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He barkeep handed Jennifer Daniels another drink, muttering something about how she seemed to have needed another drink. In plain-clothes and not in her usual battle-rattle, this was the closest thing to shore leave she would get.

Being a Psi-Corpsman wasn’t nearly as fun the job the pamphlets said it would be, especially for someone who procrastinated her paperwork as much as Jennifer did. Baggy eyes accentuated the scars over her left eye well, she insisted to the barkeep. He faked a chuckle, pushing a drink her way.

Something about the red, viscous concoction made the hairs on her neck stand up, but that something was very hard to ascertain. She threw it back, drinking it without a thought.

“Ma’am,” the barkeep blinked, “Yer s’posed to drink that slow,” he threw a rag over his shoulder, “Are you alright?” She felt like his face was familiar. The broad shoulders, the knowing grey eyes, even the man’s ombre hair seemed to remind her of someone.

The man’s hand touched her shoulder, and she blinked. Before her eyes closed, she was in a bar. After they closed, her ears pounded with the silence of shellshock.

”Daniels! Get up! Are you alright?!” the voice shouted, it was notably less Outer Colonial now. Lance Corporal Daniels coughed up a thick, viscous red fluid. She rolled over to her side, seeing her arm covered in armor. Jungle camouflage, smeared in red that had black chunks in it. It wasn’t hers: this was something else. A slain Plague… creature in front of her, dressed in shiny golden armor that covered its bruise-blue, warty skin. As Daniels stood up she kept coughing and staggered into cover with the man. Gunfire kept her from looking over the cover, and she scrambled for her own weapon.

It all felt so… Strange. Where was her gun? She needed that. It wasn’t in the gore that used to be a Plague form, it didn’t even have a weapon of its own. Did she lose it elsewhere? Was she knocked over with an explosion?

[ 1 / 2 ]
>>
As she puzzled herself, she saw the scene around her in a haze. It unfurled into a smoking crater, and she saw that she’d been launched several feet. Only way she realized it was from seeing a chunk of her armor plating that seemed to have caught in the soft soil of the jungle. The creature that was on top of her seemed to have been eviscerated by shrapnel, saving her life in an ironic twist.

Wait, didn’t I find that out after reviewing the fo-

“Daniels! Stick with me here! We’re pinned down here, and need an out!” the man shouted. He wore the rank of Lance Corporal as well, was a member of Daniels’ squad. He insisted she was his saving grace, the ace in the hole.

For some reason, Jennifer felt unable to immediately act upon the training she’d received since she was six. It… Seemed to blank for her. She was trained at a young age in two disciplines, a rare thing to have at such a young age but not unheard of. An Abjurer needs psionic enemies to be useful. She had to take out a page from her other book, and fast.

>ELEMENTALIST: Harnessing the primal forces of nature, you can wreathe your foes in flame, hurl fistfuls of lightning, or freeze your foes solid.
>KINETICIST: Bending physics to your will, you make use of gravity fields and can be a battlefield manipulator, a stalwart bulkhead, or a battering ram.
>ELDRITCH: If reality is but a bundle of strings, be the one who plucks them in mystifying ways. Use telepathy to terrorize your enemies with illusions, or inspire and heal allies with grandeur.
>>
>>3032904
>KINETICIST: Bending physics to your will, you make use of gravity fields and can be a battlefield manipulator, a stalwart bulkhead, or a battering ram.
>>
>>3032913
I'll give it another couple minutes, then write a reply up based on this. It'll be another set of choices, if that helps lurkers decide.
>>
>>3032904
>>ELEMENTALIST: Harnessing the primal forces of nature, you can wreathe your foes in flame, hurl fistfuls of lightning, or freeze your foes solid.
>>
>>3032904
>>KINETICIST: Bending physics to your will, you make use of gravity fields and can be a battlefield manipulator, a stalwart bulkhead, or a battering ram.

>>3032917
Remember that as a new quest with no advertisement it'll take significantly longer for a random passerby to notice it. I know you're eager, but it might be better to extend the vote a little longer than you normally would.
>>
>>3032922
Very fair, gives me time to fuck around and set up some other stuff. Say another 10min?

So far, Kineticist at 2 and Elementalist at 1.
>>
>>3032904
>KINETICIST: Bending physics to your will, you make use of gravity fields and can be a battlefield manipulator, a stalwart bulkhead, or a battering ram.
>>
>>3032904
>>KINETICIST: Bending physics to your will, you make use of gravity fields and can be a battlefield manipulator, a stalwart bulkhead, or a battering ram.
>>
>>3032938
>>3032922
>>3032913
>>3032945

That's 4 votes Kineticist in 20min; I'll get to writing up
>>
>>3032904
>ELDRITCH: If reality is but a bundle of strings, be the one who plucks them in mystifying ways. Use telepathy to terrorize your enemies with illusions, or inspire and heal allies with grandeur.
>>
>>3032938
>>3032922
>>3032913
>>3032945

That’s it, she mastered an art of the Kineticist Discipline. Why… Why was this so hard to muster? This was something she’d studied her whole life. She was… Gunfire sent a chunk of the rock they were hiding behind in front of her, and she scrunched her whole face in panic. She was on the verge of Psi-Terror, a horrible state to be in where reality would come asunder as her mind broke from strain. Her Psi Node, an extra organ at the base of her skull, would go into overdrive and make the panic attack she felt tear at the world around her.

Psionics were, even as a Kineticist, an instance of a human’s will being applied to reality explicitly. Some disciplines called it up to something akin to magic, such as the Eldritch disciplines, others chalked it up to a gift from gods or some other spiritual boon, like Elementalists. Kineticists were far more pragmatic about reality. Physics was a plaything for a Psionic, and Kineticists loved this particular plaything. Broken into three ‘schools,’ Kineticists specialized in mixing fields of force to create devastating explosions, using those fields of force to shield themselves and allies, or even amplifying the kinetic energy of a particular melee weapon to bash in skulls.

The shellshock slowed her mind, it stopped her from acting, instead all she could do was rehearse memorized facts about her Discipline’s subschools.

Force Adepts would manipulate gravity, sending powerful blasts of concussive force into the fray like human artillery cannons. Capable of major telekinetic displays, most Force Adepts were able to fling whatever they could pull precisely where they wanted it to go. Support specialists at their core, they enjoyed staying in cover and avoiding fire long enough to make it cease entirely with devastating fields that warped armor, made enemies weightless targets, or flung them like ragdolls.

[ 1 / 2 ]
>>
>>3033026
Psi-Defenders were the bulwark that chaos broke upon. They could generate barriers for themselves and allies, making for a purely defensive style of combat. They would serve as advancing cover, or a force multiplier by extending survivability of friendly personnel, vehicles, and even themselves. Not nearly as direct as their Force Adept colleagues, Psi-Defenders worked best with teams that could bring more firepower in behind them.

Psi-Assaults were the juggernauts of the battlefield: unstoppable forces that could be confused for a train in the chaos of a gunfight. Trading off the team-oriented support of Psi-Defenders for pure offense, a Psi-Assault opted to wield a specially crafted hammer known as the “Devstator Assault Hammer.” Recent breakthroughs in Psi-Amplifier technology allow them to launch themselves at individual targets with the force of a speeding bullet and body-slam the victim with such force that enemies around are launched about in random directions.
“Daniels!? Jen?!” the man shouted, “Are you alright?”

What a strange thing to keep asking her, she was clearly fi-

A beastial roar echoed out over the gunfire, something huge. All Jennifer saw as she looked up into the sky was a human skull, the lower jaw splitting vertically at its center into two mandibles. The creature’s torso had two arms and a serpentine tail attached to it, scythes of bone extended from what used to be the palms of human hands.

This was the straw that would’ve broken the camel’s back, if this were any other situation. But no, Jennifer was a Grade Delta. She was immune to Psi-Terror! She couldn’t have this… She’d already gone through her...

Second Awakening.

Reality tore around her, the Mother wept tears that created a cacophony of noise! The tears were simultaneously sorrow and pride, joy and terror, everything at once. Reality warped around LCpl Jennifer Daniels, 134th Psi-Battalion of Earth, and all she heard was the weeping of The Mother. Tears! Nothing but tears that were as oceans falling from omniscient eyes and the weight of her oceanic tears hit steel creating an impact that echoed out and shattered like glass as her fear took over and the panic she felt became real enough that the man she was in cover with would have to run from her and the Plague as it all just happened so fast and-

>FORCE ADEPT: The Swirling Black Hole
>PSI-DEFENDER: The Circle of Spears
>PSI-ASSAULT: The Battering Ram
>>
>>3033038
>>FORCE ADEPT: The Swirling Black Hole
>>
>>3033038
>PSI-DEFENDER: The Circle of Spears
What is a wall in motion if not a battering ram?
>>
>>3033038
>>PSI-DEFENDER: The Circle of Spears
>>
>>3033058
>>3033054
Two votes for Psi-Defender. Writin' up!
>>
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>>3033054
>>3033058
>>PSI-DEFENDER: The Circle of Spears

Reality broke, and all Jennifer could do as her body became an autonomous glitch in the ‘system’ that was existence, was swear that she’d done this before. She was a Grade Delta, and had her Second Awakening on…

A jungle planet. During the Plague War, less than a year ago.

This was a damned nightmare induced by the booze, beyond any hope of changing now.

It was horrifying to watch again, but the cacophony grew louder and louder until eventually it became but white noise. She watched as the man she was in cover with, her colleague and most trusted friend, could only attempt to bring her down. They were a pair, a renowned pair at that. LCpl Daniels and LCpl Liu, a pair of inseperable Kineticists that played off one another well. He was a Psi-Assault that dabbled in Psi-Defender, a common path of study for Kineticists in the Republic of Terra’s Psi-Corps, but the strength of the pair - and in fact Psi-Troopers overall - was the ability for them to both share the burden of one another’s abilities to the point that they could keep fighting indefinitely. Two Psi-Troopers were a commando team like no other.

Unlike the legendary “Zeus Company,” a particular group of Electromancy-focused Psi-Troopers that could fight hordes of Plague without a thought so long as they could keep hurling lightning as a team, Kineticists could be overwhelmed with enough hostiles. Overwhelming force it seemed was the order of the day in that blood-soaked jungle. The mists choked Jennifer even as a memory, and all she saw was havoc.

[ 1 / 2 ]
>>
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>>3033103
Her body levitated from the ground and out of cover, LCpl Liu conjuring his own barrier to shield himself from her as erratic force fields created hard light that swirled like debris in a tornado. Her arms went out from her sides, and her panic-stricken mind saw only enemies within a sixty-meter radius. The barriers hardened into a layer that fit her form like vacuum-sealed latex, then it expanded out violently in simulacrums of spears as clenched fists flew behind the woman entering her Second Awakening.

Such an event had two stages: the Psi-Terror, and then as the Psi Node broke its own limits a great window of time where reality had to be forced back into place in a way that equated to continuously pushing the limits until the psionic collapsed.

The sphere expanded, sharpened spears stabbing Plague forms and skewering them as they tried to get away. Ones that were in cover were not safe, as Jennifer’s growing clarity saw her hunt them down and crush them into dust, grinding them between fields like medicinal herbs in a mortar and pestle.
The sphere solidified into a ball, not unlike the kind designed for a hamster. It contracted toward Jennifer, and the Plague swarmed over it to smother her through the barrier. A mild claustrophobia took over, and the Psi Terror threatened to take complete control and undo the stitching of her mind as well as reality.

Jennifer could only feel pain, and above all, she felt a new sensation.

The sound of a trillion voices, all speaking as one. It sounded like it was shouting orders!

The field she was in began to crack, the spear simulacra had been broken off and all Jennifer wanted was everything to go away. To leave. To fly. To escape. Escape! She wanted to escape with every fiber of her being! But the only way to do that was to push out, to repulse, to engage them and Rip. Them. Apart.

>Inhale, bring it all together, try to focus, before letting out precisely what is needed.
>Hold the line. This is the wall, they cannot break me. I might die, but Liu can escape!
>GOAWAYGOAWAYGOAWAYGOAWAYGOTHEFUCKAWAY!
>>
>>3033109
>Hold the line. This is the wall, they cannot break me. I might die, but Liu can escape!
This is the end you chose, when you became a soldier: to die so that others may live.

Embrace it.
>>
>>3033109
>Inhale, bring it all together, try to focus, before letting out precisely what is needed.
>>
>>3033109
>>Hold the line. This is the wall, they cannot break me. I might die, but Liu can escape!
>>
>>3033113
>>3033145

Not gonna lie I was sweating this vote, just because I was HELLA into the call of "hold the line." It'll make sense, as I incorporate >>3033113 into the post.

Writan'
>>
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>>3033113
>>3033145
>Hold the line.
>That Others May Live

Jennifer remembered her thoughts with crystal clarity, all played back to her like a song. All she could think of was that this would be the day: this was the day when she’d fall. Her right leg gave out first that day. It buckled, as if the barrier she conjured was weighing upon her body, the knee lowering to the ground.

But she held.

She felt the Mother weep, she heard reality roil and writhe under the stress of her Psi Node overclocking, but she also repeated a single phrase in her head over and over. In her time at boot camp, her dorm had a mural painted on it. The mural was an angel, wings spread out and the arms of the beautiful woman embracing the world. Arrows, bullets, spears, swords and hammers all thrust at the angel’s wings. But as the ceaseless drilling of barrier generation, manifestation of the abilities key to the combat doctrines of Republic Psi-Defenders, and general calisthenics ate at Jennifer’s resolve, she knew that she was the angel with wings spread wide.

The Plague had their weapons made of death and their tools that shaped corpses into new things, things created with a jagged edge meant to cut away at the things that made humanity human and would see the true humanity die outright to make way for their corruption.

They could take her, they could reanimate her corpse and parade it about like a float in a holiday parade, she wouldn’t care. If her death allowed another to live, she would live up to the promise that angel asked of her. Her drill sergeants all screamed at her to remember it, but what they didn’t know was that this was something she’d seen coming since she was six, since The Mother spoke to her.

”That Others May Live,” the Mother spoke, her nurturing voice and gentle caress gave the young girl a phrase that she never did understand to its fullest meaning.

That is, until that day.

[ 1 / 2 ]
>>
>>3033206
Those fated to be Grade Delta psionics would often be given a vision of the day they had their Second Awakening and saw their true potential. She straightened her knee as she regained full clarity, holding the line.

Darkness filled the spherical barrier, the wall she had made herself was so covered in Plague biomass that not even the light of the local star made it through to her. As she became like Atlas, her Psi Node began funneling the leftover energy from her Psi-Terror to mend the barriers and push outward ever so slowly. Her arms were stretched, and her arms were up well over her head as if cradling the house of Night and Day on her back. She looked up from the jungle floor, and as her eyes lifted a light burst through.

It was a strange light, bluish white. Soft, and it filled her vision and slowly the world began to burn away from her. It seemed that the white noise had stopped too. It all was so painful, her cheeks were burning and her head was set to explode under the strain of holding the barriers.

LIU, CHARLES
STATUS: DECEASED

No that couldn’t be it. No. Absolutely could not! Jennifer shouted out at him, trying to get him to respond. He was on comms! That’s right! He could hear her! Right? She shouted his name. The world started to fade, she felt alone in an abyss of black. While no full light entered this barrier, she could see the writhing mass of Plague all over it. She saw enough to recognize the ground, the creatures… But it all began to fade to black now. This weight was much to bear, perhaps far too much.

More than her share, perhaps.

>You’ve failed. Bring the barrier in and conserve your energy.
>You know exactly where he is! If you drop this barrier, if you let go, you can get him and run!
>Grit your teeth, buckle your knee, but whatever you do, do NOT SHRUG THIS WEIGHT.
>>
>>3033208
>Grit your teeth, buckle your knee, but whatever you do, do NOT SHRUG THIS WEIGHT.
>>
>>3033208
>Grit your teeth, buckle your knee, but whatever you do, do NOT SHRUG THIS WEIGHT.
>>
>>3033208
>Grit your teeth, buckle your knee, but whatever you do, do NOT SHRUG THIS WEIGHT.
Falter here, and you die for nothing. And Liu dies for nothing. You hold; there is no alternative.

There are but two things left to be done here: push them back; and bring Liu home.
>>
>>3033215
>>3033218
>>3033223
Overwhelming call. Writing now.
>>
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>>3033215
>>3033218
>>3033223
>Whatever you do, DO NOT SHRUG THIS WEIGHT.

“That others may live,” Jennifer insisted. She held her hands out. As the Plague forms crawled and gnawed and stabbed and shot into her defenses, she began to liken them to the sky; filled with hateful stars.

She wasn’t a poet, but all she could think of was the fact that these stars and this space and this time was all trying to kill her. The weight of trillions could have been on her shoulders. She could very well have turned the war back. Looking back in this hellish nightmare, she remembered somewhat that this was a key battle: she couldn’t remember exactly what happened, just that some heroic asshole ended up getting a medal for winning the Plague War.

Everyone who participated in that war got one. The Radiant Star of Sol. Awarded to anyone who served in the Plague War, it was the highest honor once only awarded to people posthumously. Some said it was cheapened by the fact that so many received it the day the Plague War was finally closed. The day that shithole of a desert world known as ‘Ragnarok’ was cleansed, the Republic Admiralty Board formally awarded it to thousands upon thousands.

Living and dead. Jennifer didn’t think of medals. She didn’t think of any grand things like honor, or heroism. She was someone who enlisted for the benefits. She wanted to do the minimum, but that day she did far beyond. Her legs buckled, her arms faltered, her shoulders screamed, her mind began to unravel at the pain. She barely believed the reports that she stood like that for a mere six hours.

Nights and days seemed to have passed, and she held it. The sky was full of hate, and teeth. But it would not drown her in its contents, she would be resolute and make good on the sacrifices to this point. It didn’t matter if she died that day, for even in death her heels would permanently scar that planet.

LIU, CHARLES
INCOMING CALL

“Miss?”

>Answer the Call.
>Dismiss it. You’re busy.
>>
>>3033251
>>Answer the Call.
>>
Gonna keel out for the night. I expect to be on about 5pm CST tomorrow afternoon/evening, maybe sooner depending on how well my day goes. When I get back I'll update based on the replies/votes and we'll pick up where we left off. Excellent time, if I do say so myself.

Thanks for playing!
>>
>>3033251
>Answer the Call.
>>
>>3033275
See you then
>>
>>3033251
>>Answer the Call.
>>
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Alright, gonna run a short errand then be up to do some quest.
>>
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>>3033257
>>3033277
>>3033358
>Answer the Call.

CALL DURATION: 0:01

"He... Hello?" Jennifer gasped as the weight seemed to simultaneously lessen and intensify.

"Jen, you gotta get up, I carried you to the ship from that bar,"

The world became engulfed in light. It moved side-to-side, blinding Jennifer and causing her head to pound. She sat up slow, and saw a prosthetic hand to her side. She looked up, squinting. Did the barkeep have the prosthetic?

It was Charles! Jennifer bolted from her resting position, throwing arms around his neck and gasping back a sob. She heard a whir, just perceptible enough to cut through the white noise of her hangover. She looked to it, and saw the prosthetic left arm move the hand to her cheek. It wiped a tear in a jerky motion that slowed into a natural gesture of affection.

"Charlie I... I didn't... I thought you died!" Jennifer said, another tear running from her eye, down the scar, and to the metal finger.
"Nope, you weren't gonna get rid of me that easy," LCpl Liu whispered, grazing her forehead with his lips, "I got out even if it cost me my off-hand."

Jen reached for the hand, holding it between both of hers. She spread the fingers out, inspecting the servos and watching the joints react to her prodding. Her eyes filled with water again.

"Ace, don't cry," the soft whispering voice let out, "You got me out. Alive, because you didn't buckle. A Plague form took that arm, you know it."

>Insist you could’ve saved even his arm, had you not chosen then to have your Second Awakening.
>Try to change the subject: what was that liquor, anyway?
>Create a small barrier around the prosthetic.
>>
>>3034512
>Try not to cry.
>Cry a lot.

>You were so scared - you'd thought you'd lost him, all because you had to choose that fucking moment to have your Second Awakening.
A small variation, if that's allowed. The guilt is still there, but a little different in nature and perhaps a little less in intensity.
>>
>>3034531
+1
>>
>>3034542
I can roll with that, for sure. Considering the +1 from >>3034542, I'll give it enough time for me to get a soda and start writing up.
>>
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>>3034542
>>3034531
>You were so scared - you'd thought you'd lost him, all because you had to choose that fucking moment to have your Second Awakening.

All Jennifer could focus on was how he put the mutual grief aside. It had taken months of physical therapy for him to get that much movement out of the arm. A Plague Form, likely a Zealot but neither could recall the moment clearly enough to say for certain, had taken Charles by the wrist and jerked it back with such an intensity that the nerves were left exposed to the elements. No amount of Psi-Assault training could prepare one for trauma like that, and the damage would likely not recover for years.

That was the paperwork’s version of events, though. Jennifer felt it in her soul that her Psi-Terror did something to cause it. She swore that there was evidence of psionic scarring. He insisted otherwise, as soon as he awoke from the coma. He was unconscious for eight agonizing days, and to this day Jennifer still felt waves of sleep deprivation she traced back to that span of time.

Medicine had gone far, curing most genetic disorders (the faction that would later become the Plague contributed to that, in a cruel twist of irony), allowing extensive reconstruction surgeries, but some things simply couldn’t be repaired all the way. Trauma of all varieties had effects that not even mind alteration, physical therapy, or love could fix.

One, it seemed in Charles’ case, was negating the instinctual fear of a movement being too much and removing the limb again.

He was in a state where he could fight, if it was necessary, and he insisted that he wouldn’t leave Jennifer’s side. That only made her heart heavier.

“If I’d not chosen then of all days to have my Second Awakening, to panic so badly I broke and did that,”

“Jennifer, stop.”

>Try not to cry.
>Cry a lot.

Jennifer began to bawl. The memory was so fresh in her mind it was as if it had just happened.

[ 1 / 2 ]
>>
>>3034597
“I thought I’d lost you, dammit!” she balled her left fist, and hit his right shoulder. He simply wrapped her up in his arms and lowered her face into the crook of his neck. The prosthetic whirred as he gently pat on her back, some of the pats were a little rough. That fact alone made it worse.

“Jennifer,” he sighs, clearly affected through an empathy that only partnered Psi-Troopers can have with one another, “Ace. Our Second Awakenings are fated. You told me all you could think of was ‘That Others May Live.’ You told me once that phrase had been in your head since you were six. It was going to happen that day, one way or another.”

He told truth. Psionics that were fated to become Grade Deltas for a particular reason would have the Mother grant them visions. Bordering on mysticism, and with a success rate not easy to verify, their First Awakening would show them a scene. Something they would see that would cause a great surging of power. A phrase, a scene, in some cases elaborate formulae and designs that they would become fixated with that would signal to all around them they were at least filled with great potential.

Jennifer felt worse every day that she’d seen the vision of that hellish engagement at the age of six, and that all she thought of then was that phrase. She didn’t foresee the arm, she didn’t foresee meeting the man who she would fall in love with the night before that fight, and she certainly didn’t see the extent that she’d be tried in flames.

After the medals were physically awarded, Jennifer had been convinced to keep it by Charles. She wanted to bludgeon naysaying doctors to death with it, then cast it into a star.

>”That doesn’t make it easier!”
>”I saw the fight. Not the aftermath.”
>”You shouldn’t have paid for my Awakening.”
>>
>>3034607
>”I saw the fight. Not the aftermath.”
>>
>>3034607
>”You shouldn’t have paid for my Awakening.”
>>
>>3034624
>>3034626
If nobody can break the tie, I think I'll be able to integrate the two. I'll give it a few more minutes and get to writing.
>>
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>>3034624
>”I saw the fight. Not the aftermath.”


“Charles, nothing could’ve prepared me for that day,” a choking sob, “I saw so much, but at the same time I didn’t know what was the Mother’s symbolism and what I needed to focus on,” Jen wrapped her arms around Charles, a hand running its fingers on the seam of the prosthetic arm, connected to the shoulder joint.

“Dear,” he hummed. The low notes in his voice buzzed her chest in a way that was almost soothing as he spoke, “Nobody ever knows what to focus on. We get those visions at six, we can’t work that out at that age!”

“But,”

“But nothing,” he began to let out a ‘shhhh’ as his right hand, the real one, stroked her back. She realized she wasn’t wearing her uniform, and saw it on the wall ready to be put back on. What did she go out wearing? She couldn’t remember. She now wore a nightgown.

“Did you… Did you dress me, Charles?”
“No, you came to just enough to respond to what I told you. I said you needed to get ready for bed. You threw your clothes against the wall, and pulled a gown over yourself then went to bed.”

There was a long quiet.

>>3034607 (You)
>”You shouldn’t have paid for my Awakening.”

“You…” She moved her hand to the back of Liu’s head, “You shouldn’t have paid for that. My ascension shouldn’t have cost you that arm.”

The silence filled the room, choking out any attempt at reply Charles had. He still tried to speak several times, unable to make an answer. He began to shift, and Jennifer shielded her eyes in his shoulder to avoid looking at a clock.

“Jen, Ace…”

>Keep him down, you can’t stand without him right now.
>Let him stand, or whatever he needs to do.
>Press into him. Does he feel that he paid for it?
>>
>>3034706
>Press into him. Does he feel that he paid for it?
>>
>>3034706
>Let him stand, or whatever he needs to do.
>>
>>3034706
>>Let him stand, or whatever he needs to do.
>>
>>3034719
>>3034743
Writing up
>>
>>3034719
>>3034743
>>Let him stand, or whatever he needs to do.

A question hung on Jennifer’s lips, but as he shifted his weight she let him go. No contest, because it was an issue she wanted to press into but… Not now. The emotional wound had been reopened, and she’d been there before.

She knew where it goes.

“Jen I… I hate when you say that, because… I don’t know what to say. It puts me at a spot, and… Really makes me feel uncomfortable with the idea of Fate. Destiny, predetermined events, that kind of stuff,” Charles looked about the room, and Jennifer could sense it was a disturbing thought that kept him unfocused.

His eyes were as an automatic camera lens, struggling to pick a level of focus to settle on, eyebrows moving in and out to facilitate this. Jennifer hated the mannerism most nights, because she couldn’t tell if he was having a thousand yard stare or trying to make a response to whatever happened.

He would sometimes have it when children asked how he got the prosthetic.

“It’s time to get up. We’re going to be leaving the tunnel soon. After this assignment, we can start the slow-burn to Earth and begin finishing out our contracts. We can put war behind us, and live as we were meant to: together.”

War. It’s what brought them together, and Jennifer reached for the fabric of his uniform’s coat-top to try anchoring on him. She eased up, approaching her own uniform and sighing as she put it on.

>Talk shop, put this behind you for now.
>Tell him this conversation needs to happen.
>Let him leave in silence, you’ll see him on the bridge.
>>
>>3034788
>>Talk shop, put this behind you for now.
>>
>>3034788
>Talk shop, put this behind you for now.
War leaves wounds that never truly heal, but can be hidden for a time. Bury those emotions in the now, and do what has to be done.
>>
>>3034793
>>3034796
>>Talk shop, put this behind you for now.
Writing up now.
>>
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>>3034793
>>3034796
>>Talk shop, put this behind you for now.

“Where are we going,” Jennifer let out a final sniffle as she took the gown off and entered the shower, “All I remember is the assignment’s our last.”


There was a palpable relief in the room, and it hurt more to feel that than any answer could have. These scars wouldn’t heal in the near future. Chances are, Jen would be asking him that question well into their retirements.

If we don’t,

“We’re going to a little space station, the Piotr’s Vigil. It oversees a mining colony that’s still being established. The desolate rock doesn’t even have a name,” Charles spoke to interrupt Jen’s thought, and the relief became mutual.

“Haven’t even named it? Thought that was the first thing you did,” Jen joked, wiping her face primarily as the water’s temperature climbed to her preferences.

“It’s a gold rush, of sorts. After the Plague War, a lot of travel restrictions were removed to encourage new colonies. Jump drives aren’t taxed to shit anymore, biggest example.”

The ‘tunnels’ he referred to were hyperspace tunnels, channels punched into spacetime that allowed FTL travel between fixed points. Two stations would maintain the tunnel on both ends, making travel times trivial. Most military craft had jump drives that would create their own bridge, and were reasonably accurate in making these bridges, but the tunnels were much quicker.

The Plague War showed the Republic the problem in forcing everyone to use the tunnels, rather than making them an option for freighters and cruise liners.

Weakness.

“The landing teams found evidence of previous habitation, and then started having spooky happenings and nightmares that faded only when they left the surface. The reports they sent to the Republic got them to send Psi-Hunters. Y’know, us.”

>Inquire the colony’s viability before travel bans were lifted
>Ask after Piotr. What kind of colonial governor was he?
>Comment on ‘spooky happenings and nightmares.’
>>
>>3034848
>>Comment on ‘spooky happenings and nightmares.’
>>
>>3034848
>Comment on ‘spooky happenings and nightmares.’
>>
>>3034855
>>3034866
Post being written up
>>
>>3034855
>>3034866
>Comment on ‘spooky happenings and nightmares.’

“Oh, I can see that conversation,” Jennifer chuckled, “Just a pencil-pusher in the Merchant Navy, getting reports of weird ghosts and shit, then folding it into a paper airplane to throw at a Psi-Trooper on desk duty that day. ‘Uh, hey, thanks for catchin’ the plane and… Go look into weird ghost stuff mmkay?’ Send us to what could maybe be aliens or some shit!” Jen said, trying to make humor. Judging by the lack of reply… She probably misjudged how her tone came out.

“These guys were seeing reports of a woman’s silhouette, made of the black void and dotted with white lights that were like stars. They experienced suffocation, panic attacks from no discernible stimulus, and one case of cardiac arrest,” Charles continued as if reciting this from memory. His Ace in the Hole knew he did memorize it, he always memorized mission reports.

“That sounds like pretty standard fare for Entropists, perhaps a remnant of that Maw of the Void cult?”

“Exactly like I thought,” Charles hemmed, “Entropists in general don’t get original nightmares to bombard people with until they take time to actually rifle through their victim’s minds for individual phobias and fears. The visions of the silhouetted woman is something they had as a signature for a while.”

“Didn’t the Maw of the Void cultists get off by harassing people in city colonies, though? A random mining colony seems unusual for them.”

“Good point, then this could be some Entity Worshipper coven. They like Entropism most, employ it regularly to defend their turf.”

“What would they want out here?”

“Territory, attention. They don’t have anything that they hold dear, beyond their Entity.”

>The Entity, what is that?
>Perhaps the Void Cultists found something.
>Give me a refresher on Entropists.
>>
>>3034941
>>The Entity, what is that?
>>Give me a refresher on Entropists.
>>
>>3034941
>>The Entity, what is that?
>>
>>3034974
>>3034975
This might be the last one for the night; I'll get this one in then go pass out, for sure.
>>
>>3034975
>The Entity, what is that?

“The Entity… Give me that, too, it’s all a little fuzzy for me. I blame the booze.”

“As you should,” Charles finally laughed. A relaxed tone was a good sign, and Jen cut the water off, “The Entity is the boogeyman of Psionics. Remember when we were young, we had that swimming dream?”

“Yea,” Jennifer recalled the dream, shuddering, “I swam in a vast ocean and when I moved my hand in front of me, I realized I was in the ocean with something, that something was so vast I thought it was the ocean but it was another swimmer.”

“That ‘swimmer’ was the Entity itself. The nurturing being that saw us and gave us the choice to stay psionics, that was The Mother. She cares for us. The Entity is the terror we feel when our hands touched that giant thing in the sea. The Mother is what comforts us from it, the Entity is what shows us its fangs if we perform vile deeds.”

“Vile deeds?”

“Aspiring to godhood, wholesale slaughter or enthrallment of nonpsionics, all that. It has fairly human standards we’re held to. It… Lends itself to a strange world view. Most see it as an old wives’ tale, to discourage psionics from descending into madness.”

>>3034974
>>Give me a refresher on Entropists.

“Alright, quiz. Entropists, go.”

“Entropists are the telepaths, the illusionists, the sowers of chaos that target the minds of enemies. They hit the brain with impulses that trigger fear responses, and are capable of producing terror with a thought and hand gesture. From forcing someone to get a deer-in-the-headlights look to making them suffocate in an illusory vacuum, Entropists get their name from the fact that they weaponize the instinctive fear of death living things have.”

“So the perfect School for crazy cultists?”

“Seconded only by Electromancers, of course.”

>Inquiry: How viable was the colony before the travel restrictions?
>Inquiry: What’s Piotr got to say about all this?
>Digression: Your dream, what’d the Mother show you?
>>
That'll be it for tonight; early start tomorrow and it's feeling like it'll be a long day. Unlike today, I shouldn't have surprise errands show up and shit on my plans. Expect 5pm CST showtime!

Thank you all for the votes, harrowing as some were I love the quickness of them! I hope you're enjoying this as much as I have so far.
>>
>>3035016
>>Inquiry: What’s Piotr got to say about all this?
>>
>>3035016
>Inquiry: What’s Piotr got to say about all this?
>>
>>3035073
>>3036315
>>Inquiry: What’s Piotr got to say about all this?

Writing up! It's been a long day, I apologize for being late to my own shindig two days in a row.
>>
>>3035073
>>3036315
>>Inquiry: What’s Piotr got to say about all this?

“So, we have a potential lead in it being Entropist cultists. They’re out of their element here, sure, but that doesn’t disqualify the idea overall. The colony’s owner, the one who I’m assuming the station’s named after. Piotr, what’s his view in all this?” Jennifer asked, toweling off and reaching expectantly for her uniform to be handed to her. Charles’ right hand obliged, and he gently dragged his fingertips from her elbow in a show of affection that made her giggle like a school-girl.

Jennifer blushed gently, easing herself into the uniform one step at a time as the conversation continued. She broke character of ‘focused Psi-Hunter,’ and in that Charles would undoubtedly tease her for later.

“Well, he’s actually requesting we see him as soon as we land. He wants to meet us, and interrogate his men,” there was a teasing note in his emphasis of the word ‘interrogate,’ but that felt oddly placed. Like an afterthought, added to the word as it was being said.

“Interrogate? They’re his men, shouldn’t they want to tell him?”

“They’ve gone quiet, only repeating that they want out of their contract with him.”

“That’s unusual, don’t Entropists need to get a lot closer to their victims than that to cause that kind of response?” Jen wiped her head down vigorously, drying off the short hair as best she could. It came out a goofy-looking mess, which made her smile. Wearing the pants and undershirt of her uniform, she took the towel off her head and let the disheveled mess break Charles’ character: he laughed behind his good hand before continuing.

“Yes, which is why I’m a little worried, but with you at my side I’m sure we’ll be fine,” he winked.

>”Of course we’ll be fine; I’m also an Abjurer. They won’t scare my wittew Psi-Assawt,”
>”Oh hush, you’ll get me worried talking like that.”
>”We DID get others for this job, right?”
>>
>>3036846
>>”Oh hush, you’ll get me worried talking like that.”
>>
>>3036846
>”Oh hush, you’ll get me worried talking like that.”
>>
>>3036856
>>3036860
>”Oh hush, you’ll get me worried talking like that.”
In we go.
>>
>>3036856
>>3036860
>>”Oh hush, you’ll get me worried talking like that.”

Jennifer could only laugh, playfully poking his chest before adding: “Oh hush,” she added a wink, “You’ll get me worried, talking like that.”

Throwing the coat-top on, Jen moved her palm over the buttons. As she did so, minor telekinetics fastened every button and flattened every wrinkle. A parlor trick, prized by weaker psionics, one that lent itself to underestimation.

As an Abjurer, she had to keep things misleading. The Abjurer’s Way was subschool of the Eldritch Discipline, focused on outwitting hostile psionics to the point of being able to outright negate some of their abilities. The Way focused entirely on undoing the most dazzling displays without so much as a murmur.

A hand gesture and willpower would let her undo all the work a hostile psionic poured into an attack, to the point of unnerving most untrained Psionics; fingersnapping was just dramatic flair. Psi-Hunters rarely had to deal with anyone who had encountered The Abjurer’s Way in their past.

“Entropists, Electromancers, babe,” she shimmied her hips and pointed to herself after booping Charles in the nose, “We’re set.”

“Not without your weapon,” he threw a thumb to her locker, “Or your armor. It’s an Outer Colony, remember? Everybody’s packin’ heat, and if you’re not using that Project MENTIOUM armor you ordered I’ll pop you in your ass,”

CHARACTER GENERATION: PREFERRED PRIMARY WEAPON
>Assault Rifle: Medium-Short range, capable of suppressing fire and has an underslung grenade launcher. Capable of switching to Shredder Rounds (Anti-Infantry).
>Marksman Rifle: Medium-Long, single-shot rifle with a multi-level zoom. Allows precision shots, suffers in close-range. Capable of switching to Piercing Rounds (Anti-Armor).
>Burste Rifle: Flexible range, two-layer zoom. Able to land several precision shots, minimal recoil during burst. Capable of switching to Disruptor Rounds (Anti-Shield/Anti-Psi).
>>
>>3036963
>Burste Rifle: Flexible range, two-layer zoom. Able to land several precision shots, minimal recoil during burst. Capable of switching to Disruptor Rounds (Anti-Shield/Anti-Psi).
Jen's biggest concern is probably an enemy that can subvert her defenses. Just because she is specialized in both physical and psionic defense doesn't mean they're impregnable. Meanwhile, Charles is specialized in offense, and is probably more than capable of subduing infantry or penetrating armor.
>>
>>3036979
>>3036963
+1
>>
>>3036979
>>3036986
>Burste Rifle

Burst-fire get! Lemme get some write-up. More to come; gotta pick a loadout fully after all.
>>
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>>3036979
>>3036986
>Burste Rifle

Jen’s palm opened up, and her weapon came to her. A three-shot burst rifle, the Project MENTIOUM rifle known as ‘SOPHROSYNE 5.’ A special run, it synchronized with an amplifier in Jen’s neural implant suite to keep the gun steady and provide extra punch based on the activity of her Psi-Node. This particular weapon was designed to be a little more accurate, to use near-mystical secrets of engineering to bring the deviation of the burst to an absolute minimum in the hands of a psionic, and to move with quickness and purpose when hostile psionics were detected.

The sight cooperated with Smart Link systems in the neural suite, as well as the Psi Node’s signals, to toggle between 2x and 4x zoom as required. It automatically would adjust the sight when bringing the stock to one’s cheek, and plan accordingly.

Safest bet Jen ever made, buying into that limited run of these rifles. The ability to control it with her mind made actions simpler, smoother, and just… Better. The recoil was predictable, and when psionic energies were flying about the weapon seemed to hunger in such a way that it would seek killshots every time. Or perhaps it was the fact that it would adjust its weight using various arcane technologies to help her aim faster?

She didn’t know, wasn’t enough of a gunsmith to figure all that out. She could take it apart, clean it, and put it back together, but some of the parts were concealed by seamless plasteel blocks and seemed dangerous to try breaking into. End of the day, it shot true.

Her armor twitched in the closet as she reached for her secondary weapon.

[1 / 2 ]
>>
>>3037029
CHARACTER CREATION: PREFERRED SECONDARY WEAPON
>Submachine Gun: Responsive, lightweight, capable of putting out a lot of pain in a short time-span. Inaccurate at greater distances. Excellent against shields and barriers, the weapon is medium difficulty to conceal and can easily be fired one-handed while doing other tasks. Won’t be accurate at all, but it’s easier to do with this than a rifle.

>Revolver: Dependable. Heavy once it’s out, but surprisingly easy to draw. Two possible models: Fan-fire, or Precision. Former is short range, can be used to trick-shot several opponents down in a stand-off. Latter is long range, high-velocity armor-piercing. Either choice is an Outer Colonial favorite. Few demand you leave it at the door, out of respect to gunslingers of old.

>Pistol: Trusted sidearm of most police forces. Doesn’t scare as easily as the revolver, but in a pinch it’ll put exactly the number of bullets you need. Lower caliber, higher rate of fire, easier to conceal. Built-in suppressor, recoil compensation, and lightning-fast reload. Can be fired in semi-automatic, burst, or automatic fire. The lower caliber has just enough piercing ability to pop helmets and thick skulls.

>Shotgun: Point-blank, street-sweeping. Destroys at shorter ranges, hard to draw and longer to reload. Flechette rounds at 8ga, rips through Plague and Human alike. Distinct to a fault, only Psi-Hunters get this brand of shotgun. A favorite of Psi-Assaults, extremely difficult to conceal.

>Sniper Rifle: Extreme Long Range, utmost precision and extremely high damage. Unwieldy in a pinch, but game-changing at range. Comes with adjustible 4x-32x zoom range. Impossible to conceal, will regularly be asked to leave it.
>>
>>3037035
>>Submachine Gun: Responsive, lightweight, capable of putting out a lot of pain in a short time-span. Inaccurate at greater distances. Excellent against shields and barriers, the weapon is medium difficulty to conceal and can easily be fired one-handed while doing other tasks. Won’t be accurate at all, but it’s easier to do with this than a rifle.
>>
>>3037035
>Pistol: Trusted sidearm of most police forces. Doesn’t scare as easily as the revolver, but in a pinch it’ll put exactly the number of bullets you need. Lower caliber, higher rate of fire, easier to conceal. Built-in suppressor, recoil compensation, and lightning-fast reload. Can be fired in semi-automatic, burst, or automatic fire. The lower caliber has just enough piercing ability to pop helmets and thick skulls.
>>
>>3037035
>Pistol: Trusted sidearm of most police forces. Doesn’t scare as easily as the revolver, but in a pinch it’ll put exactly the number of bullets you need. Lower caliber, higher rate of fire, easier to conceal. Built-in suppressor, recoil compensation, and lightning-fast reload. Can be fired in semi-automatic, burst, or automatic fire. The lower caliber has just enough piercing ability to pop helmets and thick skulls.
Our primary weapon is effective at all ranges, so the secondary will generally only be used when the primary is unavailable. This means either we were asked to leave our primary at the door; or shit's fucked, we've lost our main weapon, and we're doing a fighting retreat. In the former case, we'd want something small and preferably concealable, and quick to draw. In the latter case, we probably want area suppression and quick reloads.
>>
>>3037049
>>3037055
>Pistol
I like it, especially the thought behind the choice! Writing up now. Armor's next; I'll try to provide as many options there too!
>>
>>3037049
>>3037055
>Pistol: Trusted Sidearm

The small pistol sprung into her hand as if it was always meant to be there. Checking the safety, ensuring the magazine was full, and ensuring a round wasn’t chambered yet, Jennifer held the weapon for a moment and sized it over.

A Duke Firearms & Accessories mass-produced model, it didn’t have the customization of its revolver brethren but it didn’t skimp on quality. The weapon was built for police, advertised as ‘by police.’ The weapon had high-velocity rounds that had armor piercing capabilities. Wouldn’t punch through energy barriers or shields without some work, but it would make a great hold-out weapon all the same.

She considered putting it on her thigh with its holster, but remembered that her preference was to have it concealable. The matte-black would keep it concealed in darkness, but this was a space station she was going into, with a mining colony underneath it. If she were operating in darkness the kind the “Mary Jane Kelly” pistol preferred… Well she had bigger problems. With that in mind, she pondered on the 12.7x40mm rounds. It was a sleeper-hit, really, the rounds didn’t seem like they’d be that terribly intimidating until they were landing in the target. The ease-of-access the MJK pistol had seen it the favored sidearm of many a ship-captain across the Confederacy of Mankind - the new name the Republic of Terra’s former colonies rallied under.

The name of the banner all humanity rallied under was politics, the kind Jennifer wanted to take Charles out of when she left. It was for the next generation to fight over, she had other ideas on what was important. This pistol ensured she lived to tell others what those ideas were, several times in the past.

[ 1 / 2 ]
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>>3037118
>Picture of pistol not included on last post
>rip QM

She looked to her armor, stopping for a moment to catch her reflection in the mirror.

CHARACTER CREATION: PREFERRED ARMOR STYLE
>MENTIOUM Mystic: Lightweight armor with high gear-concealment, amplifies Psionics at the expense of protection. Lends itself to a supporting combat style, as it makes less psionic power do far more. Enhances all abilities overall, and will lend its own energy reserves to jumpstart psionic barriers automatically, freeing up the ability to focus more on the combat at hand. Lights up when psionics are used near it.
>Drifter’s Folly: Medium armor with average concealment, walks a fine line between protection and mobility and supports a flexible combat style. Sports a long cloak and hood, enhancing Abjurer talents through use of various decorations for dramatic flair, which befuddles foes if used properly. Has climbing gear and liquid gel to minimize fall damage.
>Hephaestus: Heavy armor with minimal gear concealment, sacrifices mobility for sheer durability. Carries more ammunition, and automatically reloads weapons stowed on specialized hardpoints. Will require conscious effort to restore barriers, but enhances durability of Psi-Defender barriers. Can stabilize footing in an instant, locking one into place in the event of a rush.


>>
>>3037122
>MENTIOUM Mystic: Lightweight armor with high gear-concealment, amplifies Psionics at the expense of protection. Lends itself to a supporting combat style, as it makes less psionic power do far more. Enhances all abilities overall, and will lend its own energy reserves to jumpstart psionic barriers automatically, freeing up the ability to focus more on the combat at hand. Lights up when psionics are used near it.
No detailed comments here; I could see decent arguments for all three armor sets.

Still, given our emphasis on psionics for defense, the Mystic that empowers all our Disciplines feels like more of a jack-of-all-trades option than the Folly which carries more armor but only empowers Abjuration.
>>
>>3037122
>>Drifter’s Folly: Medium armor with average concealment, walks a fine line between protection and mobility and supports a flexible combat style. Sports a long cloak and hood, enhancing Abjurer talents through use of various decorations for dramatic flair, which befuddles foes if used properly. Has climbing gear and liquid gel to minimize fall damage.
>>
This tie is something that I can't really integrate between, I do encourage some discussion on it though, and can answer more questions.

>>3037141
The Mystic does empower psionics as a whole, and it doesn't affect the 'HP' of your shields, it makes them regenerate much faster and without taking up thought in combat which can be a game-changer when caught off-guard. The higher mobility in it means you'll have more control over your diving for cover, so you can say get into cover in such a way you are able to shoot back in one motion as opposed to two.

>>3037142
The Drifter's Folly is focused on trickery, as such really only enabling Abjuration talents through the trinkets and cape that... Well, I'll just say 'fwoosh' the minds of your opponents. It's banking on you being able to get to cover quickly, and then having you focus primarily on The Application of The Way to keep hostile psionics from dunking on you. You'll have to focus on just getting to cover, and then position yourself after getting down for responses in this armor, however.
>>
>>3037122
>MENTIOUM Mystic: Lightweight armor with high gear-concealment, amplifies Psionics at the expense of protection. Lends itself to a supporting combat style, as it makes less psionic power do far more. Enhances all abilities overall, and will lend its own energy reserves to jumpstart psionic barriers automatically, freeing up the ability to focus more on the combat at hand. Lights up when psionics are used near it.
>>
>>3037166
The tiebreaker! Excellent!

Writing now.
>>
>>3037141
>>3037166
>>MENTIOUM Mystic

Throwing the robes on, she felt the Arcane Augmentor systems of the MENTIOUM Mystic armor suite expand her grasp on reality. A HUD filled her view, giving her a rough estimate of her mental state, a heart monitor, and a connection to Charles. She hadn’t realized it, but he was armored up in his own armor set. A heavier build, the MENTIOUM Hephaestus was to him what the Mystic was to Jen: the perfect match.

It amplified his barrier integrity, provided full-protection at the cost of mobility, and gave him more strength in his arms. His was modified, however, through training a MENTIOUM technician’s kid in Psi-Assault basics a few months back. He was able to add paralleling servomotors that allowed him to become a human battering ram.

“Was going to say I would’ve been upset if you didn’t get the armor on for this gig, especially since I’ve mine on.” Charles shrugged, throwing a thumb to his hammer, “And I’m armed. You and I both can be heavy weapons enough, but remember if it gets dicey we have the armory on the ship and the Nanopacks to grant us weaponry in a pinch.”

“Even in the depths of the caves?”

“Well, maybe not there, but say we need an LMG or something sent to us? We can have that arranged. Can’t get you any fancy new toys like the ones you’ve accumulated so far, but we’ll get something basic and effective for what we need. But, our record? We won’t need a thing.”

“You’re cocky, but don’t forget I can just say ‘no’ to your prowess whenever I want~!” Jen held her right hand in the helmet, giving him a wink as she shifted the helmet under her arm and on her hip.

“Either way,” he shook his head, “We’ll need to hail Piotr on the bridge. Up for it?”

>Avoid talking to him over the comm-line; you still can’t decide if you want the helmet on or not
>Delegate the COMMS specialist of the ship take care of the handshakes, you’ll talk in person.
>Be fully professional; talk to him now and then again in person.
>>
>>3037235
>Be fully professional; talk to him now and then again in person.
May as well get a measure of the man we're risking our necks for.
>>
>>3037246
I'm exhausted after a day of IRL bullshit; I'll get this reply in tomorrow morning/afternoon after I get some snooze on. Rest well, friends, we'll get station-side and into some action tomorrow if all goes according to keikaku.
>>
>>3037235
>>Be fully professional; talk to him now and then again in person.
>>
>>3037235
>Be fully professional; talk to him now and then again in person
>>
>>3037235
>Be fully professional; talk to him now and then again in person.
>>
>>3038511
>>3037321
>>3037300
Good morning, Krusty Krew! I bought some groceries, and I will be doing updates until a good portion of the night. Friends are wanting me to hang out, but they won't be available until way late so. Updates ahoy!
>>
>>3037300
>>3037321
>>3038511
>>>Be fully professional

Standing up a little taller, straightening her robes out, Jennifer Daniels tugged on the ends of the gauntlets to ensure they were seated against her fingertips. Extending the nervous signals to reality was a key feature of most Project MENTIOUM armor sets, doubly so with the Mystic set. Brand loyalty was something that the Manufacturing Clans relied upon, so each piece would be quality.

Especially if it was a custom-order for a Republic Psi-Corpsman.

“Let’s stay professional. Raise him on the bridge, and request to meet us when we land. No sense shoving that off to someone else,” Jennifer nodded, looking at the face of her helmet. It would conceal her face, and also shield her against telepathic attacks to an extent by creating a slight counterpulse. A good Entropist would be able to get in, but a street thug wouldn’t. Wearing it could be seen as a level of distrust of the point of contact, and at least at this stage that wouldn’t work.

“Right. By the books; we’re one of the first Psi-Hunter teams being sent to the Outer Colonies since the Victory Speech. If we set a bad example, Outer Colonies might become nation-states led by angry psionics.”

The Victory Speech was an event almost everyone had fresh in their minds. The Republic of Terra’s shadowy Admiralty Board gave a speech on every channel to announce the victory over the Plague. In this process, they also recognized the sovereignty of every Outer Colony they couldn’t defend. They allowed a Confederacy of Mankind to form, but were willing to reclaim the Outer Colonies that so desired to be under the Republic again.

Many did, but many were also ambitious and sought to rival the Republic in their own way. It was a delicate line to walk, for many thought the Republic’s Pyrrhic victory against the Plague which was only won on the backs of a handful of heroic figures, and the intervention of a PMC known as “The Black Scribes.”

[ 1 / 2 ]
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>>3039012
A bunch of prissy, romantic jackasses, said Jennifer when she’d heard of them at first. But, after seeing them fight, she would make fun of them as was par for the course of friendly militaries, but she’d rather not get put against them. They fought dirty, and could make a squad of four do the work of twenty as if that were the matter of life.

Walking to the bridge, Jennifer gave a thumbs-up to the COMMs officer. He nodded, and quickly put a video call on the main screen. The vortex of colors and blurred imagery gave way to a small box with a name: “PIOTR STORMRAVEN”
Oh. Great, Jennifer squinted her eyes, A bloody fucking Stormraven.

Stormravens were a line of Electromancers who took the name after ascending to a particular power within their cult. Electormancers sought power, above all else, to the point of chasing it in whatever means they preferred. As the viewscreen came on, Piotr’s pressed attire gave away his personal goal: economic power.

”Ah, the Psi-Hunters! It is a welcome sight to see your face. I presume, miss Daniels, you are about to leave the hyperlane?”

“Negative, sir,” Jennifer shook her head with a smile, “We entered into slipspace independent of the lanes. We are almost out, though. Wanted to touch base with you before we landed.”

”Excellent! I can give you the docking permissions and make your NAV officer’s life a bit easier. May I ask what class ship you are bringing to my lovely station?”

“Bringing you a corvette. Nothing too massive.”

”And you have the full staff onboard? Then I am correct in assuming you will be fielding an elite team for this task, yes?”

>Display some pride in you and Charles’ synergy
>Politely ask why he is surprised; isn’t that the standard?
>State that there is room for a liaison of his choosing
>>
>>3039015
>Politely ask why he is surprised; isn’t that the standard?
He seems nervous. Worried, even. What does he know?
>>
>>3039015
>Politely ask why he is surprised; isn’t that the standard?
>>
>>3039084
>>3039115
>>Politely ask why he is surprised; isn’t that the standard?

“Of course we have full staff on board. Our team is Republic standard, which is to say elite. This isn’t the standard?” Jennifer inquired, making a careful boast. It seemed to make Piotr reach for his collar, which caused the Psi-Hunter training to kick in.

Electromancers were about the calm, being the eye of a storm that was within them, and venting it out in a rolling action: once they started it would pour from them. He was fidgeting. Electromancers don’t fidget.

”Well, yes, I suppose it is, but you see, Republic intervention in these Outer Colonies is extremely unusual. I… Have been informed that others see this as a power play from the Republic. You see, I am eager for the protection of the Republic, but… I would prefer to keep a degree of auton-”

“I see,” Jennifer crosses her arms, “And you’re afraid that us being here is a step toward you losing money?”

”N-nothing of the sort, ma’am! No! I personally know the Republic would never do that, but others, oh the others involved here? They might see it as such. I wish to convince them otherwise.”

“What other parties?”

”We will have to discuss this on station, in true privacy. Please, I hope you find my accomodations satisfying,” the image of the man bowed, ”I hope to see you shortly.”

The line terminated as the ship exited slipspace, and the minimal station armed with massive drydocks and point defenses that would make it a tough nut to crack in the event of a direct assault. He was clearly paranoid of something, but of what was unclear.

“Well… That wasn’t awkward or anything,” Charles shrugged before stretching his right arm and doing a diagnostic check on the twitchy prosthetic.

>Show frustration: this isn’t some ridiculous political ploy
>Shrug off the man’s jittery nature: he has reason to be worried with a Psi-Hunter team involved
>Wonder aloud who is putting wild thoughts like this in his head
>>
>>3039190
>Wonder aloud who is putting wild thoughts like this in his head
'I have been informed'? Here's hoping he isn't in the thrall of those Entropists we suspect are about.
>>
>>3039190
>Wonder aloud who is putting wild thoughts like this in his head
>>
>>3039246
>>3039210

“The true issue isn’t that he was a fidgety electromancer,” Jen mused while rolling her helmet between her hands, “It’s that someone is whispering in his ear this kind of crazy stuff. We’re here to help, last I checked,”

“Yea,” Charles joined in the thought, “And here we were worried his men were being influenced. It could easily just be him, hallucinating things. He’d be paranoid from the manipulation, locking his own men up for treachery that hasn’t actually happened.”

“That’s what I’m hoping isn’t the case. We go in there, meet him face-to-face, and see what kind of shit we’re walking into. Might even get a look into the birdies on his shoulder.”

“A regular job is never that,” the Psi-Assault huffed as the ship made short order of docking to the space station. The pair put their helmets on in the airlock. Walking into the station, they were noted a few additional ships. Two in particular stood out to Jennifer, and she grit her teeth as she recognized them.

Unlike the Republic vessel they came in on, which was gray with a picture of Earth occluding the Sun, the closer of the two was white with purple accents. Its identifier was a five-pointed star made from a microphone and its cord, in a golden circle. The United News Network were here, likely causing a mess in a search for ratings.

“Looks like we weren’t the first ones called,” Charles said, pointing to a black ship with red accents. Its identifier was a fist clenching a torch, stenciled in red. Black Scribes, something Jen had become accustomed to seeing after the Plague War concluded.

“Now we get to play the guessing game of which is the problem,” Jennifer sighed.

“My money is on the UNN causing the problem, the Scribes just here because of their presence in the Outer Colonies.”

>Agree; The UNN LOVE their ratings, screw the impact.
>Disagree: Scribes are mercs, even if good-hearted they’re still mercs.
>Keep silent: Musing on it eats time reserved for Piotr.
>>
>>3039361
>Keep silent: Musing on it eats time reserved for Piotr.
We'll find out soon enough.
>>
>>3039361
>Keep silent: Musing on it eats time reserved for Piotr.
I have no strong preference on this, so I'll vote so as to not cause a tie.
>>
>>3039377
>>3039427
>>Keep silent: Musing on it eats time reserved for Piotr.

Jennifer didn’t comment further, betting or not wouldn’t really solve much of anything. If anything, if a passing dockworker heard the discussion progress it could get… Awkward later. The locals already were wary of the Psi-Hunters as it was, no sense seeing them make a game out of it.

Charles caught on quickly, opening a private channel as they were met by some lower-end mercenaries. They were amiable enough, didn’t make any commentary on the weaponry the duo had, and led the pair exactly where they were needed. A small room, with an ornate table and several chairs. Etched into the center was a great raven, spreading its wings upward and toward Piotr, who sat upright and with his hands folded on the table. To his right was a Black Scribe, wearing advanced powered armor himself and having his helmet removed. He was scarred up worse than Jen was, several large gashes and burns across his face.

Sizing him up, she recognized his armor: that of the Skyburner MC. Regardless of it being “Motorcycle Club” or “Mercenary Corps,” the Skyburner MC held a reputation: if you had a problem and the cash, they’d leave a smoking crater caused by one of their many Grade Delta Psionics. A few had joined the Black Scribes, but their loyalties to the MC remained.

As they entered, the Skyburner nodded as if he’d expected them. On the other side, a UNN representative sat lazily. She was wearing no identifiers of her specialty, something she did on purpose. Immediately upon entering, the Reporter showed her hand with a pulse of Psionic energy: she was gauging the power of the two new arrivals.

JENNIFER:
>[ABJURER] Conceal your power; let her think you’re a mediocre Grade Charlie
>[PSI-DEFENDER] Let your barriers glow a little brighter.
And then:
>Call her out on it
>Let it go without comment
CHARLES:
>[PSI-ASSAULT] The hammer gives it away, really.
>[PSI-DEFENDER] Glow up, bud.
And then:
>Call her on it
>Let it go without comment
>>
>>3039518
JEN:
>[ABJURER] Conceal your power; let her think you’re a mediocre Grade Charlie
>Let it go without comment

CHUCK:
>[PSI-ASSAULT] The hammer gives it away, really.
>Call her on it
>>
>>3039543
>>3039518
+1
>>
>>3039543
>>3039546

Jennifer inhaled with a touch more effort, putting her hands behind her back and creating a gesture to focus. Her powers reined in severely, and her Mystic armor reacted accordingly. Concealed within the robes was a coiled serpent of power, one that appeared to be a measly Grade Charlie. As an Abjurer, she knew the power of deception and valued it greatly.

The woman smiled at Jennifer, the kind of predatory grin that meant she felt stronger than Jennifer. Perfectly acceptable, something Jennifer wasn’t about to correct. Strength came not only from power, but the application of it.

Chuck, however, had a different plan. His hammer should’ve been more than enough of a sign, and he tugged at it on his back. Upon his hand reaching the handle, mechanisms lit up and his right arm seemed to warp as energy traveled into the handle.

“Good to see the UNN Rep is scopin’ out her next big story before we’ve even introduced ourselves,” he scoffed, “Pleasure’s definitely not mine, but I’m sure you hear that all the time.”

Thank you, Jen thought to her partner, Keep her focused on you.

“Well,” the woman popped her gum and shifted her weight to throw a thigh-high boot over the arm-rest of her chair and chuckle while running her right hand from her shin to her knee, “Aren’t you feisty? Diana Irving, United News Network representative, and all I want is to hear from the Republic itself what it intends to do with the spooky happenings.”

“Miss Irving, enough,” Piotr let out through clenched teeth, “Do not antagonize the Psi-Hunters, or I will have to ask Mr. Reid to intervene.”

So that’s the Skyburner’s name, Jen noted.

>[ABJURER] Quiet Counterpulse; sense out her powers on the sly.
>Encourage Chuck to keep up his acting as the face
>Introduce yourself, moving on from this confrontational meeting quickly
>>
>>3039642
>[ABJURER] Quiet Counterpulse; sense out her powers on the sly.
Let Charles continue acting confrontational, and draw attention away from Jen while she work. Once she's done,
>Introduce yourself, moving on from this confrontational meeting quickly
setting herself up to seem like the less confrontational, more subservient half of the duo. If Irving thinks Jen's weak in both psionics and personality, it'll makes her think she has leverage where she has none.
>>
>>3039642
>Introduce yourself, moving on from this confrontational meeting quickly
>>
>>3039680
>>3039719
I can work this together easily. Just a bit and we'll move forward
>>
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>>3039680
>>3039719
>[ABJURER] Quiet Counterpulse
>Introduce yourself, moving on from this confrontational meeting quickly

With some words spoken, and output speakers muted, she let out an Abjurer’s Quiet Counterpulse. She masked her own probe in the echoes of the reporter’s, and with a smile she was able to pick out that the woman was a Delta. This was a room of powerful psionics, it seemed, with Piotr Stormraven the only one that didn’t qualify. Though, she sensed he was still looking for his Storm to Awaken with.

The benefit of the Quiet Counterpulse was the ability to sense out the training of another Psionic by the emanations of their Psi Node; non-Abjurers could really only detect overall power instead of the specific talents of a particular psionic. The woman’s training was strange: Electromancy with Entropism? Not a common school combination at all.

“Yes, Miss Irving, watch yourself or we’ll have to get the Skyburner to join me in tossing you out of an air-” Charles was pointing, a scowl not visible but certainly felt as his tone escalated. Mr. Reid smiled, clearly feeling the same way.

“Liu, please,” Jennifer said with a meek tone, “We’re not looking to cause trouble, merely to help. And starting fights doesn’t really get us anywhere.”

Charles looked back to Jennifer, and over a private channel Jennifer made a smooching noise. Miss Irving licked her teeth, and popped her gum once more with a glance that seemed to sit on Liu for a good moment longer than it needed to.

“Very well, Psi-Hunters,” she scoffed, “Let’s chat about this mess, shall we?”

“Yes, please sit with us. We have much to discuss,” Piotr politely requested. There was a twinkle in his eyes, something that seemed to be rewarded by his position at the head of the table as the pair sat at the opposite end.

>Straight to the point, ask Piotr about what he wanted to keep from her staff.
>Ask the UNN’s interest here is
>Ask the Skyburner to give his assessment
>>
>>3039805
>Straight to the point, ask Piotr about what he wanted to keep from her staff.
>>
>>3039817
Alright, I'll get a reply up tomorrow, thanks for showing up! Friends are dragging me off to do other things.

Stay well!
>>
>>3039805
>Straight to the point, ask Piotr about what he wanted to keep from her staff.
>>
>>3039805
>Straight to the point, ask Piotr about what he wanted to keep from her staff.
>>
>>3039805
>Straight to the point, ask Piotr about what he wanted to keep from her staff.
>>
>>3040606
>>3040406
>>3040380
>>Straight to the point, ask Piotr about what he wanted to keep from her staff.

Writing up now.
>>
>>3040606
>>3040406
>>3040380
>>Straight to the point, ask Piotr about what he wanted to keep from her staff.

“So,” Jennifer inquired with a show of having to pull her own chair. Normally Charles would have deferred to her, but even he was starting to sense what was going on. They’d dealt with troublesome psionics in the past, it was always smart to play the Abjurer’s Way, “What in particular is it you want to keep from my staff?”

“Ah, yes, directly to the point. Good,” Piotr said, while his eyes seemed to betray his feelings, “The general idea I have is that I have been infiltrated. The Republic are not making a power play, but someone was aware that I had sent for the Psi-Corps almost the day I asked. As I had only told one other person, my personal secretary, that I even requested a communication with the Republic at all, you can imagine that is very worrisome.”

“Very,” Jen said with a curt nod.

“You see, all of this colony is meant to bring me the finances I need to search for my own storm. I am a simple man, indeed, merely wanting the ability to comfortably disappear in a fit of soul-searching without world collapsing on me upon my return. This colony proved to be worth a mint. However,”

Jen remained silent, playing dumb to the hook he was giving behind her helmet.

Piotr squinted, “The tunnels were too smooth. There were rock formations that seemed to have once been living areas. That combined with strange reports of nightmares and visions in my workers… As I began doing my own research it would appear that the reports became far more frequent and detailed.”

“So you’re thinking,” Charlies asked after a moment of thought, “That something’s watching your moves and playing around you?”

“Exactly. Something that’s tapped me thoroughly to the point that, well,” He adjusted his collar, “I have been blackmailed once in the past week.”

Now Jen’s silence was from surprise.

>Blackmailed how?
>Do you have any suspects?
>Are any of your men psionic?
>>
>>3042281
>Blackmailed how?
>Do you have any suspects?
>Are any of your men psionic?

These all seem relevant
>>
>>3042283
It's more the order that these will be asked really.
>>
>>3042281
>To be clear, what exactly is the mission he is requesting of the two of you? Our initial brief indicated that our primary concern would be looking into the tunnels and hallucinations. Does he also intend for us to investigate these seemingly-unrelated cases of blackmail? If so, we will need further information:
And then ask the three listed questions, in that order.
>>
>>3042352
I'll do this; I'll add pauses between posts for a more freeform interrogation of this guy; probably should've done that from the start but better late than never, right? Ahoy!
>>
>>3042352
>>To be clear, what exactly is the mission he is requesting of the two of you?
Then
>>3042283
>These all seem relevant

“With all do respect,” Jen’s tone shifted to that of a discrete secretary but with the precise amount of irritation to get a point across, “While I, on a personal level, care for your problems enough to offer sympathy, I feel I need to remind you that we’re here on a mission. What in particular is this mission, again? We were under the impression, from the initial brief, that it was investigating mass hallucinations and tunnels; something we have reason to suspect was a case of psionic interference. If you want us to also investigate the blackmail, we’re going to need solid evidence connecting it to the tunnels and nightmares.”

The room grew quiet, and the Reporter popped her gum before looking to Piotr with a huge grin on her face. The Skyburner coughed into his fist to (poorly) conceal a laugh, and Piotr sputtered as he shifted uncomfortably in his chair. Charles leaned back, making a gesture to indicate that she had the floor.

“I… I apologize, ma’am,” Piotr lowered his head, “Your assignment is to find the source of these hallucinations and root it out, my hope was to tell you leads but I lost myself. To the point: the hallucinations started about a month ago. My research seemed to have caused blackmail, which is the link. As I found something that might be a solution I could reasonably use, I would find myself with uncomfortable circumstances.”

“So you were being told to stay in your lane?” Jen asked.

“Quite.”

“How so?”

“Simple things at first. Manipulated images of me with various women I’d never met, insistence that evidence had been found of crimes I’d done long in my past despite my clean record, things that are relatively default in this age of white-collar crime.”

“Yes, but it progressed?”

[ 1 / 2 ]
>>
>>3042426

“Quickly. As I started to make trips to the surface myself, in hopes that it was simply a morale problem, I found my bank information being mailed to me. My funds were threatened, and it appeared someone had it ready to wire money all over the Outer Colonies to imply me in every crime between here and New Ceres.”

“So they have your wallet?”
“I rectified that and hired Mister Reid here,” the Skyburner nodded, “A Black Scribe. He found a group of workers that were seeking to form a rebellion, to overthrow me and take my property. Well, they were brought in alive. Manipulated images are now being dangled in front of me if I continue to mine here.”

“And these images are stopping you… How?”

Piotr looked to the UNN Reporter, who laughed as his eyes seemed to pierce hers.

“Because I was told that if he resumes his operations, I’m going to have the scoop of the century. I was given encrypted images, and told that I’d find the key to them in my mail if I stayed here. So, here I am.”

“Since business is business, I tolerate her presence.” Piotr spoke, and Jen knew immediately. If he shooed her off, the UNN would easily write a smear piece and he’d go under in minutes. You had to be a national power with your own propaganda machine to withstand even a botched smear-campaign from the United News Network.

They found the facts no matter how ugly, after all.

>[WRITE-IN]
>Continue: Suspects

[ 2 / 2 ]
>>
>>3042428
>CHARLES:
>"And you took them at their word, even after arriving here and finding out that the images, and the whole scoop itself, were probably fabricated? Don't suppose you followed the trail back to find out whoever was attempting to make you a party to blackmail? That's what you do, right - find the facts? It'd certainly make our jobs a lot more straightforward if you did."
>>
>>3042428
>>Continue: Suspects
>>
>>3042445
>>3042452
A good blend can happen here. Writing up.
>>
>>3042445
>>CHARLES: Interject
>>3042452
>>Continue: Suspects

“And you took them at their word, even after arriving here and finding out that the images, and the whole scoop itself, were probably fabricated?” Charles added, “Don’t suppose you did something like, say, investigative journalism and found out whoever was attempting to make you a party to blackmail? I mean, UNN ‘finds the facts, no matter how ugly,’ right? We’d be in and out quick if you shared that.”

Diana Irving switched her gaze to Charles, leaning across the arms of her chair - an ornate wooden chair carved like a throne as all the chairs were - and locked eyes as she rolled her head back and lifted her left leg straight into the air with a loud laugh.

“Oh, baby, I’m what they call a neutral party. I don’t help either side, I just report the conflict as it happens. Fabricated or not, I’m here to see it go down. You see, my dear, I report that these images showed up of just awful things, and I talk about how awful they are, then I add in that Piotr claims they were fabricated; the public will debate it for months. Clicks are ratings, and ratings are viewers and viewers are money in the UNN.”

Charles crossed his arms, shaking his head as she winked at him.

“Smile darlin’, I’ll have about 480k watchin’ your helmeted face tonight when I do my little before-bed vlog. I imagine quite a few would want a private interview with you,” she ran her tongue between her lower lip and lower teeth, and bobbed her eyebrows before changing her position to sit with her legs crossed at the knees. Her chin rested on her knuckles now, looking lazily to Jen with a smile.

Jennifer considered, in a powerful enough thought Charles could sense it, what his Devastator Assault Hammer could do to her pretty little face.

“Since we don’t have the full cooperation of the United News Network in this endeavor,” Jen shook her head, “Do you have any particular suspects?”

[ 1 / 2 ]
>>
>>3042513
“The would-be Insurrectionists proved far too uninformed of cybercrime to be solid suspects, but I imagine they could be faking it. Considering the determination of the images, and the fact that these dolts were capable of getting my financial information… They could have a few good actors.”

“Of course there might be. Do you have any enemies outside of your mining operation, perhaps those calling themselves the Maw of the Void?” Jennifer asked, ignoring the under-breath laughter of Diana Irving as she continued to blow bubbles with her gum at Charles.
“The Maw? Progenitor’s Armor no. They were one of the first ones I contacted. I studied under them, not to learn a discipline but to understand the power in theirs. I’ve not quite decided on another school to master, you see. I left on amicable terms with their leadership.”

“Perhaps another Stormraven, seeking the power you have?”

“That… Could be a possibility. I can’t say I know for sure, because most of us tend to stay out of one another’s way. Since I have not drank my own storm, I am not worth even sparring with by their standards. For them to seek to stop me at this stage in my endeavors… Is not just strange but it is also a bit of a back-handed compliment. Plus, they would be publicly shaming me, blackmail is not our way.”

>[WRITE-IN]
>Continue: Are any of your men psionic?

[ 2 / 2 ]
>>
>>3042517
>Continue: Are any of your men psionic?
>>
>>3042517
>Continue: Are any of your men psionic?
>>
>>3042555
>>3042524
>Continue: Are any of your men psionic?

“Barring that, then, are any of your men psionic?” Jen asked. Piotr tapped his lip with his right index finger, leaning back in his chair as he pondered it.

“Yes. As a matter of fact, two of them are. A Grade Bravo and Charlie, both are foremen. I have them on paid leave until you clear them. They do not wish to speak with me on the matter for reasons I think you will understand.”

“You think I’ll understand?”

“They were hit the hardest with the visions, to the point I believe they may have been affected permanently. I knew Entropist attacks were capable of permanently scarring the mind, but I’d never heard of things… So vivid as what they say. I suspect you will be able to get to the bottom of it far faster than I.”

“Yes,” the Skyburner spoke, “They won’t even speak to me. I know one of them was former enlisted. I know the Merchant Navy is given a lot of crap from the other branches in the Republic, but perhaps he’ll recognize your ranks and snap up.”

“If he’s so far gone,” Charles asked of the Skyburner, “What stopped you from just pretending to be one of us to interrogate him yourself?”

“Pride,” Mister Reid nodded curtly, “I’m a Skyburner first, Cloak second.”

Jen tilted her head to Reid as he spoke, recognizing at once what ‘Cloak’ signified. Effectively their investigative agents, Cloaks were often sent in after something the Black Scribe leadership already had suspects for. Serial killers, career criminals, high value targets in terrorist cells, all were fair game for Cloaks. A Cloak meant this rabbit hole was going to go very, very far down.

Miss Irving groaned, “Of course it’s pride. Skyburners are always so boring. Do you all ever know how to have fun?”

Reid looked at her flatly, blinked several times, and said “No comment” as if he was considering several foul things all at once. Jen couldn’t help but chuckle.

>[WRITE IN]
>Move on to the men ‘on leave.’
>>
>>3042612
>[WRITE IN]
>Ask Reid if he has found anything further to what Piotr has already mentioned.
>>
>>3042622
>Ask Reid if he has found anything further to what Piotr has already mentioned.

“Have you been able to find anything in relation to what Piotr’s mentioned so far, Mister Reid?” Jen asked.

“Please, call me Leone,” He nodded, “Closest thing I was able to find was when I sieged the hideout the rebels had. They seemed to be suffering some of the psionic attacks, and I felt something pretty nasty down there. The fear most people have when staring down a pissed off Phoenix such as myself was palpable, but there was more.”

“Can you explain?” Jen asked, wanting to hear more of it from his mouth: she had heard how Skyburners worked and knew most lesser units would rout on the idea of having to weather a siege from them.

“Normally when a Phoenix enters a siege, the blazes I launch ahead of my own advance are enough to get a pretty immediate surrender. These folks didn’t surrender, but it wasn’t because they were entirely willing to fight. It seemed like something was trying to keep me back, and all any of them could remember was just being gripped with utter fear. Took them all in alive, because most of the time I’d enter a room to them grabbing at their heads and screaming, guns on the ground.”

Diana sat up, looking toward Leone with all the flirtatious gestures she’d given Charles just moments before.

“Wait, so they were being incapacitated when you came in range to kill?” Jen asked after waiting a few seconds to see if Diana would speak.

“Exactly. Whatever is there doesn’t want people to die, it seems, at least not from one another.”

“Did you experience any… Visions?”

“No.”

>[WRITE IN]
>Move on to the men ‘on leave.’
>>
>>3042676
>[WRITE IN]
>Ask if Leone is an Abjurer, or has some other that may have spared him the visions when all of Piotr's men were afflicted by them - and in fact, the more psionically-inclined of them were hit the hardest.
>Appeal to Irving for anything she might have to contribute; even if she didn't decide to follow up an unknown and dubious source with her own investigations, perhaps she might have found out some additional info after arriving here or have her own hunches to work on?
>>
>>3042709
>>3042676
+1
>>
>>3042709
>>3042719

“May I ask a personal question, Leone?” Jen meekly inquired.

“Fire away,” he responded with a short nod and a raised eyebrow.

“Are you an Abjurer, by chance? Or perhaps have some anti-telepathic equipment?”

“I’m not an Abjurer; I’m more of a Pyromancer and Psi-Assault,” Reid thought for a moment, shaking his head, “There wasn’t any equipment either, beyond the Promethean Warmth talent. It’s cold downstairs, so I did a little bit to make my inner resolve a little tougher. Normally it makes me ballsier, but I suppose it may have kept Entropic attacks at bay by nature of just thickening my mind.”

Interesting.

“The courage of a Pyromancer,” Charles nodded, “Nice.”

Leone nodded as Jen turned to Irving: “And Miss Irving, do you have anything to contribute? Even if you didn’t look into suspicious source of your tip, maybe you found something? A hunch, perhaps?”

Diana conjured some electricity between her fingertips, and shrugged as she sat upright and uncrossed her legs.

“Closest thing I got was that the motherlode of this planet contains a lot of metals, such as gold, that are very good conductors of metal. Even if Piotr’s friends are fine with him alone, this could easily be a bit of something to fight over. With the kinda metal you could harvest out of this rock…” She chuckled as she rolled her eyes to Piotr, who didn’t meet her stare, “You could field quite an impressive power grid. Atmosphere of this planet would be good for a solar panel array on the equator. No storm, but you could easily make one helluva power grid to drink from,”

Jen looked to Piotr, who seemed to be flustered after Diana’s remark.

“T-that is a… How did you know about that?”

“I’m a smart woman, and an Electromancer. We all follow the power lines, er, power. Right~?”

>[WRITE-IN]
>>
>>3042747
>She found all that out in just a single week of being here? That's honestly quite impressive. Would she be willing to share her contacts or sources on that?
>Other than that, we're going to be moving on to the men on leave. We'll interrogate them, then likely move on to investigating the tunnels themselves. If we finish our investigation, but find no link to the blackmail, then we'll leave it at that.
>What will the three of them be doing in the meanwhile?
>>
>>3042804

“You found that out in a week? Damn,” Jen said with genuine surprise, “You are good. Could you share your contacts, or sources for this investigation?”

“No can do, Sugarplum,” she smirked, “My sources are very picky with who they talk to. Damn good, but mighty picky. Maybe if I get to see your little face, we can work something out. Your friend there, they like the strong men with helmets. Reminds ‘em of those Kill Teams the Black Scribes are rumored to have.”

“Kill te-” Charles began to ask, before Reid cleared his throat and glared at Irving.

“That’s enough of that. If there are no further questions, I presume you’ll be moving to talk to the men?” Reid asked, Piotr seemed to nod eagerly and add a chorus of agreement.

“Actually, yes,” Jen and Charles added in unison, looking to one another in a moment of mild concern, “Why do you ask?” Jen asked alone.

“I would like to join you,” Reid stands from his seat, “I have to see how a Psi-Hunter handles Entropist damage, and maybe see if I can work out some tricks for myself.”

Charles chuckles, “Figures a Scribe would need to learn from the best,” he claps as he stands, and moves a hand out to shake with Reid who quickly obliges him in a flurry of hand movements followed by a fist bump. Jen recognized the gesture as something Psi-Assaults were prone to do, a mark of their training that Charles always said he’d explain.

Judging by the notable tink! of gauntlets hitting, it was apparent that it was as if making friends through display of physical prowess.

“And will you also be joining us, Miss Irving?” Jen asked, standing up and dusting off her lap in a feigned nervous tick.

“No, I have my way to pick through the madness. Plus, Piotr and I have a bit of an interview, for a separate story altogether.” Piotr seemed surprised, but as Diana stood up, he seemed to remember it enough to smile.

[ 1 / 2 ]
>>
>>3042986
“Yes, I have matters to attend to in the meantime besides that. After the interview, I must check some other investments and will retire for the evening.” He produced two badges for the Psi-Hunters, and gave a short bow.

Filing out, the trio made their way to the the ‘holding cells.’ They were just barely qualified as such, considering they were really just apartments that were guarded by mercenaries. They saw the badges, and let the trio in without fuss. There were two rooms, with hologram displays showing a preview inside. One room had a man pacing in circles, his arms flitting about as if he were conducting an orchestra. The other had a man with his head between his knees, facing a wall and all the furniture launched about the room.

“Codenames?” Charles asked.

“The one waving his arms about, we’ll call him the Composer. I think I can talk to him, get to his head and get him to settle down. The other one, though, I think he’s gonna need a different approach. He might have gone catatonic, a side-effect to hallucinating a trip into the far reaches of space. I don’t know if we can coach him back as easily.” Jen tilted her head as the Composer seemed to stop, look at the camera.

As she locked eyes with him, he clapped twice and smiled.

”Chu chu chu chu, la lu la taiyaiya, aa iyattatta...” the man’s voice cheered.

“The quiet one, The Prostrated. He…” As Jen began to talk, he stood up slowly, moved to a corner of the room, and sent out a burst of kinetic force that shuffled the furniture about the room like a deck of cards being tossed out for fifty-two card pickup.

“Frankly, he creeped me out the most. The other one was just annoying,” Reid chimed in, “But I’ll let you handle this unless you want me in there.”

INTERROGATION:
>The Composer
>The Prostrated

COMPANION OF CHOICE:
>[Choose a Companion]

[ 2 / 2 ]
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>>3042992
To clarify, it's who you're hitting first. In these scenarios, especially when potentially telepathic links are involved, you could find that hitting the wrong order could cause a failcascade or potentially burn leads before you even get to the person who has them.
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>>3042992
>The Composer
>Charles
>>
>>3042992
>>3043044
Sure, seconding.
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>>3042992
>>3043044
+1
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>>3043044
>>3043073
>>The Composer
>>Charles

“We’ll choose the Composer first. He’s… At least responding to something,” Jen decided, “Charles, come with me. If he gets too excited, I want you to clock him.”

“Can-do,” Charles said, rolling his head over his shoulders.

Entering the room, there was a palpable psionic presence here. Something very powerful was in the room. It pulsed madly, sensing out powers. Had it not been so sudden, and so loud, Jen would’ve tried to conceal her powers. Instead, she echoed it and sensed him out. He himself was a Grade Charlie, on the aftershocks of a Psi Terror. It seemed to emanate from the Composer, in a sickening tempo.

“Progenitor’s right nut, Jen, can you do anything about that?” Charles said, shaking his head and staggering lightly.

“I can try-” Jen was cut off as the man approached suddenly, with a blur of motion that took Jen off guard.

”Hey, are you thinking what I’m thinking too!?” the man clapped his hands, “Hey, are you thinking what I’m thinking too? Won’t cry cry no, I’ll laugh it all away!” He laughed in his strange beat, clapping and shifting from one foot to the other. The man was a Cryomancer, and cold oozed from his mouth as he spoke, something like smoke leaving his nostrils when he grinned.

“What in the Hell?” Jen asked, holding a hand up. His focus was entirely fixated on the meat of her palm.

“Pinch me I’m dreaming! I just can’t hold it inside!” he giggled, grabbing Jen’s wrist and dancing about. Charles grabbed the man’s shoulder. The Composer’s eyes widened, and with a flare of psionic energy the two men were at ground level. Liu stood up, putting his foot on the man’s chest. The Composer smiled, clapping.

Jen considered for a moment her Abjuration training, which had techniques focused on easing one out of a Psi-Terror. She pondered if it would do anything, or the only bet was to go along with his madness somehow.

The man’s tune started to sound catchy.

>[WRITE-IN]
>>
>>3043148
If her training as an Abjurer explicitly includes being able to pull herself back from an Entropist's influence (as opposed to simply rejecting it and not being influenced in the first place), try to go along with his madness and get in his head. Just make sure to pull out if it gets too intense.

Otherwise, play it safe and try to get him sane again. No use taking big risks this early on when we don't know what the nature of our enemy is. It's already been able to influence a Bravo and a Charlie; we don't want it getting a Delta as well.
>>
>>3043227

Jen had a way to ease him out of this Psi-Terror, or whatever it was, but it would require a fair amount of work. She thought of joining him, getting in there and working it all out from his angle. But no, that was far too risky without her knowing what was eating at him. Entropist techniques could ensnare a curious telepath like so many fishing hooks in a permanently tangled net.

She mimicked his clapping, tilting her head. His eyes raised, and he seemed excited.

”Oh you hear her too!?” he clapped a little more before singing along, ”Can’t stop, the words are crawling through my mind, Reaching to be said, ever falling on the blind! Cue another day, I’ve really had enough, splitting, barely fitting, my-”

The man made an odd choking sound, coughing. Jen shot an accusatory glance at her companion, who lifted his foot and shrugged.

“I don’t understand what’s got his goat, I’m not even pressuring him anymo-” the man leaped up, knocking Charles over and onto his back, “Why you little-” Jen held a hand up, and the man danced around putting his wrists on his head and clapping his fingertips to his thumbs, like little mouths.

”C’mon break the beat please, dancing through the night! Kalinka, Malinka? Sing me the right chord. Head in pieces, am I alright?”

Jen nodded slowly, clapping along. The man repeated the chorus line, as if he were waiting for a response. Charles backed up, putting his hand on his head as if to scratch his head through the helmet.

“This is all you, Jen. I have no earthly clue,” Liu hemmed, stamping his toes to the beat the man seemed to hum. Something seemed to emanate with the man’s voice, a luring kind of tone. It seemed to beckon Jen in, but she shook her head and clenched her fists to keep focus. She noticed that Charles was tapping his fingers along, and she felt in his head that he was searching his own mind for something.

>[WRITE IN]
>>
>>3043409
This is probably the worst thing I could think of suggesting but...
>"Singing through the day, Listen to my tune."
>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34nh8f5zJfU
>"A cranial jigsaw solved? You're half left now!"
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>>3043890
>"Singing through the day, Listen to my tune."

Passed the FUCK out last night, sorry. Let's get this rollin' all the same.
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>>3043409
Adding on to the other anon's vote, we need to make sure Charles keeps a grip on himself. It seems like he's already starting to fall under the same influence as the Composer is.
>>
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>>3043890
>"Singing through the day, Listen to my tune."

Jennifer tilted her head, and searched the extranet for something. It took a minute, searching off 'kalinka-malinka,' and she began to try mimicking the beat he gave with the lyrics she had.

The man slowed his pace, taking time to hear the tune out. He sang it a little bit, the man’s mind seemed distant. Then, when the foreign language ceased coming from his mouth, he smiled and began taking on his previous beat.

”Hear it beating out a rhythm from inside, frozen at the hand always four and never five. And no, they’ll never see it coming til the end! Everything you know and love is turning on its head!”

He was clearly out of his mind, but in a contagious way. Charles’ mind gave off a strange emanation, one that seemed to echo the one of the Composer. His body sagged like an arthritic vulture, then as if it were on puppet strings he began to dance with the man. He put his hands on his head, clapping fingers to thumbs leaning his head side to side in a sickening beat.

“Charles?” Jen said aloud, but Charles sang out, a feeling of confusion in his mind. Through the connection of Psi-Troopers and lovers all the same, the tune started to bleed into Jen’s mind. Infectious, but addicting.

”Ah I’ll be crushed to the bone, throw it all away forget you ever even knew. Ah, but I have to know,”

”DIGGING DEEP AND SOON!” the Composer shouted eagerly, clapping as Charles began slipping away.

[ 1 / 2 ]
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>>3044507
“Charles?!” Jen shouted, only to be swept up by both men in a spinning dance around an invisible flag pole. Colors began to fill the room, and a synthetic beat seemed to emanate from the Composer. His humming, previously erratic and confusing, there was… Something intentional about it now. The ups, downs, and sustained notes held it all together. In Jen’s mind she heard something, a synthetic voice. The men broke their grip on one another, pointing in opposite directions with their index fingers before looking back to one another and moving their heads side to side as if on clockwork.

”One two three four,” echoed in Jen’s head.

PSIONIC ENTITY DETECTED.
GRADE: DELTA
EXERCISE CAUTION

“Charles we have to…” Jen’s mind felt something darker. The tune was light-hearted, catchy, but there was an undertone. Something predatory. Like a lion putting its paw on a mouse’s tail. Jen tried to probe it, see how it reacted, but felt laughter. This thing was powerful, and it didn’t FEEL human.

It was Psi-Terror, personified, from what Jen could assess. A perpetual storm of insanity, swirling about and casting vortexes of hypnotism as it went. There was a possibility of malice, but currently it seemed to be playing.

Are you SCARED OF LITTLE OLD ME!? I WATCH AND MAKE DOLLS AND THESE DOLLS ARE ALL WITHIN ONE ANOTHER AND I AM WITHIN THEM WHILE THEY ARE WITHIN ME, PATCHED UP AND MAD! DON’T YOU WISH TO BE PART OF THE DOLLS? MY NAMESAKE!?

Do you PLAY along, dance on the strings of the Mad, the Patched Up...?
>”C’mon break the beat plase,”
>”If you’re crazy and you know it clap your hands,”

Do you resist? Do you RUIN THE FUN!?
>Tear Charles away, try to regroup with him
>Fling the Composer out of this dance.
>[ABJURER] Tear the man from this effect like a brick through a window.
>>
>>3044509
I've danced with you once before, haven't I? A different dance, but a dance all the same. A dance of DEATH that almost KILLED the man I LOVE. If you're so intent on it, I'll dance with you again, but THIS time you WILL LEAVE HIM BE.

>”If you’re crazy and you know it clap your hands,”

>[ABJURER] Tear the men from this effect like a brick through a window.
>Wall off Charles so the madness doesn't bleed back through your connection.
>>
>>3044523
I like this a good bit, let's see if anyone else has any input then I'll write up
>>
>>3044523
>THIS time you WILL LEAVE HIM BE.

Jennifer Daniels dug her heels in, and in a great moment of clarity made several hand gestures. She clapped her hands together after them, pulling apart a knot of strings. These strings were the binding of whatever was in this room, and she tore this thing’s connections to the others.

It was now solely on her, and its attention was enough to drive one mad alone. It screamed in laughter, shrill and painful, but mirthful in its own sadistic way.

“If you’re crazy and you know it, clap your hands,” Jen sang as she walled her mind from Charles. Conjuring a bubble of hard light around herself, she funneled her Abjuration into it so that no mind could reach. Before her vision went black, as if staring into the void, she saw the Composer collapse. Charles wailed on the dome, worry clear on his face.

”OH YOU WANT TO SING NOW!? AFTER YOU CUT MY CONCERT AUDIENCE TO A THIRD?! FINE. WE’LL SING.”

Jen’s voice took off from her throat, no longer attached to her own nervous system but elsewhere.

”Dancing to a beat, that doesn’t give a damn… Guess that you could say I really feel the same, everything around me is fading away!”

”You and me, we really need to rendezvous? Rendezvous? C’mon rendezvous! Travelling around and see a world brand new? Twisted up and marching with a…”

”One two, one two!”

Sickness overwhelmed Jen, and she saw a small woman dancing in front of her. She put her hands on her face as if eyeing a truly arousing prize.

”Oh, we really DO need to rendezvous,”

“That’s… Not… The song.”

”DON’T YOU DARE TELL ME WHAT THE SONG IS, I’M THE SINGER HERE.”

“Then… Sing… Dammit.”

”You’ve got spunk. I like spunk. You like dolls?”
>[WRITE IN]
>>
>>3044582
>"When I was five."
I was going to write up something longer, then I realized Jen probably can't speak in anything longer than short sentences.
>>
>>3044615
>>"When I was five."

“Yea…” Jen said with a moment of gasping, “When I was five. Kinda… Grew out… Of it.”

”You’re not FUN. Can I MAKE YOU FUN? No. You’re not… You are already ALL LEARNED UP. Can’t mold you! But that’s okay, I can always do this…”

Jennifer felt something slip into her mind. A number to call, a person to see.

”But how far down do you want to go? This is a rabbit hole. A great, big old rabbit hole that goes so far down as to enthrall the mind of lessers. You’re a DELTA. You are strong and strong is you but in your arts I see defensive subtlety.”

Jennifer’s mind hit new highs of pain and at the same time ecstasy. It was as if reality itself was a stringed instrument, and she was the pick. The music was sickeningly sweet and cheery, like cotton candy in a thick viscous liquid with an aftertaste of blood.

”DEFENSIVE SUBTLETY. You lack it when I’m in your mind and showing you the barest deepest things you’re afraid of, watching the POWER OF YOUR MIND!”

That others may live.

”OH! THERE IT IS! THE THING! You are REALIZED. That means I can’t help you but I can certainly WATCH YOU. I have eyes upon eyes and minds within minds, all watching and seeing and knowing.”

“What… Are… You…?” Jen gasped, unsure what was making it out into the real world and what was only audible in this strange nightmare vision of roiling colors and pounding music.

”I’m a mad, patched up, explorer. Just like you!”

Visions. Not Jennifer’s but this thing’s visions. A night at a desk. Synthetic hands moving papers about. The papers suddenly grew cold to the touch and…

”Do you REALLY WANT TO SEE THAT?!”

>Chase the rabbit.
>Try to level with this thing
>That Others May Live.
>What did you do to the Composer?!
>>
>>3044757
>Chase the rabbit.
Show me what makes you, you.
>>
>>3045126
>>Chase the rabbit.

“What… Makes you…” Jen choked on the last word, and the voice laughed darkly. The sickening beat solidified, becoming thicker and darker as a swirling sensation overtook the Psi-Hunter’s senses. She felt sick, not in her stomach but in her eyes and the world was becoming a constant whisper, just beyond understanding but loud enough to recognize as voices.

She swore she heard the hubbub of days. Doctors, therapists, lovers, and a deep bass line with a line that repeated itself over and over. The bass line was endless, and she felt thousands of eyes from half as many faces all stare at her. They licked their lurid teeth and all of them seemed eager to tear her down, starting with her clothes and working her down to the barest of flesh.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_1GA21Cmsw

”You’re in this hole, Alice, is this what you want? Me? You want ME THE LITTLEST DOLL OF THEM ALL?!”

The desk was covered in work. Work work work. Nothing but work, all that needed to be filed. She had gone to great lengths to work, switching her mind with a dumb AI to work while her body slept. There was a feeling of cold, though.

Bone-chilling cold.

The woman looked at her mechanical hands, and saw nothing in the office that made her cold. She felt the chill take her over. Her heart rate climbed, the whispers grew louder. She continued to file. Archaeological reports, dotted lines to sign, journals to verify. All of it necessary for her chi-

The music grew louder as another voice entered the fray. It started off confused, terrified, but calmed. The cold grew. The woman looked over the droid’s frame, and nothing should have even felt cold. Her heart rate climbed and the voices seemed to grow louder. Hundreds now.

”And it started small and it started meek, the littlest doll of them all, so small and meek and scared and nervous, so worried of Psi-Terror but little did she know SHE WOULD NEVER ESCAPE THE STORM!”

>[WRITE IN]
>>
>>3045267
>"And before her? Who were you? What were you?"
and after that because this is my last post for now
>"How did you get from there to here?"
>>
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>>3045302
Alrighty; I'll get a reply into this tomorrow afternoon. Got caught up in something and lost track of time. Rest well, friends!
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>>3045894
Dead?
>>
>>3050483
No, not dead, just ate up with IRL crap. I will be more than able to update this weekend starting probably Saturday afternoon. Without giving too many details, I'm having a lot of errands and shit pop up out of nowhere. Should clear up some after today, though!

Extremely sorry for the unannounced pause!





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