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Your name is Shu, and though you woke a mere two weeks ago to find the world you knew replaced with a hellscape of pulsing veins and marbled bone, complete with a hive of furious hornets nestled along your spine, you’ve managed to find a silver lining to the horrors of the apocalypse.

For one thing, you’ve made some genuine friends, three of whom travel alongside you in your collective pursuit of something only known as the Cord, a mysterious westward location that all Daughters are drawn towards. You have conquered terrifying opponents, traversed the twisting madness of the fleshscape, and learned more about your friends and your dimly-remembered past…yet you feel as though your journey to the west is just beginning.

Now, as you prepare to venture forth into the abyssal darkness of the Shrouded City, you find yourself standing outside its hidden depths, the eerily silent vastness of the skin-fields pressing in around you as you grapple with a revelation from the past...

* * * * *

Previous Thread: >>3236024

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

Character Abilities: https://pastebin.com/A5MA9zeY
>>
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You stare down at B'ni, short, dark hair framing her sweet face, sporting a fanged grin and emerald eyes that stare up at you in admiration. You'd feel better about the pep talk you just gave her had it not prompted an unbidden memory to invade your mind, raising more questions than answers about what you thought you knew about your past self. You had dismissed the version of you that existed before the world ended as a murderer, an utter monster who killed her oldest friend in cold blood, but now...

"Shu, are you okay?" B'ni asks, a flicker of the tension you had hoped you dispelled crossing her face.

"Yeah, no, I'm fine. I'm alright." You say dismissively before B'ni gives you an odd look, a curious sort of determination settling in the corners of of glittering eyes.

"Shu...you know you can be open with me, right?" She says, the fingers of her right hand threading through the fingers of your left. "I...I know I'm not as good as Gina at talking about stuff, and I'm not...I don't know, not as carefree as Rath, but..."

She glances at the pendant she gave you, and a smile spreads across her face as she meets your gaze once more.

"I meant what I said after you and I fought Holly. I want to work hard so you'll trust me...because you're someone worth working hard for, Shu. That hasn't changed...it's something that won't change."

She clasps your hand in both of hers, bringing it to her chest as you feel her heart pounding away as she continues.

"Thank you, Shu. Thank you for bringing me with you, thank you for being honest with me. I don't want to worry you, and I want us all to be safe, for us to make this work. I'll work hard, and do everything I can to make sure everyone is alright...together."

You stare at her in silence for a moment, amazed at how much she's grown in short time you've known her as you weight how to respond to her impassioned declaration.

>>Whatever questions you may have for B'ni about your past, they can wait. You felt something shift across your empathic field, and you feel like you made some progress here. There's no point in backsliding by making this an interrogation, so you will just spend some time with B'ni while the others rest.

>>You have questions for B'ni, and the city and your other friends can wait while you get answers. You've made progress with your friend, and now may be the ideal time to learn more about the nature of her relationship with your past self...there's just too much that isn't adding up.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
>>3253864
>>You have questions for B'ni, and the city and your other friends can wait while you get answers. You've made progress with your friend, and now may be the ideal time to learn more about the nature of her relationship with your past self...there's just too much that isn't adding up.
>>
(Voting to close in two hours, Gentlemen.)
>>
>>3253864
>>>You have questions for B'ni, and the city and your other friends can wait while you get answers. You've made progress with your friend, and now may be the ideal time to learn more about the nature of her relationship with your past self...there's just too much that isn't adding up.

There's so much that we don't know - either we framed B'ni for murder, or we faked our own death. Or some third option we haven't even considered. Regardless, it's messed up, and one thing's for certain - we knew B'ni before all this, and she's not telling us that she knew us.

Given what we just talked about, we need to be careful about how we approach this. No need to undo the progress we made with her. But we do need to ensure that she isn't hiding anything from us.

"B'ni... I appreciate that. And there is something that I need to ask you."

"Before all this, before the Crucible began... we knew each other, didn't we?"
>>
>>3253864
>You have questions for B'ni, and the city and your other friends can wait while you get answers. You've made progress with your friend, and now may be the ideal time to learn more about the nature of her relationship with your past self...there's just too much that isn't adding up.
this >>3253885
>>
>>3253864
>You have questions for B'ni, and the city and your other friends can wait while you get answers. You've made progress with your friend, and now may be the ideal time to learn more about the nature of her relationship with your past self...there's just too much that isn't adding up.
>>
>>3253864

"B'ni...I appreciate that.” You say, taking a breath before you continue on to your question. “And there is something that I need to ask you."

“Okay!” She beams, excited at the fact you’re taking her up on her offer so early.

"Before all this, before the Crucible began... we knew each other, didn't we?"

Her smile falters, panic briefly rising across your empathic channel before she wrestles it back down.

“…You’re remembering, aren’t you?” She asks softly, looking down at her feet. “How much do you…what’s come back?”

“I am, and I’m remembering more as time goes on. I remember you’re my best friend…that you were always by my side.” You reply, feeling a pang of hope spring across your connection from the girl you hold in your arms.

“I remember the night I thought I killed someone…that it was your dorm room I left that body in.”

Hope gives way to horror as she goes stock still in your grip.

“I’m not mad.” You preface, your voice as even as you can make it given the waves of crippling, empathic fear that assaults you. “I just need context, B’ni. You wanted to earn my trust, and I want to earn yours.”

You tilt her chin up, bringing her gaze to meet yours. It is with painstaking slowness that her heart and emotions return to something that allows her to answer, and it’s a long moment after that before she begins to speak.

“…It was a p-prank, a challenge, something she d-did to get into a sorority there.” B’ni says, her voice shaking as she glances aside. “There was this med student w-who owed her a favor, I think…it was s-something that would let her make a name for herself, help her rise through t-the ranks by ruining a freshman.”

She looks up at you, tears welling once more in the corners of her eyes as she gives a bitter laugh.

“It w-worked, in a way.” She says, her eyes puffy and red as she studies your stunned expression.

Your mind whirls, struggling to focus as you try to wrap your head around what you’ve been told, what you now know about the girl you used to be.

“…But when you woke up, I realized you were someone new.” B’ni says, reaching up to touch your cheek with a trembling hand. “Someone kind, and caring…someone who looked at me like that person never did…”

She forces a smile through her tears.

“…You care, Shu. You really, truly care…”

Her arms tighten, squeezing you close as your mind whirls.

“…And I love the new you."

You fight to process, to understand how to react to this…you’re at a loss over what to say next.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
>>3253998
>(Nervous laughter)
>"Wow, old me was a fucking asshole huh? And here I thought I was some deranged serial killer and you were my next victim, or something." (Pat head) "Being here now, learning all this from you, I can't imagine what sort of person I must have been to do all that, what sort of life I must have had."
>(Stop patting head) "But as much as I hate to admit it, that old me and the me right now are still the same person. Somewhere in there, in the back of my mind where I can't see, old Shu is there." (Grimace, but look right in her eyes) "There's so much I still don't remember or know about my past, but I want you to promise me one thing: if that old Shu comes back and somehow takes me over, tries to put you and the others in danger, well..." (Look down at greaves. She'll know.)
standard "kill me if I'm subsumed" request - though I hope someone does a better write-in than mine first
>>
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YOUR NEXT BIG QUEST IS JOINING THIS SERVER

https://discord.gg/EjyUz5
>>
>>3254056
>discord
BOO
*hiss*
discord just sucks out all the thread discussions and into the discord channel. Please no.
>>
(Voting to close in two hours, Gentlemen.)
>>
>>3253998
>"B'ni im...im so sorry. That....im...."
>Break down a bit, maybe alot.

Well, i can understand her obsession with us now though. To her, the new us is a second chance to have the Shu she always wan-
-waaaaaaaait. Hold on.....Gina said Shu was someone NEW b'ni had met, right? Like, at first she and b'ni were close, then she said b'ni met someone new she called shu who slowly took up all of b'ni's attention. I feel like something still not adding up at all here, but i dont know what or how.
>>
>>3254061
I agree, a discord would just drain any thread conversation out and into it. At the very least let BHOP decide and make his own if he so wishes, instead of someone else making it.
>>
>>3253998
>"Am... am I your second chance then?"
>"I'm relieved that I wasn't a serial killer, but it's clear that I was still a bitch. One that didn't deserve to have you as a friend."
>"The old Shu is still inside of me. I've seen her for myself, and even if she wasn't a remorseless killer, I think that she'd hurt you again. I want to keep being someone you love and can be proud of, so please watch out for her in case she resurfaces."
>"I love you too, Isabelle. And I want to keep caring about you and Gina and Rachel."
>>
>>3254056
(My sincerest apologies, but I would prefer to keep discussion in-thread for the time being. I appreciate the fact that you took the time to make it, and should conversation get too unweildy in the threads in the future, it is certainly an option I would be open to revisiting. Again, thank you for making it and please know that I will keep it saved for future use, if the need arises.)
>>
>>3254124
>>3254097
>>3254056
Let me tell you of a story involving a quest and discord. There was once a fairly popular quest. It started about 4 years ago. lots of anons participated, thread was lively, memery and fun times were to be had. the story was good. Excellent hallmarks of a good quest. A couple of years down the line, the QM introduced the quest specific Discord channel. The effects were mild at first, but soon it started severely impacting the apparent thread's "health". Less and less people commented in-thread, any meaningful discussion was sucked into discord instead of being preserved in the supqst archives. All the good in-jokes, the thread memes, things that would make a thread great and memorable got sucked into discord. the thread itself was still alive, but it just looked so...lifeless. it was simply just a dull cycle of
>QM posts updoot once a day.
>a scant few anons make greentext votes or throws dice.
>almost no discussion gets posted in-thread
>discord turned to a general chat channel about mostly non-quest bullshit. Nothing quest gets discussed aside form a couple of QM Q&A which should've been in-thread.
>rinse and repeat.
Granted. the quest was at the endgame, but seeing the life get sucked out of it in the endgame makes you think that the quest started to get boring.
>>
(Gentlemen, would your schedules be open to another session of quick'posting tonight starting in the next four and a half hours, roughly? My evening just opened up, so I wanted to touch base and see if you would be free and open to doing so.)
>>
>>3254198
sounds good
>>
>>3254198
Go for it.
>>
>>3254198
yes
>>
(Writing now, Gentlemen.)
>>
>>3254270
(My apologies Gentlemen, but work has intensified considerably this afternoon. As a result, I will post when I am able and shall resume thusly at 6:30 my time, or in roughly three hours from now to begin rapid posting. Thank you for your patience, and take care.)
>>
>>3254323
take your time my man, but as for 6 and >>3254198
i should be available yes.
>>
>>3253998
>>3254051
>>3254092
>>3254122

You’re many things, all at once; relieved, disturbed, confused, but above all, you’re happy to know the truth. You look down at B’ni, the emotions between the two of you settling into a tentative calm as you look into each other’s eyes.

"I do care, B’ni. I care a lot. So, am I... am I your second chance, then?"

She nods, staring up at you as you wipe an errant tear from her cheek with one hand, then reaching up to pat her soft hair.

"I'm relieved that I wasn't a serial killer, but it's clear that I was still a bitch.” You say flatly, staring over her and into the distance. “One that didn't deserve to have you as a friend. I can't imagine what sort of person I must have been to do all that, what sort of life I must have had…but as much as I hate to admit it, that old me and the me right now are still the same person. Somewhere in there, in the back of my mind where I can't see, old Shu is there. I've seen her for myself, and even if she wasn't a remorseless killer, I think that she'd hurt you again. I want to keep being someone you love and can be proud of, so please…”

You grimace, holding her gaze.

"There's so much I still don't remember or know about my past, but I want you to promise me one thing: if that old Shu comes back and somehow takes me over, tries to put you and the others in danger, well…I trust you to do what…”

“No.”

“I…What?” You blurt out, taken aback.

“No.” B’ni repeats, meeting your eyes with a hard, defiant stare. “Shu, you literally just got through telling me that you wanted us all to see this through together, right? Then you turn around and ask me to hurt you if you show signs of turning back to your old self? Just…no.”

She reaches up and cups your face in both hands, her touch gentle, her eyes pleading.

“You said you’re worried about how we would get through this without you, that you don’t know if we could make it…and you’re right. We couldn’t, Shu…not without you. So please, please believe me when I say that if your past becomes an issue, then Gina, Rath, and I are going to fight with everything we have to help you beat it. I promise you that.”

“…T-thank you.” You say, blinking back the mist that begins to cloud your visison.

“You’re welcome. I’m not going to let you go that easy, Shu.” She says, sticking her tongue out at you teasingly.

She yelps when you pull her into your arms, and you don’t let go of her, the two of you standing in the remains of the old earth, in the aftermath of the world's end.

Best friends, together again.

(Continued)
>>
>>3254527

“Alright, how’re we gonna do this?” Rath asks, squinting at the rudimentary map on Gina’s phone.

You sit cross-legged in your makeshift tent with your allies, huddled over the softly glowing device on the raised plinth that serves as your war table. Gina reaches down and gingerly zooms out of the map, showing a large area of distortion.

“Okay, so you see this?” She says, glancing towards the redhead to her left. “We know Charon’s somewhere in this area, but we can’t be sure as to where. There’s a larger area of static than last time, so we’re going in kinda dark on this one, if you’ll pardon the pun.”

“So, guns blazing or sneaky, what’ll it be?” Rath muses, looking to the brunette for an answer.

“Well, I’d say that’s up to Shu.” Gina says, smirking up at you from across the table. Rath turns to you with a grin, her eyes aflame and ready for anything.

“What’s your call, man?” She asks, and you find all eyes on you once more.

>>”Stealth. We have the Shroud and Chitinous Stalwart, though that approach would lend its strengths to a smaller group to let me stay viable. The armor isn’t cheap to make, and every foray into dark areas we’ve had thus far hasn’t had much biomass available, so that’s something to consider.”

>>”Guns blazing. We have the Contender, we have ranged abilities and B’ni’s unparalleled melee prowess. I'm confident we can handle what comes up, especially with the Shroud and the improved Chitinous Stalwart.”

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting to close in one and a half hours, Gentlemen. Rapid posting shall resume shortly thereafter.)
>>
>>3254536
>”Stealth. We have the Shroud and Chitinous Stalwart, though that approach would lend its strengths to a smaller group to let me stay viable. The armor isn’t cheap to make, and every foray into dark areas we’ve had thus far hasn’t had much biomass available, so that’s something to consider.”
>"Tether us together please Gina. I don't want all of us to get separated in a pitch black town. Whatever the thing in the dark that petrified those girls is, it thrived in the dark.
>>
>>3254536
>>”Stealth. We have the Shroud and Chitinous Stalwart, though that approach would lend its strengths to a smaller group to let me stay viable. The armor isn’t cheap to make, and every foray into dark areas we’ve had thus far hasn’t had much biomass available, so that’s something to consider.”
>>
>>3254536
>”Stealth. We have the Shroud and Chitinous Stalwart, though that approach would lend its strengths to a smaller group to let me stay viable. The armor isn’t cheap to make, and every foray into dark areas we’ve had thus far hasn’t had much biomass available, so that’s something to consider.”
>"Tether us together please Gina. I don't want all of us to get separated in a pitch black town. Whatever the thing in the dark that petrified those girls is, it thrived in the dark.
>>
>>3254536
>”Stealth. We have the Shroud and Chitinous Stalwart, though that approach would lend its strengths to a smaller group to let me stay viable. The armor isn’t cheap to make, and every foray into dark areas we’ve had thus far hasn’t had much biomass available, so that’s something to consider.”
>"Tether us together please Gina. I don't want all of us to get separated in a pitch black town. Whatever the thing in the dark that petrified those girls is, it thrived in the dark.
>>
>>3254536
>”Stealth. We have the Shroud and Chitinous Stalwart, though that approach would lend its strengths to a smaller group to let me stay viable. The armor isn’t cheap to make, and every foray into dark areas we’ve had thus far hasn’t had much biomass available, so that’s something to consider.”
>"Tether us together please Gina. I don't want all of us to get separated in a pitch black town. Whatever the thing in the dark that petrified those girls is, it thrived in the dark.
>"In the darkness, we'll be at a disadvantage. Luckily for us, we have a way to counter that. I'll summon the swarmlings that can use sonar to see in the dark. If anything's coming our way, we'll know about it."
>>
>>3254536
>>3254560
>>3254566
>>3254574
>>3254592
>>3254630

”Stealth." You reply, rising from your seated position as you stretch your legs. "We have the Shroud and the Chitinous Stalwart, though that approach would lend its strengths to a smaller group to let me stay viable. The armor isn’t cheap to make, and every foray into dark areas we’ve had thus far hasn’t had much biomass available, so that’s something to consider."

"Can't you just armor us all up?" Rath asks, and you shake your head.

"I have enough biomass in me to make two full sets, and then with the shawl we can have three people cloaked. Two full sets would leave me pretty drained, though." You reply, and you turn to Gina. "This skin cloak, does it offer much bio regeneration?"

It's Gina's turn to shake her head sadly. "Not much, it's pretty shitty stuff Cap'n. I'm not sure what it's made out of, but whatever its tied to is making things difficult. It gives next to nothing, so it's basically just a big, useless sheet to us at this point."

"Alright, that's fine for right now. When we go in, I'd like for you to tether us all together, please. I don't want all of us to get separated in a pitch black town where we'll be at a disadvantage. Luckily for us, we have a way to counter that. I'll summon the swarmlings that can use sonar to see in the dark, so if anything's coming our way, we'll know about it."

"So at least one of us is going to stay behind?" Rath asks, irritated.

"Probably, yeah." You reply. B'ni chews on her lower lip for a moment before leaning back.

"Okay...um, I trust Rath to have your back, if you need more of a ranged fighter in there." She says, coming across as only slightly forced and prompting a quizzical, suspicious glance from Rath. B'ni looks to you and smiles, proud of herself.

Real smooth, kiddo.

Her heart's in the right place, at least.

>> Armor yourself up and go with Gina, leaving B'ni and Rath behind safely (-65% BIO, 85% remaining for Shu).

>> Armor yourself up and go with Gina and either B'ni or Rath, leaving the other to wait for your return.(Choose one Ally to take with you, -130%BIO, 20% remaining for Shu).

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting to close in one hour, Gentlemen.)
>>
>>3254723
>>> Armor yourself up and go with Gina, leaving B'ni and Rath behind safely (-65% BIO, 85% remaining for Shu).

its slightly more risky but i really dont like the idea of leaving anyone alone. breaking up the party is already dangerous enough, but leaving someone as a lone target to be picked off? doesn't feel smart nor right.
>>
>>3254723
> Armor yourself up and go with Gina, leaving B'ni and Rath behind safely (-65% BIO, 85% remaining for Shu).
yes, no going off alone
>>
(Writing now, Gentlemen.)
>>
>>3254723
>> Armor yourself up and go with Gina, leaving B'ni and Rath behind safely (-65% BIO, 85% remaining for Shu).
>>3254730
>its slightly more risky but i really dont like the idea of leaving anyone alone. breaking up the party is already dangerous enough, but leaving someone as a lone target to be picked off? doesn't feel smart nor right.

Sounds like the beginning of a horror movie.
>>
>>3254723

"Gina and I are going in, me with the armor and Gina with the shawl. B'ni, Rath? Sit tight, we'll be back once we map out a path to the waystation."

Rath shoots you a withering glare just out of B'ni's line of sight, while the latter girl hops up and gives you a quick hug before you and Gina venture off. You feel irregularly shaped platelings tear free of your back, crawling down your limbs before clasping into place as they form your shifting, glistening plate mail. You turn, giving B'ni and Rath a quick salute before walking through the small opening Gina made in the colossal sheet, with her following suit behind you.

"Ready?" You ask across the empathic channel, and Gina smiles as she slips a cord between your plates and into the small of your back.

"Always." She replies with a wink, closing the way behind you and plunging you both into darkness. Two soundlings frantically claw their way free of your hive, one staying on your shoulder and the other taking flight, both you and GG privy to their vision thanks to her tether.

The city's wide, empty streets stretch before you, the eerie silence settling around you like a sheet draped over the recently departed. Even though you know Gina's right next to you, the efficacy of Shalaev's Shawl is undeniable, since aside from the dimmed cord bridging the gap between you and what appears to be empty air there would be no way to know that GG even exists.

"Can you see me?" She asks across the empathic channel, and you realize you were just staring at the empty air next to you as you ventured forth.

"No, not even a bit." You reply, focusing on the road ahead. "That thing's pretty amazing...it's no wonder Carla got the drop on us."

The silence creeps into the gap between the two of you, until Gina breaks in once more with a casual question, something you know she's been dying to ask ever since you returned to the tent.

"So how'd things go with B'ni?" She asks with practiced nonchalance, and you can't help but crack a small smile under your helmet.

(Continued)
>>
Gotta go to sleep on my end. See you all in the morning and good luck.
>>
>>3254904
(Sleep well, Anon.)
>>
>>3254881

"It went well, I think." You reply, scanning the dim streets, your gaze studying every alley, every blind corner with focused intent. "I think she's more inclined to be a team player, which is a win in my book."

"I'm glad to hear...Rath was pretty shaken up about what happened with that neuromancer, and I don't blame her." Gina replies, the sound of her footfalls devoured by the Shroud's power. "Anything else of note?"

"...I'm not a killer." You say simply, and you feel a pulse of confusion reach across the wire.

"What?"

"I framed her...it was a body a med student got for me when we were in college, I apparently did it to get into a sorority or something like that." You say, the act of describing what you did, even the short version, bringing a foul taste to your mouth. "Turns out I was a grade 'A' sociopath, but not a killer. It's a relief, in a way."

She's quiet, at that. The two of you walk in silence for a few moments more.

"That's fucked up." She says, and you chuckle.

"Yeah, yeah it...huh?"

You feel the cord go taught between the two of you, alerting you to the fact that Gina stopped a few feet behind you.

"Like, what the fuck? I don't know where she..." Gina begins, and the line goes cold at the same moment her veins do, the paralyzing terror she now feels spearing across the line, sending chills across your limbs.

"Shu, don't move. Please for the love of god, don't move a goddamn muscle." She pleads across the cord. You switch your vision to the swarmling that hovers a few dozen feet above you, and that's when you see it.

(Continued)
>>
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>>3254927

You struggle put even define it, even as it's full size is laid bare to you, clinging to the side of the office building you are currently standing in front of. Its body resembles that of a colossal lamprey, taller and wider than most yachts you're familiar with. Six powerful limbs cling to indentations made by enormous talons, while its impossibly long tail wraps around the upper heights of the building several times over.

You and Gina stand there in terrified silence for several minutes, slowly realizing that the beast that looms above the two of you is breathing slowly, rhythmically, the breaths of a slumbering giant.

"Jesus Christ, how horrifying." Gina breathes across the cord, tugging on it to get you to follow her. "If its asleep, we can find another route around it when we bring the others. Come on, we're getting closer to the waystation."

You take a deep breath and turn around, the maw of the beast mere meters away.

>>Turn Back

>>Continue

HP: 100%
BIO: 65% (2 Soundlings, 6 Platelings, 8/15 Active. Contender: Empty)
ACT: 2/2
Threat: (Asleep)
B’ni: 120%

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
>>3254943
(Voting to close in one hour, Gentlemen.)
>>
>>3254943
>>Continue
im assuming this is what Gina was implying she wanted, to continue forward to the way station?
>>
>>3254947
Query: Explain turn back and continue. Does turn back mean we retreat to our friends and Continue mean we move forward towards Charon's way station?
>>
>>3254952
(She's all for continuing.)
>>
>>3254959
(Yes, my apologies for the confusion.)
>>
>>3254952
>>3254961
yeah thats what i thought, so lets trust Gina and go ahead with this.
>>
>>3254943
>Continue
>Through the Cord: "I think I know where Mara gets her dragons now. Blimey. I might as well call it 'Smaug'."
inb4 we have to play riddle games with the Mountain King Amalgam when it wakes.
>>
>>3254943
this >>3254972
>>
>>3254943

You take a cautious step forward, then another, and yet another before you pick up the pace that will carry you far away from the sleeping titan.

"I think I know where Mara gets her dragons, now. Blimey. I might as well call it 'Smaug'" You say with a nervous chuckle, though Gina remains unusually quiet as she storms ahead of you.

"...What did you mean, earlier? About my conversation with B'ni?" You ask, catching your breath after creating a considerable distance between you and the beast.

"I'm glad you're chill about it and all, but here's my issue; I lost sleep thinking you were a serial killer and I know you haven't been sleeping easy either, Shu." She replies, her voice terse across the channel. "From the minute you woke up in that cave after we fought that ghost, you've been terrified of your old self coming back and killing everyone."

"I was, yes." You reply, quickening your pace to match hers, trying to make sense of the steadily growing hostility that's coming across the line, billowing from Gina's petite frame as she storms along the streets of the shrouded city. "But I'm not who I thought I was, so I'm honestly relieved that..."

You stop when she whirls on you, throwing off the hood of the shawl and staring you down, her bright hazel eyes shining with fury.

"She let you think that you were a fucking murderer, Shu." Gina says, incredulous. "She knew you weren't a killer. She knew it was a prank, or a hazing, or whatever the fuck she called it. And you know what? She let you go on thinking that you seduced and killed some girl in cold blood, anyway. I'm goddamn pissed at her, and I think I have every right to be."

She flips the hood back over her face and disappears from sight, and you're prompted along when the cord goes taught once again.

"It's this way, come on." She says coolly, turning a corner.

(Continued)
>>
>>3255092

>>3255092

You wrestle with your own thoughts in silence as you follow Gina into a nearby building, stepping across a shattered set of glass double-doors, your swarmling posted on the building's overhang as a lookout while GG leads you further in. You pad along softly across the broken tile flooring of some long-abandoned office building, stalking towards a stairwell that, judging by the sign, leads to the basement. You take the lead, testing the steps before allowing Gina to follow in your literal footsteps.

"...I'm sorry I snapped at you earlier, Shu." Gina says apologetically, a small wave of regret passing across the wire to you.

"I know you care about her...hell, we both do." She says, pausing as she speaks to test the rusted stairs before committing her weight to them. "I just...you were suffering, and she was all fine and happy to let you..."

"I'm okay now, Gina. Past me is not nearly as intimidating as I thought she was." You interrupt, choosing your next steps carefully. "And as far as B'ni is concerned...well, that's just going to be a work in progress for a while. I'm content with that, for n..."

"Did she tell you how she feels about you?" Gina asks as you reach the bottom of the stairwell, the question coming across as oddly emotionless, given how she was acting earlier. It's purely a communication of a question, holding no intonation, no inflection across the line. Almost as if...

"Gina, I..." You begin, stopping when you become aware of a familiar presence in the hallway ahead of you. A figure comes into view, a ghastly, baroque imitation of a cloaked human form, it's face a black,crystalline skull that leers at you from the darkness.

You smile wide, when you see it.

"Good to see you, Charon." You call out as the figure bows low, hovering a few centimeters above the cracked and pitted tile floor.

[Greetings, Honored Daughter]

[It is pleasing to see you again, as well]

[How may I be of service to ones such as yourselves]

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Gentlemen, I shall be pausing here for the evening and resuming in approximately twelve hours with a regular posting schedule, barring a power outage from the snow we're supposed to have. Thank you so much for your participation Gentlemen, and take care of yourselves.)
>>
>>3255101
>"Well, honestly we mostly just wanted to get the waystation working so we had another one to use, but seeing you again is certainly a wonderful bonus."

>>3255092
oh shit, Gina makes a damn good point. like i said earlier too, something still doesn't add up about B'ni. honestly? i think shes actually manipulating US, simply telling us what she thinks we want to hear and when, basically doing whatever she can to make us need and want her move, even if that means letting us think were a killer so we'll seek her for comfort.

Half Truths and half lies to keep us trusting her but keep us needing her.
>>
>>3255119
I keep bringing up the point on what Mother said about B'ni's 'flaw' way back from the 3rd vein: "YOU WOULD CHOOSE A LIAR
ONE THAT WOULD STEAL FROM YOU IN WHAT WAS, WHAT IS, AND WHAT HAS YET TO BE"
If she's a consummate liar, then what exactly has she "stolen" from us? But the issue is that we are seeing some conflicting information in the testimony between Gina's perspective, B'ni's perspective, what we've seen, and that our inner self has claimed.

>>3255101
>To Gina: "We'll put a pin on that conversation."
>"Can you tell us anything about the Dragon Amalgam that sleeps in this town? Or are you restricted from interfering that much?"
>>
>>3255101
this >>3255119 >>3255161
>>
>>3255161
id have to look back at how and when it all started, but keep in mind B'ni wants us to love her and shes had access to our mind, and we honestly have no idea what she may of been able to do subconsciously or consciously in those times.

just a thought though, and hardly married to it, nor do i know how much i actually think it could be a thing.
>>
(Writing now, Gentlemen.)
>>
>>3255101

"We'll put a pin on that conversation for later" You tell Gina, unhooking her cord from your armor as you approach the towering humanoid.

"Hello again, Charon. Honestly, we mostly just wanted to get the waystation working so we had another one to use, but seeing you again is certainly a wonderful bonus." You say with a smile, and you watch as Charon places a cracked, soot-black hand on the wall, the corridor beyond warping in an impossible way.

[Likewise, Honored Daughter]

"Charon, Can you tell us anything about the Dragon Amalgam that sleeps in this town?” You ask, fearing you already know their answer. “Or are you restricted from interfering that much?"

Charon bows low, hand still on the wall.

[My sincerest apologies Honored Daughter, but I am forbidden from…]

You hold up a hand, stopping Charon from continuing another lengthy apology as Gina peeks behind the imposing figure at the distorted hallway beyond.

“It’s no trouble, I just thought I’d ask. So, what’s going on behind you?”

[Please forgive me, another Daughter is about to arrive]

You and Gina immediately tense up, your armor shuddering as you shift into a combat stance.

[Fear not Honored Ones, as combat between Daughters is forbidden within the confines of the way stations]

[If anyone wishes to disobey the Tenets of the Crucible then I am under strict instructions to politely dissuade them by any means necessary]
“Not going to lie, that sounded pretty badass, dude.” Gina says, giggling. Charon bows again.

[Much obliged, Honored Daughter]

[I believe the phrase I have heard is, ‘I get that a lot’]

[Ah, please bear with me, the other Honored Daughter is about to arrive]

(Continued)
>>
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>>3256473

The corridor shifts and shudders one final time before the clicking of sharp heels on ceramic tile echoes along its depths, a woman coming into view. The living lightning rod of a scientist tosses her hair back with a flourish, her startlingly white lab coat thrown wide as she spreads her arms in bombastic greeting.

“Darling~!” Doctor West exclaims, her long, lissome legs carrying her to you in a few short strides, her gloved hands on your shoulders. “You look simply marvelous, dear Shu! And that one is still by your side, bravo!”

She turns her attention to Gina, peering over your head and through her large glasses at the petite brunette

“Ah, you’re coming along nicely, fantastic development from when we first met! Splendid showing, love!”

“Right back ‘atcha. You’re a tall drink of water yourself, Doc.” Gina replies with a wink and a pair of finger-guns, causing West to laugh, her high, crowing laughter echoing along the hall and up the stairwell from whence you came.

“So!” She exclaims, her luminous glasses now transfixed on you alone. “What brings you so close to my new lab, Darling?”

You’re about to answer when you notice that Charon’s gaze is pointedly focused on the gun at your hip, their empty sockets intent upon the Contender as its inner heartbeat begins to pump irregularly.

>>”We were trying to locate Charon’s way station, and we just ran by a goddamn dragon. Do you know anything about that, Doctor?”

>>”Your lab? Good to hear you’ve set up a place, but I thought you were focusing on venturing out, seeing the world?”

>> Slip away from Doctor West for the moment and bring up the Contender. “Charon, what’s up? Can you tell me anything about this thing?”

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
>>3256476
>”We were trying to locate Charon’s way station, and we just ran by a goddamn dragon. Do you know anything about that, Doctor?”
>"So how was the Monastery you wanted to check out?
>If you had a piece of GG's halo, could you do some work with that?

I want to ask Charon about the Contender after catching up a little. I think she was the runner-up that didn't make it to the top due to last-minute infighting, and the Contender was used to shoot her, right?
>>
>>3256476
>"We just wanted to locate Charon's way station. What we didn't expect was a sleeping Smaug and seeing you here."
>Please have Gina find out if West knows anything about the Smaug.
>Slip away from Doctor West for the moment and bring up the Contender. "Judging by the name of the gun, I believe it belonged to you or your partner in the previous Crucible. What was the story behind this gun? Its inner heartbeat is having arrhythmia being near you."

>>3256482
I can support the write-ups, but we could have Gina ask Dr. West those questions while Shu asks Charon about the gun.

>>3256482
I think it's the other way around Anon. Charon's presence here and her role as a fast-travel station attendant instead of the entity known as MOTHER means she's the runner-up.
>>
(Gentlemen, voting shall close in roughly two hours, as I shall be heading home early from work due to inclement weather. If the snow permits, this means plenty of updates today.)
>>
>>3256476
See >>3256486
>>
>>3256482
Ill support this
>>
>>3256486
That's what I wrote: Charon was the runner-up.
>>
>>3256473
>[I believe the phrase I have heard is, ‘I get that a lot’]
Charon is arguably best skelebro(sis?) of the Crucible. I'm gonna feel real bad when we inevitably have to fight and kill them before we take on Mother Herself.
>>
>>3256539
>I'm gonna feel real bad when we inevitably have to fight and kill them before we take on Mother Herself.
that'd be when we bust out our best talk-no-jutsu and get them to join us to kick Mother's ass
>>
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>>3256476

"We just wanted to locate Charon's way station. What we didn't expect was a sleeping Smaug and seeing you here. Do you know anything about that amalgam, Doctor West?"

"You mean the Mountain King? Oh, he's a sweetie." She says dismissively. "If you skirt around him, you'll be fine. Breathes a nasty paralytic that appears to cause rapid calcification in its victims, but sleeps more often than not. I'm still trying to replicate how exactly its breath weapon functions on a basic biological lev..."

"Hey, you're a neuromancer, right?" Gina chimes in as she steps forwards, putting some much-needed space between you and the good Doctor.

"Perceptive *and* developing, you certainly show promise." Doctor West says with an excitable grin. "That is still my preferred skill among the ones I've collected, yes yes."

"Could I pick you brain about a few things...figuratively, I mean?" Gina asks, holding the halo at her side as West towers over her.

"I would be delighted~!" She replies in earnest, Gina leading her away from you and Charon. You step forwards, slipping the contender from the swarmling holster at your hip and holding it before the ferryman.

"The Hexane Contender." You say, studying Charon's inscrutable expression for any hint of emotion. "Judging by the name of the gun and the memory I experienced when I picked it up, I believe it belonged to you or your partner in the previous Crucible. What's was the story behind this gun? Its inner heartbeat is having arrhythmia being near you."

[To think it still remembers me, after all this time]

Charon's words fill your mind, heavy with nostalgia, laced with regret.

[Should it please you, Honored Daughter, may I...I mean no disrespect by my query, but may I hold it for but a moment...I am terribly sorry, please forget I made such an impertinent reque...]

You hold it out by the barrel, bidding the figure to take the weapon with a polite nod and a gentle smile. They reach out, hesitating a moment before grasping the handle with utmost care. You watch in awe as the handle shifts in Charon's fingers, molding itself into a full sabre-style guard as the barrel twists and lengthens to a rifle's length, a shining white blade extending along its full, spiraling length.

[HEXANE DEFENDER, PALADIN FORME]

It's beautiful, held in Charon's grasp.

(Continued)
>>
>>3256629

[In my...in previous experiences, individuals like myself would craft items in preparation of their chosen paths, as dictated by the weight of tradition and the demands of education]

Charon stares along the length of the Contender's peerless edge, moving the blade about with measured, expert grace.

[In this one's humble opinion, they asked us to define our futures and decide our fates at far too young an age]

"I can relate." You reply with a soft chuckle before Charon continues, lost in memory.

[I...there was another, on whose behalf this was crafted...When I...the creator of this weapon wished to protect someone precious to them, and so this was born of that singular hope, that one desire]

Something within the barrel cycles elegantly, an unseen cylinder spinning idly as its owner's voice goes hard.

[The creator was naive, in dedicating themselves to someone so fully, with no care for the future or what it held...]

"The one who created this..." You begin, choosing your wording carefully to allow Charon to answer within their limits. "...they loved the one they swore to protect, didn't they?"

[With everything they had, Honored Daughter]

Charon grasps the barrel, removing their hand from the grip as the Contender quickly and silently shifts back to its pistol form before handing it back to you with a low, graceful bow.

[And so they wound up with nothing at all, in the end]

"...I'm so sorry, Charon."

[I beg of you, Honored Daughter, please do not let the past weigh on you as it has on others...your story has yet to be told, it would been unseemly to dwell on the chapters of others less insightful than yourself]

"There's a lot to be learned from others." You say, glancing towards Gina and Doctor West's fervent discussion. Charon rises to their full height, head cocked to the side as they study you, face inscrutable as always.

[May I humbly request something of you, Honored Daughter]

"Go for it."

[Though my...though that creation is heavy with the weight of another's sins, please take care of it]

[I can already tell that it has become considerably fond of you in your short time together, Honored Daughter]

Charon bows once more.

[I can relate]

You holster the weapon and give the figure a bow, in turn.

"It would be my pleasure, Charon. Thank you again."

(Continued)
>>
>>3256635
Charon needs a fucking hug. This is non-negotiable.
>>
>>3256641
Agreed.
>>
>>3256647
>>3256641
save it for the next way station we find west of Smaug city. (I'm calling the Mountain King "Smaug" because he's acts like Smaug, also because Dr. West calls it a sweetie. I have no idea how Dr. West managed to 'befriend' it, but she did it anyways if she actually set up shop next in a town with a sleeping dragon.)
>>
>>3256635
>>3256641
>>3256647

You step forwards, crossing the gap between you and the figure as you throw your arms around their waist. Their hard, onyx skin is pleasantly warm to the touch, the crimson lines dappled along their form much warmer than the rest, feeling almost like a ray of light spearing directly through where they make contact with your skin, warming you down to your bones. After a moment of stunned silence, Charon places a single hand on your back, and you feel something akin to a soft breeze drift through your mind.

[You are much like the Contender, Honored Daughter]

[One of a kind]

"Hey Shu, you wanna check out Doctor West's lab?" Gina calls out from a short meters away, her new friend grinning excitedly. "I think we might be able to tweak the halo a bit, maybe fuss with some upgrades she and I have in mind."

Charon gives you one final bow before drifting down the hallway, disappearing into the darkness as Gina strides up to you.

"Don't feel like you have to say yes, I just don't like playing the bad guy." Gina says low once she's in whispering distance. "She's got some decent ideas for the halo, and she's said she'll give us the coordinates to the Monastery if I let her tinker a bit."

"Coordinates?" You echo, confused. "I thought we could only go to places we'd already been?"

'Nope, it turns out neuromancers can trade info and stuff." She says, doing little to hide her excitement at the prospect. "She said she'd give us more locations if she had it, but she hasn't run across too many waystations, and the ones she did run across she avoided for the same reason we did, 'cause of all the static."

You weigh your options, considering the creature lurking up above and the grinning physician standing a short distance away, eagerly awaiting your answer. Your turn to Gina, staring into her hazel eyes as you speak...

>>"I trust B'ni and Rath to handle things and not start a fight, so if you trust Doctor West and think this could work, then let's go for it."

>>"I'd prefer to not leave B'ni and Rath alone for too long, but we can ask them what they think about coming back this way if you have a decent path mapped out."

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
>>3256656
>"I trust B'ni and Rath to handle things and not start a fight, so if you trust Doctor West and think this could work, then let's go for it."
>"But I'd like to send a drone their way to let them know everything's fine."
>>
(Voting to close in one and a half hours, Gentlemen.)
>>
>>3256659
Im all for this, but they may be out of range of our swarmling control distance.
>>
>>3256656
>"I'd prefer to not leave B'ni and Rath alone for too long, but we can ask them what they think about coming back this way if you have a decent path mapped out."
>>
>>3256659

>>3256666 Is correct, they are currently out of range.
>>
>>3256656
>let's not leave B’ni and Rath alone for too long. I don’t want to see them start a fight with Smaug of all amalgams.
>But I’d still like to let them know that we’re okay.
>>
>>3256656
Changing vote to
>>"I'd prefer to not leave B'ni and Rath alone for too long, but we can ask them what they think about coming back this way if you have a decent path mapped out."
Supporting >>3256679

Ensuring they don't fight Smaug thinking we're in trouble should be the priority. Then we can all meet up at Dr West's lab.
>>
>>3256656
backing >>3256679
and also voting
>"I'd prefer to not leave B'ni and Rath alone for too long, but we can ask them what they think about coming back this way if you have a decent path mapped out."
basically what >>3256684 said
>>
>>3256679
>>3256684
Seconding
>>
How about we send a bug with a message to let them know
>>
>>3256749
(They're too far away for your current swarmling level to reach them, unfortunately. Good thought, though.)
>>
>>3256749
>>3256666
Looks like we'll need to invest levels in Swarmling then.
>>
>>3256656

"Let's not leave B’ni and Rath alone for too long. I don’t want to see them start a fight with Smaug of all amalgams if they come down here looking for us, and I’d like to let them know that we’re okay."

"That's fair." Gina says, turning to West. "Francine, would you be cool if we ran and grabbed our two friends up top, then dropped by your lab in a little while?"

"By all means, the more the merrier~!" crows the unnerving doctor, who proceeds to practically bound up the stairs two at a time on her ridiculously long legs. You sigh, fixing your helmet in place as Gina dons the Shroud once more and together, you ascend.

It's when you finally reach the surface that Gina unpins the discussion from earlier, much to your chagrin.

"So, between us...how do you feel, Shu?" She asks, her tone giving nothing away across the empathic channel.

"Tired." You shoot back as you trudge along in the relentless dark. "Wishing I knew what people around me were actually all about instead of having to guess, if I'm being totally honest."

"I like to think I'm pretty straight-forward." Gina says, a pleasantly teasing note in her voice as it echoes in your mind. "To that end, I'll have to call you out on avoiding the question."

"Gina...do you really want to know?" You ask, stopping in the middle of the street after checking that the coast is clear. You feel her stop in turn, the cord going slack between the two of you as she walks up to you. You'd much rather be able to see her, but maybe the Shroud's made her bolder in a way, her face and posture utterly unreadable.

"If you're on a kick of being totally ahnest, Dahhling~" She jokes, doing her best impression of West's odd manner of speech before adopting a more earnest tone with you. "Then yeah, I'm always up for hearing you out, Shu."

>>Be honest with her, and tell her how you feel about B'ni. Regardless of what you have to say, you're confident she won't judge you for it...you feel you know her that well. (Write-In)

>>Ask her how she feels about someone or something, first. Two can play at this game, if she wants you to elaborate. (Write-In)

>>Deflect, ask her what her take on Doctor West is and what else they discussed....you're really not in the mood to talk about your feelings, let alone anyone else's.

>>Full Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
>>3256755
We should probably warn the others that it may allow for complete mind reading before taking it, in order to preserve their trust.
>>
(Voting to close in one and a half hours, Gentlemen.)
>>
>>3256760
>>Be honest with her, and tell her how you feel about B'ni. Regardless of what you have to say, you're confident she won't judge you for it...you feel you know her that well.
>"We trust B'ni, in that we know she cares about us and doesn't want us to come to harm. She listens and honestly, obeys with way too little questioning and a bit too much enthusiasm at times, but she really does mean well. And i care about her. I really do...."
>"...but you're right to point out that she was wrong for leading us on like that, letting us suffer like we did. And honestly? In not sure what to think on it. Id be lying if i said i didn't think something was up, that theres more going on than she is letting on but... I guess i just hope our talks have gotten through to her enough that whatever was going on, she'll let it go and we can all move on from it. Im tired of letting the past hold us back, lets look to the future for once."
>>
>>3256778
Let me just delete my post and agree with this one. Put it better than I could.
>>
>>3256763
(Extending voting for half an hour to attend to one or two things.)
>>
>>3256760
>>3256778

> "At this point, it's kind of feeling like a massive game of 'I know you know I know.' Has been for a while...which is probably why I'm not as angry about it as you are. I've been suspecting shit about her for a while."
>"Don't get me wrong, I trust her enough, absolutely, and I still consider her a friend...but I still have questions, and I'm pretty sure she knows I still have questions; it's just who cracks first. Honestly, it's been that way for a bit, I'm sure. But I just don't think that, at this point, it's big enough to kick up a massive fuss about it all, especially after recent events. We made a breakthrough and I'm happy enough that she came clean about what happened. I'll work the rest out as we go."
>>
>>3256761
Gina's Neuro halo already allows her to do surface mind-reading (train of thought) just from eye-contact.
>>3256760
>"She had her heart on her sleeve, bleeding for me. It permeates her every thought and action. It was sweet, but scary at the same time seeing her subconscious play "Hellbent" on repeat. I acknowledged it, but also told her that she didn't have to take it too far."
>"You told me that you were great friends with her before the two of you drifted apart because of me, and for that I'm sorry if the past me gradually manipulated her out of your social life. If anything, I would love to see the two of you reconnect with each other on a fresh slate."
>"So that's how I feel about her. But for all of my confession, I can't help but wonder how you feel about B'ni. You've known her before I came into the picture. What's your take on B'ni?"
>"I still don't know the hows and the whys and frankly I still don't remember enough to piece together my entire past"
>>
>>3256823
Then before we talk, let's stop for a minute and make eye contact as we talk. So she can be as certain as possible. But AWAY from the titanic flesh lizard with the calcification breath named Smaug.
>>
>>3256778
>>3256809
>>3256823
I think you guys are making a mistake by advocating for taking it this slow with B'ni. Being so fucking afraid of Other Shu is probably what made it possible for her to hijack our body at all, it made us psychologically vulnerable and if she'd properly seized the opportunity she might well have been able to devour Our Shu's mind. She basically just would've needed Gina to not be near us at the time so she couldn't intercede. We need to square away all of this baggage, it makes us so much weaker. And the point Gina raised has WAY more weight than any of you are acknowledging. And it seems almost impossible that B'ni would abandon us or try to kill us.

>>3256760
>>Be honest with her, and tell her how you feel about B'ni. Regardless of what you have to say, you're confident she won't judge you for it...you feel you know her that well. (Write-In)
"You're right. I feel like an idiot for not realizing it myself. And the fucked up thing is that, best case scenario, she wanted you and Rath to be afraid of me so that she'd have me to herself... but we don't know if that's why she kept the secret. That's what's really scary. I want to give her a chance, the emotions coming through from her are always pure sweetness- but I don't know what she's thinking. So we're gonna have to have another hard conversation I guess... God... I'm so tired of these. Oh, and full disclosure, since you asked so nicely? I'm beginning to get the feeling that you and Rath might be developing crushes on me. Which might be me being arrogant, but if it's not- man, I don't know what to do. I'm... you're all... the best..."
>>
>>3256847
Oh, forgot to add this thought: Charon literally just got done telling us about how everything went to shit because she was hellbent on protecting someone else and spared nothing for herself. I FEEL LIKE THIS IS FORESHADOWING.
>>
>>3256847
You do have a point there. Which begs the question: "what topic are we being honest about to Gina?"
>>3256840
We're in the pitch black darkness of Smaug's city. How are we supposed to make eye contact?
>>3256857
But with who's future is it foreshadowing? Shu's future or B'ni's future?
>>
>>3256847
Oh no, im fully aware of just how much B'ni is either lying to us, or messing with us. But honestly we already ic got it settled so backtracking now to bereate her feels like it would be out of character now.

Keep in mind, at this point she is lying abd/or manipulating us so heavily that im not sure we can really put it on the table without either breaking her or driving her away...or having to make her leave. It may just be better to hope our talks have gotten through to her and she wont make the web ant thicker with future antics, using this as a chance at a fresh start as it was.

I mean, keep in mind we have info from Gina that conflicts with the very idea that B'ni is our childhood friend at all, though that could just be a miscommunication, it still feels like theres too much baggage and holding onto it will just weigh us down.

Or maybe b'ni has literally just been playing along with us these past two talks just to get us to let the issue slide without actually changing, i dunno.
>>
>>3256857
Another thing to bring up. Charon's testimony rings alarm bells about the nature of the Crucible and more importantly the society she lived in.
>[In my...in previous experiences, individuals like myself would craft items in preparation of their chosen paths, as dictated by the weight of tradition and the demands of education]
Education being the key word. It seems that her society revolved around for the coming of the Crucible, to the point of instilling it in their education and society. And with the number of relics that BHOP implies, This is no simple eldritch cult.
>>
>>3256847
The difference I think here, is that we're acknowledging IC that B'ni's doing something fucky. We KNOW she is, but we just don't think that it's worth pursuing more. We're not trying to 'protect' her, we're kinda stopping the issue here and hoping for the best. It's a resignation of 'We'll cross that bridge if and when we get to it,' not 'everything's fine'. Start fresh, like we wanted.

Frankly, I'm already sick of it all- by all rights Shu is a new person, and I wish we could just dismiss our old self in the manner of 'yeah, I was a dildo, but not I'm not and I KNOW I'm never going to be.' But that's not the point of this quest.
>>
>>3256877
>>3256885
Yeah I might be letting my genre knowledge of yanderes contaminate what I intend to be an in-character reaction to Gina's question, but when it comes to yanderes, you don't let sleeping dogs lie. That's how you end up tied to a chair while your pink haired girlfriend tries to kill your friends. Rip the bandage off.

Then again, Shu's probably watched some anime.

>>3256880
I'm kind of vague on what questions Charon is allowed to answer. I'm dying to ask about that old civilization.
>>
>>3256893
I know a bit here and there about Yanderes, too, and the problem with that take on it is that their reaction becomes a coinflip. Either they listen to you and settle down, or they immediately switch to 'They don't want me, my life is useless, but if I can't have them then no one can' and then you get a Yandere going for the murder/suicide and dangerous as all hell because they've mentally short circuited.

Do I think B'ni would hit that point? Uncertain. I WANT to say no, but that's the problem; you never know for sure until it actually happens.
>>
>>3256760

She wants to know? Fine. You lay things out for her, damn the consequences.

>>3256778
>>3256809

She listens in silence as you speak, laying out your concerns, fears, and doubts, concluding with your desire to let things sit with B'ni for the time being. She mulls over your words for a few moments before she speaks again.

"Two things." She says with a pause, and you realize she's probably holding up fingers you can't see. "First, thank you, Shu. I appreciate you letting me know where you stand, and I...I know that B'ni hasn't exactly had an easy time of things...there's a lot of reasons why she wouldn't have wanted to elaborate on who you were or what you did to her, so I'll try and keep an open mind going forward."

"What's the second thing?"

"Don't panic, but Smaug's missing." She says, trying to keep an even tone in her voice despite the rising fear you sense across the channel. You slowly turn to look down the street, realizing that the familiar office building with the massive claw marks is disturbingly vacant.

"Fuck." You breathe.

"Seconded." Gina replies, tugging on the cord. "Let's get the hell out of here and back to base."

You consider yourself supremely luck that you reach the tent without further incident, Gina throwing a cord out and into the wall to open a path into your tent.

"...And then I punched her in the goddamn mouth."

You catch the end of Rath's sentence just as B'ni bursts into laughter as she sits across from the red-head, currently sporting the shittiest of shit-eating grins.

"Hey guys, good to see you're having fun without us." Gina teases as the two of you walk up, closing the wall behind you. B'ni leaps to her feet, wiping tears of hard laughter from her eyes before she runs over to hug you.

"Glad you made it back alright." Rath smirks, standing as well. "Just got through telling Jackrabbit about one time this snooty bi..."

"No no, don't ruin it! You have to tell it again!" B'ni yells over, prompting Rath to throw up her hands and admit defeat.

"Alright, fine. I'll save it for when I can really give it it's due. So, how's the dark?" Rath asks, turning to Gina.

"Dark as fuck, thought we did find the way station." B'ni replies, pulling out her phone and updating her current map as she speaks. "Also, we found a dragon and Doctor West, the latter of whom has a lab down there she's invited us to visit, if we're so inclined."

"What is it with you people and dragons?" Rath asks incredulously before GG turns to you.

"Shu, given we've lost track of that thing, are you sure you want to go back? If you feel like it's too much of a risk, we don't have to. I think I know a way through some back alleys that should let us avoid any places that it can't reach easily, but it's up to you."

>>Go to Dr. West's Lab.

>>Abandon the lab and continue west.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Gentlemen, voting to close one hour from now. Thank you so much for your participation.)
>>
>>3256916
>Go to doctor wests lab
>Be smart but quick about it. Shes not exactly a close friend but she doesn't deserve to be left to fend for herself if the dragons gone her way either.
>Conversly, you want to avoid the dragon if it hasn't gone her way but is still along the path. So lets not be idiots about rushing headlong into the unknown.
>>
>>3256916
>Go to Dr. West's Lab.
>"what's with you and Giants Rath? Is size difference your kink?"
Gotta embarrass the christian ginger.
>>
>>3256916
>Go to Dr. West's Lab.
>>
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>>3256965
>>
>>3256916
>>3256965
>>3256999

"We'll keep our appointment." You declare, meeting Gina's eyes. "We'll be smart and quick about it, with all of us tethered with you leading the way."

You turn to look down at Rath, who's sidled up beside you.

"As for the dragons, I'll give you an answer to that question if you can tell me what's up with you and giant motherfuckers. Is size difference your kink, or...?"

You're treated to the amusing sight of Rath's pale face erupting into a mask of stark crimson as it dawns on her that she only comes up to your chin. She jumps back, giving you the finger with both hands as stumbles over her word to fire back a snappy reply.

"W-well you're...fuckin'...tall, so...fucking shit, go fuck yourself, Shu! I don't have a goddamn size kink, you fucker!" She howls, seething with impotent rage and acute embarrassment as Gina doubles over with laughter the moment she meets the younger girl's eyes.

"Oh shit, she's...she's not lying, your actual kink is fantastic, Rath." Gina chokes out, having to sit down as she loses herself in painful laughter while you and B'ni watch the two of them go at it.

"Hey! HEY!" Rath shouts, leveling an accusatory finger at the seated brunette. "Don't go poking around in my head you witchy shitlord, or I swear to God I'll strangle you with your own fuckin' cords!"

When you finally collect yourselves enough to put on your game faces, you armor up and venture once more into the shrouded city, this time with a clear path in mind and Gina as your guide. The familiar silence of the ghostly town settles around you again as GG leads you along a winding path, through corridors, alleys, and narrow streets, long forgotten.

GG stops suddenly, head cocked down a street that opens into a main boulevard. She slowly pulls back, leaning against the brick wall as she breathes a heavy sigh.

"Gang, I have some good news and bad news." She says, glancing back out to the street. "Good news is that we don't have to worry about Smaug anymore..."

"...Bad news is, we gotta worry about whatever tore him to shreds."

(Continued)
>>
>>3257074

She allows the three of you to see through her Halo-enhanced eyes, and you're met with a street covered in carnage. Bits of meat and viscera cover every surface, dripping off the broken street lamps, oozing down the sides of broken cars. You'd doubt it was the amalgam you saw earlier at all, were it not for a familiar set of nails embedded in the pavement, the meat around them torn free and no doubt coating some surface yet unseen.

"Keep moving." Gina says, and none of you need to be told twice as she darts down another alley that opens up into a wide street. She glances around, then moves with haste towards a building that appears to be some sort of medical supply facility, judging by the faded signs. She tugs on the handle of the front door and it swings open silently, a fact that you're very grateful for.

"It's down this way, let's not linger." She says, holding open the door and ushering you across the threshold.

You continue following Gina as she makes her way into the back of the building, leading you past gently glowing bio-luminescent sacks that hang at regular intervals from the ceiling. She opens a door at the end of the hall and the four of you collectively squint at the bright, warm light that floods the room, details slowly filtering into your perceptions as your eyes adjust to the radiance.

"Greetings!" Doctor West proclaims, sweeping across the room to tower over you and your group. Gina snickers, elbowing Rath and gesturing to the tall physician, prompting a quick punch in the arm from the other girl. "I'm so glad you could join me, and I'm so sorry for the state of this place, let me make you a place to sit, darlings~"

Darting over to a couch, Doctor West busies herself with clearing off the papers that litter every surface, tossing various trinkets to the floor in an attempt to clear enough room for the four of you to sit comfortably. You glance around the room while she works, the sheer enormity of the mess littering her living space truly a sight to behold. The only surface that isn't obscured by a sheet of random papers and items is a large table with a single chair, one you'd have to struggle to climb in order to be seated with any measure of ease.

(Continued)
>>
>>3257078


"Please please, make yourselves comfortable, loves." She says, fluffing the couch pillows before striding back over to you. "My work will only take a short while, so I'd love to chat a bit while I tinker. However, first thing's first~"

She leans down and gives Gina a wide, joyous smile.

"Which modification would you like, Darling~?"

>>APPOINTED ARCHANGEL: Gina now possesses the ability to quickly creature miniature versions of her Halo mid-combat at the cost of 20% BIO, granting the boons of single level of the device's ability to an ally for the remainder of combat or until destroyed. This effectively allows her to grant a small measure of the Halo's considerable power at a moment's notice to suit the situation at hand.

>>PERPETUAL CROWN: the Halo is now grafted into Gina's forehead and tied directly into her mind, negating the downsides of having it exist as a separate entity. Additionally, it is now immune to damage, so as long as Gina is above 0% HEALTH, the circlet will continue to function perfectly, negating its original downside.

>>FUNCTION, FOCUSED: you may select a single ability of a single level(Lvl) that the Halo currently possesses. The chosen ability is vastly expanded upon, negating the other benefits of the level and roughly tripling the selected power, allowing the function to become a devastatingly potent skill at the cost of versatility.

>>FORCED EVOLUTION: NEUROTIC HALO LEVEL UP X 2. The next time Gina dons the Halo, its level will automatically and permanently increase from 4 to 6.

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting to close in one and a half hours Gentlemen, with allowance for more time if need be depending on how the discussion goes.)
>>
>>3257089
(Gentlemen, things seem to be slow at the moment, so I'll be checking in occasionally and resume voting for one hour from the time of the first reply. Thank you, and take care.)
>>
>>3257085
>>FORCED EVOLUTION: NEUROTIC HALO LEVEL UP X 2. The next time Gina dons the Halo, its level will automatically and permanently increase from 4 to 6.

But honestly this is just because Ginas tech trees are personally just my least favorite so i cant see a use for anything else on the list.
>>
>>3257085
Alright, I'll make a suggestion then.
Appointed Archangel could lead to a bunch of new DUAL TECHS and TRIPLE TECHS. It's the support option.

Perpetual Crown goes well with Immutable Form and Life's Deathgrip, ensuring she can't be disabled by enemy actions or powers.

Function, Focused means we can specialize her.

For now I'll go with
>APPOINTED ARCHANGEL: Gina now possesses the ability to quickly creature miniature versions of her Halo mid-combat at the cost of 20% BIO, granting the boons of single level of the device's ability to an ally for the remainder of combat or until destroyed. This effectively allows her to grant a small measure of the Halo's considerable power at a moment's notice to suit the situation at hand.

And ask West
>What happened to Smaug the Mountain King? Gina said he was just torn apart.
>>
>>FORCED EVOLUTION: NEUROTIC HALO LEVEL UP X 2. The next time Gina dons the Halo, its level will automatically and permanently increase from 4 to
this
>>
>>3257197
I forgot that it said single level, but then I read what that could do and the perfect counter that grants a crit would be incredible for B'ni, so I'm sticking with it.
>>
>>3257074
>"...Bad news is, we gotta worry about whatever tore him to shreds."

Well, that's the most terrifying sentence I've read today.

>>3257085
As for our choices, Perpetual Crown seems pretty useful. The Halo is a really important ability at Gina's disposal, and reducing its most obvious weakness sounds like a fantastic improvement.

Add in:

"Hey, Doc, on our way here, we found Smaug. He'd been torn to shreds, the entire street is covered in pieces of him. You have any idea who could have done something like that?"
>>
>>3257085
>>3257197
Changing to
>PERPETUAL CROWN: the Halo is now grafted into Gina's forehead and tied directly into her mind, negating the downsides of having it exist as a separate entity. Additionally, it is now immune to damage, so as long as Gina is above 0% HEALTH, the circlet will continue to function perfectly, negating its original downside.

It was my second choice by a close margin, and I think it would be a shame to pass up a unique upgrade for early level ups.
No tag-team to give B'ni a guaranteed murder-crit, that the enemy can't heal, loses 10% of their max health, and causes max damage. But this is still good.
>>
>>3257085
>"Dr. West. Smaug's dead, And it wasn't me, Gina, B'ni or Rath. Whoever it was, whatever it was, slew Smaug quickly and quietly. This place isn't safe."

>I'll go with Perpetual Crown. No need to re-weave the Halo ever again.
>>
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>>3257085

>>PERPETUAL CROWN SELECTED

Gina reluctantly parts with her halo, entrusting it to Doctor West's anticipatory fingers before selecting a seat on the large couch. You occupy the seat next to her and then B'ni settles next to you, leaving Rath to sit on the arm of the chair, furthest from the doctor.

"Hey, Doc, on our way here, we found Smaug, the Mountain King. He'd been torn to shreds, the entire street is covered in pieces of him. You have any idea who could have done something like that?"

"Aw, that's a shame." She replies, picking at her nail idly as she stands before you. "I'd assume it was that boorish Daughter that's been stalking about recently. I've dubbed her Hecaton, after the myth. A classic case of going too big too soon with her powers, both far too simple and far-gone to be of any use, so I've just let her be."

"Doctor West." You say, your blood running cold at her flippancy. "Smaug's dead. This thing, this Hecaton...she slew Smaug quickly and quietly. This place isn't safe."

Doctor West's eyes glimmer behind her glasses as she shifts her attention back to you, leaning down

"Of course it is, darling."

She smiles.

"I'm here."

Rath scoots a little further away from you.

"Ah!" West exclaims, rising to her full height. "And to think, you don't have to worry about the paralytic breath anymore! That's fantastic, darling!"

"Yep, that's....yeah. So, you had something you wanted to chat about?" You ask unamused, watching as West strides over to her desk and hops into the seat effortlessly, placing the halo upon her table. She removes her gloves with a flourish, revealing the skinless arms underneath, glistening with silver strands running along the length of her musculature.

"Indeed, though I'm happy to let you select the subject, darling. I really must thank you again, Shu my Dear." She says, oblivious to B'ni's obvious irritation. "I would not have learned half of what I know now about our powers, neuromancy, or the Mother's choice were it not for you."

You feel a chill run down your spine at the end of her praise.

"So, a deal is a deal, dears. You've graciously granted me some time with this gorgeous piece of art, and in return you get the coordinates I told you about as well as a lecture of your choice."

You turn slowly to Gina, giving her a withering glare as you expand the empathic channel to her.

"Coordinates *and* a lecture?" You impart dryly, and she gives a simple shrug.

"Hey, it's a place we don't have to hoof it to on top of a directed conversation, one that stops her from going off in any creepy directions. I like to think I made the right call."

"Awesome." You say, turning back to Doctor West.

You'll hear her out on...

>>Skill Trees and Powers

>>Neuromancy and the Mind

>>The Choice

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
>>3257352
>"Of course it is, darling."
>She smiles.
>"I'm here."

I love this crazy bitch.

As for what to learn about,

>>Skill Trees and Powers

We need to get stronger. It's what we've been doing ever since this quest first began, and if we can find out how to get even better at gaining new abilities, that sounds like it's worth it.
>>
>>3257352
this bitch is great.a bit crazy but then again everyone seems to be.

>>Skill Trees and Powers
>>
(Voting to close in one hour and fifteen minutes, Gentlemen.)
>>
>>3257352
>The Choice
We've already made ours, but I'd like to know more for our friends' benefit. Why is it given at all in the first place, instead of just letting the power progress naturally and a murderhobo eventually reaches the top of the Corde anyway?
>>
>>3257352
>The Choice
>>
>>3257352
>The Choice
Skill trees and Powers is neat and all, but "THE CHOICE" is what influences the entire path of the Daughter in question. And this all ties into Charon's past too, since it seems that she was forced to make "THE CHOICE" at an early age in her society.
>>
>>3257352

"You mentioned the Choice, earlier. I'd like to hear what you've found out about that."

West cocks her head towards you, grinning ear to ear.

"I thought you might, darling~" She coos, returning to her work as she begins. "From all the Daughters I've...spoken with...since my travels, it has become apparent that the one responsible for the state of our world touches base with each who wakes up here. You see, the key factor in getting the Mother to approach you is crossing of a threshold of power, not any length of time spent in this world. For example, I was awake for several months before my first encounter with Her, and that was only after bolstering my exterior nervous system to a certain degree. To contrast, you had been awake barely a week before you reached the threshold."

"I...I never told you that." You say, taken aback at her casual declaration. West chuckles, tapping the side of her glasses with one long forefinger.

"A Relic, darling. A fascinating little creation I picked up off a recent case, they allow me to analyze the abilities of Daughters with startling accuracy. They've been tremendously helpful in gathering...ah, I've gotten off track."

She plucks a strand of silver from her arm, measures it, then weaves it into the halo as she continues.

"The choice is granted comparatively early, in any case. A binary one, to be sure. While a declination is possible, I consider it ill advised given the benefits of the options She gives. No offense, love."

"None taken." You shoot back.

"In any case, when one of the options the Mother presents a Daughter with is chosen, they will gain two things. One, a considerable increase in power. Two, information that will entice them towards the Cord, something that speaks to the very core of who they are, and what they value. I'm still puzzling over the order of events, here. One would think that the bait would come first, then the power, not vice versa. My working hypothesis is that it may have something to do with the extraterrestrial nature of those that participated in the Crucible before us. Our forebears may have had a different way of looking at things, or a different set of values that would have made the order more enticing to they way they thought...bah, it's more a sociological, anthropological question. I must admit, it's not my forte."

"So you're saying that everyone has to make the call, eventually?" Gina asks, staring at her knees.

"Oh, indeed." West casts over her shoulder. "Regardless of the whys or wherefores, every Daughter is eventually confronted with the choice once they reach that threshold, no exceptions. Interestingly, I've noted its usually in some gaudy manner, like passing out, or vomiting, or some such silliness. I fainted like a true lady, I'll have you know."

(Continued)
>>
>>3257592

"So...what's the fucking point of it, then?" Rath questions from across the room, still keeping a healthy distance between her and the doctor.

"To prey on the desperate, naturally~! With what She reveals to you once you make the Choice, you're bound and determined to go to the Cord. It's yet another measure to ensure everyone plays by the rules of the game, and what's more, they play it happily."

"So what did She tell you?" B'ni asks softly from beside you.

"Ah, a lady never Chooses and tells." West replies, chuckling to herself. "Suffice it to say, I look forward to ascending to continue my research once I'm satisfied here."

"Excuse me?" Gina says, looking up at the back of the woman's lab coat.

"Why, I'm going to the Cord to be the Chosen Daughter, or Favored Child, or whatever they're calling it these days."

You and Gina share a look, concern in her eyes as your hive begins to buzz with activity.

"Oh, come now." She chides, reaching over to retrieve a scalpel from a nearby rack. "You're a smart bunch. It stands to reason that I would be a fool to overlook this opportunity for study and advancement by becoming the next Mother. I can't wait to see what's within the Cord, to have the chance to speak with a being from another world, and then sail the cosmos to visit other planets! It's all truly marvelous~!"

You glance to your left to see B'ni's greaves slowly generating a pair of impossibly sharp blades, creeping inch by inch out of the alabaster armor. Doctor West merely tuts over her shoulder, immersed in her work.

"Darlings, there's no need for violence. This is a place of learning, we're all friends here. If it eases your mind a bit, of the thirty-six power sets I've assimilated since I awoke, I have already stocked three hivemistresses, four wielders of calcite armories, one explosion-based power set, and...was it five or six schools of neuromancy~?"

You heart seizes in your throat, and you can feel the fear pouring from your allies as you realize what the woman seated across from you has at her disposal.

"Ah well, suffice it to say that you'd be a bit redundant."

"No offense." She adds.

"...None taken." You reply.

"I do believe I'm just about done here." She proclaims, grinning down at her work before turning her smile on the four of you. "Is there anything else you'd like to know before I send you on your way, darlings~?"

You swallow, hard.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Gentlemen, voting to close in one and a half hours. Thank you.)
>>
>>3257602
whew. i knew she had some strength under her belt, but that is....damn. so much for being an ally. i think the most disturbing part is, the way she words it...alot of those kills were simply for the scientific reason of gaining the ability to study, not for the sake of power. shes gonna be a tough one once we are forced to bring her down, but it may be best to simply leave sleeping bears to lie until they wake, as the saying goes.

>"no, i think we learned alot of value here, more than we expected or wanted even in a way..."
>"thank you for your hospitality, but you've just become a major wakeup call for us. if we want to uphold and defend our own goals and morals, it appears we really must get going, if we even want to pretend we may ever have a chance at succeeding in them."
>>
>>3257602
>"Dr. West, thank you for letting all of us know about this. It's been something that's been bugging me ever since 'The Mother' approached me with it."
>"One more thing before we go. Can you give a diagnostic on each of us before we go? How do each of us stack up in development? How far do each of us have before we inevitably reached our peak?"
>>
>>3257637
The scary part is that Dr. West implied that Each of our powerset is cut from common cloth. Nothing about our party's powerset really stands out to her as interesting. She went through about different 12 daughters, possibly 24 amalgams, 1 volunteer (Shu), and found a relic that lets her analyze and be picky about her research.

Also it really says something about being picky with our powers. Dr. West basically implied that Hecaton is a living case of the "Chaos-spawn" effect. Assimilating too many powers, all of them contrasting and varied with no investments into developing them. Just raw brute force with no focus that inevitably locks her out of specialization.
>>
>>3257716
i think she actually implied Hecaton only upgraded her starting ability, and got lucky enough to do it quickly. her ability itself, though, may be based on her name.

that, and while i agree, i wonder just how much West has each of her trees upgraded. 36 'levels' is quite high on its own, but i doubt that is all she has for sure. hat is still in and of itself very varied and alot of abilities, is all im saying.

on another interesting note though, i am wondering how the 'threshold of power' works. we have characters equal or more powerful in both individual abilities and overall 'level' than when Shu got her choice, yet none others have met her. only thing i can think of, is while BHOP said all evolving trees have the same max level, not all are considered as 'complex' or 'valuable', thus other trees need a higher level to meet her, and id assume if done via a grouping of abilities instead of a singular one, the threshold is larger still. only explanation i can think of for this situation.
>>
>>3257640
This. As odd and terrifying as she might be, the Doc seems like somebody who'd tell us how far along we are, and how much further we have to go before hitting the power ceiling.
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>>3257602
backing >>3257640
>>
>>3257740
Well lets figure out where Shu was at when she reached her threshold. I do recall it was shortly after we fought Meg (neurotic halo wearing slug armor pugilist). We had Gina and B'ni by our side in that fight. We had also hit lvl 5 swarmling. Wait. Why is it that in all of our fights, even though the group fought together as a party, the Combat encounter always starts in the following format?

>SHU THE DEFIANT

>VS.

>[INSERT ENEMY NAME HERE]

When instead it would've been
>Shu, B'ni, Gina, and Rath
>Vs.
>[Insert enemy name here]
Theoretically B'ni, Gina, and Rath should have grown to the point where all of them would have reached the appropriate power threshold that warrants a visit by Mom. But Mother hasn't visited them yet.

Why is it that BHOP purposefully omits the others out? I'm getting a feeling that we reached the threshold so quickly because Mother considers Gina, B'ni, and Rath counts as a lesser powerset of Shu. As in they submitted to Shu's leadership and count as being "consumed" by Shu. That's my theory.

But a diagnostic by Dr. West would help clear things up. I hope. If it turns out that our presence in the group has put a limiter on all of them and actively keeps them from reaching the threshold... things might get nasty.
>>
>>3257785
i mean....maybe? they can still consume and grow in strength, and honestly while its extremely helpful, lets be honest, all but maybe B'ni would probably just turn her down like we did, and thus get the 'lesser' fool option anyways.

B'ni being the exception due to either being tempted via getting shown futures of her with us, and/or the options being too tempting as a way to protect us. the worry here too is that she may accept it, then be told something to make her go for the cord that makes her turn on us later. my guess of course would be, she would be told about the rules and how charon exists, thus tempting her to climb the cord and beat all of us so she can specifically use her one change to save and bring shu along with her.

but that is still a big IF and i dont think she would actually do it, but that is the worst case scenario possibility i see.
>>
>>3257602

"Dr. West, thank you for letting all of us know about this." You say, rising from the comfortable couch. "It's been something that's been bugging me for a while."

"Oh, it's no trouble at all, dear. And there we are, simply marvelous~!" She exclaims as Gina and B'ni rise with you, Doctor West presenting the glittering circlet to it's rightful owner.

"One more thing. Can you give a diagnostic on each of us before we leave, how each of us stack up in development?" You ask. "Basically a measurement of how far 'til we inevitably reach our peak?"

"It would be a pleasure to examine you, darlings~!" West declares, and you feel discomfort emanating from B'ni and Rath as they edge away from her.

"Maybe just Shu and I, then?" Gina says with a disarming smile.

"Of course~!"

West adjusts her glasses, peering down at the two of you as you attempt to stand strong in the face of her scrutiny. She looks to Gina, first.

"Ah, your first two are quite balanced, and you've picked up a third good one, well done." She says, craning around behind GG as she inspects her. "You're right on the threshold, it seems. Another boost to either your halo or neuromancy should do it, it doesn't matter which."

"Oh." Gina says simply. "So, which will I get asked about?"

"Oh, She'll give you a choice as to how to upgrade your Neuromancy, no doubt. It's your core ability after all, darling. You see, your core ability has a higher power threshold than ones you pick up along your travels. For example, if I were to ascribe some arbitrary numerical value, like a level or some such nonsense, then let's say your halo and your fear aura will cap at...oh, say level ten."

She leans in close to Gina's face, grinning from ear to ear.

"Your Neuromancy though, that has a cap of twenty, meaning it will have a much higher power threshold than anything else you'll pick up!"

"So when she hits the cap on her ability, and I hit the cap on my Swarmlings, then...what?" You ask, confused. "Do we just stop?"

"By no means!" West squeals with glee. "You can then combine it with another power of yours that's reached its cap, much like a hybrid skill! You'll end up with a skill that has a level cap of twenty, while still retaining the skills you acquired from both trees on the way there. It allows for infinite growth, for mixing and matching however you see fit!"

"So...I could just keep adding on more abilities to my Swarmlings, and just keep them until we finish the Crucible, is that what you're telling me?"

"You could, yes yes." West replies, and you get the impression she's frustrated that you haven't been thinking big enough for her tastes. "However, if you accumulate a vast amount of abilities, you'd end up with a massive tool kit at your disposal, allowing you to tackle any situation with ease! You could do anything~!"

You blink up at her. "...I take it that's your pla..."

"That's my plan! Precisely~!" She cheers in your face.

Yeah, you think you're done, here.

(Continued)
>>
>>3257830

After bidding goodbye to Doctor West, the four of you walk along the luminescent halls, following the trail of glowing sacs as they pulse gently above your heads, stopping only when Gina speaks.

"Guys?"

"What's up?" you ask, B'ni and Rath stopping ahead, the three of you turning to look at the brunette.

"Before we head out, I wanted to say...I'm on the threshold, like West was talking about. I can feel it, and I...shit, I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think I want to take one of the options the Mother presents me."

Your eyes go wide, and Rath shatters the relative quiet in surprise.

"Jesus, what the fuck for?!" Rath yells as B'ni just looks on quizzically.

"Just hear me out, please." Gina begs in the face of your crossed arms and arched brow. "I've been thinking about what you told me when you made the choice, Shu. I've been going over and over it, and I've reached a couple of conclusions. The first is that when you took the fool's choice, I think that caught Mother off guard. If she could read your mind, or predict stuff, or whatever, then she'd never have offered it to you in the first place. What's more is that you didn't get any knowledge, I don't think. Nothing that seemed useful or far-reaching, anyway."

You shrug, having to concede that point.

"Second, we can all agree we need info. Good, solid info. I'm a hair's breadth away from something we could use to turn the tide, to either make ourselves stronger or further out goal of bringing this shit down around Mother's ears. The only foolish choice is to not accept something we can use to help us."

"No, abso-fucking-lutely not." Rath growls. "Give that huge cunt the finger like Shu did when she shows up and be fucking done with it. The less we dick around with alien bitches, the better."

"Except for Charon." You add.

"Yeah, they're a sweetie." Gina concedes.

"B'ni? Your thoughts?" You ask, glancing over to the dark-haired girl as she shifts from from foot to the other.

"I...I don't know. It's whatever you two are up for." She replies, uncertain.

You send up a silent prayer that the backbone B'ni shows on the battlefield will eventually translate to confidence around you and your allies, but until that day comes, the choice is now in your hands.

You look down at Gina, and give your thoughts on her proposal.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Gentlemen, I shall be pausing here for the evening and resuming in approximately twelve hours from now, possibly sooner depending on how the morning goes. Thank you all so much for your participation, you've been amazing as always. I'll be around a while longer to address questions, concerns, and criticisms, and I hope you have a fantastic evening. Take care.)
>>
>>3257842
>Look to Rath
>"I agree. i Agree with everything i stand for and wish for with Rath."
>Turn to Gina.
>"But those things i stand for mean this isnt my decision. Gina. you make a good point, regardless of what me and Rath think. we could argue both sides for hours back and forth, their merits and risk, their drawbacks and perks. but this is your choice. not ours. when the time comes, do what you think you need to do, for yourself, for us, for what YOU believe in. i trust you, that no matter what the choice you pick will be, you;ll do it for the right reasons."
>>
>>3257847
Thanks OP, have a great sleep. This quest is just becoming more and more insane the longer we keep going, and I for one love every minute of it.

>>3257858
Seconding.
>>
Also, this new info regarding skill trees is super interesting. Basically, from the sounds of things, we should focus mostly on our Swarmlings while dipping points into our other skills.
>>
>>3257883
to be fair Shu only has one other tree anyways.(getting her another honestly would not be a bad idea).

we're still stuck on the whole 'is it really ok to intrude on our allies mind' part, and the fear of 'how long before we starting going further than intruding and directly controlling and influencing'? my fear is long before level 20, considering just what level 6 gives us, we'll basically be turning them into an extension of our swarm.
>>
>>3257895
Agreed, there is a possibility that the power will turn into something that lets us control others in the same way we already control our swarmlings. However, even if we gain these abilities, we won't use them. If we leave our original power be, we'll never be strong enough to ascend the Cord, much less reach the top. The other powers we obtain will have literally only half the potential as our Hive abilities.

Upgrading this power is much like ascending the Cord itself; we may not want to do it, but we have to. All we can do is try to be as prepared as possible.
>>
>>3257895
Also, I agree in that a third tree would definitely be useful, given that the two major powerhouses we've seen (the Dragoon and the Doc) have absorbed multiple trees. I'm interested in seeing what BHOP's gonna throw our way next.
>>
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>>3257920
>>
>>3257914
you're overlooking one detail; we dont control the part where we accidentally can hear our allies thoughts. thats entirely passive. it stands to reason then, any upgrades to that part of our power may too be passive.

but i reluctantly do also get everyone's point. i just feel like getting that one next upgrade, that if we stop fighting upgrading it now, when we know its dangerous, then as the saying goes, the damn breaks and it'll be so much easier to justify and push for worse and worse oversteps of our goals and standings.

just my personal feelings on the matter. if im out voted in the end, then such is how it is.
>>
>>3257927
>the ever watching eye of BHOP looms above you. though you know he is always there, watching, learning, evolving his story. still you try and ignore it, ignore how it always seems to get closer and closer, how it always seems to take your spoken fears and warp them into reality. the inevitable looms above you, but you do not heed it, for if you dare stare back, you may never forget the truths that you see within.
>>
>>3257927
I'MSORRYI'MSORRYI'MSORRY
ITAKEITBACKITAKEITALLBACK
>>
>>3257877
(Also, thank you for your kind words, Anon. I am very glad to see you're enjoying the quest, and I look forward to seeing where you will take things that are on the horizon.)
>>
>>3257842
>"Gina. By all means, its your idea. We'll support you to the end. We've supported you in your daring heist to save Kosi. The choice that you'll be making when you reach that threshold will be 100% yours and we'll support you all the way."
>"But I want to give you all of you a warning. When I made the fool's choice, Mother told me about the flaws of whom I'll be supporting. With whom I'll be connecting with. The following is from Mother's words verbatim:"
>"She told me that I chose to turn away from mastering a multitude, turned away from ruling with a Queen"
>"She told me that I instead embraced the flaws and weaknesses of my friends."
>Look to Rath.
>"She told me I chose to be with you Rath, a Living flame that would exist as a threat to herself and those she loves."
>Look to Gina
>"She told me I chose to be with you Gina, a prophet who would throw her mind aside in pursuit of the impossible."
>Look at B'ni.
>She told me that I chose to be with you B'ni, a liar and a thief who has, had, and will steal from me be it tangible things or intangible items of value."
>step back and address all three.
>"This is what she told me when I made the fool's choice. What I've told you are your fatal flaws."
>"I'm doing this not to scare you or make you enraged or influence you into making the same fool's choice that I did. I'm doing this to let you know of your own pitfalls because I care about each and every one of you."
>"To help all you from losing yourself to your own flaws and weaknesses."
>"I'll be your minder who drags you back to sanity, the one who rescues you from the brink of death, the one who keeps giving and accepts your lies no matter how painful they are."
>"Because this was the fool's choice I made. I made the choice to support all of my friends despite their weaknesses, and to keep everyone together and happy."
>"Gina. You're a wonderful friend. You've got a mind without peer. I've said what I need to say. I've warned you of the risks and your flaws and I'll support you regardless of the choice you make when you've reached the threshold."
>"Gina. When you make your choice, 'YOU ARE IN CONTROL'"
>>3257931
Anon, as much as we're afraid of our own power, you need to think of it like this. Our friends will inevitably reach and make the choice 100% of their own will. Regardless of the choices they'll make on the threshold, whether be it one of the binary choice or the Fool's choice, they'll still have their fatal flaws. I think the reason why our swarmling power is evolving down the empathy path is to ensure that our friends don't go off the deep end. Our power is to keep their fatal flaws in check. Keeping Gina's mind down to earth when she overworks her neuromancy, making sure that Rath survives her self-destructive antics, and keeping B'ni happy with what she wants.

>>3257927
Have a meaty diorama. BHOP. An offering.
>>
>>3258007
nah, i dont trust for one second its evolving for that purpose at all.
>>
>>3258007
(Thank you, this diorama is an accurate representation of me dealing with the recent snowfall.)
>>
Just making my presence known. I've been lurking since Vein 1 but haven't had a good medium through which to post till now. Sorry for not appearing sooner.
>>
>>3258056
your thoughts on this quest so far?
>>
Its been fun to read, and you've picked the same choices I would have. I'm planning on being here every day, but I will likely miss a few votes every now and then.
>>
>>3258071
dont feel bad, i work long shifts and often my meager breaks dont line up with updates. happens to everyone.
>>
>>3258056
>>3258071
(Welcome, Anon. I'm glad you've been enjoying it so far, and I'm glad you're finally able to participate!)
>>
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Kind of a tangent here guys but I've been thinking on the topic of third options and I may have an idea based on the following points:

>We are currently somewhere in what was once the USA
>We currently have a powerful nuromancer in our party who we know can interface with technology
>The cord is a physical object
> We've already seen that underground structures have made it through relatively intact
> Most military personal were male
> It stands to reason that there are currently a large number of intact nuclear missile silos
>>
>>3258007
I agree at least that Gina should know what Mother thought of her when she gave us our choice. It should make it harder for her to be manipulated, regardless of what she chooses. Sweet talk and praise would be taken with a grain of salt.
>>
>>3258582
I like your style but it all depends on how big it is. Its diameter could be bigger round than Australia for all we know.
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>>3257842
Backing >>3258007
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>>3258582
Backing this plan. If SMT is any indication then ICBMs or any nuclear weapons are good enough to kill even gods.
>>
(Gentlemen, in order to catch up on the backlog of work due to the snow yesterday, I must delay the update until later this afternoon. My apologies, and thank you for your patience. I shall keep you appraised of the situation.)
>>
>>3258892
I know your pain BHOP. And I think we live closer to each other than we think just from looking at the weather map and educated guesswork
>>
>>3258892
BHOP, check this out
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgdwc3bn79g
>>
>>3257842

"I agree.” You say turning to Rath. “I agree with everything she just said."

The red-head nods sagely before you turn your attentions to GG.

"But the things I stand for mean this isn’t my call to make, Gina. You make a good point, regardless of what Rath and I think. We could argue the particulars all day, but this is your choice, not ours. When the time comes, do what you think you need to do, for yourself, for us, for what *you* believe in. I trust you, and I know that no matter what the choice you pick will be, you’ll do it for the right reasons."

You walk over to her, her eyes meeting yours as you remember back to what Mother told you about your three allies. You tell them all again, as much for your benefit as theirs.

>>3258007

“I made the fool’s choice, back then. I made the choice to support all of my friends despite their weaknesses, just like you support me with mine, and to keep everyone together and happy. I have no regrets.”

You put your hands on her shoulders as she gazes into your eyes, and you smile.

"Gina. You're a wonderful friend. You've got a mind without peer. I've said what I need to say. I've warned you of the risks and your flaws and I'll support you regardless of the choice you make when you've reached the threshold."

You pull her into a tight hug.

"When you make your choice, just know this...'YOU ARE IN CONTROL'.”

“Thank you, Shu.” She says, looking up at you with a hint of red in her cheeks. She brings the halo to bear as she steps back, placing it atop her head with utmost care. You watch in awe as it painlessly slips into and through her scalp, the circlet disappearing as it binds to her skull, laces itself with her neurons. The center diadem is the only trace of it left when it fully merges with her, leaving a glittering amethyst shining like a third eye in her forehead.

The four of you silently make your way back to base, slipping through the alleys with GG’s expert guidance. She seems far more confident now, a proud determination coming across the channel. You know she’s made up her mind, one way or another. Emerging from a side path, the main street of the city opens up before you, leaving you a straight shot back to the light of eternal day as you breathe a sigh of relief.

The entrance to your tent is in sight when the storefront ahead of you explodes in a shower of debris.

(Continued)
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>>3259403

The four of you stagger back as a wild, shifting form emerges from the wreckage. It is a grasping, craving thing, a writhing mass of flailing arms that end in twitching hands. Fingers dig into and through the pavement below it as it crawls forth, crushing the ground underneath it through sheer strength alone.

“Fucking hell.” Rath groans between gritted teeth. “Couldn’t have waited ‘til we were a couple feet ahead, huh?”

“Shut it.” B’ni hisses, her unblinking gaze on the creature in the dim light ahead of you.

A low muttering emanates from somewhere within the amorphous form, a steady chant as it feels its way across the street.

“Seenoevilspeaknoeviltouchnoeviltastenoevilseenoevilsee…”

A hand freezes, outstretched from the center of its mass as it brings two fingers together in a familiar gesture.

It snaps, the sound echoing along the silent street.

Then turns.

“What the hell is it do…” Rath begins across the channel.

“Oh, fuck me.” Gina says, the same realization hitting you a half-second before it dawned on her.

“It’s echolocation.”

As one, its countless arms reach out to you, hands grasping wildly as it surges ahead, grinding the street to dust in mad desperation to tear you asunder.

It is a crazed, wild thing, one that stands between you and freedom.

The thing that tore the Mountain King to pieces.

The Hundred-Handed One.

Hecatoncheires.

>>Tenth Vein: Closed
>>
what a way to end this
>>
(Gentlemen, I shall be ending this Vein here for now as the next few days appear to be filling up quickly, and I wish to have the presence of mind to orchestrate this fight and what is to follow to its fullest. Thank you for much for your participation, and I hope that you all have a good rest of your week. I will still be checking in regularly, and thank you for being such a fantastic crowd.)
>>
>>3259231
(Glorious, Anon.)
>>3259413
(In a good way, I hope?)
>>
>>3259416
Thanks for running. See you in 11th Vein.
>>
>>3259416
Damn son, thats one hell if a cliffhanger, but nice work. You focus on what ya need to do, though id be lying if i said the anticipation wasn't high. This is gonna be one hell of a fight.
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>>3259416
Like wise. We anons will do our best to prepare to fight this rolling ball-of-arms girl.

Despite the Greek mythology inspiration, what came to mind for me was a tg thread about a super hero who is nothing more than a ball of arms.
http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive/9632490/
>>3259420
>>3259422
We might as well take the time to figure out a battle plan.
>>
it was pretty good dont worry . i find this entertaining even if i dont chat much in the threads
>>
>>3259420
>>3259422
Where's the post mentioning the Mountain King got torn to shreds?
>>
>>3259429

See >>3257074
>>3257078
>>
>>3257074
>>3257078

Here, Anon.
>>3259429
>>
>>3259434
>>3259435
Excellent. Thank you. I have to say OP, I like the accelerated pace of this compared to JQ. The aliens as well add a distinctness to it that helps them feel separate.

I'm also really impressed with how you set up long-term adversaries such as the Mother, mid-term antagonists such as Dr. West and short-term ones such as Hektoncaries. It's good foreshadowing and ensures there's a nice pace to the story.

I hope West isn't the final villain, she's just not an enemy I'm interested in; I think it's the combination of her attitude with her powers. She doesn't feel threatening and I don't have an investment towards killing her.
>>
>>3259423
Well, don't get grabbed, obviously. But given the mythical inspiration, I say to watch out for projectiles as well. Hecatoncheires were living artillery that could fling dozens of stones simultaneously, and being the best at throwing is one of the things that's unique to humans among the animal kingdoms. I can see the aliens experimenting a bit with that trait, maybe to develop a new power out of it for the next world. So I'm also expecting a super-throw barrage using whatever she gets her many hands on.
>>
>>3259423
>>3259453
It listens. Have Rath bomb it immediately to disorientate it, have some flying swarmlings distract and then some silent swarmlings harass. We have to feel out how this thing works and it's too dangerous to engage in close with; if B'ni can attack from a distance, she should.
>>
>>3259424
(I'm glad to hear, it's nice to see when you pop in to the threads.)

>>3259451
(I appreciate that, I did want to make sure this was paced effectively so I'm relieved that it works on that front. While it remaims to be seen if you will run afoul of Dr. West, I agree that she works best as a mid-term adversary/character.)
>>
>>3259416
Thanks so much BHOP. Take as much time as you need to ensure that the fight to come is as awesome as possible. We have full faith that it's going to be epic, looking forward to it.
>>
>>3259468
Remaims, what an unsettling typo.

I really hope that was an accident.
>>
>>3259501
(It was, but it may be appropriate depending on how you all approach things.)
>>
glad you enjoy my infrequent apppearences (thoug h know im always lurking)

so random question are we now just keeping all the ability votes to distribute among everyone now :? instead of having set number of points to give to each
>>
>>3259538
(I initially thought to split it up like that to grant you the ability to pick and choose, since several anons are leery of giving Shu extra levels at this point and I did not wish to force it upon them. You bring up a good point, though;)

(Anons, do you like splitting up levels and having strategize who gets what and how, or would you prefer it the way it was earlier in the quest, with a more even distribution?)
>>
i prefer the way it was earlier but if other people prefer the current its fine i guess :?
>>
>>3259451
Pretty sure Marrow Dragoon is far ahead of West. If West ate 12 daughters, Mara ate the whole dozen she brought to assault Kosi and who knows how many before that.
>>
>>3259660
Correct me If I'm wrong, but I believe BHOP compared Mara's power at the raid to be about where Shu's power would be In a solo game. So thinking about It Mara was In the what, mid to high 30's multiple threads ago?
>>
>>3259660
Do we have a hard number on how many West ate? Because she listed a lot of abilities and those weren't implied to be all she had.

>>3259616
Well, that depends; if we lose one of the team, will eating them recoup all of the abilities we sank into them? Because if so, the new system is much better and makes it easier to guide development.
>>
>>3259616
Honestly? 100% whatever makes sense IC at the moment and in context. Such as when we used a defeated enemy to help save and heal someone, it doesn't make sense for those levels to then go to someone else. That and of course, sometimes it makes sense for certain characters to not feel comfortable consuming a certain target.
>>
>>3259616
I mean I personally would be fine with even distribution but my agenda Is that I think we should be levelling the main character and It seems to me the majority of the players are very wary of that, so eh.

>>3259678
What this anon said works, I'd say just go with whatever makes sense to you BHOP.
>>
>>3259616
i apologize if i simply overlooked it BHOP, but where exactly do the coordinates we got from West go?
>>
>>3259616
Keep it this way, it's just like SMT.
>>
>>3259660
>>3259671
(Marrow Dragoon has a considerable edge on West where specialization and skillful combination of abilities is concerned. On the other hand, West currently has thirty-six unique abilities, and she has devoured over fifty Daughters in her time in the Crucible which grants her a level of versatility that grows by the day.)

>>3259670
(I think I may have mis-spoken, back then. What I intended to say was that Shu, Gina, and B'ni as a group were roughly equal to Shu's power level on a solo playthrough, while Mara is rapidly approaching endgame.)

>>3259671
(For clarification regarding your excellent question: Let it be known that consuming the full biomass of an allied Daughter grants all their skill trees at level one and an additional ACT, as well as the possibility of unique skills depending on how close they were with the one eating them. However, this boon is reduced if only part of the body is devoured, as only a proportional about of skills would be assimilated if one were to only acquire a limb or two.)

>>3259756
(They lead you directly to the Monastery from any of Charon's waystations.)
>>
>>3259465
Slight issue on that mate, Rath's bombs have been modified into Napalm bombs. It lacks the concussive "BANG" sound effect of a normal explosive. It's bright and burny, but it lacks the Concussive "Boom" so we can't really disorient it that well.
>>3259453
A good general rule of thumb. Now about Hecaton's main bio-ability. Do we have our party consume her signature ability (Multiple arms)? From what Dr. West said, She's pretty much a one-trick pony who advanced her levels so far that she's sacrificed all other bodily senses and limbs for more arms. The end result having completely turned her into a walking ball of arms. And for a one-trick pony, I can easily say that her core ability will nicely supplement certain party members like Rath or B'ni. Having multiple arms or even a simple extra pair does wonders for daughters who use tools or melee combat. Just imagine Rath or B'ni pulling a Mistral from MGR(pic related), Rath tossing her own limbs to act as bigger sets of bombs, or B'ni being multi-armed and dangerous with her insane speed with gauntlings.
>>3259920
>West with a kill count of 50 daughters.
>Being awake for 8 months and already having that many levels
Jesus fuck. That's at least 7 daughters a month. By sheer level stat alone, she's at least level 150. And that's not counting the the amalgam body count which we don't even know how many she slaughtered.

>while Mara is rapidly approaching endgame
Damn. We fought a high level daughter, stole her prize, and got away with it. Now that scale and risk of that heist is really emphasized now.
What's Mara's kill count in terms of daughters and amalgams?
>>3259616
We kinda liked strategizing who gets what and how because of the sheer situational circumstances and the wide variety of daughters/amalgams you throw at us. In my personal opinion, the reason behind the even distribution of levels was to prevent Shu from becoming a "carry" and a keystone to the group's fighting power (if Shu falls, everyone kinda falls apart). As of right now, the rest of the party is catching up to or possibly has caught up to Shu in terms of raw stats, but I would like to vouch me for that because it's been a while since I last the stat sheet for the whole group in level distribution. Often times we would simply level up our existing abilities, and consuming the abilities of other amalgams/daughters is honestly a difficult choice to make due to the "mystery-box factor" and whether or not if it's compatible with our current overall team strategy.
>>
>>3254143
Many quests have dead like this.
Its sad.
>>
>>3260095
>Having multiple arms or even a simple extra pair does wonders for daughters who use tools or melee combat. Just imagine Rath or B'ni pulling a Mistral from MGR(pic related), Rath tossing her own limbs to act as bigger sets of bombs, or B'ni being multi-armed and dangerous with her insane speed with gauntlings.

Or we could take that arm bonus for ourselves, armor up and go full Asura's Wrath on people. I've been Itching for Shu to take a bigger piece of the load In combat for a while by getting her Into close combat. Need to cover up the fact that our CQC Is bad at some point anyway.
>>
>>3259920
How viable an idea is>>3258582
As a 'flip the bored rather than play the game' type move?
>>
>>3260245
It might be viable, the issue is finding the nukes in the first place, even then there's the issue of dealing with Nuclear Radiation and fallout. You can flip the table game and the board, but there's sure to be massive collateral.
>>
>>3260245
(You could absolutely attempt it.)
>>
>>3259920
>(For clarification regarding your excellent question: Let it be known that consuming the full biomass of an allied Daughter grants all their skill trees at level one and an additional ACT, as well as the possibility of unique skills depending on how close they were with the one eating them. However, this boon is reduced if only part of the body is devoured, as only a proportional about of skills would be assimilated if one were to only acquire a limb or two.)
Two questions about this sort of thing
1) Would eating part of a still living daughter allow skill gain?
2) Can Daughters regrow lost limbs?
>>
>>3260257
>>3260245
Cleanse the unclean with nuclear fire! Death to the Cord! Death to the Mother! Death to the Crucible! For the Pope!

(I was gonna just say I'm for nukes, but then I got bored)
>>
>>3260327
I get the sense that you're trying to abuse the system here anon. And If BHOP would let us, I'd be all for It. And so Shu and co saved the world with the power of friendship. And mutual cannibalism.
>>
>>3260352
dat spoiler. That's pretty much SMT Bio-horror editon. Where instead of killing your friends, you have to eat your friends alive.
>>
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>>3260257
You're gonna bring up nukes at some point, right? It wouldn't be a Shin Megami Tensei thing if nukes weren't involved somewhere.
MT II had them
SMT I had them
SJ had them
SMT IV had them

>>3260366
NO FUCKING SHIT
ME CONSTANTLY BRINGING UP DIGITAL DEVIL SAGA IN REGARDS TO THIS QUEST DIDN'T TIP YOU OFF, YOU FUCKING RETARD???
>>
>>3260352
>I get the sense that you're trying to abuse the system here anon.
As you may have guessed from my 'nuke em' suggestion I 100% am trying to abuse and break this system. Shu has been thrown into a cruel and frankly pointless game and as far as I'm concerned 'win' or lose the fuckers behind this win if we play.
So I say fuck that let's twist the rules until they break and shatter this game so this shitshow can never be repeated.
>>
>>3260327
1)The Daughter must be dead or making death saving throws to be consumed, barring a certain skill.
2)They absolutely can, and consuming the flesh of others while still alive can stave off the Hunger.
>>
>>3260423
>or making death saving throws
So could we use Gina's 'don't die when you should have' power to partially consume someone and then bring them back?
>>
>>3260433
I'm assuming Consuming a daughter is the same as delivering a Coup-de-grace on a downed opponent, therefore I would say a skeptical "no" unless we unlock a skill that basically allows skill transfer. I could guess that Shu might have that ability down the line in her swarmling tech tree since we chose the path of FRIENDSHIP and much of our swarmling abilities revolve around the empathy network and synergizing with our allies.
>>
>>3260447
>>3260433
Unless BHOP can confirm consuming a daughter is basically dealing a deathblow.
>>
>>3260423
So if SOMEONE decides to chose one of the options given to them by Mother, they could just eat an easily replaceable arm to stave off the hunger till we end the crucible. That's granting that SOMEONE doesn't immediately go insane. Am I reading this correctly?
>>
>>3260464
(Hypothetically, yes. The Daughters are coded to have the Hunger staved off by eating others as opposed to auto-cannibalism, but you're on the right track.)
>>
>>3260433
>>3260447
>>3260451
(Consuming a Daughter alive during or post-combat counts as a deathblow, yes.)

(To put a finer point on it, absorbing or eating the flesh of a Daughter only staves off the Hunger while offering no other machanical benefits and can potentially be nonlethal, while Consuming a Daughter is lethal and results in a level up. I hope that helps to clarify things.)
>>
>mfw the monestary is basically a friendly lesbian cannibal camp
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>>3261398
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>>3261403
Nice.
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>>3261474
Cant wait to see the look on our parties face when they get offered a literal arm of friendship when we visit.
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so CONTROVERSY TIME. nah, not really, i just want to stir up more discussion so a question for everyone, and this really isn't meant to be an criticism or attack on the quest mind you, i think its pretty clear we all enjoy it anyways, BUT, what so far was everyone's most disappointing/least favorite moment of the Quest for far?(you too BHOP!) again, not actually trying to stir anything up, just genuinely curious, and as the saying can go, you can like everything about something but still not like one part as much as the rest.

Personally, my only real disappointment so far has been Marrow Dragoons team. dont get me wrong, the Kosi city raid was great, but i was so looking forward to seeing what the rest of the attacking team was and how they might work together, as well as testing out mettle against another team. instead after the hype of reading their names and finding their plans, we really didn't get to see anything of them, not even in the background or anything. instead not even one lived to help out MD at the end, or anything.

that, and goddammit Gina still doesn't have an actual offensive ability, you nitwits!
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>>3262212
(I'm intrigued about this as well, since I would like to grow as a QM and a writer.)
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>>3262212
My biggest disappointment? SHU not actually having been a murderer apparently Is up there for disappointment. I'm also *slightly* disappointed that we didn't go for a cuhrayzee melee build with the worms In the opening vote, and I'm DEFINITELY disappointed In everyone avoiding levelling Shu's core stuff like It's the plague. They think friendship and eldritch abilities are mutually exclusive or some shit, yet they want to compare this to SMT where the characters ALSO get slightly less horrifying yet horribly powerful abilities.
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>>3262212
(I'll be honest, you weren't the only one disappointed when Mara's team ended up getting slaughtered by Kosi's defenses. The rolls were hilarious, with Mara doing okay in the background and everyone dying almost immediately. One of her two main supports ended up dying to a critical hit and the other made a low roll and succumbed to a particular status ailment, for lack of a better term, and Mara killed her out of mercy. It did serve to highlight just how determined and intimidating Mara is, so I was glad some narrative good came of it.)

>>3262243
(It's funny you bring up Shu's backstory and the players' reluctance to level her up afterwards, as the revelation of that piece of her past was meant to come much later in the quest. I pushed it up on to hopefully ease some worries and get everyone leveling Shu again, as opposed to saying 'it's fine go ahead and give her levels.' Two birds with one stone, though I completely understand how that might not sit well with some readers. More interesting things will come of it, though.)

(Also, I'm afraid I must hold my tongue on revealing what I've been disappointed in, as doing so would be spoilers on several different fronts. All in all, I am truly surprised and flattered that everyone seems to be enjoying it so far, and running this continues to be more enjoyable than I ever thought it could be.)
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>>3262243
But what about nuclear fire, did we abandon that plan? Who needs meat dragons when you could have atomic meat dragons.
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>>3262212
One of my disappointments is ironically a lack of good reliable options when usually I've been pulling tons of crazy creative solutions out of my ass with the existing tools that we have. Which also makes Level up choices an engaging point. Don't get me wrong BHOP, you've given us PLENTY of time to vote and discuss our strategy and choices and have been very generous in handing interesting powers to us. It's just that we're a bit picky when it comes to consuming new abilities. I'm also abit disappointed in the fact that there isn't enough discussion on our party's long-term build and whether or not if it's worth it to consume their "gimmick" ability for a good synergy, the sheer "mystery box" factor not withstanding.
>>3262391
Your worries about level ups are appreciated, it's just that the lvl 6 swarmling flavor text caught us off guard as well as the timing Shu's backstory reveal on certain memories gave us a certain interpretation on the events that played out. It made such an impression
>>3262212
I know Gina has a lack of a reliable offensive option, but it's hard to do Bio-ability shopping that fits her kit!
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>>3262243
i still dont know what SMT is, so all the references fall flat for me personally. as for Shu, its not that we necessarily think Eldritch powers and friendship cant fit together, its as stated several times before by several Anons, we dont trust the passive Swarmling now has, nor that it wont both stay a passive and go down a line of power we do not want.

>>3262391
c-can you maybe explain the ability and personality sets of the important MD team characters then? just to give closure to not getting to see them in action?

Also as stated, i get what you were trying to do, but again i think even you with that statement might be overlooking exactly why alot have not upgraded Swarmling. we never were worried about leveling Shu in general, only Swarmling.

>>3262578
well, one issue for me is, i play party based games where i build every character up to where, theoretically everyone can 'stand' on their own. no one is purely a support character or what have you, such abilities are spread throughout the party. but collectively Anons have gone the opposite of my play style, so i literally am far too out my element and intrest to long term plan this.

THAT, and BHOP does a damn good job throwing us for a loop, so even my usual planning would never have worked, as he always throw something unexpected at us anyways.

As for Gina, that is exactly why we shouldn't wait too long for one. we can make an ability work for her, but we cant make a good ability come to her. waiting only means it will be that much lower level when she inevitably DOES need that offensive ability for herself.
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>>3262717
>i still dont know what SMT is
you fucking retard
read this infographic and get started with Nocturne
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>>3262903
well with that attitude you can go go fuck yourself.

>persona
ah, then its probably not my cup of tea, never was interested persona. though id be amiss to say that actually means anything on the other games, i certainly do not have the time for a game series that long, nor to get invested in it. i have trouble finding time to play casual games with friends as it is at times.
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>>3262928
Persona is not SMT
>that explanation
okay fine that's your deal
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>>3262903
>you fucking retard

Don't be a jerk, man.
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>>3262717
(Regarding Mara's crew, I'll do a little write up on them in the morning, as I'd like to go more in depth with them. Also, I agree with you, and I too believe I miscalculated with how everyone would react to the revelation of Shu being a 'killer', though that's the interesting thing about writing a quest as opposed to a book, we can keep surprising each other. I never liked railroading when I DMed and I always wanted to put a heavy emphasis on player agency, so these things will happen and I welcome them. On a related note, I'm glad I can keep throwing curveballs at you, I love the solutions you come up with do deal with both social and combat scenarios in the quest.)
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>>3262903
>>3262941
Oh, and while maybe some have been re-released on on PC or simulators may exist for them, not everyone owns that wide a variety of consoles and im of the opinion no one game is worth buying a system for. Ive got a PC and thats all ill ever have. Im more than ok missing out on a few games in order to not have to buy several bloody different systems. Waste of money in my opinion.
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>>3263334
(Emulation is the only way I was able to enjoy most of the titles in the series, though as mentioned above, it's less a core thing you need to know to enjoy the quest and more something that served as an inspiration and is given little nods to throughout, much like Joker Quest and Bloodborne.)

Kos...Kosm...Kosi? It doesn't matter, just grant them eyes...
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well im watching a lets play of digital devil saga now since yall got me somewhat curious
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>>3263375
(I hope you enjoy it Gen, I had a good time playing them some years ago.)
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>>3263381
definitly enjoying it so far its intresting. if a little bit hard to understand whats going on at the start

just oh hey this thing showed up out of nowhere. oh hey we alll monsters suddenly. ~~well i can see where your inspiration came from atleast right off the bat
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>>3263334
>>3262717
In terms of a reliable offensive ability, I find that Terraforming works well in a pinch with the right setup and a pliable environment. Unwieldy because of the sheer amount of Biomass needed to cast "sudden impaling bone spikes" as well as the telegraphing, but the damage output is insane.

As for a reliable offensive ability, We can all agree that the current daughter we're facing (Hecatoncheires) has a really good bio-ability (Multi-arms) that warrants consuming.
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>>3263430
funnily enough from its description i dont think we have used Terraforming like it was intended at all, and still find it a poor choice for a personal offensive ability. its more of a support attack, than a personal offensive ability, if that makes any sense.

but yeah, multi-arms is a good ability, though only Rath or B'ni really makes sense to give it too. i guess it wouldn't be useless on Gina, just nowhere near as good. it is implied she also has strength though, but that could be tied into her arms. my main thing to think of there is, BHOP sometimes gives us similar but not exact ability choices when we CONSUME, so strength focus or multi-arm focus might, at level one, be different choices.

but unlike other abilities this one also is alot more straight forward. lots of arms, they hit really hard. easy to understand, not the easiest to deal with.
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>>3263448
I'm thinking Rath gets the arms. As someone
>>3260095
pointed out, it could make for some interesting skill usage during combat.
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>>3263448
Multi-arms seems like the sort of ability that's "easy to learn, hard to master"
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>>3263457
true, but i just imagined B'ni getting it and putting a blade on each arm and just sorta, running at the enemy swinging wildly like a mad woman helicopter of death and cannot stop laughing.

just, like "RRRRRREEEEEEEEEeeeee get away from MY Shhhhhuuuu!"

otherwise though i do think giving it to Rath as >>3263456 says is the more interesting and fun idea at least. im down for it, if we actually win this fight that is, and dont all die or have to retreat.
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>>3262428
Dude, If we come across a missile Silo I promise you I'll vote to investigate It. Until that opportunity comes, we'll have to wait.

>>3262717
>its as stated several times before by several Anons, we dont trust the passive Swarmling now has, nor that it wont both stay a passive and go down a line of power we do not want.

Oh I completely understand you train of thought, but I disagree. While you think It would spiral out of control I highly doubt that against our will we would be forced to transform our friends Into mindslave bug-human abominations or what have you. Admittedly I can ABSOLUTELY see that as a later *active* ability, which Is to say we might be able to *choose* to forcefully Integrate someone Into the swarm rather than kill them In combat which would basically be smashing people over the head with the mercy button and forcing them to have a second chance at life with varying degree's of 'listen to Shu' all the way from just making them slightly more prone to like us and not attack us, up to full blown mindbroken 'we love you Shu let us die for you' human swarmlings. I seriously want to stress that I HIGHLY DOUBT that It would be completely out of our control on how we want to use the power If we get It, you know? I'm also of the opinion that BHOP Is trying to hint to us that the situations fine here >>3262391 But like everything else here, that's just speculation and my opinion.

>>3263486
I still want Shu to get multi-arms. With power armor and some weapons we'd be a versatile threat, and we need our melee game to get good at some point. Remember the pale beast In that cave? Damn near died because It hard focused us and we couldn't do much about It ourselves. And as a guilty pleasure, I really really want to go full Asura's Wrath on people that hurt those we care about.
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>>3263588
Eh, i still just cant agree. We have also gotten hint from other daughters of abilites going out of control, so we have no reason to think were immune to that.

And while it wouldn't be useless on Shu, i just feel id be wasted on her compared to others, and she already has vaiable melee options, nor do i feel the arms would work with said options she has easily.
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>>3258582
We Big Boss now
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>>3263381
I almost forgot one thing. BHOP, how's Charon's Contender level progressing? has it evolved?
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>>3263329
I look forward to learning more about her crew!
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>>3264100
(The Contender is actually very close to leveling up, as it gains experience based on how often it’s fired and how many combats it’s used in, in addition to altering its form based on what it is used for and what it’s user does and feels while in possession of it.)

>>3264109
(Regarding The Hollowed Host and Lysergic Domina, they were really the only two Daughters in Mara’s crew that had distinct personalities, and had Kosi not gone overboard, they would’ve been fought on the way to the confrontation with Mara. The Hollowed Host was a devoutly religious Swarmling user, whose power was in manifesting as a legion of warped butterflies that lived inside her carved-out body. She had taken an upgrade path that planted her mind in a Queen-class swarmling, indistinguishable from her brood who boasted the collective ability to produce clouds of toxic spores.)

(The fight would’ve been complicated by Domina, a friend of Host’s before world’s end. Domina possessed the ability to produce clouds of pheromones that had effects similar to that of ingesting LSD when inhaled. It also created a shared consciousness among its users to disorient them or direct them towards a common goal, as she could alter the neurological effects of pain and pleasure to those influenced by her. The effect was basically a waking version of Carla’s shared dreamstate, since they were both neuromancers.)

(The two of them were journeying to the arena at Host’s behest and to the chagrin of Domina when Mara encountered them, inviting them to join her in her siege on Kosi’s city, instead. Domina’s ability allowed the other Daughters, most of whom had succumbed to the Hunger, to function as an effective unit despite their differences. Domina wound up killed by a well-placed beam of Kosi’s, which prompted a certain roll by Host which she promptly failed. She lost control and Mara put her down, absorbing both Host and Domina so that they could be together again.)
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>>3264146
Holy shit BHOP, for background info we didn't get to see, that is spectacular. Damn son, i knew you had things going on in the background, but that is fucking amazing.

Also they sounded like wonderful characters and challenges.
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>>3264146
Dang. That's tragic.

If you're willing, I've come up with another Contender ammo type (Based on Shu's swarmling).
>HIVE'S HELL-ROUND (HHR): Weaponizing a underappreciated aspect of the Hornet and Bee design that Shu's own hive takes after, the Hive's Hell-Round is quintessentially a Giant Bee stinger in the form of a large calibur armor piercing bullet. The initial damage is something to scoff at and the round itself is easy to extract from the skin/armor, but doing so is a Morton's fork for the victim due to the concentrated cocktail of Giant Hornet Venom that constitutes its payload. Left unattended, the Hell-Round will inject its payload over the course of 3 rounds, dealing steady neuromancy-damage and painful swelling that makes its victims to take a 10% more damage from all other sources. But if the victim extracts the bullet to spare themselves the long term pain, they will be subject to a burst of tissue swelling Neuromancy damage, restricted mobility, and take 25% increased damage from all other sources. So why spend so much effort to deliver death by the venom of 1,000 bee stings when you can have the same effect with one bullet?
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>>3264229
IIRC BHOP already said before we're full up on ammo types for Shu's contender at the moment, although that does seem pretty neat.
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>>3264207
(Haha, thank you. There are a number of characters moving and pursuing their own goals in the background, and that dictates much of what and who you find, and where.)

>>3264234
>>3264229
(Please continue to pitch ideas, that's actually incredibly helpful for when the Contender levels up. I'm absolutely open to custom ability ideas or concepts.)
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>>3264248
I do also have to ask, Is the Shawl another Relic that can level up? or is it a static relic?
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>>3264248
Nice. I look forward to meeting them, and befriending them, whether they like it or not.
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>>3264257
(It is static, yes.)

>>3264268
(I wish you the best of luck, anon. Everyone's persistence in making Shu a bright spot in the end times amuses me to no end.)
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Y'know, with how dangerous things are getting now, I'm kinda wondering how easy we would've had it if we decided to go down the "kill everyone and eat their hearts" route rather than the "MY FRIENDS ARE MY POWER" route.

In fact, it almost makes me wish BHOP'd do a new game+/second gig/something-or-other after this finishes were we start over and are forced down that route, but that's probably asking too much.
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>>3264393
My issue with that is thats kinda rail roading, and would be unfair to any new players who dont have such context in the new game. But i also understand your interest in such a thing.

Overall i like the setting though, but I'm not sure how well it lends itself to a sequel/reboot. Feels like alot of the fun is the mystery and discovery. The actual combat system and abilites are great though, but you dont need the exact same setting to bring those to life again necessarily.
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>>3264479
Yeah, I guess I didn't really consider that.
It's just a dumb little thought I had.
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>>3264484

>>3264479
I kinda agree with your sentiment. A lot of the fun when it comes to the Bio-horror comes from the mystery and the sense of primal dread that comes with every choice we make in exploring a setting as eldritch as this. Even the things that we crave as a piece of the past (see Catherine's Garden) is looked upon with suspicion and paranoid fear. Do we go explore the creaking factory on the verge of collapse? or visit the underground pitch black cave system? Will this power that we've consumed help myself or my friends? or will it spiral out of control?
And horror is the type of genre where its main gimmick (the scare factor) works only once.
Unless BHOP pulls a Digital Devil Saga2 or Joker Quest and puts Shu and the cast into a completely different setting. Kinda like an Inverse of Joker Quest (said example went from mecha characters in Mecha world to mecha characters in eldritch bio-world) except now Shu and co. are stuck in a setting almost devoid of Biomass. It's a neat idea to speculate but that would just ruin the tone of the quest and still doesn't refresh the "scare factor" in horror genres.
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>>3264484
Its not a dumb thought at all, its just thriller/horror is really hard to keep fresh and engaging in sequels and reboots. Granted it has been done before, but its rarer than most would like.

>>3264544
The only possible idea for a sequel i can even think of anyways would be Shu, or a new character, having to deal with living in the world left behind after Shu and company 'wins', but its phyrric victory where all they did was delay earths quick death into a slow rot. I can think of plenty of ways to give 'hope' to keep the characters moving forward in such a scenario though. The biggest problem is the mystery factor still wouldn't be refreshed unless the death of mother and loss if her control start to cause the natural order of things to shift and go haywire as the old rules of earth and the fleshscape rules fight for control

Just a few Penny thoughts is all.
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>>3264558
Mind you, im completely happy with thestory so far and am more than happy to see this one through and want to see how it ends, but of course letting your mind run wild a bit at times never hurts.
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>>3264484
(It's not dumb at all, I enjoy it when good ideas are passed around in these Veins.)
>>
Okay Even though the 11th vein hasn't begun beating yet, I just want to write down some interesting ideas and questions for preservation in the archive when the Vein finally gets embalmed.

Rath's Boils. Is it possible for her to shape her boil bombs into different shapes like a Dart or an arrowhead? Or is it just stuck like a water-balloon?

Shu's swarmlings: I've got a crazy idea of modifying a Wingling that attaches to the back of a daughter and rapidly beats its wings to mimick directional thrust to give the wearer a faster Movement speed like a Booster pack. Booster-lings? They'll eat up some hefty bio to craft. Your thoughts on this BHOP?
Another idea is a swarmling that is modified to be the complete opposite of a silent swarmling (aka a tiny Swarmling that's as loud as a cicada). Buzz-lings? It might work against Hecaton if Hecaton still had ears, but I wouldn't risk letting Hecaton gaining a working sonar radar that pings rapidly unless we find her sensitive ears and start overloading her hearing with LOUD CICADA NOISES.

The Fight against Hecatoncheires: I've got an idea that requires a bit of a setup. it's gonna slow down Hecaton or at least confuse it for a moment or so, but the plan involves Gina Terraforming a section of the street to be filled with Manniquin dummy copies of Shu and the gang, and escaping to hide amongst the dummies if Hecaton doesn't cut the knot and simply bowl the whole place over.


Relics:
>>3264579
BHOP, is it possible for a daughter to craft their own personal relic through a certain skill or do you need a certain Eldritch Forge?
For some strange reason because of how Shu and co. operate, I can't help but imagine a scenario where everyone fuses all their Bio-abilities and Relics into one giant weapon al la Power Rangers.
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>>3265224
Bio-mech suit and color coded outfits so that its literally power rangers.
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>>3265224
(Boosterlings are hefty and powerful, yes. A single one would cost 40% BIO to craft. As far as personal relics go, there are craftable, though not by any conventional skill.)
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>>3265294
Relic: Nuclear launch codes

Pleeeeeeeease?
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>>3265380
(You'll have to find the nukes, first.)

(As a side note, I find the nuclear plan delightful.)
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>>3265380
well, if we ever find out where the fuck we actually are, we can find a nuclear silo semi-easily. sorta. maybe.

note even if we find one, theres gonna be something or someone guarding it. you just know it. this is if the cord is small enough for a nuke to even make a difference with anyways.
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>>3265294
what about the Cicada buzz-lings?
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>>3265424
(Cicada-like creations would merely be a slight alteration to their basic form, so no additional cost would be necessary.)
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>>3265380
>>3265384

Quest started: The nuclear option
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>>3265449
We need to find some military bases or best yet the remains of the Pentagon.
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>>3265816
I don't know why, but I was imagining the monastery as the pentagon rather than an actual church thing. OP probably has something else in mind though.
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>>3265907
it probably looks like this.
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>>3265987
That's pretty sick looking. I feel like we need more pictures like this. so far I've seen mostly portraits of characters. I have trouble imagining a flesh world for obvious reasons.
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>>3266009
Those reasons being that its not natural. OP's been doing a good job describing it but the scale is difficult to imagine.
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I just binged all the previous threads, is there a twitter so I'll know when the next vein opens?
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>>3266879
(There is, here you go. What are your thoughts so far?)

https://mobile.twitter.com/bodyhorrorquest
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>>3266009
>>3266932
zdzislaw beksinski's works are something to behold let me tell you.
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>>3267401
(They really are, and aesthetically speaking they are a huge inspiration I'll start trying to use more and be a little more descriptive with the environments, within reason.)
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>>3267401
He never named his paintings so I don't know what to call it, but he painted a meat tank. Can we have a meat tank?
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>>3268557
sure, but BHOP will make us fight it first.
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>>3268612
Oh... oooooooooh! Oh shit! I don't want a meat tank anymore.
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I find it slightly suspicious that the most informed and high-level character in a Journey to the West narrative is named West.
>>
(Leaving this here, Gentlemen. Additionally, I shall open the 11th Vein on Tuesday morning, Eastern Standard time. I shall post here and on Twitter well before the Vein opens to let everyone know.)
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>>3270863
Don't forget to archive and preserve this vein.
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>>3271213
(Thank you for the reminder, I will do so after the 11th Vein opens.)
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>>3269860
Mara is stronger tho
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(Gentlemen, the 11th Vein shall open approximately thirteen hours from now. Thank you so much for your participation, and I shall post here with the link when it goes live.)
>>
(Gentlemen, the 11th Vein is open. I welcome you, and good luck.)

>>3276235



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