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Previous Thread: >>3215073

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

Character Abilities: https://pastebin.com/A5MA9zeY

* * * * *

Your name is Shu, and though it has been two weeks since you woke to find the world you once knew replaced by a hellscape of flesh and bone, the horrors of your past continue to plague you. You stand in the middle of a clearing somewhere within the labyrinthine confines of an artificial hedge maze, reeling from what you just experienced. The disembodied swarmling claw clutched in your left hand tumbles to the ground, your grip going slack as you stumble backwards, away from the imitation oak that looms over you and your team.

Next to you, B’ni’s eyes go wide at what you unwillingly etched into the trunk and, with a savage kick of her greave, carves through the five damning words without a second thought. She immediately turns to you, concern for you in her luminous green eyes as she gently places her hands on your shoulders.

“It was her, wasn’t it?” She asks softly, trying to meet your vacant gaze as you stare at the spot she just struck through. You nod, finally daring to meet her eyes with your own. Gina steps up beside you, glancing to the tree before leaning in for a hug.

“We’ve got your back, Shu.” She murmurs reassuringly while rubbing the curvature of your lower spine, just below your hive. “We’ll find a way to fix this…I know you feel like you’re not in control, but together, we can be.”

“Maybe we can all work together to get rid of it?” B’ni muses aloud, a spark of inspiration lighting up her eyes as Rath backs away from the tree.

“Guys, I hate to break up the comfort party,” Rath begins as she throws out her arm, forcing the three of you back as she moves away from the oak, “but the tree’s fuckin’ moving and I don’t like that shit at all.”

You whirl from the red-head’s face to the trunk of the ancient tree, watching its surface shift and warp, parting down the middle as a form emerges from within its writhing core, as though birthed directly from the arbor itself.

(Continued)
>>
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>>3236024

A strangely dressed woman, older than the rest of you by a wide margin, steps from the tree and onto the grass before you. Her olive-toned face is framed by shoulder-length hair, a messy and unnatural forest-green that brings to mind twisted vines and wild undergrowth. She demurely smooths the wrinkles out of her spotless white blouse and plaid skirt before giving the four of you a slow, stiff bow, reminding you of a sapling bent low by a strong breeze. The surrounding flora shifts as she does, undulating down, then up to match the movement of her body.

Her joyless face remains impassive as she opens her eyes, and you flinch as a sunflower blooms in her left socket. It unfurls into a brilliant display of yellow petals surrounding a dark brown, almost black center. Your focus shifts to her other eye, finding an onyx, sightless orb staring blankly past you, a single red pinpoint serving as the iris. Gina swallows hard as a root spears from the ground and to the woman’s open hand, separating from the earth and forming a cane she curls her fingers around

“Is that you, Catherine?” She queries, her voice creaking from lack of use as she takes a single stride forwards. The hedges shudder with each step she takes, the grass shifting in time with every breath she draws. B’ni and Gina glance to you, no-one trusting themselves to answer as orange cysts start to form along Rath’s arms, roiling with phosphorous and primed to ignite at her command…and, by extension, yours.

You clear your throat, and the woman’s hear cocks to the side as you weigh how to answer, your mind struggling to focus on the threat at hand while fighting to push past the existential terror that plagues your mind.

>> “…It is.”

>> “…I’m sorry, but I’m not who you think I am.”

>> Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
>>3236029
I just caught up!

So, lying is always a temporary solution that almost always blows up if the truth isn't revealed on your own terms, but depending on her state of mind, being honest might make her violent.

My suggestion is putting a pin on that question and changing the subject for now to assess her. Maybe distracting her with the fact that we're not alone, and coaxing her to open up and introduce herself to them while she's not sure of who we are exactly.

>"Hello. Your forest is beautiful. Why did you settle here?"
>"I have friends with me. I hope you don't mind. They're wonderful people who I'm sure would like to get to know you. Why don't you introduce yourself to them?"
>>
>>3236056
(Welcome! I am glad you could join the new thread, Anon.)
>>
>>3236029
this >>3236056
>>
(Gentlemen, voting shall remain open for the next one and a half hours. Thank you.)
>>
>>3236029
>>> “…I’m sorry, but I’m not who you think I am.”
>>>"im Shu, and these are my friends Rath, Gina, and B'ni. we are really sorry to disturb you, we mean you no harm, nor did we mean to trespass, but we simply had no route safer to take to get to our destination. please, forgive our intrusion, but for what little it matters from strangers, your garden is quite lovely."
>>>"if there is anything we could do to make up for disturbing you, we would be happy to lend a hand to make up for it."

so long as she doesn't literally want us to hand over our hand, mind you.
>>
>>3236029

> “…I’m sorry, but I’m not who you think I am.”
>"I apologize for carving into your tree. Your park made me nostalgic and I got carried away with my habits"
> Quietly look to the others. plead them to cover our asses. Play along with her. Be on your best behavior. We're in the "heart of the forest" and even with Rath's bombs, she could easily skewer all of us with those roots of hers.

>Mentally to Inner Shu: If you're going to make an input, next time warn me before you go hogging the meat bicycle. Peanut Gallery commentary I'll tolerate, but carving 'YOU'RE NOT IN CONTROL' into Mrs. Flora's tree bed is going to get all of us killed. We can have this heart to heart later.
This is just to placate and keep Inner Shu from acting out.

I guess even the elderly aren't spared from the crucible.

From the looks of things, Mrs. Flora is probably near-sighted or blind despite the fact that she has a set of eyes. She most likely relies on sound and the ambient biomass that constitutes her body to navigate. She's a senior which means that she's either nice and focused enough or she's on the edge of going senile. It appears that Catherine is the source of her sanity anchor since she woke up thinking the girl who made it to her is Catherine. Mentioning anything about her precious Catherine will likely set her off. And like Kosi, her main bio-ability requires her to anchor herself onto a fixed point in the environment. But it seems she has some semblance of mobility within her territory.

>>3236056
The best way to approach the subject without triggering the Catherine Landmine is to get her to talk about Catherine. Who she was, where she went last.
>>
>>3236024
BHOP. Did you embalm the 8th vein in the Archives?
>>
>>3236136
>>3236137
This might be better, actually. Minus the comment to inner Shu, since this may just egg her on. She seems like a real bitch.
>>
>>3236140
(I just did, yes.)
>>
>>3236142
nah, i grantee you one thing we can rely on; inner Shu wishes to live, and im sure of that. shes too methodical and careful in her build up and choice of victim for it to be the thrill of getting caught that shes after. she simply wanted to mess with us, but probably wont try and get us killed by stepping(too far) out of line in the middle of this girls domain.

that being said, i agree with the 'fuck her' statement and am more than ok with being petty and giving her the silent and cold shoulder treatments.
>>
>>3236149
and the pastebin?
>>
>>3236165
(Not yet, but working on it. I appreciate the check-in.)
>>
>>3236165
(Updated the pastebin with everyone's new level ups,stats, dual techs, and the Hexane Contender.)
>>
>>3236168
I got a question BHOP. With the Hexane Contender. Does its form stay as a single-shot pistol in its base form or can it change shape?
>>
>>3236183
(It may shift via level up as it spends long enough with a given wielder.)
>>
>>3236187
So then if it spends long enough with a wielder for a level, then what happens if it changes hands?
For example:
>Shu spends a session wielding the gun long enough for the gun to gain one level in proficiency with Shu
>Shu then hands the gun over to B'ni.
Does the Gun revert to base form? or does it spend a session reverting back to base form and then another session becoming familiar with B'ni? And if it changes hands back to Shu, does it retain that proficiency level with Shu?
>>
>>3236194
(The Contender would revert to whatever level of proficiency B'ni has with it, which would be zero at this point. Be aware that the Contender would be inert until B'ni is able to rest, and then it would become usable by her. The gun in its current form does not take kindly to being passed about, as it is a fickle thing.)
>>
>>3236199
(To elaborate, if B'ni then hands it back to Shu, the gun would go inert again and then evolve to match Shu's proficiency level with it.)
>>
>>3236199
Well shoot. It kinda puts a damper on my brainstorming of Contender Ammo ideas for the whole party.
Will we find more relics like that?
And is it possible to create Dual Tech synergies with the Relic as a catalyst?
Also, you forgot to list the (Shu x B'ni x Gina) Boneling Skiff Triple tech on the pastebin.
>>
>>3236183
>>3236194
>>3236199
its description makes it sound like if we want the most out of it, we should keep it in one persons hand, with the other side effect being the longer it is in one persons hands, the less useful it will be in another as the bond sounds very literal, and to put it bluntly, it may throw an internal hissy fit if it is handed off after growing attached.

that and of course, even if it is a simpler system, handing it off too often and both potentially thus missing out on it growing in power, aswell as spreading its levels too far around, will hurt its viability.

im still of the opinion we let Shu keep it. shes already long range so it wont intrude on her playstyle, aswell as is another work around to us being afraid to level up Swarmlings.

i say as ive spent quite a bit of time working on ways to mix things up a bit and use Shu in medium/melee combat effectively.
>>
>>3236218
(As far as the number of relics, there are a vast array that you can find in your journey. Regarding Dual and Triple Techs with Relics, it is possible, though they are few in number and incredibly powerful.)
>>
>>3236228
Wait hang on
What if...
Get this...
Shu and someone else grab and hold the Contender between them, and fire it together like some anime dual couple attack pose?
>>
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>>3236224
>>3236228
>>3236207
>>3236199
>>3236187
>>3236181
>>3236168
>>3236149
>main character uses a pistol that can also fire unique projectiles
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
>>
>>3236245
(I had hoped you'd enjoy that bit.)
>>
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>>3236249
no shit BHOP
>>
>>3236029
>>3236136
>>3236137
>>3236142

“…I’m sorry, but I’m not who you think I am.” You say, feeling B'ni tense beside you at the possibility of retribution from the blind figure, though the woman remains still, her breaths rattling in the silence that settles briefly among you.

"I'm Shu, and these are my friends Rath, Gina, and B'ni." You continue with as even a tone as you can manage, your unblinking gaze studying her for any sign of aggression. "We're really sorry to disturb you, we mean you no harm nor did we mean to trespass, but we simply had no route safer to take to get to our destination."

You glance to your allies, finding B'ni and GG following your lead while Rath remains a bundle of nervous energy, ready to detonate at the slightest provocation from the woman that stands before you all in intimidating silence.

"I apologize for carving into your tree. Your park made me nostalgic and I got carried away with my habits...your garden is quite lovely."

"It really is, we all think so." B'ni chimes in, nudging the ginger next to her.

"Yep, it's really green." Rath says after the prompt, utterly failing to inject any enthusiasm into her tone.

"Catherine..." The woman says again, making you flinch at her reply. "...You must be her friends...You're around her age...could you...could you find her?"

You open your mouth, then shut it, uncertain of how to answer as Gina gives you a panicked glare.

"I've been looking, but I can't find Catherine...I'm so tired, I...would you please look for her?I've been looking so long, I need to rest..." the woman intones, leaning on her cane.

You place a calming hand on Rath's shoulder and share a glance with B'ni, measuring how to proceed.

>>"If you're sure she's in the garden, we can look for her. Um...I take it she's a Daughter, like us?"

>>"Maybe she left your garden? We could look for her outside, if you like." (Attempt to escape.)

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting to close in one and a half hours, Gentlemen.)
>>
>>3236298
geezus this is just...sad.
>>"If you're sure she's in the garden, we can look for her. Um...I take it she's a Daughter, like us?"
>>"do you know where she likes to hang out? where you last saw her? are you sure shes still in the garden?"

i mean, helping her look even if its...obvious its probably futile, is the least we can do, and well...honestly if shes not a threat than spending some time in a garden might do the party well once initial nerves settle down.
>>
>>3236298
This >>3236310
>>
>>3236298
>Physically help guide Mrs. Flora onto a nearby park bench or a tree root that serves as a chair.

>"If you're sure she's in the garden, we can look for her. Um...I take it she's a Daughter, like us?"
>"What does Catherine look like? What did she tell you anything before she left? Where she was going? Did she have any trinkets she carries or wears on her? Its been so long since we last saw her since childhood."
We'll have to play along with Mrs. Flora's assumption that we're Catherine's friends. But we'll need to justify our unfamiliarity with Catherine.
>"If we do find her, do you have anything we would like to pass on to her?"
>>
>>3236298
OH SHIT THIS TOO >>3236352
>>
>>3236298
>Convert a swarmling into raw Biomass and feed it to Mrs. Flora's roots.
The old woman looks about ready to keel over from THE HUNGER. We need to give her something to keep her from succumbing and going senile with hunger.
>Have Shu keep Mrs. Flora company while Rath, Gina, and B'ni go look for Catherine.
>>
>>3236391
My only worry on this is entirely unfounded and pure paranoia, but i dont trust Shu alone nor do i trust nothing to go wrong here, even if its not the lady who causes it.
>>
Some Contender Ammo ideas:
Shu:
>Fullbore Herculean Magnum: Unlike the elegant and subtle Hollowpoint, the messy Parabellum, or the whimsical B.33 special, The Herculean Magnum is a monster round designed for dealing damage to monsters worthy of its calibur. Requiring whopping 25% Bio to load and a vacant swarmling slot instead of the usual 10% bio, this type of ammunition is designed for maximum penetration and stopping power front and center while retaining control for maximum carnage. Firing an oversized stag-beetle-like Swarmling armed with Hardened Chitinous horns and armor that can penetrate Calcite plating and acidic claws that can liquify soft tissue, the swarmling will immediately set about carving a warpath towards the internal organs upon breaching its target at Shu's command. To take down a monster of Herculean size and strength, you need a bullet to match it.

B'ni:
>Five Rabid Rabbit Rounds Rapid (5.RRRR): A tongue twister title only those of the fast tongued and even faster fingers that pull the trigger to this round can keep up, the (5.RRRR) is a special type of ammunition that fires Five individual Calcite Rodent, Rabbit, and Hare Incisors at Five Rounds Rapid in one round. Mechanically this spreads the damage out with a lower than average output, but more than makes up for it with a high critical hit rate. Rapidly roll those bones right and ready lest you roll your tongue warerorerore-

Gina:
>The Numb-skull special: The Numbskull Special (NSS) does exactly as advertised. It turns its enemies amalgams and daughters alike into numbskulls. Firing a Violet Neurodart with a special coded payload, enemies hit by this bullet will suffer 1-2 rounds of Neurodamage as well as paralysis on the target limb for one round. If the dart lands on a limb with a high concentration of neurons (i.e. the head) Full-body paralysis will take effect and the target will be stunned for 2 rounds. So make sure you aim for the head you Numbskull.

Rath:
>Volcanic Cyst Cartridge: Boils, cysts, zits, volcanos, and flamethrowers have one thing in common. They spew their payload everywhere upon release. A cartridge filled with Rath's signature explosive cocktail equivocal to a Dragon round costing 15% Bio to fire., Firing it spews a cone of phosphorus napalm in a 30-feet long cone that burns anything unfortunate enough to be in its firing line. Rath will be sure to appreciate the smell of napalm anytime of the day.

>Big Flame Grenade: The Biggest boil Rath will ever get to pop. Now in the form of an oversized bullet. As its abbreviation stands like its video game counterpart in a past world, the BFG costs a whopping 40% Bio, but backs it up with a massive 50-ft blast radius and yield to match. It detonates on impact producing a concussive blast and fiery fallout that soaks the area in phosphorus Napalm for 4 consecutive turns. Only two words of advice when loading a round as big as the BFG; 1) Make sure you're clear of the blast 2) Make the shot count.
>>
>>3236298
>>3236310
>>3236352
>>3236364

"If you're sure she's in the garden, we can look for her." You reply, taking a tentative step forwards. "Um...I take it she's a Daughter, like us?"

"I...she has a mother, so...I know she's here, I just..." She mutters more to herself than to you, placing her other hand on her cane and beginning to wring her hands.

"Gina, about what you said earlier, is the grass a part of the whole?" You ask pointedly, casting an aside glance at the woman. GG shakes her head in the negative.

"Could you make a chair or something for her to sit on?" You ask, and Gina hesitates, taken aback at your request. After a moment, a single cord slithers out of her sleeve and dangles to the carpet of greenery at her feet, where it slides between the blades of grass. A block of earth rises behind the woman and you help her settle in as Gina molds the earthen chair to be more cofortable for the woman. You notice B'ni smiling at you before you turn back to the older woman.

"What does Catherine look like? Did she tell you anything before she left?" You ask, voicing your questions at a glacial pace, your wording deliberate as you try to pluck any errant memories to the surface of this woman's ailing mind. "Where she was going? Did she have any trinkets she carries or wears on her? Its been so long since we last saw her since childhood."

"Childhood?" She echoes, staring blankly ahead, her face drawn. "Yes, she...it's been so long, I...I..."

You're so focused on her face that it takes Gina's gasp of alarm to make you realize what's happening.

(Continued)
>>
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>>3236508

Her hands slowly collapse into rotting vines, her cane withering on the spot and crumbling to damp shards of bark. The decay rapidly crawls up her arms as you jolt up and away from her, watching in horror as her body comes apart and devolves into a pile of rotting undergrowth.

She doesn't struggle even as she crumbles to nothing, remaining utterly impassive as her chest cavity collapses and reveals dried flowers within, her sunflower eye wilting and falling from her socket. Her other eye slides out of her skull just before her head tumbles from her shoulders, splitting into rotting pieces as it hits the ground mere seconds before the earth swallows up the remains of her limbs, her chest, and finally her face.

In the span of six seconds, there's nothing left of her at all.

The four of you simply stare in stunned silence at the empty chair.

"...guess she doesn't need a place to sit anymore." Rath mumbles, and the thing recedes back into flat ground when Gina unplugs her cord, her halo beginning to thrum.

"I wanna play a game!"

You whirl around in surprise with the rest of your team, your hive going wild with surprise at the shrill demand that explodes from behind you. You find your self looking down at a girl no older than six, her scraggly green hair falling about her shoulders, wearing a plaid dress that barely covers scraped legs ending in bare feet. A sunflower is tucked behind her left ear, bright yellow in the filtered sunlight.

"I wanna play hide and seek!" She yells with a stomp of her foot that sends a shock wave through the ground and rustles the surrounding hedges, the limbs of the tree swaying from her outburst.

"...You're Catherine, aren't you?" You say on a hunch, and the little girl beams at you as she nods happily, threatening to dislodge her sunflower.

"Holy shit." B'ni mutters next to you, prompting Rath to utter something that is half cough, half bitter chuckle.

"Took the words right out of my mouth, jackrabbit." She replies, scowling at the increasingly agitated girl a few feet away.

Catherine crosses her arms and scowls right back at Rath before rounding on you, awaiting your answer.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Gentlemen, I will be pausing here for the evening in the hopes of getting a better night's sleep than I have been. I shall be resuming exactly thirteen hours from now, so I look forward to seeing how you handle this situation, and I hope you all have a good night's sleep as well.)
>>
>>3236531
>that picture name
>green hair and sunflower
oh dear god we walked into the habitat of a daughter in a rebirth cycle. and worse, shes at the bratty kid stage now.

my vote;
>"well, ok Cathrine, we can play a game, but only if you ask nicely first." say firmly.
>take no shit from the kid but dont be a jackass back either.

honestly we aren't gonna get anything out of her at this stage, we either leave or we wait til she ages up a bit. and if we're gonna leave we need to at least make sure she isnt gonna throw a hissy fit at us when we do.

also what was with the post deletions i dont think i see anything different besides adding an hour to the restart time.
>>
>>3236541
(I realized the post had some glaring spelling and grammar errors, so I wanted to fix it up for my own sanity.)
>>
>>3236549
well, good enough reason as any. i didn't notice them if they were there but if they bugged you then more power to ya my man.
>>
>>3236531

Okay, so... my best guess is that Catherine and the older woman are the same person, but messed up somewhat, because surprise, the Crucible fucks with people. We'll have to see what happens next to get more of an idea of what's going on, but for now...

>"Sure, hide and seek sounds like fun! How are we gonna play? Do you want to hide for the rest of us to find you, or do you want to look for us first?"
>"Are there any special rules for this game? We can do cool things, like change the ground and control bugs and stuff. Can we use those, or are those against the rules?"
>Be enthusiastic, but keep your eyes open. Something might go wrong at any time.
>>
>>3236549
Get some sleep BHOP. Also what are your thoughts on some of the Hexxane Contender ammo ideas I wrote up >>3236468?
>>
>>3236577
(I shall. Also, I really like your ideas, and I'll have to play-test some of them to ensure they are reasonably balanced. Shu is at her ammo cap for Contender's current level, but if you keep it with her you won't have to wait long before you gain access to the next tier of ammo types.)
>>
>>3236585
>if you keep it with her you won't have to wait long before you gain access to the next tier of ammo types.
Oh my. Let me get my brainstoming juices ready.
One more question: Is Shu's hive limited only to insects? or Are Arachnids also fair game? I'm asking because one of the ammo types you included as Shu's Contender Loadout was a worm-type.
>>
>>3236602
(The Ravenous Parabellum is actually a miniature tongue, and is based off of Ravenous Maw, much like how her other two ammo types are based off of her Swarmling skill tree. Likewise, any Daughter that uses the Contender will gain access to ammo befitting their skill trees, so even if they spend relatively little time wielding it, the Contender will remain a potent addition to your arsenal. To address the limitations of Shu's hive; she may twist her brood into any shape she likes, but the effect would only be cosmetic.)
>>
>>3236625
>firing a high velocity mini tongue at your enemies.
i dunno why but i cant stop laughing. i totally thought it was based off chitinous stalwart as a homage to the fact the girl we got it from had her form as slugs/worms. but that...that is great in a hilarious way.
>>
>>3236645
>>3236602
>>3236577
OH SHIT
GOT ANOTHER CONTENDER ROUND IDEA
>Based on Ravenous Maw's Guillotine
>Dragon's Teeth
>fires a wicked tooth into the enemy
>tooth sows itself, spawns mini-ant soldier drone thing
>>
>>3236531
this >>3236541
>>
>>3236556
>>3236541
I think she's gone insane from the endless spiral of being born as a 8 year old, going through puberty, maturing into an adult, growing old alone, then dying of old age before being reborn.
No daughter can have immortality via resurrecting as a child without a bio system that keeps the Daughter's essence alive. And immortality like that isn't without it's drawbacks. She might experience resurrective amnesia each cycle, that or she's acutely aware of her aging and is just frankly tired of life.

So as for our plan with her, I think we need to make her current life the last life. Let her age naturally and experience death in its finality. But without letting her know about it. The Tree is her source of life. So I think we should plant a slow-acting cancer bomb in the tree.
>>
>>3236882
That's possible. We haven't seen a full life cycle yet, so we don't have an idea of how quickly she keeps aging through her stages. We need more info before making a decision.

>So as for our plan with her, I think we need to make her current life the last life. Let her age naturally and experience death in its finality. But without letting her know about it. The Tree is her source of life.

That's... an interesting idea. If it turns out she's trapped in an endless loop, and we decide to go this route, it would be the humane thing to do. As painless as possi-

>So I think we should plant a slow-acting cancer bomb in the tree.

WAIT WHAT
>>
>>3236889
How else are we going to subtly kill her akin to the trappings of old age? Burn the tree? Cut it down? Everyone knows that old people eventually die from cancer. Sure it's painful, but we just saw Catherine's final moments of death where her "fake body" literally falls apart and crumbles into dirt, dust, and earth while her true body (the tree) stays healthy.
>>
>>3236882
>>3236889
>>3236922
Whoa whoa whoa, maybe we should actually figure the situation out and see if she actually is too far gone, or wants to die, before we go fucking murdering someone in secret. And well, regardless, not murdering someone in secret.
>>
>>3237447
Bullseye. One step at a time here, let's not rush ahead of ourselves.
>>
>>3236531

“Okay Catherine” You reply, taking a knee to bring yourself eye-level with the child as you put on a face and tone that you hope strikes the balance between stern and fair. “We can play a game, but only if you ask nicely first."

“May we please play hide and seek?” She asks again, her tone one of mock politeness. You nod and she practically vibrates with excitement, turning on her heel as she runs away. “Come and find me as fast as you can!”

“…That’s not how...” Rath begins, but just shrugs as you all share a confused glance. “Ah, fuck it, let’s get the kid.”

The four of you jog after the young girl, allowing her a marginal lead so as not to catch her too soon. She laughs and giggle as she pads along the verdant hallways, leading you deeper into the labyrinth. It’s when she rounds the tenth corner that you finally catch up to her, reaching out to grab her by the shoulder. The moment your hand closes around her collar it breaks free, and you’re left with a handful of bright green leaves, watching as her entire form bursts into a pile of scattered leaves in the alley that stretches before you, as silence settles along the maze once more.

“That confirms it.” Gina says, her halo dimming as she folds her arms with a satisfied nod. “It’s not her real body.”

“Dude, I could’ve told y…” Rath begins, but she stops when she’s met with GG shaking her head.

“I mean that tree back there isn’t her real body.” Gina says, and B’ni’s eyebrows shoot up. “The tree’s just dolled-up biomass, same as everything here.”

She turns to you, chewing on her lower lip as she does so.

“Shu, this place, it’s…it’s like with Kosi, so there has to be a core somewhere. Her real body has to be close by.”

You’re about to reply when a shrill, furious voice screams out from down the hallway of vines and leaves.

“Who the hell gave you permission to be here?!”

(Continued)
>>
>>3237644

B’ni throws her arms across your chest as your eyes snaps to attention, focusing on the enraged teen stomping towards you. One side of her dark green head of hair is shaved short, the majority of her olive limbs showing thanks to a pair of cutoff shorts and a plaid vest being the only thing she’s deigned to wear.

“Did Dad bring you here?!” She demands angrily, stopping a few yards away from you. “You’re here to take me like you took Mom, aren’t you?! I swear to god I’ll break your fucking fingers if you take another step, you crackpot bitches!”

“Huh…I like her.” Rath chuckles, despite her combat-ready stance.

“She’s another Catherine construct.” Gina says, voice low enough so that the irate teen cannot hear. “I’m trying to find the real one, but this place is throwing me off. I feel like we’re getting closer, thou…”

“Stop whispering!” Catherine screams, and you’re acutely aware of the wavy, kris-like thorns that now glint in the foliage around you. “I’m gonna count, so you better be out of here before I hit three!”

“One!”

You swallow hard.

“Two!”

The choice is yours.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
>>3237647
Hrm, well, ive got an idea.
>Just shrug and turn and walk away.
>Dont actually leave the hedge maze just use its winding paths to keep her at bay til shes not a bratty emotional wreck of a teenager.
>Have Gina find us another path for the moment, it is a maze afterall there's probably another way to go.
>>
(Gentlemen, voting shall close in two hours. Thank you.)
>>
>>3237647
And here I thought we couldn't have anything worse than a bratty kid.

Now we have a rebellious teenager.

If only there was a tried and true method of getting teenagers to like you...

>Check pockets
>Out of alcohol

I'm stumped. Any ideas, guys?
>>
>>3237647
In all seriousness:

"Alright, alright." *throw hands up in the universal sign for surrender* "We're leaving. You know the way out of here?"

Kill time by asking for multiple directions through the maze, and let Gina narrow in on Catherine's location.
>>
>>3237725
I got no better idea, honestly.
So this.
>>
>>3237661
Well this confirms the rate in which a Catherine construct ages. She went from an 5-8 year old brat to a 13-16 year old brat real quick in a 5-minute span.

And her interactions with us paints quite a colorful picture so far of her life.

>Old woman: Senile. She bows to us as a sign of courtesy. Her dress denotes a very material wealthy lifestyle. Probably nostalgic. She could be a construct of Catherine's mother or grandmother, or just a very old and senile Catherine who had to entertain herself and wait while the construct body slowly rots away.

>Child: Happy child, loves to play hide and seek. Probably had a garden maze in her home property. Has temper issues, and uses sarcasm when using her manners. Hallmarks of a spoiled child who demands out of the world.

>Teen: She went rebellious teen with the zarya-dyke hairstyle. The context of 'did dad bring you here?' implies that She did not like her dad as much as she loved her mother as her dad apparently sold her mother to prostitution(?). How else would a father sell out his wife like that? "Crackpot bitches" imply she doesn't take kindly to other girls that well as she doesn't want another mother. That or her dad was a drug dealer. Not a good time in Catherine's life.
>>
>>3237752
Guys, wait, what if BHOP is misleading us? This isnt her real body after all, so its not off the wall to imagine her real body may not be aging like this. What if these constructs are her memories given form? What if the old lady WAS her mother, then we met Cathrine when she was the age her mother died, now were meeting her as a teenager as she still rages at the world over her loss.

Memories from her life as she ages up, cleverly disgusied as as her herself by starting out with the one person who may look like her but be older;family.
>>
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>>3237647

"Alright, alright." You call out as you throw your hands up, making her pause mid-count. "You win, we're leaving. You know the way out of here?"

Her face suddenly twists into a mask of pure rage at your last comment.

“Do I…did you just ask me if I know the way out of here? You think I can’t remember, you’re saying I’m forgetting shit like her?!” She bellows, the thorny brambles resembling an armory of wicked daggers as they slide forth from the greenery. “Are you mocking me?!”You think you’re fucking funny, saying I’d forget?!”

“What, no I…” You stammer, but the teen before you continues to scream, spiraling further into a mad fury.

“I’m too young for that shit! So is Mom, so give her back!” She bellows, the hedge maze churning with the sound of grinding metallic teeth, a legion of chainsaws starting to churn their lethal blades.

B’ni suddenly knocks you to the ground as a whip-like vine slashes through the air where your face was a mere half-second earlier. GG yanks Rath back to spare her from the same fate, the hallway erupting with lashing vines, each bearing razor-sharp teeth along their lengths as they flail and clash against each other in a mirror of their master’s wild fury.

“I take it back!” Rath yells above the clanging blades, plucking a pair of cysts from her left arm. “She’s a crazy bitch!”

You’re afraid that in Catherine’s current state, you’d have to agree with your foul-mouthed ginger.

“I’ll fucking end you!” Catherine yells, advancing on you and your allies. “I’ll cut you to pieces for that!”

Shu the Defiant

VS.

The Sleeping Terror

HP: 100%
BIO: 150% (6 Swarmlings, 6/15 Active. Contender: B.33 Loaded)
ACT: 2/2
Threat: (Teen Form, Close, hedges on left and right, forked path behind you, forked path beyond the Terror.)
B’ni: 120%
GG: 120%
Rath: 100%

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
>>3237845
Ah. Well, there was no way we could've known, regretfully. So, first fight I participate in.

This isn't her real body, so no need to hold back against it. We could cover ourselves in some platelings for added defense against the various whiplashes. Rath starts burning things around, prioritizing those that go after GG who will need to locate her real body. B'ni should cut up the fake body after we clear her a path with some recursive corrosive swarmlings. I'd like to have one fly above and behind her to take her by surprise, but we should confirm that she can't see through the whole forest.

Alternatively, we could try to just run away for just long enough until her current form changes and "ages up", hopefully into someone that is less aggressive.
>>
>>3237845
>>3237840
Right, i think im right about this now.
Regardless, it doesn't change much at the moment. I think our goal should be to get to her real body and wake her up, her real self might actually be reasonable and willing to talk, as we all know in 'dreams' one is often not even fully aware of what they are doing, let alone in an emotional dream.

So, the one question, ignore her fake teen body, or kill it to pave the way foward?

If people vote to kill, my vote is;
>SHU; spawn medium armor for Rath and B'ni.

>GINA; see if you cant fight for control of of the hedges, to keep the path to the terror teen clear.

>B'NI and RATH; go for this bitch, Rath blasting away at her to either damage or clear a path for B'ni, then B'ni going in for a decapitation.

If people vote not to kill, my vote is;
>SHU; spawn everyone light armor. Send three swarmlings high to scout, three to distract the teen terror.

>GINA; work with the swarmlings to find the best path to the most likely place her real self is, then lead the way.

>RATH; bombard the teen terror indirectly, to keep her at bay and distracted.

>B'NI; work to help keep the path forward clear, along with Gina and Rath as they can.
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next two hours, Gentlemen.)
>>
>>3237840
This might have confirmed a few things. Old woman that decomposed was her grandmother. Catherine misses her mother. hates the fact that she he has to suffer amnesia and senility in her old age. Dad sold her to prostitution I think?
>>3237845
And we fucked up. Not even a 1/3 the way into the labyrinth and we triggered the combat scenario.
Catherine's abilities: Chainsaw hedge thorns. metal as fuck but also scary too.

We're dealing with a construct of Catherine's teen form. We should not spend time and waste energy cutting down constructs. and should instead focus on getting to her core.
Catherine's powers extend only to the hedges and trees, it does not extend to the Grass or the stonework.

>Send a swarmling Skyward and get a bird's eye view of the maze layout.
>Fire the B.33 at her face. it's big, it's yellow, it's bumbly. and explodes in a shower of nectar when killed or after 2 rounds. It's the perfect distaction. Then LEG IT.
>Spawn a pair of gauntlings and hand one of them for B'ni.
>Ask gina the general direction in which you can feel her core.
>Have Rath save her bombs, toss them skyward in random directions over the hedge walls and random fires that will catch Catherine's attention and distract her once we lose her.
>B'ni will bring up the rearguard and be our walking hedge trimmer.
>Maze Navigating plan: Take the route that keeps us on stonework and grass the longest and make sure we burn through as few hedge walls as possible if we hit a dead end.
>Gina will Tether EVERYONE (Shu, B'ni, and Rath) and be everyone's safety line to ensure that no one gets lost in the maze when Catherine inevitably tries to shift the maze routes and paths to bar our progress or separate the entire group.
>Everyone: Stick together closely.
Constructs take up a LOT of Bio to construct from scratch.
>>
(Should nothing break the current three way tie, I will go with a combination of the escape options listed.)
>>
>>3237911
I'll go for this, and the non-kill option of >>3237878
In case killing the current fake body makes things worse.
>>
(Additionally, would everyone be up for rapid-posting tonight at one hour intervals starting in approximately four and a half hours? I will keep a steady posting schedule until then before picking up the pace until the close of the evening, but only if enough readers are available.)
>>
(Writing now, Gentlemen.)
>>
>>3238078
I should be available for that yeah.
>>
>>3237845

You work to rise from the ground as you send orders across the empathic channel, simultaneously sending three of your swarmlings skywards with an equal number spearing towards the teen’s face. B’ni is already racing ahead of you, brutally efficient legs slashing through vines as she works to clear the four of you a path through the murderous labyrinth when you feel your hive thrum with the act of creation. A pair of gauntlings tear free of your spine, one latching on to your left forearm while the other seeks out B’ni’s wrist to grant her another method of attack.

In a single, elegant motion, you take aim with the Hexane Contender, staring down the length of the bio-tech barrel as you line up your target at the same moment she tears your swarmlings from mid-air with a razor-sharp vine. Rath flings her payload skyward, the four luminescent boils arcing over the hedge walls in every direction, the air singing with the hiss of their phosphorescent light as you hear foliage erupt into flame. Catherine whirls around, attempting to determine the direction of the consuming flames when your swarmlings rise once more, having survived death once each to fulfill their master’s wish and allowing you to finally line up the perfect shot.

You take a breath, and pull the trigger.

The crackling fire and the singing of blades is drowned out in the all-consuming explosion that tears free of the Contender’s barrel, Catherine’s left foot explodes into a mess of lashing vines and cohesive nectar, fusing her foot to the ground. You feel Gina’s cord slip into your neck as you turn tail and run with the rest of your team, all tethered to Gina as she guides you along the maze.

The wild, random slashing in the hallways of wild daggers rake across the limbs of you and your allies, an attempted execution of a thousand cuts as you follow Gina’s lead, shifting your vision from the path ahead to your skyward swarmlings, watching the maze shift and contort into dead ends and fresh paths as Catherine attempts to guide you into a corner to no avail.

Suddenly the assault ceases, vines rotting in mid-air and sending their thorns into the grass underfoot. The four of you do not stop running, racing ahead as Gina’s voice echoes across the channel.

“We’re almost there, just a little furth…”

(Continued)
>>
>>3238181

Had you not possessed the forethought to gird your arm with some form of protection, you imagine the spearhead aimed towards your heart would have taken your hand with its murderous arc, as well. Instead you react instinctively, parrying the shining thorn and causing it to bury itself in your shoulder as you growl with pain.

Your name escapes B'ni's throat as a horrified scream lashing out with a kick that severs the spear-wielding arm that reaches out from the hedge in a single blow, tearing the spear free of your shoulder along with it. A second blade slashes towards Gina’s neck, the girl thrown to the ground by Rath before it connects and instead slicing across the side of the ginger’s skull in a painful glancing blow as she hisses a curse.

The weapons disappear, and after a moment a figure steps from the hedge two meters ahead of you, a woman in her late twenties and dressed in a muted business suit, a plaid handkerchief tucked in her vest pocket. A pair of twin-bladed short-spears, crafted of hardened vines and tipped with curving thorns, rest in her professional hands as she eyes the four of you with a cold, appraising stare.

“I lacked the focus to fight the inevitable.” The adult Catherine says coolly, addressing no-one in particular as you fight to catch your breath. “I have it, now. I can fight in a way my mother never could…I can fight anything…”

She levels a spear at you, her eyes filled with merciless intent as the path behind and ahead of you shift, forcing you into lethally close quarters.

“…And I can win.”

HP: 78%
BIO: 150% (2 Gauntlings (Free this turn), 3 Skybound Swarmlings, 8/15 Active. Contender: Empty)
ACT: 2/2
Threat: (Adult Form, Medium)
B’ni: 112%
GG: 108%
Rath: 83%

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Gentlemen, voting to close in one and a half hours.)
>>
>>3238188
>SHU; use your guantling to swipe one blade to the side.

>B'NI; lash out to cut down or pin the second spear to the ground.

>SHU; lash out with your tongue to give this girl a high impact smack to the face.

>RATH; toss some fire on this girls face.

>GINA and RATH; either find us a safe path to her real body, or terraform and burn us a path.

Nooope, trying to not harm her constructs was just proven to not be a good idea. Lets hope harming or killing them slows her down at least a bit. If her true self is reasonable once awake, shell just have to learn to forgive us. Regardless, this ends with the real her.
>>
(My apologies, the threat range should be listed as Close.)
>>
>>3238188
Game plan. Adult form, She's at her peak physical condition. She wields 2 short spears and can command her hedge vines to trap and entangle. Her weakness is her ego, her pride as an adult. She thinks she can take all of us on.

>Shu: Repurpose the 3 escort swarmlings (the ones that aren't skybound) into Plateling Roundshields and spawn 7 Plateling armor pieces (4 helmets, one for everybody, 4 pieces (left arm, right arm, Torso, and Back, for Gina). Give the shields to B'ni, Shu, and Rath. and equip the helmets on everybody. Hand your gauntling over to Rath. Purposefully Leave yourself an opening for Catherine to exploit. Parry with the Plateling roundshield (take advantage of the chaff) and counterattack with Executioner's Maw.
>Gina: Hijack her hedges, manipulate her vines so that her limbs are entangled. Then Fire a cord at Catherine to execute Triple Tech Infinite Dolores with B'ni and Rath in tandem.
>Rath, B'ni, and Shu: Phalanx formation. Shields up. Gina will handle the hedge vines and thorns with her Neuromancy. Guard the front and counterattack when you have the opportunity. Shu will bait Catherine.
>>
>>3238248
>>3238188
I may have miscounted the number of platelings equipped on Gina and the number of swarmlings spawned. Grrr... Where are the overlord swarmlings when you need them?
but the plan remains the same, get everybody armed up with platelings. 4 helmets for everyone, 3 shield platelings, a pair of gauntlets for Gina, and torso armor (hopefully it covers both front and back) for Gina. With this setup Shu should theoretically hit cap on her swarmling limit.
>>
(Extending voting for another two and a half hours to attend to an issue at work, and I shall post shortly after voting concludes to begin a rapid series of updates, if everyone is still up for that.)
>>
>>3238328
Tend to your work. This can wait.
>>
>>3238328
Good luck.
>>
>>3238328
im up for it, but take your time. as someone who works 10 hour shifts, i understand that a job eats up your time.
>>
>>3238461
(I salute you, Anon.)
>>
>>3238188
This >>3238248 >>3238285
>>
(Writing now, Gentlemen.)
>>
>>3238188

An armory explodes out of your back as the three skybound swarmlings dive down to meet you, re-shaping the moment the alight on your arms into a trio of round shields to complete the armorlings that rip and tear out of your hive.. You toss your gauntling to Rath, who slides in on her right arm with a smirk at your opponent as Gina becomes completely engulfed in the full set of Chitinous Stalwart, her glossy black armor reflecting the surrounding foliage. The rest of you gain helmets and shields as you alone step forward, inviting your foe to strike.

You're almost a hair too slow to parry her opening strike, her spear glancing off your shieldling and gouging a red line across your left side. Your shield bursts open with a cloud of chaff at impact, catching Cathering off guard as your stomach splits down the middle, the tongue hidden within snatching her by the leg and yanking her calf into yourself as your razor teeth prepare to take the limb in its entirety.

What occurs next happens very quickly.

A shooting pain explodes along your lower back as you realize the spear you parried had twisted mid-strike, curving around and driving the length of its blade deep into your left kidney. Your jaw guillotines down, severing the leg of the Catherine construct as she smirks, her other spear piercing your leg before it is yanked out immediately by the vines that have wrapped around its shaft, courtesy of Gina's quick neuromancy.

She flings one of her cords at the adult's torso, her aim perfect as it sails through Catherine's disintegrating form, her spears clattering to the garden floor. The clang of thorn on chitin echoes through the dense hedges as your foe re-materializes from the wall closest to GG, the spear-tip aimed towards her ear deflected by the helmet you made her. One failed strike and she disappears again, Rath yelling out in pain when her right leg run through by an expertly placed blade from low on the hedgeline.

You, Rath, and B'ni surround Gina as she jacks directly into the hedge, sending a ripple along its surface as she distorts the flora to put an end to the relentless assault. Rath draws in a pained breath, trying her best to ignore her bleeding leg as B'ni helps keep you on your feet, barely able to concentrate on keeping a solid defense in light of your bleeding form.

(Continued)
>>
>>3238796

A woman steps forth from the hedgework, stumbling forwards as a sunflower blooms in her left socket. Catherine's oldest form inclines her head towards the sky, and in the light you realize she could be no older than her early forties. She carries herself like a woman twice her age, uncertainty in every movement until she catches the sound of you and your group struggling to catch your breath after the relentless onslaught of attacks her younger self inflicted upon you.

"Is that you, Catherine?" She asks, tilting her ear to you and your group. "I have to find...mother, I have to...or am I...?"

Her state of mind is evident in every stuttering step she takes towards you, and Rath rips a boil free of her leg, cocking her arm as she takes aim until GG's hand snatches her wrist.

"Don't, she's not the dangerous one!" Gina hisses, fighting Rath to keep her from loosing her incindiary payload.

"We just need to light this bitch up and be done with it, goddamnit!" Rath snarls back, clutching her leg with her free hand.

"Gina, how far 'til the core?" You ask through gritted teeth.

"Not far, we might be able to make it in a minute or so." She replies, splitting her attention between you and Rath to ensure the latter doesn't do anything rash. B'ni turns to you, her brow knit with worry before she turns to the group.

"We move as one or not at all." She declares, determination flaring in her emerald eyes as she stares down GG and Rath. "All for one, one for all, got it?"

She turns to you for direction, fear behind her brave smile.

HP: 42%
BIO: 73% (2 Gauntlings, 10 Armorlings, 12/15 Active. Contender: Empty)
ACT: 2/2
Threat: (Final Form, Medium)
B’ni: 112%
GG: 99%
Rath: 68%

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Apologies for the delay, Readers. Voting to close in roughly one hour.)
>>
>>3238809
>SHU; spawn the last of our swarmlings as a defensive circle, ready to intercept any further attacks on our party.
>GINA; lead the way to the cord, keep ready to again hijack and keep the hedges under control at a moments notice.
>RATH; be prepared for plan 'fuck this' if we cant get to the heart in time and our defenses dont hold up, clear out everything around us with fire bombs til were essentially in a defensive circle of fire. we will be trapped but it will give us time to plan and reorganize.
>B'NI; do all you seem to ever want to do anyways and ignore the team dynamic to be Shus replacement leg.
>>
>>3238809
Ouch.

>Keep moving towards Catherine's real body. Have your swarmlings patrol around our group to keep a look out for any of Catherine's forms. Avoid or be ready to try talking down her teenage and adult form.
>>
>>3238809
I think I get the picture now. She's been going through the lifecycle so many times in so many minutes that her mind has completely deteriorated. Going from bratty child, to emo teen, to confident woman in her prime and then finally a woman in her forties plagued with Alzheimer disease..

>"Madam. I think I know where Catherine went. She's not far from here."
>Lead Old!Catherine back to her core. ASAP before Old!Catherine dies and gets mulched again.
>Have Gina Terraform and Hijack the hedges to form a path straight toward Catherine's real body.
>>
>>3238847
whoops, meant
>GINA; lead the way to the heart of the maze.
though to be fair she is our map so she will be doing both in time anyways.

also this is why i wanted to overwhelm her instead of play it defensively. a phalanx is only good from the front, and she controls every direction we have. granted, my plan was far from perfect, but expecting us to win via defense in such a situation wont work in the long run. mobility and acting as fast or faster is what wins when your opponent is all around, all defense does is dig you in more and delay the enviable. you break out when surrounded, not dig in.(unless your like, in a fort, but were kinda in someone elses fort is the thing)
>>
>>3238818
No apologies necessary, BHOP.

>>3238854
Seconding this, have Shu stay in the middle of the group to protect her as the injured one.
>>
>>3238809
Backing this >>3238854
>>
>>3238870
Supporting. Seems appropriate that we help her find herself.
>>
>>3238854
ill support trying to talk them down, but i doubt it will work so still want to keep my plan on the board and ready for if shes not in any talking mood.
>>
>>3238809

Your eyes meet Gina's, confirming your decision with a wordless nod as your vision swims upon spawning another three swarmlings to keep watch for any more of Catherine's ever-changing forms. Leaving the ailing Catherine behind Gina leads you onward with newfound certainty, the pulsing of her halo coming in shorter and shorter bursts while B'ni and Rath help you stagger forwards as fast as your wounded leg can carry you.The hedges part rapidly before you with Gina spawning cords as quickly as her biomass allows, throwing cords into the hedges ahead of you and tearing them aside before repeating the process, leaving a trail of disembodied cords behind you as you march forwards in stoic silence.

She tears through yet another hedge and this time, instead of another endless hall of flora, the greenery opens up into a small clearing with devoid of decoration save for a vine-covered gazebo at its center. Gina turns to you and nods sharply, and the four of you approach the structure, the area bathed in yellow light and painting the leaves a sickly pallor.

When you ascend the steps to the gazebo and your eyes adjust to the darkness within, you come face-to-face with Catherine...and Catherine. The little girl from earlier stands before a withered body seated on a simple bench, clutching an uncapped medicine bottle in one hand with a dusty notebook by her side. Flowers blossom from empty sockets, her veins pumping slowly alongside the roots of flowers that weave in and out of her frail limbs. She breathes the slow, steady rhythm of a deep slumber, uninterrupted by time, heedless of the world's end.

The six-year-old Catherine turns to look up at you, rocking back and forth on her heels.

"You found me. You win." She says, her voice holding none of the childlike joy from earlier.

"I lose."

HP: 42%
BIO: 73% (2 Gauntlings, 3 Swarmlings, 10 Armorlings, 15/15 Active. Contender: Empty)
ACT: 2/2
Threat: (Core Located, Short)
B’ni: 112%
GG: 99%
Rath: 68%

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting to close in one hour.)
>>
>>3238989
"Catherine? Is this you? The real you?" *gesture to the body*
"Is there anything we can do to help you, or... do you really want to lose?"
>>
>>3238989
ah...well....that is quite a sad sight.
>SHU; lean down to better look young Cathrine in the eyes.
>"well...i guess we did find you but....its looking like no one is winning in this situation."
>"can you tell us what is going on? it looks like you, the real you, is quite old, and not in a good condition. can we help? and, ah, can you stop changing forms, or at least attacking us? we really never meant to upset you, or to make an enemy of you."
if she says we cant help her;
>"then...do you want us to leave or....we dont want to hurt you, or force anything on you...but if you are tired of this, in pain, and want it to end.....we can help with that. we can even have Rath burn what remains, so you dont have to worry about us taking advantage of your remains either, or anyone else for that matter..."

>EVERYONE ELSE; try and be civil but like all fuck be on guard and lookout. if she changes again and cant control how her other selves react, then sadly, be prepared to end this. quickly, and with everything we have.
>SHU; silently reload the Contender. Worm shot.
>>
>>3238989
This >>3239018
>>
>>3238989
>smile sadly at Young!Catherine
>"It was a fun game while it lasted."
>Hug young!Catherine
>"Are you ready for bed?"
>Nod at either Rath, Gina, or B'ni when Catherine gives her approval.
>Kill her gently.
>>3239018
I'll support part of this.
>>
>>3239041
why are some of ya so intent on killing her without at least seeing if another option is available? i mean i get her situation is far from the best and its unlikely she can be saved, but surely we can at least actually see first, no?
>>
>>3239041
(Which part, if I may ask?)
>>
>>3239049
>>3239017
anon. From what we've seen, Core-type Daughters typically don't have much of a choice in the matter. Their bio-abilities allow them to shape the domain surrounding them as they please but at the cost of having their core (real body) becoming completely immobile or vulnerable. Often times, the more bio and energy they spend to expand and maintain their domain, the more hungry they get, and the more vulnerable and frail their core becomes. And so often, it gets to a point where they have expanded so much territory and expended so much biomass just to maintain themselves and their domain that they can't even afford to uproot their core and move to another place without losing all of their territory. Just look at Kosi as an example. Kosi was so entrenched and weak that the moment Mara ripped her off her throne, all of Kosi's biomass died in an instant.

I suspect Catherine's situation is somewhat the same. The fact that she's looks so resigned when Shu and co. reached her real body (which looks super frail)

>>3239052
I'm supporting asking about Catherine's condition and whether or not she wants the endless cycle of death and rebirth to end.

>>3239041
I'll amend my vote to only kill her gently if Catherine genuinely wants to die.
>>
>>3239077
well yes, i get and understand her condition and that it might even be a mercy to kill her. my er, point? complaint? something is that it should still not be up to us to decide that for her, unless she of course tries to kill us and we must to survive. but jabbing her with cancer or just killing her outright feel wrong, especially when both options were presented at a time when she was stable and nonthreatening.
>>
>>3239092
Here's the thing that tipped me off. If you look at the image filename. It reads "Sleep, Perchance to Dream."
That'a a Hamlet quote.

Meaning of "To Sleep, Perchance to Dream"

>“Sleep” here represents death, and “perchance” means perhaps. The literal meaning of this quote is that death is a better choice to end the sufferings of one’s life. It implies that unconsciousness or dreamless sleep, after death, would be ideal to be rid of troubles and sufferings in life. Since dreams emphasize tenuousness and uncertainty, and convey a sense of ignorance about the future, Prince Hamlet longs for dreamless sleep, as it would be much better to free him from his worries upon his death.

You've seen despite how stable Catherine looks when she's in her child, teen, and adult form, her senior form and her real body is physically so frail that she has to enter a vegetative state of hibernation akin to a lucid dream state. And she has to go through that entire cycle constantly due to the nature of her bio-ability which is modeled after the lifecycle of plants. (grow, reach peak maturity, wither, die, reborn, repeat)
I understand we're facing a moral quandary at a time like this, but it's also the nature of the crucible. We're faced with a hard choice, and sometimes sparing a daughter like Catherine might be a sort of cruel mercy to her.
>>
>>3239092
>>3239118
and when I mean the lifecycle, I mean her mental state. her physical body is stable as an anchor to her garden, but her mind has to go through the constant aging cycle from childish naivety to senility of the old before deteriorating and starting all over.
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>>3239118
eh, difference of opinion i guess. unless forced to, im not of the mindset its up to us to decide if she dies or not. if she wishes to live, even in this state, thats her choice, and its not up to us to just kill her without asking or making sure there is no other way, regardless of if it is a mercy kill.
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>>3239128
people have a right to choose suffering and life over death and happiness, i guess is how i would put it. if even part of her is coherent enough to understand what is going on and chooses life, then so be it. its her life, not ours. and so long as she allows us to leave and stops threatening ours, its not our life to decide what to do with.
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>>3239134
You know... A hideous thought has occurred to me that this sort of conversation is best reserved and brought out to discussion if we had SHU provide peanut gallery commentary about the moral quandaries of this scenario.
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>>3239155
which Shu..or both?
>>
(Writing now, Gentlemen.)
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>>3238989

You kneel next to the youngest form of Catherine as she looks into, or perhaps beyond, your eyes, her gaze belonging to someone much older, someone far more exhausted than you think you'll ever be.

"Well...I guess we did find you, but..." You glance at her true form. "It's looking like no one is winning in this situation."

The little girl crumbles to spring leaves as the teenager steps from the gazebo foliage, the same tired look in her eyes as she merely stares at the emaciated form, sleeping on the bench.

"Can you tell us what is going on? It looks like you...the real you, is quite old, and not in a good condition." You chance a step towards her and wince from the pain, your hands open as you feel your allies tense behind you. "Can we help? We really never meant to upset you, or to make an enemy of you."

"They came for mom when she kept forgetting to take me to school. I was seven." Catherine replies, the sound and fury of her earlier incarnation all but gone. "They said it was early-onset, but I didn't know what it meant. I didn't know what 'hereditary' meant then, either...but I learned pretty quick."

She steps around the bench and sits next to herself, picking up the weathered notebook and gently turning the pages.

"I started writing everything down, started really trying to live life to the fullest, you know? I made Dad's life hell...I didn't see how hard he had it, back then. How hard he was fighting to keep us together, to keep his head on straight."

The book tumbles from her hands as she dissolves into a pile of twisted vines and warped brambles, her adult form's heels clicking from the shadows.

(Continued)
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>>3239240
Damn. A girl with early onset Alzhiemers disease. That fucking sucks.
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>>3239240

"I didn't appreciate him until I got older, and by then I had gotten myself straight, fought my way into a good job. Finance, high end stuff. Something to keep myself sharp...maybe I thought I could fight it off if I..."

She sighs, plucking the medicine bottle from her own hand, turning it her in her grasp. You send a silent command to your allies to stand guard outside, though B'ni remains by your side, unwilling to leave you alone with Catherine despite your reassurances.

"...when I got diagnosed, they gave me six years. I made it eight, before I came here."

"You're a fighter." You say, and she smiles weakly.

"I am...I learned a little too late there are some things you can't fight, though. So I came here when I had the sense to, and I took these in a few moments of lucidity." She continues, tossing the empty bottle of sleeping pills to the floor. "Maybe if I had just had the sense to stop fighting, I might've been able to...I don't know. I just don't."

For a moment, only the sound of her slumbering breaths can be heard, the five of you allowing a moment of silence to settle in the small, intimate structure.

"I hope this is a dream." She says, her voice on the verge of cracking as she turns to you. "I pray it is. I want to wake up, or...or sleep...is there really a difference, any more? I'm just so, so tired."

You're achingly aware of the Contender's weight in your right hand, and of the pleading look in Catherine's grey eyes.

"I...I can help." You say, looking towards her sleeping form. "I can end this, if that's what you want."

She merely nods, and with a heavy heart you raise the barrel with both hands, steadying your shaking aim as your vision swims, though not from your wounds.

You feel a hand on yours and you turn, expecting to see B'ni, but your gaze is instead met with a pair of glinting grey eyes belonging to Catherine's first and final form.

She smiles, and you pull the trigger.

Together.

>>Combat Ceased

(Continued)
>>
And may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
>>
>>3239248

You exit the gazebo, B'ni steadying you as you wince down the wooden steps to see Gina and Rath racing up to you. Looking past them, you watch as the hedge maze begins to crumble, green turning to yellow, yellow to brown, and then...

The fleshscape stretches around you, the skin-draped town and the misty marsh some distance away as you watch the garden collapse into nothingness, now little more than a fading memory...a fading dream. You glance westward, a rippling, grey-blue forest stretching across the horizon less than a mile ahead of you, glinting an unnatural shade.

You stand fully on your own, pushing the pain aside as you stare at the gun in your hand, then turn to face where the gazebo once stood. In its place is a pile of ashen biomass, a gentle breeze carrying it away on stale winds.

You swallow hard, the Contender heavy in your hand.

>>Continue walking west. You need some time to process.

>> Find the shoulder of one of your allies...one of your friends. (Choose)

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Gentlemen, I will be pausing here for the evening. Thank you so much for being such incredible readers, and I hope you have an excellent rest of your evening. I will be resuming tomorrow in roughly eleven hours from now, though I will be around before then to address whatever comments, questions, and criticisms you may have. I welcome them all, and take care.)
>>
>>3239283
>> Find the shoulder of one of your allies...one of your friends.
>>Gina
>whisper "i didn't want to do that...why did i have to do that"

Gina is the only one who has gone through close to what we have, if anything worse. that, and honestly i dont want to encourage B'ni's bad behavior, and Rath, well i wouldn't mind Rath she just would be the least suited to comforting anyone and would probably be more than ok admitting to that.

honestly dont like the way B'ni acts at all, and am i the only one who has picked up on the fact her focus and obsession with Shu seems to have slowly been getting worse?
>>
>>3239296
No, but the problem is we're not sure how to handle that beyond being straightforward with her, and that seems to have not worked.
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>>3239290
whew, this was...something. a good segment dont get me wrong, but that hit harder than i was expecting. hit two big points im personally uncomfortable with, but damn you did it in spectacularly sad way. bravo. truly.
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>>3239283
>Find the shoulder of one of your allies...one of your friends. (Gina)
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>>3239307
im not entirely sure how, but we actually didnt actually talk to her about putting us above others directly, we more of talked to her about not abandoning anyone and team dynamics. we need the missed second part about not making us into a messiah and to actually talk to her about how obvious it is becoming and how it both worries us and seems unhealthy, and hurts the team too. but honestly im not sure how to even approach bringing up the subject, but im sure an opportunity will present itself. how she will react though...and if she wont just find a way to AGAIN basically just ignore it all.....
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>>3239316
(Thank you, I appreciate your feedback a great deal.)
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>>3239283
>>3239296
This.

>>3239283
Just a victim of circumstance, then. What was It, Alzheimers, Dementia? Well so much for the theory that a transformation might cure you from your defects. I wonder If Kori's sickness was from this world or the previous one.

I wonder though, why there wasn't anything to be gained here level wise. I'm not particularly Impatient, just curious. Seems rather specific to not get anything from a fight. Are we *certain* she's truly dead?

Regardless, rest In peace Catherine.
>>
>>3239296
>>3239322
This pretty much reminds me of the similar mindset a serial killer would have, an obsession towards a target, but it's more oriented towards fanatical goddess worship. Assuming that Shu was grooming B'ni as her next victim but the process was halted before the inevitable killing, Isabelle's mindset has been molded to where she's very dependant on Shu.
It also says something about Mother's comments about her flaws "that of a liar and a thief, one who would steal from you many times in past, present, and future."
Can we actually discuss about B'ni's strange behavior?
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>>3239352
Gina told us Kosi was sick before the world went fleshy.

We only gain levels from consuming defeated enemies, and we didn't consume her so we dont get to level up.

>>3239415
Yeah, im aware of the disturbing fact past Shu may of caused her to be like this, but combine that with the fact we have told her this when we revealed our past and she only seemed more intent on focusing on us, and its a very unnervering mindset.

We're gonna have to discuss it i honestly feel. Im certain at this point shes gonna pulls us back or stop us from doing something dangerous but necessary at a point its important and she has no actual reason to think were in imediate danger if this continues. Better to try and nip this now before it causes something we really regret.
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>>3239283
> Find the shoulder of one of your allies... one of your friends.
>Gina
>whisper "i didn't want to do that... Why did I have to do that?"
>>
(Writing now, Gentlemen.)
>>
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>>3239283

The Contender slips from your grasp and clatters to the leathery ground below as you stumble towards Gina. Her arms wrap around your back as her halo goes dark, her sole focus to comfort you.

"I didn't want to do that...” You mutter as her hand rubs the small of your back, just below your hive. “…why did I have to do that?"

“Because you’re kind, Shu.” She whispers in your ear, holding you tight. “Because it needed to happen…because you…”

It’s at that moment that you both hear the flutter of cloth behind you, prompting you to whirl around. The air a mere three meters ahead of you shimmers as though through a localized mirage, the space before you shifting aside to reveal a girl around your age shaking out a head of bright, azure-dyed hair. She grins, hairline cracks spreading from the corners of her mouth as she does so.

“You’ll have to excuse me, but nighty-night bitches.” She chuckles as she tilts her head back before letting loose with a tremendous sneeze.

The subsequent eruption of her head sends bits of skull and formless chunks of grey matter splattering across you and your allies, flinching back as one.

“Oh god, what the fu…what th…” Rath begins, her confusion giving way to a mumble before she crumples in place. B’ni’s eyes go wide and she turns to yell something to GG before she, too, collapses in a heap.

Gina’s halo flares to life with a flash of amethyst as a cord slithers out from her sleeve, going limp before it can tether you to her as GG slides down your legs, unconscious. You shake the brain matter from your arms as your vision blurs, watching the headless body fall flat, the top of her head slowly coalescing back together with glacial speed. You fall next to Gina and find yourself eye-level with her jack. You strain to reach out, taking hold of it and sliding it into the palm of your hand.

You see Gina’s halo flicker right before your world goes black.

(Continued)
>>
>>3240116

“Shu?”

“Shu, wake up, we’re gonna stop for breakfast.”

Light dapples across your closed eyes, Isabelle's voice the first thing you hear when you begin to wake, followed by a song fading on the car stereo.

“We have time for one more song before we hit the Mexican place I was telling you guys about.” Gina calls out from the driver’s seat. You stretch, tilting your head to the left and right to work out the kinks that settled in while you slept in the back seat on the way back from the concert. Rachel sits opposite Gina, hands clasped nervously in her lap and wearing her church sun dress.

“D-do I smell like smoke? Do I look too tired?” She asks, jittery. Gina just laughs, and you find Isabelle's fingers on your neck, working out the tightness in your muscles.

“You’re fine, kiddo. You know, if you had told us you had choir practice at noon I would’ve gotten us out of the venue a whole hell of a lot earlier…sorry, ‘heck’ of a lot earlier.” Gina says, correcting herself when Rachel winces at the curse. Citrine eyes glance back at you through the rear-view mirror.

“So, one more song before we get some food in us!” GG says, yelling to you in the back. “My vote’s for Lose It, what do you all say?”

“Hellbent, by Mystery Skulls?” The girl beside you asks sheepishly, returning your smile as she continues to massage your sore neck. Rachel raises her hand, which is promptly and playfully smacked down by Gina.

“Um…what was that one I liked by Flipturn?” The red-head mumbles, smoothing the wrinkles out of her dress.

“Churches? Okay, we’ve got three votes. What’s your vote, Shu?”

You wipe the sleep from your eyes as you sit upright, squinting in the morning light as the Gina’s old Volkswagen carries the four of you back home. It’s a gorgeous morning, not a cloud in the sky, not a care in the world.

You have a choice to make, but it’s a simple one.

You wish every day were like this.

>> Pick Gina’s song, it suits her well for its relaxed, easy energy…something you always admired about her. You still remember the way she danced to it when you and she had that sleepover…

>> You’ll throw Rachel a bone…poor girl has a crummy home life, she needs all the support she can get. Plus, if music is her way of rebelling in what little way she can, more power to her.

>> Isabelle loves that band, so you’d feel bad if you didn’t let her listen to it again…despite the fact that’s she’s had that song on repeat every time she puts in her ear buds. Besides, you owe her after that massage.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
>>3240122
> You’ll throw Rachel a bone…poor girl has a crummy home life, she needs all the support she can get. Plus, if music is her way of rebelling in what little way she can, more power to her.

Something's not right. If this blue haired bitch's bio-ability is sleep, dreams, REM, and memory manipulation, then we're all in a collective nightmare/dreamstate. This bitch has Freddy Kruger powers.

>Get a mirror. Look at yourself in the mirror call upon HER. If you're going to break free of this woman's powers, You need her right NOW.
>>
(Gentlemen, voting to close in two hours. Thank you.)
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>>3240122
this >>3240133
all those fucking sleep and dream metaphors and hints
it all makes fucking sense
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>>3240133
Ill support this.
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>>3240133
>>3240188
Actually if by 'her' you mean old Shu, im changing my vote on the second part to simply be
>Look at palms, your hand kinda hurts.
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>>3240122
> Isabelle loves that band, so you’d feel bad if you didn’t let her listen to it again…despite the fact that’s she’s had that song on repeat every time she puts in her ear buds. Besides, you owe her after that massage.
>>
>>3240133
>>3240122
After some consideration, I think I'll amend my vote on the second part and support >>3240300 instead of calling upon Inner Shu.
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(Writing now, Gentlemen.)
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>>3240122

“Let’s listen to Rath’s song.” You reply, prompting an arched eyebrow cast your way in the rear-view mirror.

“What did you say, Shu?” Gina asks you, a pressure on your temples as you wince. Your palm begins to throb with pain, finding it warm to the touch as you rub it with your other thumb. You look down to see your palm glowing with an amethyst light only you seem to be aware of, and your eyes go wide as reality sinks back in.

You remember, now.

Gina shrugs and puts on Rath’s selection, the guitars starting up over the Volkswagen speakers as your mind races, trying to figure out how to break this reality. Maybe…maybe you could reach out to…

…No.

Not her.

Gina pulls the car into the parking lot of a tacky Mexican roadside diner, B’ni scowling out the window at the sombrero-shaped circular building.

“This is the place?” She asks, her voice laced with reluctance as the four of you exit the car and stretch your aching limbs.

“Yep! Looks like a dump, but it’s Kosi’s fave. Speaking of which…” Gina trails off, waving as the door to the restaurant bursts open as you approach. A girl with straight, shoulder-length brown hair races out, dark brown eyes glittering in the sunlight as she dashes towards GG.

“Catch, motherfucker!” she yells as she practically jumps into your friend’s arms, laughing hysterically as you, B’ni and Rath stand awkwardly a few feet away.

“Rachel, I’d like to introduce you to Kosi.” Gina says, fighting for breath as her friend waves, her bright teeth in a goofy grin. “Now that we’re all here, let’s get something to eat! We’ll make it quick, Rachel’s got a thing to get to.”

The five of you turn and start striding towards the restaurant doors, B’ni slipping her arm through yours, her head on your shoulder as you walk. You need to find a way to break this up, a way to have a partner in what you’re trying to do. You can’t be the only one that feels something off about this…you have to believe that as you prepare to do what you can to save your friends.

>> Take one of your friends aside, you need to let someone else know what’s going on, and trying to convince everyone at once might be tricky…you just hope they’ll believe you…(Choose)

>> It might be more trouble than it’s worth, but you’ll talk to them as a group. You need to act as one as soon as possible if you intend to break out of this together.

>> Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
>>3240411
> Take one of your friends aside, you need to let someone else know what’s going on, and trying to convince everyone at once might be tricky…you just hope they’ll believe you…(Choose)
>B'ni
I think for Shu, she's more likely to believe us on principle, and require less proof to convince if she doesn't. From there we convince the others one by one.

or
>Gina
>Point out that Kosi is supposed to be crippled, and wouldn't be walking anywhere.
>>
>>3240411
>> It might be more trouble than it’s worth, but you’ll talk to them as a group. You need to act as one as soon as possible if you intend to break out of this together.
>>Start off slow. At first, simply start hinting at real memories, by telling them in w way that sounds like it could happen in the dream, but with each new memory slowly start telling it as it really was, as a memory from the hellish fleshscape, until once eased in you tell them what is really going on.
>>
>>3240411
This >>3240434
>>
(Voting to close in two hours, Gentlemen.)
>>
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>>3240411

As Gina and Kosi hold open the doors for you, B’ni, and Rath, you resolve to speak with everyone about it, starting slowly as you attempt to build up steam. You slide into a booth big enough for your group, B’ni on your right and Rath on your left as Gina and Kosi take up the seats opposite you.

“Trust me, the food here is great.” Gina reassures the three of you, Rath sharing a doubtful look with B’ni. When someone sneezes in the corner of the restaurant, you seize the opportunity.

“Jesus, sounded like someone’s head just exploded.” You say as nonchalantly as you can, prompting a puzzled look from Rath and a cocked eyebrow from the girls across the table from you.

“Are you okay?” B’ni asks, placing the back of her hand on your forehead. “You’ve been acting weird ever since you woke up in the car. We can call an Uber to take us back to our place, if you’re not feeling well.”

“I…our place?” You pause, causing B’ni a deeper level of concern to cross B’ni’s face.

“Yeah, we…” She says, pausing with a blink. “…We have a place together, I think…”

Her eyes glimmer, as though she’s attempting to catch the trail of a half-remembered thought.

“…What did you say about an explosion, Shu?”

“…I think that we…” You begin, pausing as the waitress comes to take your order, a bright, familiar smile on coy lips.

“Welcome everyone, my name is Carla, I’ll be happy to take your order.” She chirps happily, her bright azure hair tied back in a ponytail. She levels a joyless smile at you, more a baring of teeth than any attempt to ease your nerves.

“Let’s start with you, darling. Sorry to interrupt your conversation, but what’ll you have?”

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting to close in one and a half hours, Gentlemen.)
>>
>>3240847
>Exchange glances with Gina
>Do THIS
>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6g0mPo-uJM
>>
>>3240847
>"It's not a problem at all. I was thinking of trying a vegetarian diet, so do you have anything with a lot of greens?"
>>
>>3240847
>"A Bloody Mary as a starting drink. I'm still looking through the menu so give us girls a few minutes please."
>Don't touch the food or drink Carla serves.
>"Gina, next time please watch where you put your headphones. I nearly got my palms stabbed by them."
>"Didn't we go to Catherine's before we came here? You know. the girl with the fuck-huge hedge garden?"
>>
>>3240847
>Make direct eye contact.
>Say "ill have a Lady Cathrine salad as an appetizer, aged ranch, then give me Julias special of the day, i hear shes a real artist when it comes to cutting chicken thin like skin. Maybe also a Doctor (cant remember her name damnit) mixed drink, help numb the nerves, ya know?"
Basically just keep throwing out ways to make the others remember, while both taunting our enemy here and also not breaking the dream, technically.
>>
>>324084
>>3240952
This, except say something something vegetarian Pizza
(Oh and I get greens are a Catherine reference but I’m in the mood for pizza)

>>3240945
Entertaining but way too swagger for Shu to be in character for her
>>
>>3241008
are you forgetting the swag Shu pulled when she was drinking Julia's tea for the first time?
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>>3241013
Ooh right
that was quite the swag
>>
>>3240945
>>3240847
I kinda wanna support this, and then surprise everyone when we open up our stomach mouth and eat the whole thing, including the table. If Carla put us in a dreamstate, then it would be fair that lucid dreamers would be able to pull dream shenanigans.
>>
>>3241001
Doctor West, if you're wandering.
>>
>>3240965
>>3240847
Amending the drink/food order to
>"I'll have a Bloody Mara as starters"
>Then go through a Enormous order list like >>3240945. Make it big enough that it takes up 3/4ths of her order pad while supporting >>3241001 in mixing in incidents and events that will likely jog the memories of our friends and Kosi (who is supposed to be dead)

>Channel HER into your smile. Make it the best smug slasher-smile you can muster at Carla.
>>
>>3241046
Yes thank you. Sorry, i have a very limited timeframe to participate when at work so i didn't have time to look back for her name.
>>
>>3240847
What >>3241072
said
>>
>>3241072
im thinking, just like how we may be roommates with implications with B'ni, that our subconscious wants and thoughts are altering the dream. Either Kosi is here because she is inside Ginas head, and/or Gina still regrets and wants Kosi around so she subconsciously added her to the shared dream.

also, i know we already knew, but this of course does confirm how B'ni feels about us. which kinda sucks that we are gonna have to break her heart, not in necessarily shooting her down but in letting her know shes kinda going overboard with it at least
>>
>>3241213
B'ni has "Hellbent" by Mystery Skulls on a repeat loop. The song alone says a LOT about her subconsciousness, which means that she's basically a closet yandere.
>>
>>3241218
oh, ive known she was at least slight yandere for awhile now. hence my ever growing worry as she grows ever more attached to us.
>>
(Never change, Gentlemen. Writing now.)
>>
>>3240847

"I'll have a Bloody Mara to start." You say, flipping open the menu before you with one hand, reclining as much as you can in the cramped booth.

"I'll have two number 9's, a number 9 large, a number 6 with extra dip, a number 7, two number 45's, one with cheese, and a large soda." You rattle off, watching with a half-smile as Carla struggles to write it all down before looking back up at you.

"May get you anything el...?"

"Kind of you to ask." You interrupt, staring her down. "I'll have a Lady Catherine salad as an appetizer, aged ranch, then give me Julia's special of the day, I hear shes a real artist when it comes to cutting chicken thin like skin. Maybe also a Doctor West mixed drink, help numb the nerves and spark a good time, 'ya know?"

Carla slowly lowers the pad, as the rest of your party simply stare at you, mouths agape as you level a smug, self-assured smile at the unamused neuromancer playing waitress.

"Rachel, cover your ears." Gina says as the ginger complies immediately, your brunette friend hissing across the table at you. "Shu, what in that actual fuck?!"

"This isn't real...none of this is real. It's all fake, isn't it?"

You turn to B'ni as she mutters to herself, her lower lip trembling. Something suddenly sparks in her eyes and before you can stop her she's lunging across the table at Carla, her hand on her windpipe as the neuromancer's eyes go wide and she stumbles back, the table erupting into chaos...

...and then your world goes black once again.

(Continued)
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>>3241282

"I tried to give you a decent last meal, bitch."

You open your eyes to pitch darkness, your body refusing to obey your commands.

"Your friend was right, the food would've been pretty good if you hadn't tried to be clever."

Carla's voice echoes in the darkness as she stands a short distance away from you. She's in the black jacket and tattered jeans she wore when you first laid eyes on her in the waking world, while on the other hand you feel naked, your spine intact, your stomach devoid of the second mouth you'd grown accustomed to.

"You're not the first to figure out it's a dream I made before I chow down." She says, striding close as you struggle to move in the shapeless abyss. "You won't be the last."

"'...Coward." You growl, and she smirks at your struggle.

"Happily. It's worked for eight months, so I must be doing something right." She replies with a grin. "I'd been trailing you since the swamp, and I thought for sure the shortstack with the halo would cotton on, but you had her busy being your compass. Thanks for that."

"So what happens now?" You demand through gritted teeth, staring daggers at Carla as she draws closer. "You think we'll just take this lying down? You think we'll..."

"That's exactly what you're gonna fuckin' do." She interrupts, grabbing your jaw in one leather-gloved hand. "You sleep, I eat, it's over. Sure, the creepy one almost had me, but if it wasn't for you I don't think any of you would've figured it out. What makes you think you and your friends are any different from the other dozen meals I've had?"

You strain to flex your hand, feeling a warm, violet glow slowly fading. You have enough strength to reach out to someone, one shot to use this power Gina granted you...and you know you have to make this count.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting to close in two hours, Gentlemen.)
>>
>>3241291
>Reach out to Rachel.
>>
>>3241291
>"maybe we're different, maybe we're not."
>flex hand into fist, call forth....
>"but we dont give up fighting, not for eachother, not for what we believe in. whether we can win this or not, we're gonna make sure we at least leave you with one hell of an indigestion case."
>...Rath. let her fury never fade. we need someone who will not quit on us, someone who will give her all and keep giving it even if she shouldn't have more to give.
>Go in for a hard, hard punch. were not strong of body, but this isnt our body. and we know were strong of mind, so were strong here. because when it comes to saving our friends,we really never know when to call it quits, do we?

my justification is, if Ginas innate abilities were enough to break her free alone or turn the tide, she probably wouldn't be under the spell in the first place. meanwhile, in a battle of outright mental emotion basically, Rath in the right conditions is probably the best choice to just let loose with rage and emotion.

ALSO, godamnit remember when i thought we were gonna wake up getting eaten by Cathrines Vines? well i was a bit ahead of the curve i guess. we need to stop giving BHOP ideas damnit!
>>
>>3241313
(If it's any consolation, I had this encounter planned for far longer than Catherine's. I had to hold my tongue when you guessed that, well played.)
>>
>>3241316
thanks. its a good idea, an all too horrifying concept and situation to be in.
>>
>>3241316
In retrospect, it was quite strange and troubling that BHOP didn't give us the level-up choices provided from consuming Catherine.
>>3241291
A question: Does calling upon "Her" use up Gina's Neuromancy powers?
>>
>>3241340
(Yes, Shu has enough power to reach out to a single individual or attempt to use it on herself.)
>>
>>3241340
we didn't consume Cathrine though.
>>
>>3241291
THIS >>3241313

>>3241316
>>3241352
Isn't it great we pulled a Big Smoke to bust out of the dream?
>>
>>3241483
('Twas a thing of beauty, especially since I had never seen it before now.)
>>
>>3241291
Sure, the creepy one almost had me, but if it wasn't for you I don't think any of you would've figured it out. What makes you think you and your friends are any different from the other dozen meals I've had?"
>Creepy one
Did Carla just call Isabelle "creepy"?
>>
>>3241589
well, i mean, she kinda is honestly.
>>
(Gentlemen, I must apologize for ending somewhat early this evening, but I have to wake early in the morning for a work event. I shall continue in roughly thirteen hours from now, and I shall extend voting for the length of that time frame. I shall be around a short while longer to address any questions or comments you may have, and thank you for being such a fantastic group of readers. Take care, and sleep well.)
>>
>>3241595
I wouldn't be surprised if B'ni morphed her eyes to have constant heart-shaped-pupils whenever she hears something from Shu.
>>
>>3241709
>sleep well
horrible advice while you make us fight for our lives inside a forced dreamscape.
>>
>>3241313
Supportan

I still can't believe we big smoked our way out.
>>
(Good Morning, Gentlemen. I shall resume writing shortly, and thank you for your patience.)
>>
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>>3241719
I consider this canon until BHOP confirms otherwise
>>
>>3241291

“Maybe we're different, maybe we're not..." You say, curling the fingers of your gently glowing hand into a tight fist as you give the Daughter a defiant smirk.

“…But we won’t give up the fight. Not for each other, not for what we believe in. Whether we can win this or not, we're gonna make damn sure we at least leave you with one hell of a case of indigestion."

“And how’re you gonna do that, friend?” Carla sneers in your face, matching your grin with one of her own as you strain to lean closer.

“With a pissed-off red-head.”

Your hand flares with light, amethyst giving way to blinding orange as the void to your immediate right shatters. Rath comes out with a furious right hook, catching Carla directly below her sternum as your foe doubles over. Your movement restored, you grab the girl’s bright blue hair and yank her head back, the uppercut you drive into her chin rattling her skull and your arm in equal measure. She staggers back and away from the two of you as you prepare for the next assault.

“Heard you needed an angry ginger.” Rath says as she glances up at you, a grin playing across her freckled face.

“Glad you took me up on the invite.” You reply, eyes locked on Carla as she regains her bearings.

“No worries. After all, as this cool chick once said…” Rath shoots back, clearing her throat awkwardly. “…I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

“Bullshit.” Carla groans, cracking her neck as she begins striding towards you. “Think you can fight me on my own turf? In my own head? You’ve got another thing coming you…”

Rath takes another swing mid-sentence, Carla bringing up her arm to block before Rath’s left hook catches her in the jaw, knocking her back. Carla stares down at the arm she raised, and you see she’s just as shocked as you are to find her right forearm gone, the limb ending in a black, smoky stump.

“Cool trick, Rath.” You chuckle, your laugh fading as you note the confusion on your friend’s face.

“That’s not me.” She replies, the fingers on Carla’s left hand fading one by one.

(Continued)
>>
>>3243125

“What the fuck?” The other Daughter breathes, her arms disappearing inch by inch, sliver by sliver as she starts to panic.

You and Rath step back as her feet are the next to go, followed by her calves and thighs, leaving her a horrified, disembodied torso as she starts to scream in terror. It’s cut short when her voice is suddenly a pained gurgle, smoke trailing from her mouth as you realize she’s lost her tongue. Her eyes go wide…and then dark, plucked from their sockets. Rath turns away, her face pale as you place a hand on her shoulder, watching your enemy writhe in agony, suspended in the abyss, trapped in her own mind as she disappears in small, neatly sliced pieces.

A work of expert, deliberate butchery.

You feel the dream coming to a close around you, the girl’s chest carved open before your eyes, her gurgling groans intensifying as Rath scratches at her ears in an attempt to drown out the death knell the only way she knows how. The girl stops abruptly when her heart is torn free, an inky darkness enveloping the empty cavity, and then…

You open your eyes to the sickly yellow sky of the waking world.

B’ni is at your side, helping you to sit upright as you struggle to regain your bearings. You hear someone vomit, and you glance over to see Rath bent double, Gina patting her on the back and trying to block her line of sight from…

…your blood runs cold when you see the remains.

(Continued)
>>
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>>3243128

A few blood-streaked tufts of blue hair are your only indication that the pile of meat a short distance away was once the girl whose dream you were trapped in. Bone, organs, and muscles are indistinguishable among the formless, diced mound of flesh.

You notice streaks of red along your arms, your heart skipping a beat before you realize they match up to where B’ni helped you up. The fingertips of her right hand have the barest trace of crimson, the length of her bladed greaves glistening with thin rivulets of blood that crawl down their shining surface, their nigh-peerless sheen giving nothing away as to how they were just used.

>Combat Ceased

“I’m so glad you and everyone are okay!” She says, beaming at you with a relieved smile. Your gaze flickers from her emerald eyes to Rath, who wipes her mouth on the back of her hand and stares at the back of B’ni’s head with a fear-stricken expression. Gina’s brow is knit with an equal mix of confusion and concern, your eyes meeting hers, a silent acknowledgement passing between you.

Arms wrap around your shoulders as B’ni hugs you tight, your gaze shifting to the neatly cubed corpse behind her.

>> …A win is a win, you need to focus on getting everyone back up to health after dealing with Catherine and Carla back to back. Consume what you can of the neuromancer, and then investigate Catherine’s remains.

>> Attend to Rath. She needs comfort right now, and you hope that doing so might take your mind off the whirlwind of carnage you just experienced with the hedge maze and the dream scape.

>> Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
>>3243132
>Hug everyone. Fucking group hug right fucking now.
> …A win is a win, you need to focus on getting everyone back up to health after dealing with Catherine and Carla back to back. Consume what you can of the neuromancer, and then investigate Catherine’s remains.
>Staying exposed out here, after being stalled for who knows how long, is NOT good. Prepare to move out as soon as we feel up to it. Continue going to the Cord but keep an eye out for other Charon static zones and safe places to rest.
>>
(Voting to close two hours from now, Gentlemen.)
>>
>>3243132
>>"You uh, you didn't hold back much, did you there?" Sheepishly joke to B'ni.
>>Go and check on Rath, and ask Gina if she can locate us somewhere to rest, we all need it after doing two fucked up situations in a row.
>>Let Cathrines remains rest in peace, she deserves that much. And let whoever is willing and wanting ness with the meat corpse, but you yourself aren't so sure you want any part of it, and you're not sure the others do either.
>>
>>3243132
Ayup. B'ni is definitely yandere for Shu.
>Thank you Gina, for giving me that spark of Neuromancy power.
>"Thank you Rath, for saving me. I'm so sorry you had to watch a girl get butchered like that."
>"B'ni... thank you. For ending that dream."

>Mentally make a note to that you now need a heart to heart with past!yourself. If the murder in the bathroom was offputting by itself, then the combined evidence of Gina's testimony of her and B'ni's falling out and the subconscious signals that you've seen from her in the shared dreamscape officially now warrants having to get a good long look in the mirror.

I'm starting to get the feeling that B'ni and past!Shu were both so fucked up in the head that both of them became serial killing lesbian lovers before the Crucible began.
>Let Catherine's remains rest in peace, have Rath burn it with her bombs. Consume Carla's biomass, leave Rath out of consuming Carla, you don't think Rath has the stomach to consume daughters in that state. Not after B'ni butchered Carla with the work and expertise like past!you did.
>>
>>3243132
changing my vote from >>3243138 to >>3243156
>>
>>3243156
Im still not sure just how much B'ni knew what past Shu was up to, but honestly at this point so long as it please SOME form of shu she probably would be up for it.
>>
(Writing now, Gentlemen.)
>>
>>3243373
Give one to each.
>>
>>3243132
>>3243156

B’ni helps you stand and stagger over to where Rath and Gina sit. You kneel alongside your resident speedster, reaching out and drawing the four of you into a much-needed group hug.

“Thank you Gina, for giving me that spark of neuromancy power.” You say, meeting the girl’s hazel eyes through her thick brown hair, then turning your attentions to her left. “Thank you Rath, for saving me. I'm so sorry you had to watch a girl get butchered like that."

Her eyes refuse to even look in B’ni’s direction as your gaze shifts to your right, settling on a pair of shining emeralds.

"B'ni...” You force a smile. “…Thank you. For ending that dream."

“I’m just glad we’re all safe.” She replies with a relieved smile, heedless of both the carnage a few feet away and the discomfort that has settled in the air around you. As the four of you rise, you begin to realize that despite the horror you witnessed when you first met her, you are tired of running from your past self. You need to find a way to confront her, on your terms. In the meantime, though…

“If it’s alright with everyone, let’s allow Catherine's remains rest in peace.” You declare. “Rath, can you spare a bomb to cremate her?”

She nods and immediately turns on her heel to stride pointedly over to the gazebo’s collapsed remains.

“After that, we need to heal up. We’ll consume…”

“No.” Rath interjects, tearing a cyst free of her forearm. “…No. I’m fine for now, do what you want with that mess.”

“Are you sure?” Gina asks, her expression puzzled as Rath continues walking.

“Abso-fucking-lutely.” She mutters under her breath.

Gina watches her leave before turning back to you and B’ni, the three of you turning as one to the remains.

>>PLEASE SELECT LEVEL UP POINT DISTRIBUTION

>>POINTS AVAILABLE: 4

>>ELIGIBLE: SHU, B’NI, GG

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
>>3243377
>>3243379
Eh, ok, bad timing on my part there. Sake vote though.
>>
>>3243377
(My apologies, there are four points available.)
>>
(Voting to close in one and a half hours, Readers.)
>>
>>3243379
one for Shu and B'ni, two for GG. She's the one with the most tech trees.
>>
>>3243383
>>3243385
Two to B'ni then, to represent she got the kill and is the most comfortable consuming in this situation.
>>
>>3243379
2 for gg, 1 for everyone else.
>>
>>3243445
i say do this
>>
>>3243448
>>3243379
Actually you know what? 2 for B'ni, 2 for GG. B'ni is on the cusp of a lvl 5 threshold break on both her Calcite Greaves and her Dogged Sprinter.
GG needs a Neuromancy and Halo upgrade.
>>
>>3243379
2 for B'ni
2 for GG
0 for Shu
0 for Rath
>>
>>3243379
2Bni
2GG
Spread out our levels, especially because having a part serial killer with the highest level is too big a risk.
>>
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>>3243379

You swallow hard and step back from the pile of biomass, the image of a blood-stained bathtub flitting across your mind’s eye.

“You okay?” B’ni asks, and you nod.

“Yeah, I just…go ahead, you need it more than I do.” You reply, and B’ni glances at your leg wound, slowly regenerating and still throbbing slightly. She opens her mouth to speak, closing it when Gina puts her hand on her arm.

“I trust her when she says she’s fine, B’ni. I think we can both agree on that.” The brunette says gently, giving you a slightly concerned look as she does so. With one last hesitant glance at your leg, B’ni and Gina attend to the remains.


B’NI LEVEL UP

CHOOSE *TWO* FROM THE LIST BELOW

>>DOGGED SPRINTER, Lvl 5 (HEALTH REGEN+)
>>CALCITE GREAVES, Lvl 5 (BIO+)
>>CONSUME (?)

GG LEVEL UP

CHOOSE *TWO* FROM THE LIST BELOW

>>NEUROMANCER, Lvl 4 (BIO+)
>>NEUROTIC HALO, Lvl 4 (BIO EFFICIENCY+)
>>VERURTEILUNG, Lvl 2 (HEALTH+)
>>CONSUME (?)

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting to close in one and a half hours, Gentlemen.)
>>
>>3243605
GG:
>Neuromancy and Neurotic Halo to level 4
B'ni
Dogged Sprinter and Calcite Greaves to lvl 5
>>
>>3243605
B’ni go for greaves and sprinter 5
Gina should consume and probably neuromancer
>>
>>3243605
B'ni
>CALCITE GREAVES, Lvl 5 (BIO+)
>CONSUME (?)

GG
>NEUROTIC HALO, Lvl 4 (BIO EFFICIENCY+)
>VERURTEILUNG, Lvl 2 (HEALTH+)

I think Carla's power synergizes better with Gina's than B'ni, but she just got a new tech tree and it would probably be messy to neglect the abilities she already has in favor of a new passive. Maybe it would upgrade the dream hangouts with each other and out dead girlfriends, but I still say pay she has too much on her plate for the moment.
>>
>>3243605
>B'NI
>>CALCITE GREAVES
>>DOGGED SPRINTER
cause shes a fast thirsty(for more than just blood) girl and i dont think neuromancy would mesh well with her. That being said, she does need a new ability sooner than later.

>GINA
>>VERURTEILUNG
>>NEUROTIC HALO
because i want to see whats next for the fear, and she could use more bio efficiency for sure.
>>
>>3243605
>DOGGED SPRINTER
>CALCITE GREAVES

>NEUROTIC HALO
>CONSUME
>>
>>3243605
Changing >>3243630
to>>3243780

Oh well.
>>
Backing >>3243685 because I’m for upgrading existing powers rather than getting many low leveled ones
>>
(Votes tallied, headed home now.
I shall post within one hour with the results, and the choices to be made as a result.)
>>
>>3243627
>>3243629
>>3243630
>>3243685
>>3243780
>>3243836
>>3243859
actually wait. i mean, we literally are gonna have to do it for at least one, but wasn't lvl 5 when we think everyone's gets*The Choice* like Shu did with Swarmlings?

my vote still stays the same as like i said, 2 points, 3 choices, B'ni was gonna get at least one to lvl 5 anyways, but considering how she has currently been acting, if were right about that, this may be very interesting coming up soon.
>>
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>>3243605

(Three-way tie for GG's second level up decided via dice roll.)

B’NI LEVEL UP

>>DOGGED SPRINTER (Lvl 5): Greater control over her twitch reflexes have granted B’ni the ability to shift her body at the last second of a mortal blow, allowing her to turn a critical hit inflicted upon her into a normal one or a normal hit into a miss, once per combat. Surging ever closer to the limits of speed a Daughter’s body is capable of, you know that continuing along this path will eventually open up greater and greater heights of blistering speed to the determined girl...Mother only knows where her limits lie. (HEALTH REGEN+3%)

>>CALCITE GREAVES (Lvl 5): B’ni’s greaves have evolved to deliver devastating wounds that prove incredibly difficult to recover from. When B’ni inflicts a critical hit with her blades, the target cannot regenerate the damage for one round, on top of their maximum HEALTH receiving a reduction of 10% for the remainder of combat. Striving for an ever more efficient form of execution, this latest mutation ensures that whatever B’ni chooses to sever is not something easily replaced. (BIO + 20%)


GG LEVEL UP

>>NEUROMANCER (Lvl 4): Gina's skill with neuromancy now allows her an incredible burst of strength on either a macro and micro level at the beginning of combat. The first act of terraforming she performs in a given combat will cost 40% less BIO to perform, allowing for greater influence over the battlefield as she may now freely alter the terrain around her into one that is favorable to her and her allies. Alternatively, upon jacking in to a foe for the first time in combat, she may choose to forego paralysis and may instead choose to neruomantically lock down one of her foe's skills, chosen at random. Whether she chooses to exert mastery over the battlefield or over the minds and actions of her opponents, Gina remains a woman that is intimately comfortable with asserting control. (BIO+20%)

>>NEUROTIC HALO (Lvl 4): the Neurotic Halo’s influence now grants its wielder vastly enhanced sight, allowing them to see through most conventional forms of camouflage and flesh-shaping, as well as giving them perfect vision for up to one kilometer away while the Halo is active. Additionally, the bearer now possesses the unusual ability to see the train of through going through an individual’s mind when they make eye contact, a connection that persists for a few seconds even if the line of sight is broken. The vision-enhancing nature of these abilities encourage the wearer to look, look with their special eyes. (Constructs crafted through BIO consumption now cost 3% Less.)

ALERT: [DOGGED SPRINTER] AND [CALCITE GREAVES] HAVE ACHIEVED LEVEL 5 SKILL THRESHOLD SIMULTANEOUSLY

DO YOU WISH TO COMBINE BOTH INTO HYBRID SKILL [MARROW HOUND]?

>>Y/N

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
>>3244020
Inquiry: What are the drawbacks to the bio-fusion of abilities?
>>
(Voting to close in two hours, Gentlemen.)
>>
>>3244020
my vote is
>Yes
despite my saying she needs more abilities, honestly DS is pretty passive as it is and even CG isnt entirely an 'active' as a equipped weapon, so i honestly do not see much harm in combining them and lowering the need to spread out levels.
>>
>>3244031

(Drawbacks: the unique upper-limit skills of the base skill trees become locked, and unless the Daughter in question locates a similar or identical ability, the incredibly powerful cap skills of both trees are lost.)

(Advantages: combining two skill trees offers a powerful passive ability unique to the fusion, in addition to allowing future level up points spent in the hybrid tree to benefit from the stat bonuses of both base trees. For example, selecting Marrow Hound for level up will offer traditional power upgrades in addtion to increasing B'ni's BIO limits in addition to HEALTH REGEN. Two birds, one stone.)
>>
>>3244023
>>3244032
uhhh...
>>3244060
>>3244068
BHOP are you ok?

anyways, i still dont think we should worry too much about this. keep in mind, we already fear upgrading Shus Swarmlings ability for good reasons, so we cant even trust we would be able to trust these abilities to get that high either before we run into an issue.

it is a gamble still of course, Shu could be a unique case(or something else was the reason), but i still stand by the fact i dont think its nerfing them too much in use and all that.
>>
>>3244020
Hrrm.
I'm going to say
>No
Because if they're combined than the cap limit will come in like three level ups or so.
>>
>>3244081
(Ha, I am. I realized there was a better way to word my explanation that how I phrased it previously.)
>>
>>3244020
>NO
>>
>>3244020
>The vision-enhancing nature of these abilities encourage the wearer to look, look with their special eyes
MY BRAND!
>>
(Interesting. Writing now, Gentlemen.)
>>
>>3244020

>>HYBRID SKILL DECLINED

Not wishing to stare as B'ni and Gina attend to the remains, you turn instead to Rath, standing a few meters away. She tosses the boil into the pile of wood and rotten foliage, unflinching as it ignites and hisses with furious sparks. You feel...off, somehow. They look up to you, they respect you, and yet, at this moment you feel strangely lost, alone in the vastness of the fleshscape.

You stare down at your hands, and the bitter realization crosses your mind that they belong to stranger, a monster you know nothing about. B'ni knew that girl, for better or worse. You think back to what your reflection told you, what she taunted you with the last time you spoke in Catherine's garden. You've been running from a ghost from the past, one whose cryptic words and coy smile haunt you in your waking moments...

A glimmer catches your eye as you glance past your hands, staring at a shimmering spot on the ground. You dip down and pluck at the distortion, as a bright white cloak appears in your hand, and you recognize it immediately as the one Carla threw off when she made her presence known. It's warm to the touch, a silken cloth that catches the light and reflects it in stunning ways...

>>SHALAEV’S SHAWL: blurring the line between skin and bone, this exquisitely crafted and surprisingly soft shawl is a blend of powdered bone and incredibly thin sheets of skin, woven together with a neuron filament. While the resulting material is incredibly delicate, it grants the wearer a superior form of camouflage as it actively warps light around it to disguise the wearer’s presence in addition to offering auditory invisibility by way of absorbing sound waves and distorting them through the material. Be aware that if the wearer takes any damage, the cloth's effects will be nullified, though due to its unusual ability to passively absorb biomass, it will repair itself if left undisturbed for a short period of time.

(Continued)
>>
>>3244570

"What's that?"

B'ni's voice snaps you out of your reverie, your gaze meeting hers as she glances from you to the shawl in your hands.

"Um...it was Carla's, the thing she used to sneak up on us." You say, stuffing it in your pocket. "Could come in handy."

"Nice." Gina replies as Rath strides back to the group, though she stays a little behind you, as far as she can manage to be from B'ni and still be part of the group.

"So, where to now, fearless leader?" Gina continues, giving you a wide smile that you're not entirely sure is genuine. It's that feeling again, that something's changed. You glance to the west, the blue-grey forest stretching across the horizon, and the skin-shrouded city behind you, with the promise of one of Charon's stations inside.

>>You made a declaration to continue to the Cord, and you're sticking to it. You will lead your team to the forest, but you'd like to take one or more of them aside to talk on the trek over there.

>>Enter the Shrouded City and attempt to locate Charon's waystation. You're more confident in your team's abilities at this point, and you now have the Contender and the Shawl by your side.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
>>3244621
>>You made a declaration to continue to the Cord, and you're sticking to it. You will lead your team to the forest, but...
>>but First, see if Gina cant still find us someplace to rest.
>>once we have found SOMEPLACE to rest our feet at least, even if its just superior high ground, we can talk to the others as we feel is necessary.
>>talk to B'ni, its time we settled whats between us, aswell as the fact her current obsession with us has finally made her go far enough to drive a rift inside the team. this needs to be sorted out, regardless of how she takes it or the consequences.
>>
>>3244621
>>Enter the Shrouded City and attempt to locate Charon's waystation. You're more confident in your team's abilities at this point, and you now have the Contender and the Shawl by your side.

Repairing cloth armor? Seems familiar... I kid, OP.
>>
>>3244643
i still just dont want to face a medusa monster in the dark. though i hate to say it, the waystation is stupid tempting.

regardless, i still think finding a place to rest first is a good idea, aswell as settling things with B'ni, regardless of destination.
>>
(Voting to close in one and a half hours, Gentlemen.)
>>
>>3244621
>Enter the Shrouded City and attempt to locate Charon's waystation. You're more confident in your team's abilities at this point, and you now have the Contender and the Shawl by your side.
>but First, see if Gina cant still find us someplace to rest.
>once we have found SOMEPLACE to rest our feet at least, even if its just superior high ground, we can talk to the others as we feel is necessary.
>talk to B'ni, its time we settled whats between us, as well as the fact her current obsession with us has finally made her go far enough to drive a rift inside the team. this needs to be sorted out, regardless of how she takes it or the consequences.
>>
>>3244621
>Enter the Shrouded City and attempt to locate Charon's waystation. You're more confident in your team's abilities at this point, and you now have the Contender and the Shawl by your side.
Now that we have the Shawl, our team can go full stealth mode.
>Write-in: "I'm up for tackling Charon's waystation in the Shrouded city. With both the Shawl and my swarmlings, everyone will have total camouflage so scouting and exploring will be less risky now. But we just had two back to back encounters. I feel like we all need to rest and recuperate. Lets find a place to build up shelter."
>Once rested, reserve time for yourself to finally confront the ghost in the mirror: your past self. No more running away.
>After we deal with the ghost of our self, talk to B'ni.

>>3244643
Joker Quest's Assault Shroud. A useful cape that thing. Except this shawl is more for stealth instead of a battle cape.
>>3244638
I'm up for confronting B'ni about her obsession with Shu, but don't you think it's better to try and remember our past and confronting our past self about what sort of grooming we did on B'ni? I feel like we'll be better equipped to handle B'ni's neurosis when we figure out ourself first.

>>3244653
You know, the more I see Gina and B'ni level up. The more convinced I feel that leveling up our empathetic swarmling abilities will help them keep their growing insanity in check. As invasive as it is to scan their thoughts and deepen the empathy level, it's for their own good. Gina looks like she's becoming a stepford smiler as her insanity grows and she starts to get more of a god's eye view of the world.. B'ni's becoming more obsessed with Shu. Rath is stable for now, but her temper and antics start to grow more and more self-destructive. Mara noted that we're the glue that holds the group together. If we don't level up our swarmling ability further, we won't be able to hold the group together for long.
>>
Actually, Dr. West gave us a stealth modification to our bugs didn't she?

If we wear a set of our armor and add the stealth mod on top of the Shawl we'd be Invisible and make no noise, we'd practically be a ghost. Something to keep In mind for next combat, we can deliver a special payload of bonemelting acid ourselves.
>>
>>3244666
We never got the stealth mod for the Shroud, satan. Why, why did we never get It? But besides, one of these days we might be able to improve our neat little shawl to have more utility yet, or defense. It already repairs Itself, It has good potential.
>>
im willing to let go of/switch my vote to the city so long as we do the rest of my plan. the waypoint is a good idea and the forest will be there later regardless.

>>3244666
see, i just dont care. fuck that bitch. maybe im a just a stubborn and straight forward kinda guy, but honestly we know enough about her to just give her the cold shoulder til we can get rid of her, or at least make sure she wont be a problem.

while we dont know all the details, we already know she manipulates people into thinking highly of her so they will follow her like literal sheep to the slaughter. she very obviously made B'ni like her alot.

the issue we really have, is the fact B'ni KNOWS what was going on before now, yet it almost seems like knowing that ACCELERATED her obsession with us, instead of what any sane person would've done and at least taken a moment to rethink their relationship with the self proclaimed past serial killer who was grooming you to love them.

im not entirely sure what all it means, but it only makes me more nervous of just how far B'ni will go if we do not stop this.
and im not sure BHOP,or the world IC, will give us time to do both either.

as for the swarmling upgrades, that is more of the moral stance of 'we shouldn't invade their minds and emotions' aswell as the fear of 'how long before we start controlling their actions, how long before they are basically just another swarmling we invade their mind so much?'
>>
>>3244695
How can we ever protect our friends If we're too weak to fight ourselves?

We may have a lot of levels but they're spread out and the gap has closed quite a bit these last few threads. For the love of god let's have our character be strong enough to take care of things herself If need be or we're going to regret It later when we can't and someone dies.

Next fight lets take a level or two ourselves, and one of them needs to be swarmlings. We haven't even seen any negative effects yet, and B'ni doesn't count she's been a problem that's been building up over time.

Let's build our core so we can really fight.
>>
>>3244716
i dont actually think we're too weak to fight. even in close combat. we just haven't even tried to utilize ourselves there at all. we basically have made our tongue a wasted ability almost with how little we use it, despite it actually usually working out really well when we do.

im fine leveling up Shu, but we simply cannot ignore the obvious issues being presented to us from the swarmling ability. that, and its what MOTHER wants us to do.
>>
Personally I think we should ask everyone if they are cool if we end up reading their minds at some point. If they are then going swarmling again would be ideal.
>>
>>3244743
i mean, sure i guess. just dont forget B'ni's vote does not count.
>>
>>3244739
What MOTHER wanted was for us to pick one of the two choices, the Queen or the Swarm. We gave her the middle finger and got our own path and you think we're still completely fucked?

Come on man, have a little bit of fucking faith that OP Isn't ready to shove a powerdrill up our ass over ONE level up.
>>
>>3244758
you're not understanding. we already have clear indication further leveling it up will start to give side effects we do not want. what i meant is MOTHER wants the daughters to crave power over anything else, damn the consequences. but we specifically hesitate because instead, damn power we care about the consequences.

i trust BHOP, but i trust him to write a good story and game that keeps us on our toes and makes us think. i very well xpect him to totally 'shove a powerdrill up our ass' over ANY one action we take, and im more than ok with that, as this has already been a story where one wrong action has and can lead to pain and potential disaster.

he gave us a clear and obvious warning about where that path lead us, he has every right to smile and make it horrendously worse if we ignore that warning.
>>
>>3244621
>>3244666
Amending my vote to go to the shrouded city, but find shelter before delving into the pitch darkness, and having a heart to heart with Gina before looking at ourself in the mirror.
>>
(Writing now, Gentlemen.)
>>
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>>3244621

"I'm up for tackling Charon's waystation in the Shrouded city." You say, looking at each of your allies in turn. "With both the Shawl and my swarmlings, everyone will have total camouflage so scouting and exploring will be less risky now."

You turn around, looking towards Catherine's funeral pyre. "But we just had two back to back encounters. I feel like we all need to rest and recuperate, so lets find a place to build up shelter."

"If the city's our next target, then I can reshape the skin around part of it to make a shelter like I did in the swamp." Gina offers, and you give her an affirmative nod.

The four of you work in relative silence as you help Gina craft a shelter in the massive shroud of skin that blankets the city, exhaustion keeping you working in silence. The four of you let out a collective groan as you finally sit down in the cozy, translucent tent Gina made for you, perfectly disguised along the edge of the city and away from prying eyes. Idle conversation starts as often as it stops, smatterings of inane comments serving to establish and reestablish connection, a touching of base with each other to alleviate some of the tension that still permeates the atmosphere around you.

You take a deep breath and stand, resolving to tackle the source of it now that you all have had time to rest.

"Gina, Rath, get some sleep, B'ni and I are going to keep watch. Plus, I'm going to go give my final respects to Catherine. Does that sound good to both of you?"

Gina studies your eyes for a half-second, reading the intent behind them as she smiles and nods, while Rath just gives you a thumbs-up before sprawling out on the floor, catlike in her efforts to take up as much space as humanly possible. You motion to B'ni, her face unreadable as she follows you out into the fleshscape.

You walk for a short while, B'ni trailing behind you in silence in spite of the waves of fear and nervous tension that buffet you in waves. You stop, turning to her as a gentle, warm breeze caresses your skin, too warm against the drying blood that lingers on your arm.

It's strange, you realize. The most visceral combatant among you, the one that's saved you more times than you can count, just stands there, shifting nervously from one foot to the other like a child fearful of an imminent scolding. She seems so small, when she's not a blur of speed, a whirl of lethal blades. You almost feel bad for bringing her out here, but it's for the best. She's avoided this confrontation for far too long...

...but then again, so have you.

To ask, to tell, to demand, to plead...you know that something needs to be said.

So you say it.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Gentlemen, I shall be pausing here for the evening, and I shall resume tomorrow in approximately twelve hours. As always, I will be around for a little while longer to address comments, questions, or criticism. You are fantastic, and thank you for your participation, so rest well and take care.)
>>
>>3245100
>"B'ni....Isabelle...I want to start out by, well, by telling you thank you. you've always tried your best for me, and for that, i can't be grateful enough."
>"but. thats the thing. you have always tried your best for me. and, more times then not, i think thats the only reason you have tried. not for Gina, or Rath. not for the Team or the group. not...not even for yourself. just...just for me."
>"obsessively. more and more. its obvious Isabelle. its only gotten worse."
>"Its...i know Isabelle. i know how you really feel about me. and while i appreciate the sentiment, it's...gotten out of hand."
>"I never wanted to be put on a pedestal. I never wanted to be put above the group. But, thats what, thats all you do. You would leave everyone else behind to save me, and thats not what i want."
>"Isabelle. Im sorry, but its not about whether i can return your feelings or not, its about the fact you have let those feelings grow out of hand. from the way you cut that girl to shreds today, to you freaking out at any wound i take on the battlefield. we cant have this, we cant have you. for hells sake, your words alone have proven that you have let it go so far you dont even actually listen to what i wish."
>"last time i tried to get through to you, all you cared about was that you had disappointed ME. that that wasn't the point. the entire point was it wasn't, it isnt about me. it never was and never should be. it should be about us, Rath, Julia, Gina, all of us. every single daughter forced to kill and take part in this hellscape."
>"Isabelle....what are you going to do if i die? if my life is in danger but saving me would ruin everything we have fought for? Isabelle....im not that important. i dont WANT to be that important. and i never will be."
>"I want to trust you, and i do, in a way, but i, WE cant have you constantly focusing only on me and my safety. im going to get hurt Isabelle, my lifes going to be on the line. time and time and time again. but we cant have you dropping everything every time i get injured, dropping a well thought out plan just because i may be in danger, cant have you abandoning someone else for me. and...im not sure if this continues, that i can trust you to not do that."
>"Isabelle...this...needs to stop. i care about you, i love you but....not like that. not any more than i love the rest of those i care about...im sorry."
>>
>>3245183
I like this. Just take out the last line. I think it distracts from the rest of the whole.
>>
>>3245231
>[
hrm...any suggestions? my thought for the last line was, that if we dont outright tell her 'no' to her feelings, at least if only for now, she might again just try to warp how she reacts to all this as another way to earn our love. thus, make sure she at least knows, for now, thats not an option.
>>
>>3245327
wait what the fuck i didn't even type either of those characters how in the fuck?
>>
>>3245327
>>3245183
Working on my own version of a write in. You're currently lacking something to uplift her spirit. yanderes feed upon praise. You've scolded her enough to the point of breakdown, so now you need to remold her psyche to something more acceptable. It may sound creepy, but we're using our past experience as a emotionally manipulative serial killer to do some psychotherapy on B'ni.
>>
>>3245344
eh, but we dont want to undo the point by praising her, thus making her ignore the rest. she will need to find her own way to build herself back up, instead of relying on us to do it for her. sometimes the best way to help someone is to stop being the pillar holding them up, so they can learn to hold themselves up.
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>>3245100
>"I know you love me. You love me badly. You're hellbent on making me love you so much that it hurts."
>"And I appreciate that. But it scares me at times on how far you're willing to go to prove to me that you love me. It scares Gina, it scares Rath."
>Hug her. Open that empathy channel.
>"So why am I not allowed to repay the favor? for Gina? for Rath? for you? Why should I be the one to let live while a friend of mine has to die?"
>"I don't like having to call people out of their own flaws like that. Having this conversation hurts me too. I feel helpless when I see my friends fall apart from each other."
>"But I'm doing this because I love you and Rath and Gina. I'm doing this for your own good. For everyone's sake. Because if this keeps going on, one day, one encounter, somewhere down the road in the future, one of us might lose it from being unable to keep our problems in check. Rath might one day bite off more than she could chew and blow herself up. Gina might one day lose herself from overusing her neuromancy, I might one day be swallowed by my past identity and kill everyone that I love in their sleep. And you... you might accidentally get one of us, or all of us killed because you couldn't stand the sight of me getting hurt. And then everyone will fall apart from that. I can't comprehend how you'll be able to cope without if I somehow kick it."
>Try not to cry. fail. hug her tighter.
>"So please... don't cry, Isabelle. Don't go too far in proving your love for me, to the point of scaring me and my friends. Just being with me by my side, being friends with my friends is proof enough, no need to go that extra distance. I need you strong. I need everyone to be strong. Strong enough to trust each other, and strong enough to put faith in one another. strong enough know that they can hold themselves up when alone and support each other when together."
>"Let me prove my love to you as you proved yours to mine, by letting me put my own life on the line for your sake, for everyone's sake, to fight like I'm hellbent but I don't give a damn. You know that song right Isabelle? Hellbent by Mystery Skulls?"
>Start softly singing the lyrics to "Hellbent", try to get B'ni to sing along.
>>3245350
The way I see it is that B'ni wants to prioritize saving Shu to the point of becoming detrimental to the entire group. You've seen how B'ni reacts when Shu is in the mere hint of danger. She drops everything. The technically prevents Shu in from even getting into melee or putting herself on the line to bait out a counterattack since it would risk B'ni dropping her role in a team fight. Our goal in this talk is to call B'ni out on her obession, her dangerous habit of frightening Gina, Rath, and Shu when she takes it too far (Butchering Carla frightened everyone), her slightly skewed priorities (we did drill in the "all for one, one for all motto" into her head), and to ensure that B'ni can mentally survive without having to depend on our every word.
>>
>>3245378
eh, nah, i just feel for this one purpose, we need to not falter. for once, we need to stand firm and strong. giver her not room to see us a weak or in need of physical or emotional support. we need her to know that what we say is true, by showing we can handle ourselves, and what we say, not crumble down and cry.

but i suppose others will decide what they like, as it does go.
>>
>>3245393
>>3245350
It's tricky. Reading your write-in, you were taking the strong silent stoic leader approach. I do agree with some of your points. It's also well written.
Then I remember that her subconscious signals in Carla's dreamscape were very similar to that of a yandere. She's obsessive. Obsessive about Shu. Shu's opinions matter to B'ni to the point where she hangs onto Shu's words as gospel, repeating catchphrases ad verbatim. If anything, the worst thing that could happen to B'ni is Shu being emotionally damaged by her actions. While that would definitely force B'ni to re-examine her own behavior and actions, B'ni's psyche is also fragile, and appears to be innately dependent on someone else. She is fine with Shu's decision no matter what Shu decides. She waits for Shu's decision before supporting it regardless of logic. On occasion, she may have her own honest opinion. But as she is right now, she'll need guidance. Calling her out on her obsession is the correct move on one part, but there's a psychology to it. You broke her down, but now she's directionless. If you want her to learn how to hold themselves up and be emotionally strong enough to stand on their own, then tell her that she needs to be emotionally strong and stand on her own, it's not having her relying on us, it's us stopping her from her current heading, then pointing her her in a better direction in development and telling her "go ham."
For a person like B'ni who is mostly directionless, all one needs to do is point her in the right direction.
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>>3245431
hrm...i do get what you mean, in that at the end i didn't directly tell her what we want, though i do feel i at least implied it heavily implied it.

maybe start out more like mine, then after it transition more towards yours to stop her from just collapsing, while still keeping at least firm enough to make sure she doesn't just relapse? make sure in yours as the second part we want her to look at the bigger picture and the team and goal as a whole, but directly tell her kindly instead of just implying it?

i get where your coming from, but i feel we need to keep some level of stoic-ness, like at least not cry? a hug isnt bad but we still need to hold ourselves together, and only show strong emotion like that once we hammer it in where she has gone wrong.

trying to figure out how to use the best parts from both of our and compromise.

for what its worth, i didn't think nor mean to imply yours was badly written or anything, it was good work, and i appreciate the compliment, i simply think were both looking at equally important parts but focusing heavily one one end of it.
>>
>>3245100
Supporting>>3245378

The other one can be interpreted by B'ni as outright rejection of her feelings, which I think will make things worse. In the worst case she'd latch on to that part and ignore the rest, maybe even blame Gina and Rachel for it.

And I'm okay with them becoming a couple later.
>>
>>3245100
This >>3245378
be as straightforward and blunt as possible
she won't misinterpret or misconstrue this time
>>
(Writing now, Gentlemen.)
>>
>>3246306
(...or I would be, if I wasn't working with my most talkative coworker today. I shall post the update when I return home this early afternoon, and thank you for your patience.)
>>
>>3245378
>>3245100

"I know you love me.” You say simply, B’ni’s eyes going wide at your acknowledgement of her feelings. “You love me badly. You're hellbent on making me love you so much that it hurts…and I appreciate that, actually. But it scares me at times on how far you're willing to go to prove to me that you love me. It scares Gina, it scares Rath..."

“I…I’m sorry, I was just…I didn’t mean to…” She stammers, tears welling in her eyes just before you step forward and take her into your arms holding her tight.

"…So why am I not allowed to repay the favor?” You ask, squeezing her for emphasis. “For Gina? For Rath? For you? Why should I be the one to let live while a friend of mine has to die?"

“P-please don’t be mad at me, I n-never meant to upset anybody, I just wanted...” She hiccoughs back a sob, shaking helplessly in your arms. You run a hand through her short, dark hair.

“Having this conversation hurts me too. I feel helpless when I see my friends fall apart from each other... but I'm doing this because I love you, and Rath, and Gina. I'm doing this for your own good, for everyone's sake.”
“Look at me.” You say, taking her chin between your thumb and forefinger, feeling her practically melt in your embrace. “If this keeps going on, one day, one encounter, somewhere down the road in the future, one of us might lose it from being unable to keep our problems in check.”

You glance back towards the shrouded city, towards where your other two companions rest before you continue. “Rath might one day bite off more than she could chew and blow herself up. Gina might one day lose herself from overusing her neuromancy.”

You turn back to B’ni, gazing deeply into her misty emerald eyes.

“I might one day be swallowed by my past identity and kill everyone that I love in their sleep. And you... you might accidentally get one of us, or all of us killed because you couldn't stand the sight of me getting hurt, and then everyone will fall apart from that. I can't comprehend how you'll be able to cope without if I somehow kick it."

“I…I wouldn’t b-be able to…I c-can’t imagine…” She wilts, and you feel the pure, unmitigated horror explode across the empathic channel at the prospect of her losing you, tears streaming down her face. You let go of her chin and wipe the tears from her face, smiling weakly down at her as you do.

"So please... don't cry, Isabelle. Don't go too far in proving your love for me, to the point of scaring me and my friends. Just being with me by my side, being friends with my friends is proof enough, no need to go that extra distance.”

“…R-really?” She asks, tightening her arms around you.

(Continued)
>>
>>3246627

“Really.” You nod, taking her by the shoulders to stop her from trembling. “I need you to be strong, I need everyone to be strong. Strong enough to trust each other, and strong enough to put faith in one another. Strong enough know that they can hold themselves up when alone and support each other when together. Strong enough to let me do what I need to, when the time comes…alright?"

“I…okay.” She says, and you feel something shift inside of her, a rigidity giving way to a sort of reluctant, burgeoning trust as she gazes up at you in awe. “Shu, I…you’re s-so amazing, now. You just…you’re absolutely incredible.”

"Let me prove my love to you as you proved yours to mine, by letting me put my own life on the line for your sake, for everyone's sake, to fight like I'm hellbent but I don't give a damn. You know that song right Isabelle?” You ask, holding her close once more. “Hellbent, by Mystery Skulls?"

She chokes out a small chuckle, humming the tune into the crook of your arm. You hum along as well, following her lead as you let out some of the tension you both were holding onto with an exultation of laughter.

“I missed this.” B’ni giggles, swallowing back tears of relief as she nuzzles your chest, the sensation familiar in a curious way as you close your eyes.

“I missed you so, so much, Shu.”

The sound of a noisy mini-fridge filters into your ears as your eyes snap open, a pair of twin lava lamps the first thing they focus on, their orange and violet light cast about the cramped, yet cozy dorm room. Your heart skips a beat as you slowly look down at the girl in your arms, the fading memory of Holly’s strawberry-blonde mane replaced with a familiar head of short, dark hair, and you realize this is the way it was, the way you could not recall until now, with her nuzzling into your chest the same way she did, the way she always did. You stare into emerald eyes as you realize it’s her.

It’s been B’ni the whole time.

Racing along in the garden, before she cut her hair short to look more like yours. Idling in the drive-through, as snow falls silently outside the warm cabin of her beat-up car. Dancing to the music, shifting lights shining along her small frame as you push another drink into her hands. Helping her back to her dorm, whispering drunken sweet nothings into your ear as you turn the key…

(Continued)
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>>3246634

You drop the bags B’ni helped you retrieve from your car to the bathroom floor, the first hints of morning light inching across the window pane. You unzip them with calm, deliberate grace, pulling out the cellophane-wrapped limbs one by one and setting them neatly beside the empty bathtub. From the other duffel bag you retrieve the head and hollowed-out torso, the vague scent of formaldehyde emanating from them as you set them atop the pile of limbs, emptying the second bag by pulling the mason jars of blood from their depths.

You pull on a pair of latex gloves and get to work arranging the parts in the tub, setting the stage with a dramatic flourish as you render the corpse unrecognizable with liberal application of animal blood and assorted viscera. You rise, blood dripping from your gloves as you marvel at your handiwork, turning to the bathroom mirror with a satisfied smile and uttering the phrase that once again sends a chill down your spine.

“It’s perfect.”

You glance down at your bags, stripping off the elastic gloves and tossing them to the tightly wrapped plastic sheets you set aside for that very purpose. You gather them together, stuffing them into your backpack before giving the scene one last look, one last smirk before you shut the bathroom door behind you.

Your hand is on the doorknob of your friend’s dorm when you pause, turning to the half-open bedroom door. You realize that depending on how your plan goes, this might be your last chance. You stride over, opening it with utmost care as you peek in to check in on the unconscious girl, buried snugly in her sheets. She moans in her sleep, turning over and revealing a head of short, dark hair, her emerald eyes shut tight as she dreams of a future with you.

Isabelle.

B’ni.

Your oldest friend, your unquestioning ally, your most devoted pawn.

It’s always been her.

You smile and close the door behind you, leaving her behind one final time.

>>Ninth Vein: Closed
>>
(Gentlemen, you all have been fantastic as always. Thank you so much for your participation, patience, and enthusiasm, and I do hope you are having as fun a ride piloting this quest as I am having in writing it. I welcome comments, questions, and criticism as always, and I shall be checking in to this thread over the course of my weekend when I can. I hope you enjoyed, and I look forward to seeing you in the next vein when it opens four days from now.)
>>
So old Shu didn't kill her oldest friend, but framed her for a grizzly murder, right?
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>>3246657
>>3246640
motherfucker BHOP. you absolute bastard. we thought we were a serial killer. it turns out that Shu actually faked her death. goddammit you rused us so hard.
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>>3246668
either that or we faked our death
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>>3246676
(Rest assured, the ruse cruise is only just leaving port.)
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>>3246640
whew, well that was an interesting twist. still not how i wanted it to go, and man do i have questions, but goddamn well done, good job BHOP.

im no longer sure if we killed anyone in the past(could be fake body parts, or we got them from a morgue or something), but there is still alot of questions, and no matter what we did i still cant see a scenario where past us isnt a dick in some major way. but admittedly cant deny maybe not as bad or one as we thought, depending on some things. that being said she still was more than happy to taunt us and both let us think that, and leaving it to look like either your best friend murdered someone, or you did then left her with the cleanup job, both are situations that dont exactly leave me changing my opinion on them much.

this also honestly brings up so many questions about B'ni. she knew us, like, really really knew us. now though, i can see why she may of been willing to forgive us for murder, its hard actually to turn on lifelong friends in general, let alone with her feelings. but we told them everything, at least to the point of say 'killed best friend'. you think at that she would've said something, or maybe it makes sense she wouldn't but thats also just as big a problem?
still dont like her or the way she acts and think we really let her off too easy. even a bit more justified in why she thinks like that, that doesn't make it healthy or helpful all the same.
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>>3246919
I don’t think B’ni can change into a healthy person on the timescale of the quest. She will need baby steps before that even becomes an option
>>
>>3246919
the issue was that we were working off of incomplete information. there are still a ton of unanswered questions as to why Shu pulled this off.
>>
So, given the thread just ended I want to talk about the Cord.
We seem to only have the options of ignoring it until someone else claims it or trying to climb it ourselves. Charon said only one person can fully ascend but presumably we’d try and cheat that somehow if we climbed that.
Except this quest has ended up having a theme of taking another option. From befriending B’ni to picking the third option for Swarmlings.
And it’s basically an umbical cord, as well as the only connection between the Earth and whatever caused this stuff.
If we find the Cord, we can cut it. Sever Mother from this planet and prevent this stupid contest altogether.

>"Something...something's enveloped our planet in a sort of semi-permeable membrane, capable to generating its own light, either through bio-luminescence or...I'm still trying to figure that part out, but what's more is that it has a defined point of contact with the Earth's surface, and given what some Daughters have told me, I believe it to be the only one."
>>
>>3247128
maybe, hopefully this at least will have been enough to stop her from getting worse.

>>3247213
i agree, but still feel its enough to not like her at least.

>>3247230
>cut the cord
i like this
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MAN, ALL THIS TALK ABOUT CORDS, DREAMS, BLOOD, AND BODY HORROR - IT ALL REMINDS ME OF A CERTAIN SOMETHING
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>>3247482
I CAN'T QUITE PUT MY FINGER ON WHAT IT COULD BE
I'M SURE BHOP KNOWS EXACTLY WHAT I AM GETTING AT
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>>3247486
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>>3247482
>>3247486
what is your point though?
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>>3247494
Here, have pic related for your high /u/ tension guro SMT Joker Quest simulator

>>3247505
:^)
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>>3247518
that looks unhealthy.

>>3246657
so do all ability trees have the same max level? ill hold off on asking what the max level would be in either case, due to that probably being a 'spoiler' in a way.

im also curious what triggers the talk with MOTHER and her choice, as it seems we were wrong about it being specifically level based. that or shes abandoned giving it to any of Shus teammates due to knowing theres no point.
>>
>>3247518
(That is the best description for this quest I've ever heard. I've been describing it as Lovecraftian Lesbians Have a Bad Time, but that works well.)
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>>3247230
>>3247286
Why am I getting the feeling that what Shu did when she faked her death was what caused the Crucible?

>>3247544
Also I keep imagining Shu as Komi-san.
>>
>>3247538
(Yes, they do all have the same max level.)

>>3247553
(Ever since someone mentioned that in an earlier thread, I've been seeing it, too.)
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>>3247538
>tfw no girl like that will drain your balls dry
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>>3247544
Shin Megami Tensei Digital Devil Saga, except Marmaduke and Garfield have devoured the world, and everybody's a lesbian.
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>>3247544
> Lovecraftian Lesbians Have a Bad Time
kek, though to be fair, when there arent any males left....

>>3247553
i think the Crucible is extraterrestrial. though i suppose her actions could've still called them to earth, or drawn their attention.
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>>3247651
>>3247553
>Shu is so fucked that out of everybody else fucked in the world, she's the one to call the Crucible to the planet and ruin everything
>Serph is so beyond fucked in regards to science, he's fully willing to groom an underage girl to get God's power, dooming the planet when he inevitably fucks up
BHOP AT IT AGAIN WITH THE PARALLELS
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>>3247664
speaking of that, i did have a bittersweet thought. even if we cant save the planet, and the best we can do is kill/stop MOTHER and make there no way for the Crucible to be completed, leaving the earth to slowly die via all the daughters going insane and everyone consuming everyone til only one Daughter or Amalgam is left, before they too die...well, at least we broke the chain and the next planet in line was saved.

so we got that going for us, i guess.
>>
>>3248624
It'll be a pyrrhic victory, but a victory nonetheless.
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>>3248624
Well, given we’ve previously eaten the landscape and gotten biomass from it, without the programmed hunger some semblance of an ecosystem could probably reform where Daughters and Amalgams eat bits of land, and the land breaks down corpses and waste. Find some daughters who can give it some photosynthesis or geothermal power and you’re good to go. Even without recycling, between the planet and whatever are the planet there’s a lot of food if you don’t only count the ambulatory bits.

The problem is the programmed hunger that drives everyone to the Cord and to eat each other.
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>>3248874
true, we'll have to see what limits we can find. so far, the best we have is the logical assumption the hunger is hard programmed in to prevent any other outcome.but we can of course hope and look for a way to change that.
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(Gentlemen, I will actually have the Tenth Vein go live tomorrow, considering part of my Sunday afternoon just opened up. I shall post here and on Twitter to let you know when it goes live. Does anyone use the QTG to look for updates, by the way?)
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>>3250176
I used the QTG to see if you said anything when you took that week(?)-long break a few veins back, but that was about it.
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>>3250176
rarely. i used to but i rarely have a reason to be in the thread, as theres usually little discussion im interested in, if theres any at all.
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>>3250483
(Likewise, so if everyone is alright with me simply posting in this thread and on Twitter to let you know when a new Vein opens up, then I'll do that from now on. I may update /qtg/ on occasion just to bring in some new readers from time to time, but you all are such a fun group.)
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>>3250704
sounds good to me. though honestly from what ive seen people get very few new players from the /qtg/, most come from browsing the catalog it seems like.
>>
(So, if I may be so bold, which characters are you enjoying the most so far, and why?)
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>>3250901
Hard to say for me. I like them all for various reasons.

I guess I'd give a slight edge to Gina and Julia.The former had a story arc and important relationships with other characters like with B'ni before she even met Shu, and I like the accidentally suggestive moments she has with Shu. The later is just a kind sweetheart despite the sinister looking introduction.
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>>3250901
>was literally gonna ask this question
including to you BHOP, dont think you can ask us and not be asked!

>Rath
i like a fighter, im stubborn and can appreciate such characters. that and you make it feel real, rather than just a caricature of R A G E. that, and REDHEADS and EXPLOSIONS.

>Julia
disturbingly cute, and was really well executed in how she was probably the sweetest and shyest person we have met. relatable in some ways and a strange but good contrast to the world itself aswell as our own personal goals.
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>>3250901
Bni, goddamit, she turned from the shy,weak tag along to a beast in close quarters and a yandere, she also has the most interesting backstory as she knew us. Can't wait to see how she develops and how that relates to our past. Also crit and dodge builds get me rock hard.

Also with Ginas development i'm liking her more and more. She's surprisingly witty and is the best kind of support, the one that always gets you out of shit.
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>>3251148
(Haha, I'm glad someone was going to ask. As for personal favorites, I really enjoy writing Gina and Rath's interactions with Shu, given that they're polar opposites at their cores and they both have very different ways of doing things and communicating with people, Shu in particular.)

(Julia really didn't have a personality until you all surprised me by turning a boss fight into an art critique, and she proved unexpectedly fun to write as well, just because of how sweet she is. Some other fun acquantences Shu's met in her journey will also get some more screen time down the line, and I'm looking forward to that.)
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>>3251495
Gina because she's literally Gale but BETTER
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>>3251495
so in this quest so far, what was the one action that we as a playerbase did that threw you off for a loop the hardest? Name one action and one encounter scenario that you had planned but then had to throw out those notes. when we surprised you.
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>>3251598
(Hm, that's a good one. The first time I literally had to throw my notes out completely during an encounter was the Julia encounter. That completely threw me for a loop, and it ended up making the campaign better for it.)

(As far as a single action you've taken that threw me for a loop, the vote that almost passed to call on Past!Shu when you were in Carla's dreamscape had me sweating bullets, if I'm being completely honest. I was in the middle of writing when the votes came to overturn it, it would've been wild.)
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(The Tenth Vein shall open in ten hours, Gentlemen.)
>>
The Tenth Vein is open, Gentlemen.

>>3253856



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