from far below as she stood on high balconies. Despite this, rumors circulated that her beauty was legendary, and those who were lucky enough to catch these sights named her Princess Sweetpea, for those brief glimpses of her beauty were far sweeter than any food the subjects had ever tasted. Many suitors came from across the realm, lords and knights alike, to beg the king for the hand of the princess in marriage. But all of them were refused, and exiled from Balachor's kingdom. If any were to set foot in the lands Balachor controlled ever again, they would be beheaded. In this way, Balachor struck fear into the hearts of those who might take his Sweetpea from him. One day, a farmer from a neighboring kingdom visited Balachor's castle, looking for someone to buy his cows. He was a young and rugged man, used to having to work for his daily meal. His hair was a brilliant golden blond, and when he took off his hat on a clear day it lit up in the sunlight, as if he wore the sun itself on top his head. It was a warm day in the summer, and as he rode up to the gates, he noticed a fair figure looking down at him from a balcony far above him. The farmer was immediately enamored, and knew he must remember to ask the king about her. Finally, he was granted an audience with Balachor, and the farmer entered the throne room full of humility and respect, bowing and kneeling. "Your majesty," he began, "I am a simple cowboy from the next kingdom over, and I seek to sell my animals. But before we talk about this, may I ask about the fair maiden I saw high up in the castle while arriving here?" At these words, Balachor became incensed with anger. He gripped the throne tightly, and ground his teeth. Who was this boy to ask about his beloved princess when so many others above him had been rebuffed and refused? In his rage, Balachor began to have dark, twisted thoughts. A new example needed to be set, the fear of death no longer seemed to prevent these undesirable people from asking about his daughter. With a sneer, Balachor responded to the young cowboy. "She is my daughter, the princess. Have you come to seek her hand in marriage as well?" Sinister and evil intent dripped from his lips with these words, but the sunshine cowboy, taken aback at the sudden question, spoke without hearing it. "I did not come seeking your daughter, your majesty, but I would be honored to be given the chance. In all my life I have never seen something or someone so beautiful and pure. I think I might die just to gaze upon her beauty again." "Indeed," snarled the king, springing his plan into action. "Since you wish her so, you must complete many trials to earn the chance at her hand. She is dear to me, and I would not have just any man take her from me. Should you succeed, she will be yours, and you will have my blessing in marriage." But Balachor had no intention of letting that happen. This sunshine cowboy would surely perish in the trials Balachor designed, and his mangled body would be hung outside the castle walls as a warning to anyone else who dared follow in his naive footsteps. "Your first trial is one of hunger. You will be locked up for thirty days and thirty nights, without food. If you survive, you may continue to seek my daughter." The sunshine cowboy's heart sunk at this news, and before he had the chance to protest, Balachor snapped his fingers, summoning guards to take him to the dungeons. The cowboy had been through famines before, sometimes going a week without food. But a whole month? He had never heard of anyone surviving that long. The days passed as the cowboy sat in his cell, and hunger slowly ate away at him. At first it was not that bad, but it quickly became painful. He began to chew on the straw they had given him to sleep on, though it was dirty and tasted awful. Twice he managed to catch bugs, quickly swallowing them with what little strength he had left. But through it all, he thought only of the princess, and miraculously managed to live through his ordeal. Thirty days and thirty nights later the guards came for him, walking his weak and skinny figure to the throne room to kneel once more before the king. Balachor had expected him to starve, and was all the angrier he hadn't. "So," the king said, eyeing the cowboy closely, "You lived. Do you still seek the hand of my daughter in marriage?" At her mention, the memory of her beauty came back to the sunshine cowboy, and he nodded, hoping that was all he needed to earn a chance at seeking her love. Surely the feat he had undergone was enough to prove his dedication? "Yes, your majesty," the cowboy weakly replied. But at this, the king stamped his foot in anger. "Very well! Then you must spend a day in the furnaces below the castle. If you have the fortitude to not burn to a crisp, you may seek my daughter's hand in marriage." Surely he would not survive, thought Balachor, who relished the thought of seeing his charred bones displayed as a warning to other suitors. With a snap from the king, the guards carried the cowboy down into the dark passages deep below the castle. The furnaces provided heat to the castle and was also where the blacksmiths worked, heating up metals until they glowed and flowed like liquid. The main furnace was large, its fire chamber large enough to fit twenty men, but not with an enormous fire inside it. Before the cowboy even saw the light down the hallway, he felt the immense heat, made worse from his hunger. The guards left the sunshine cowboy with the master blacksmith, instructing them what was to be done with the farmer boy. After they left, though, the blacksmith sat him down, letting him eat some of his lunch for that day. "I'm sorry, lad," spoke the blacksmith, "I don't want to do this to you, but if I don't, the king will have us killed. Worse yet, he has demanded thirty new swords be made before tomorrow, which means we must stoke the fires hot until we are done." At this news, the cowboy's heart sank further than he thought was possible. All seemed hopeless. "Do you think I can survive?" asked the cowboy. "There is a chance," replied the smith, "I will show you where to sit. It will be the coolest part of the furnace, but even then it will be murderously hot. Protect yourself as best you can, and you may yet survive." The cowboy thanked the smith, who guided him over to the large furnace, opening the doors and pointing at the spot the cowboy needed to sit in. Immediately the cowboy began to sweat at the sweltering heat, but faithfully he walked into the furnace and sat down in a far corner the smith had pointed to, covering his face and mouth as best he could. After a few moments, even his sweat seemed to dry, evaporating faster than it came. The smoke was thick, but he was near a vent-hole, which gave him some clean air to breathe. And then, the smiths began the bellows, blasting the fires hotter than the cowboy thought possible. His hair and his clothing smoldered away quickly, leaving the rest of him exposed as he huddled near his vent. Pain wracked the cowboy for hours. He could feel his skin charring, slowly peeling away, leaving the skin under that to char and peel away in turn. The sunshine cowboy truly thought that because of all this, he now knew what hell was like. It was worse than any torture he could have ever imagined, but he knew that if he survived he would be able to meet the princess, and with luck make her his own. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, the fires died down. The furnace door was opened, the flames dampened, and two of the blacksmiths came to fetch his burnt figure from the floor. They provided him a set of their clothes and applied a salve to most of his wounds, which would help him heal. A message was sent to the king, who was furious that the cowboy had not burned to death. Balachor could not fathom a punishment more severe, but he did conceive one final devious plan he was sure the cowboy would fall for. The cowboy was allowed a few days to rest and recover while a call was put out throughout the land for all fair maidens of a certain age to come to the castle. A few days later, the cowboy, bandaged and weak, was summoned to the throne room. In it were maidens of all sorts, each lovingly made to look as beautiful as the next, each holding a goblet of wine. "Ha!" the king cried out from his throne. "You have proven yourself champion of hunger and pain, but now comes the final test. Drink from the goblet my daughter holds, and you shall have her. But be warned, the rest are poison! Choose now, farmer, and greet your fate." For certain, all of the maidens were lovely to look at, rosy in the cheek and full in the chest. The sunshine cowboy, bewildered by this final test, slowly walked up and down the lines, carefully studying each of the young women, but while all looked similar to the woman he had seen from the balcony, he couldn't be certain that any one of them was the princess. After all, he had seen her once over a month ago, and had gone through hell and back just to get one more glimpse. Sighing, his shoulders sank, and he turned back to the king. "I'm sorry, sire, I cannot tell if any of them are the princess. To be honest, none of them look quite like what I remember." At this, King Balachor grinned with glee. "But you must drink, young man," the king replied, "Either choose, or I will choose for you." At this, there was a commotion at the back of the room, and another maiden stepped forward from a side door, her radiant beauty eclipsing the others present. "Enough, father!" the real princess stormed forward, furious. "I have heard what you've done to this poor man. How can you be such a wicked creature? Do you truly have such hate in your heart that you would drive this man to his death just to see me lonely?" At this, the king was dumbstruck. The cowboy was speechless, tears welling up in his eyes as the memory returned to him clear as day, this indeed was the princess standing before him. She approached him, softly caressing his face. "I am truly sorry for what my father has done. This was all a trick, and you, a poor victim." The cowboy's throat was dry as he tried to respond, and his words rasped as he spoke. "Your highness, all I wanted was a chance to see you again. I think any other man in my situation would have done the same." The king, finding his words again, snorted at the cowboy. "You petulant peasant! You wanted to steal her from me, like all the others. And now, you have sealed your fate!" He snapped, and the guards at the edges of the room moved in, weapons drawn. But the princess stood in front of him, defiantly. "Listen to yourself, father! This man risked everything to only catch sight of me, and you would selfishly lock me away for your own good. You truly think he came to steal me away? I would rather die alongside someone of honor than suffer one more day imprisoned by a fool!" The guards hesitated, and the king gestured for them to halt. He thought about it for a long moment. The princess was all Balachor had left of the queen, she was the light in his dark. But through her, the queen lived on, and for too long he had lost sight of that. At that moment his heart began to soften, and he realized the errors of his ways. With a short command, the guards were called off. "I...am sorry, my dear. And to you as well, farmer. From now on, the princess may go as she pleases, and may marry whoever makes her happy." At that there was a great commotion among the assembled maidens, cries of joy and happiness. The princess turned to the cowboy, putting a kiss on his cheek. "I'm sorry to say, but...I don't know you. Your deeds are impressive and you will be well taken care of, but I cannot say my heart is yours. Still, thank you for what you've done. Maybe...in time?" The cowboy smiled, and bowed as best he could against the strain of the bandages. "In time, your highness." After that, the kingdom renounced all its former exiles, and there was a grand feast every year celebrating both the princess gaining her freedom, and remembering the late queen. In time, the sweetpea princess grew more and more fond of the sunshine cowboy, and they all lived happily ever after.
  18. Hey guys, the Mods have noticed a few places on canon ship listings where the common loadout for personal sized ships includes turbolasers for some reason. So, for future reference and clarity's sake, I made a minor edit under the Ship Rules (section 3 of the RP Rules) specifically disallowing them on personal craft (smaller than a corvette), and the recommendation from here on out if you use one of these canon ships is to list heavy laser canons. Turbolasers have been known to blow similar class ships to dust with a single shot, and while they probably aren't the capital class ones we see doing this in the movies, the Mods don't want confusion. Functionally, they will remain about the same, so no worries.
  19. Ashen Six in the morning, Gerald woke up, just like every morning. The routine was the same for him as it was for all, sweep up, hygiene, then a morning meal at promptly seven. Boiled ash potatoes were tradition, though some ate them slightly under boiled. This morning, though, Gerald was the one to find his grandfather, who hadn't woken with the rest of the family. Or rather, he found his grandfather's remains. Mora, Gerald's mother, had worriedly found him standing and staring at the body-shaped pile of ash on the bed. She sighed, putting a hand on his shoulder, but not too hard. "It's okay, son. We knew his time was coming. Sweep him up and come down for the morning meal." She meant well, but Gerald knew she'd taken it rather hard as well. Still, he needed to attend to the task at hand, or he would be Late, and there would be trouble. Gingerly, he took hold of the grey sheets under the ashes, gently dumping them into a pile on the floor for him to easily sweep into the collection bin. They would need to inform the housing committee of the vacancy. Finishing his sweeping and hygiene, Gerald made his way to the kitchen, sitting down with the rest of the family at their dining table. It was at a perfect height of 76 centimeters, level and sturdy. The Orion Smithing Guild always produced quality work. They had to, anyways, it was the law. But Gerald always felt their table was better than some of the others he'd seen, and though he would never admit it, he was proud of the fact. Taking a potato from the tray, he struck up a light conversation with his sister, which was allowed under the housing bylaws. "Grandpa became ashen last night," he said. There was a moment of quiet, the briefest of hesitations, before his sister, Sharon, responded. "Well, we knew his time was coming. The housing committee will need to be notified," she said, before putting a bit of the potato in her mouth. "Yes," he said, "I thought the same thing." "Why don't we watch the morning broadcast?" asked Mora. Gerald and Sharon nodded, after all, it was tradition. Mora retrieved the remote and turned on the kitchen viewscreen. There was no need to adjust the channel or volume, as there was only one channel. They only needed one channel. It was a quarter past seven, and the morning broadcast began as it always did, the grey face of the newscaster materializing into view. His name was unimportant, he was selected by a committee because he matched the average look of everyone else in Orion. "It is morning, Orion, and this is your news. All is well. All is normal. In today's obituaries we remember the following names," names began scrolling up the side of the screen, slowly dissolving by the time they reached the top. "We accept their ashes unto ourselves, that they may sustain us until we are one again. Notable contributions include Maribel One-Three-Seven-Seven, who was found staring at the wildlife yesterday, and Manus Five-Eight-Four, who was discovered attempting to write poetry. Unfortunately, it was discovered after Manus's contribution that he was writing a list of research materials he needed from the Orion Company Archives for his job, but this was later determined to be a waste of paper. And now, the weather." Gerald tuned out the weather, it was the same as every day. Overcast with no chance of rain. This was due to the Orion Environmental Control facilities where Gerald worked, ensuring the perfect environment to sustain their society. Gerald asked once when he was a child why they kept saying the weather every day, but his mother slapped him and told him it was "tradition." They never spoke of that day again. Once, Gerald even thought he saw a sunbeam when repairing an OEC facility, something he'd read about when he was in schooling, but he knew better and averted his gaze. It was better this way, anyways. If the weather was predictable, it was easier to keep to the Plan. At eight o'clock, Gerald left for work. It was quiet work most of the time, he had only had to change partners twice since he'd started last year, and his reviews from his oversight committee always came back normal. Monty Four-Five-One was his current partner, the rest contributing to the ash at various points. His job, he had found, had a high incidence of this, though Gerald relished the chance to become one with the rest. As he arrived at his workplace, a small building off of Orion Company Road Four-Two, he gingerly swept out his vehicle with a small hand brush. He had ashed significantly this morning for some reason, his grey skin flaking away to unceremoniously dust the grey interior of his grey car. It happened sometimes, though none of Orion's residents quite knew why. They used to blame it on the weather, but that was many years ago before the OEC facilities were installed. Now, it was just a thing that happened, no more, no less. "Monty?" Gerald called out as he entered the small building, little more than an office space for two as well as a tool and uniform repository. Monty had been granted special dispensation from the housing committee to live here, and was responsible for tending to any OEC facility problems over the course of the night, one of a very small group that held the privilege. But this morning, there was no reply. Strange. Monty was never Late. It wasn't long before Gerald found Monty, or what used to be him. The pile of ashes was thick on the chair and desk Monty chose as his own. On the desk between what were once Monty's arms was a simple drawing, crudely etched in the pencils provided on Orion Form Four-One-Five-Seven, Request for Plan Deviation, which was known among those who had contributed to the ash as the form with the largest area to make such a drawing. It was a crescent shape in a dark circle, a symbol Gerald did not recognize. It didn't matter, unauthorized uses of official Orion Forms constituted waste, which would mean trouble. Gerald walked to the phone, ringing a representative from his oversight committee and reporting the incident. He would have another partner by the end of the day. As instructed, he swept the ashes into the collection bin, and incinerated the form. It would all go to the ash fields by the end of the week, which was where the ash potatoes were grown. Eventually, they would all succumb as one to the ash, combining their essence in transcendence, but this would only come after they had left behind deviance. Still, one way or another, Gerald knew all would be reunited among the Ashen. All according to the Plan.
  20. Huh. Apparently on this new site staff posts are automatically approved. We might have to start manually posting approval. Regardless, approved. The modifications are superficial at best.
  21. Written in response to "You Should Be Here" by Cole Swindell, a song submission by MSA. Southern Spirit Rich took a sip from his glass before returning it back to rest on the bar counter. The whiskey burned, but he still mulled it over in his mouth for several seconds before swallowing, enjoying the flavors, relishing the sting on his tongue. It was busy tonight, various patrons bustling around behind him, keeping Jerry more than occupied behind the bar. Every now and then Jerry would silently refill the glass in front of Rich, and shoo off the occasional newcomer who tried to take the seat next to Rich. It was a ritual. It was his ritual. Jerry never questioned that, and it was why Rich kept coming back. "I saw Eveline today." Rich said, under his breath. "She came into the shop, needed her tires changed. You should have seen her. Hair like the grain fields, flowing and golden." He smiled, chuckled lowly and took another sip of whiskey. "Maybe one day I'll tell her. You always wanted me to." "Hey, is this spot taken?" Some punk from the city, a college-age buffoon dressed in gaudy colors with a chain that said 'I'm poor but I want to look like I'm not.' Jerry glared, he left. Nobody questioned Jerry. He was bigger than his own bouncers and knew how to intimidate, but the truth was he was just a big teddy bear. It was something Rich had found out on his first visit to Southern Spirit, and it was the reason why he kept coming back. Every Friday after work, Rich would walk a few blocks from the auto shop and sit down at the same spot. Jerry eventually knew to keep the seats open for him. Rich thought it was because he got blackout drunk one time and had spilled his guts to Jerry, but he couldn't quite remember. Remembering hurt, anyways. Another sip. It had been years now, and Rich had seen all kinds of things in the bar. Birthdays, holidays, celebrations of all kinds. Every now and then, there was someone else at the other end of the bar he saw a little bit of himself in, and he always asked Jerry to pour them an extra of whatever they were having, and put it on his tab without telling them who. David would have liked that. It always made Rich smile a bit seeing the person perk up a bit when Jerry told them the drink was 'on the house.' Liquor was something integral to their small town. No matter who you were, a farmer, a cook, a janitor, the mayor...you were equal in the Southern Spirit. It was something Rich appreciated about it. People could share stories over a beer just as easily as they could comfort each other. Some fancy writer might call it something like a 'social lubricant,' and they wouldn't really be wrong, but Rich liked to think of it more like a 'social glue.' And Jerry was always the professional, always ready to pour the perfect drink or lend a sympathetic ear. The man could have been a counselor in another life, but here they were out in the country. This is the life they knew, and this is how it was. That's all there really was to it, it simply didn't need anything more. Rich looked up, catching Jerry refilling his cup and adding a few ice cubes to the mix to ensure it was still good and cold. Rich smiled, grabbing the glass and touching it with a soft clink to the one sitting at the spot next to him, and took another sip. Six years. It was six years today. Nobody knew, nobody cared to know. When you're gone, the world erases your name. You are carried on in the memories of those who knew you, and if you're lucky enough you might get your name written in some kind of history book, but even those warp and fade over time. David was no different. David was more than a brother to Rich, he was his best friend. They did everything together, from helping out on the farm until their parents passed to becoming mechanics and even pining after the same girls. It was like Bo and Luke from The Dukes of Hazzard, absolutely inseparable. But then one day, Rich found out his brother had been diagnosed with cancer. Rich took a sip. He didn't want to remember. The long months of painfully waiting, watching the agony on David's face before he passed. The funeral was beautiful, what funeral wasn't? It was all a farce, gussied up and made beautiful to make people feel better about themselves. Evelyn had been there, too. She was with Ted at the time, but that didn't last long. The first time she walked into town with a black eye Ted had practically been lynched. If he still was around, he hadn't shown his face in a long time. A few months later, Rich finally was able to bring himself to go through David's things. He'd kept a journal Rich never knew about before, and he wrote on just about everything. A lot of it had to do with Rich, but there were remarks in there about Evelyn and even Theresa, a waitress at Pop's Burger Shack. "I'm sorry, is this seat taken?" The soft voice was one Rich knew well, and it snapped him out of his reverie. Evelyn stood there next to him completely innocent of what her question meant. The only reason she asked to begin with was because the rest of the bar was already full. Jerry stood nearby, tensely waiting on some visual clue from Rich on how to proceed. After a long moment, he pulled out the bar stool. "No. You're more than welcome." For a moment, the silence was deafening to Rich. But then, as he thought of David, he gained the strength to speak, grabbing the second glass that had occupied the spot. "You don't happen to like whiskey, do you?" "You know it's funny you ask, I actually do." For the rest of the night, Rich simply let the social glue do its work.
  22. A Series of Gears - Part 2 A loud crack echoed across the ravine, and the paranthur fell to the ground in several spasms that eventually slowed and stopped. Red watched the spectacle through the scope of his rifle, as his guide clapped him on the shoulder in congratulations. "Very good, mistah Dontah, not many get paranthah with first shot. You be proud!" The guide's accent grated a bit on Red's ears as he wasn't fond of the natives, but he ignored the feeling over the overwhelming sense of satisfaction from his kill. This beast was a veritable trophy animal, something he could actually brag about to his colleagues at the hospital. Red Donter stood up with a big smile on his face, stretching. Laying in that spot was excruciating, but it had paid off. This, surely, was the sport of men. It required patience and skill. The guide gestured, leading him forward as one of the guide's assistants pulled out a toolkit, ready to skin the feline predator. As they walked, he looked to the guide, shooting him an absentminded question. "Don't you people have another name for them? Slaash or something?" "Srissh, sah. It mean ending. Fuh us, srissh ah the huntahs that complete the cycle, revered sehvants that bring us back to the allmothah." There was that damn accent again. Red kicked himself for asking the question. And honestly, he didn't really care. The fur of the large six-legged predator glistened in the sun, a beautiful array of greens and deep midnight hues, perfect camouflage for hunting in the jungle. Something the guide had said did click with the doctor, however, and he let out a soft chuckle, thinking to himself how he had now killed death itself. What a story that line would make. "You want keep meat?" The assistant spoke with even more broken language than the guide did, but Red simply shook his head. "No, I just want the pelt. You people can take the meat." The guide smiled wide, bowing shortly. "Much appreciated, mistah Dontah, but we cannot. It is illegal among Zwausi. Bad omen." Red frowned, relenting. "Fine. Package it up then, maybe I'll grill some for the guys back home." The assistant nodded, getting to work. God, it's hot here, Red thought to himself. This hunt had been exhausting. The thought of an air conditioned hotel room, even a low quality Zwausian one, began to preoccupy his thoughts. They had water back at the truck, but that was still a bit of a hike. No matter. Red was tough, and while the rifle bag was heavy, he would live. Several minutes later, the assistant had finished dressing the paranthur, wrapping the pelt and the body in a tough tarp designed to be dragged. The guide an the assistant took up two ropes attached to the tarp, and the trio began their uneventful hike back. Uneventful except for an insect stinging Red's neck, but the guide assured him the pain would go away soon. Finally they reached the truck, and Red helped the men load the beast in the back before grabbing the water jug and drinking deeply. After he'd had his fill he handed it off to the other heavily perspiring men. He wasn't going to say it outright, of course, but he didn't want to drink after them and catch a disease. Zwaus wasn't exactly known for being a 'clean' country. In no time at all, they were on their way back. Red rode in front, enjoying the sights, what few sights there were in the jungle. Every now and then there was a nice view through the trees. Not to say the trees themselves weren't impressive, but after a while they tended to blend together. As Red admired a particular mountain in the distance, he was yanked from his reverie by the truck slowing and the guide and his assistant rapidly conversing in Zhosai. Ahead in the road there was a large military truck blocking the way, with several guerrilla-looking militants readying their rifles as Red's ride began to slow to a stop. "Please, mistah Dontah, do not say anythin. With luck, we will pass." The truck rolled to a stop, and the guide and the assistant held their hands up, gesturing for Red to do the same. One of the militants, likely the leader, approached, barking orders and demands in Zhosai. After a moment, the men seemed to reach an understanding. The militant leader pointed at Red, yelling something back to his men, who laughed loudly. Red didn't like that. The leader saw the scowl on his face and mockingly made an over-dramatized scowl back at him, laughing while he moved to the rear of the truck. Another short spat of Zhosai, and the guide got out slowly to join the militant at the back of the truck. Another short conversation later, and the militant sauntered to the side of the truck Red now rode in, a big smile on his face. "So. I heah you ah some kind of big-shot. You kill a srissh? You a bad mudda, huh?" Red darted his eyes back to the assistant in the reflection of the rear view mirror, but the assistant only slowly and subtly shook his head. "Yeah," Red slowly replied, "Yeah, I killed one." The militant leader yelled another burst of Zhosai at his men, who all readied their weapons. The leader turned back to Red, a much more sinister look to his smile. Almost...predatory. "You know that bad omen, yes?" Silence. "Good for you. Brave. Strong. Good for us too." The guerrillas began walking forward, readying their weapons. The last thing Red saw was the buttstock of the militant's rifle impacting squarely between his eyes. Healthy organs always went for a good price on the Zwausi black market.
  23. Duel Ruling: Rose vs. Durose Guys, well fought. Interesting tidbit, the prefix du- comes from Latin and means "two"...so this was literally a fight between Rose and Rose 2. I love the irony of that and thought it was worth mentioning. I'm going to cut to the chase here, Durose made several tactical mistakes here in his posts. The first I noticed was in his response to the first two frag grenades. The muzzle velocity of an M203 grenade launcher (the same that can be underslung on an M16) is 250 ft/sec, which is what I used as an approximation for my figures. This arena is close to medium range, I figure at max 100 feet or so, but likelier closer to ~50 feet (which is conceded in Durose's ((1)) post), which would allow rushing in for melee but also be far enough that ranged combat is viable, as was described in Rose's ((1)) post. This means that in in the span of one fifth of a second Durose managed to draw a bead on, fire and successfully detonate not one, but two grenades with one shot, then spin midair so the concussive blast sends him to land on his stomach. And while Durose's character sheet mentions an 'armor mesh' under his uniform, it does not list the capabilities of this armor. So, at bare minimum, it is believable he survived from the shrapnel blast, lucky that none struck his unarmored parts, but that he accomplished all this in such a short timeframe is rather unbelievable. Something else I found interesting, in Durose's same post he attributes his knife throwing skills to clone training (flash imprinting, I assume), yet his character sheet lists him having pictures of his parents. I shrugged this off, assuming it could have meant the parents of the clone template that all the clones somehow still felt fond for (which should have been 'bred' out of them, but again it could be assumed an imperfect cloning process). I would recommend clarifying this on the character sheet, at the least that he is a clone and has these skills. The rest of the short duel was very believable. Even with a knife hurtling at her, Rose is in a very good position by the end of this duel, and given that she had the skill to dodge the first knife with minimal damage, it is believable that at the least the second knife might not find its lethal destination. Again, a thrown knife has far lower velocity than grenades. As such, I will not be implementing penalties on Rose. Rose wins and gets next post. Well fought, both of you. Durose, don't let small mistakes like this deter you from driving back into the fray, just remember to try and keep a realistic outlook on what is actually happening and you will probably win your next duel.
  24. Progress "L-337-01, stand and present." Elwun stepped forward, holding his hands in front of him with palms open and faced upwards. A fine mist sprayed over him from the nearby walls, purifying his skin from any contagions that might have lingered. It was standard procedure before meeting with the overseers, as their immune systems were genetically compromised generations ago. The mist stopped, and Elwun grabbed a towel from the nearby rack, drying himself and tying the cloth around his waist. His other clothes would wait at the entry until he left. The overseers left little to chance. No doubt the sensors in the hallway had scanned him by now, revealing nothing of interest. While some might seek to harm or even assassinate an overseer, especially the terrorists in the southern borders, Elwun wouldn't harm Cronus. Why would he? The thick metal doors swung open, revealing the pallid old man dressed in simple white, his face adorned with makeups and the various fashions of the month. Overseers were wealthy, above the workers and the church, often owning large swaths of society. Some owned land, others the various burgeoning medical corporations that made their society possible, yet others like Cronus owned smaller holdings like governances and entertainment sources. They existed in a delicate dance outside what most would understand, but Elwun understood that it was often as deadly as his games. "Elwun! My boy, come closer. Tell me, how goes the arena?" Elwun walked closer, taking up a matching gait at the old man's side. "It goes well, honored one. The last match was close, but I managed to deliver for the crowds." "Indeed! You have done well for yourself." Cronus chuckled a bit at this, and Elwun was nervous about how he should respond. He opted that silence was the best answer, as it often was, and he was not wrong. Finally the old man spoke up again as he led Elwun through the spacious residence. "You must be wondering why I called you here today." "...Forgive my impertinence, honored one, I do not pretend to assume your machinations, but if I were forced to guess I would say it has to do with Fordee Two." Cronus snorted in irritation, but nodded. They reached a doorway, which Cronus opened with a keycard hidden within his robes to reveal an elevator. They stepped in, and Cronus continued as they descended below the living areas. "You are correct. Ikol and his 4D series have posed a significant threat to the balance of the arena, and your successes. You will face him soon, yes?" "Yes." "I will not lie, Elwun, I fear your streak may run short." A moment of silence. Cronus's lack of support dealt Elwun a gut blow he had not expected. The overseer spoke again, oblivious to Elwun's thoughts. "Have you given thought to retirement?" The elevator stopped. Its doors hissed open and the old man led them forward as Elwun pondered the question. "I have given it some thought, yes. I do not particularly relish the idea." Cronus led Elwun past several cylinders, each housing a sleeping man, all of them sharing his face. Different numbers marked the bottoms, denoting batch and serial numbers. On the outside, Elwun could join the working class, but he'd heard several times how gladiator clones were treated. They lacked the prestige the arena granted, just being another face in the crowd. Worse, even, as the public considered them a dime a dozen. Elwun was a hero in the arena, but outside...he was nothing. Their procession stopped in front of one of these tubes, the base marked L-337-02. Cronus's eyes seemed to sparkle as the overseer stared intensely at the vat, as one would stare at a beloved child. His response was oblivious to Elwun's intonations or feelings, the old man's thoughts far and away. "You may not have a choice, my boy. Your successor will be ready after your next two matches. You should prepare your things for relocation." Elwun had seen his own face many times in the mirror. A borrowed face, really, but he knew the one he saw to be his. To him, the other clones were distinctly separate entities. They may looked alike, but they all could tell each other apart. The face in front of him did not share that quality. Elwun saw himself, and for the first time in his life, he hated that face. Deep inside, he was screaming. If he'd had is way, if the overseer were not here, he would smash the cylinder with something, anything. Pull out its wires. Punch his fist through the controls. It was not just the threat to his future, but the realization that this one would also be born into his shoes, as he was born into his predecessor's. There was no escape, only the arena. Briefly, as Cronus cackled nearby, Elwun considered visiting violence upon the old man. It would be easy. But it would solve nothing. There would always be another Cronus, just as there would always be another of himself. The rest of the visit was hollow. Elwun found himself at the entrance, putting his clothes on, and later, at his house. Other events were a blur. Elwun didn't know what to do. What he even could do. So he packed.
  25. I appreciate the encouragement and feedback, brother, thanks for taking the time to send a request my way! Always an honor when someone gives me a piece of music that means a lot to them that I can take inspiration from.
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