[5e IC] Tabula Rasa, Chapter III

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« Reply #255 on: <05-22-15/0216:02> »
Katsina opens an eye in the morning. At least, she thinks that it's morning; the ice cocoon around the van blocks the natural light, thank Hecate. Did I dream... Can I now... she thinks to herself, wondering if something was unlocked - or remembered - in her sleep. She retrieves her mask and slips it on, whispering Sperethiel to herself as she does.

Outside, she pulls her lined jacket tightly around her to ward away the early-morning freezing temperatures. She's pleased to find the fires still going. She checks on Sam, making sure that he'll be in the shade when the sun rises. His new allergy will probably set in once he's awake, which won't be until after sundown, but no sense in him starting life off with crisp, blistered skin. Not that it would be much of a change, she thinks, looking over the nodules and greasy acid beginning to emerge from his pores.

Raiding the cooler for food, Katsina begins the process of making breakfast. Nothing too complex - she doubts that anyone has much of a palate at the moment - but she still wants it to be good. Sausage, bacon, eggs, biscuits. Coffee, certainly. Comfort food for uncomfortable times.

Once the men have been fed and Ohanzee has gotten some rest, Ace rounds up volunteers for a small expedition. "I'll watch over Sam," Katsina says. "If you find any hunting, go ahead and bring it back. Sam will be hungry when he wakes up. Not hungry hungry, but still."

Ace leads his band of merry men off into the snow. Getting away from camp is a welcome distraction. Chino calms down a bit, settling into his task of tracking the group's circuit last night. Snow fell overnight, covering most of the tracks, but he still does an expert job of identifying small broken branches and footprints under trees, which didn't get as much snow. He strings them together until you're back at the scene of the fight.

Ace doesn't have any trouble finding the corpses. Rigor mortis and freezing temperatures have locked them into their death poses. Nothing molested them overnight.

On the astral, Ohanzee and Chino see free spirits doing whatever free spirits do. Spirit of air whipping spirits of snow into small white tornadoes. Spirits of the mountain, indifferent, standing still as the tornadoes flow over them.

Chino cracks his knuckles. Ohanzee looks over and sees a glint in Chino's eye that looks somewhere between mischievous and murderous. Ohanzee reels him in. "No profit in it," he says.

Chino scowls and pouts and looks like a chastised child, but obeys. He picks up a rock the size of a baseball. Ace is initially concerned that Chino's going to bean an air spirit, but instead he waits for a mountain spirit to look over. When it finally does, Chino slams the rock between his hands and turns it into pebbles.

"Checkmate, cabron," he says menacingly, quoting some B-grade action trid. He lets the obliterated rock fall from his hands. "Sic semper spiritus."

The spirit, unmoved, turns and looks away.


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« Reply #256 on: <05-25-15/2156:39> »
This was a mistake. He was sure of it now, as they stood over the bodies of the crazed Sasquatches. Not only had it not taken his mind off of Sam's (worsening?) condition, but it also now put him out of contact with where all the action was happening. He had no idea if Doc had made any progress on the Matrix front. He couldn't stop by to check on Sam in person - what if he awoke and needed something only Ohanzee could provide? Like - . Well, it didn't matter that he couldn't imagine what that might be, all that mattered is that it could happen, and he wouldn't be there - again.

He kicked at one of the corpses, partly to verify that it really was dead (it's an icicle, but you never know, right?) but mostly out of spite, or frustration, or both. The ice cracked and a puff of powder rose briefly before settling down again. And Chino was here, as active and annoying as a caffeinated child. The denizens of the forest had already caused them untold trouble, and here Chino was, chomping at the bit to piss off the spirits that called this place home. Explaining that they already had enough enemies as it was proved futile, and so Ohanzee had to adopt a pattern that was not unlike a cross between a parent and a squad leader. Short, direct, clear. Orders. "No." "Stop that." "Stay on mission."

Stay on mission. Ohanzee said it almost unconsciously, but then nearly choked on it once he realized what he was saying. With his wandering thoughts, even he wasn't staying on mission. Even though he could analytically appreciate that Ace was the most focused of the bunch, he still resented his constant insistence that Ohanzee watch the Astral. "Sure thing, boss." "Oh, great idea, Captain Obvious." "I know what I'm doing, Robo-Cop."

And at last they were back at the spot where the ambush had happened. The creatures were easy to spot - well, easier. White on white was still a challenge, but whatever magic had assisted their concealment had faded - probably with the sunrise. Ace broke off some body parts - fingers, fangs. Ohanzee suspected that he had gotten a shopping list from Doc before they set out. Idly he admired the foresight, but overtly he was just as snarky as ever. "You know, we brought some provisions with us if you're hungry." Chino guffawed, which made Ohanzee wish he hadn't said it much more than the dark glance that Ace threw his way before his mask of professionalism snapped back into place and he pretended not to hear the comment.

The trip back to camp was equally uneventful. The other Sasquatches seemed content to remain hidden - or they had cleared out of the area entirely. The moment he was back in radio range he began pestering Doc and receiving the same canned responses. Ace transmitted some information - pictures and results of some tests he'd run with one of the smaller medkits - and shortly Doc announced that the creatures they had killed were Bandersnatches - Infected Sasquatches. A mere 16 hours or so too late to do Sam any good. Apparently there were bounties on them in the CAS and UCAS, but not in the PCC where they were slain. Not that they couldn't claim the bounty anyway with some creative re-working of the events, but was it worth the risk dealing with the authorities for the 15-22kĄ it would garner? The general consensus was no - for now. The artifact was potentially a plenty big score on its own, and turning in a bounty on an Infected when you were acquainted with not only one but two, seemed a step too far. In any case, if the deal with the obelisk went South, this could be revisited.

Once back at camp, the same routine started over again - check on Sam. Wander around camp to keep his mind off of Sam. Wonder how Sam is doing. Check on Sam. Repeat. Major discussion and any decision making was studiously avoided. When the sun set, Sam would awaken - Awakened. Katsina would help him through his first moments and it would either be Sam that walked out of the makeshift tent that had been built around him, or some ... thing. This could be some somber Birthday celebration of sorts, welcoming back their good friend, or a nightmare of blood and death as they put down whatever monster had stolen the body of their dearly departed.

Preparations would have to be made in case of the worst. Ohanzee tore off to find Ace and Katsina and warn them as the sun started to dip below the mountainous horizon, only to come upon them standing at the door of the tent, sharing a tender moment. He was about to interrupt with his urgent realization when he noticed that Ace was already loaded for war. He could even see Doc, sitting beside Sam, loading a clip into his cyber-shotgun. His epiphany was apparently old news to the others, who had had their heads in the game all day.

He cleared his throat to announce his presence, then took his place in the tent. He was tempted to call forth Wolf, to keep him close and ready, but decided against it. Sam would see the spirit, and his "eyes", unaccustomed to the Astral world, could see the violent spirit as a nightmare or an imminent threat. Better to keep him calm. And so Ohanzee stood in the tent, praying that as different as the body was, that the eyes would be the same.
Speech Thought Matrix/Text Astral


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« Reply #257 on: <05-27-15/0149:26> »
While the others are off, Katsina keeps an eye on Sam. She watches him grow, sees his skin toughen even further while he packs on fast-twitch muscle fibers.

"He's getting hard, and hard-headed," she says aloud, mostly to herself.

He's going to be tough to control once he wakes up, she thinks. Stronger than anyone except maybe Chino. Bullheaded too. Can't depend on a spell to make him change course.

She exhales, considering her options.

A thought goes off in her mind. Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel, she thinks, not even certain where the thought came from. A plan begins to form around it.

Seeing that he's not going anywhere fast, she decides to get up and walk around camp. She scans for reagents as she goes. The area is well-aligned with her Wiccan beliefs, making the collection relatively easy. The central tenet of Wicca is harmony with nature, so being in the pure-driven snow on a forested mountainside is pretty ideal. Within an hour she has collected two small bundles of twigs tied together with strands of her own hair.

The rest of the party returns. "We're getting close," she says, looking at Sam. "It's almost time. It would be best if you were not in the immediate vicinity. Avoid undue temptation, as it were. But, if you can't bear to leave him, at least stay in the van. Or downwind."

She kneels by Sam's side as his movements start to get fitful and more frequent. She closes her eyes and prays over him, mixing the twigs she collected with herbs and small bunches of dried flowers that she had squirreled away in her pockets. A spell takes shape - a powerful manipulation of the mana around Sam's arms and legs, tying them to his body. He'll still be able to move but he'll be sluggish and clumsy. That should allow the others to run, if worse comes to worst, she thinks to herself, wondering how Sam will interpret the spell with his new astral vision.

Once again Katsina tries to recall what she went through when she Awakened, but the memory is lost for now.  She shakes her head, hoping that it's not gone forever, then puts her hand on Sam's chest. Suddenly she is racked with deep-chested coughing, the byproduct of such a potent spell. She bends her head forward and rests it on Sam while she catches her breath.

"Sam," she says in the most soothing voice she can muster between coughs. She wheezes, trying to catch her breath. "Sam, wake up!"


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« Reply #258 on: <05-28-15/2018:10> »
Over the years, the bruises heal and are forgotten. Independence has been good to me. I have loved and been loved, stolen and been stolen from, betrayed and been betrayed. There have been a lot of snowmobile rides over the years, but there's one I soar into on slick dragon wings; the only one I really remember. The only one that can't possibly be a figment, conjured up by some feverish infection. Chino and I. We're on our way back to our pilfered luxury home in the mountain suburbs after pushing our former vehicle off a cliff. I'm too big to pilot this thing, but Chino seems to merge with the little guy like he does with all machines. We're going pretty fast and catching some serious air from time to time. Chino is somewhat the daredevil and I have to hold on as tight as I can with my arms around his waist to avoid falling off into the snow. Despite the cold, the adrenaline coursing through our veins as we swipe between trees and plow through snowbanks has us both sweating. My sinuses have been opened up like crazy by the brisk mountain air and my head is swimming with the scent of motor oil, pine trees, and Chino. His breath, his sweat, his skin, his flesh. I can't control myself anymore. I have to have him. I'm not even sure what my own thought means until i crack open my massive maw full of razor sharp, acid dripping teeth and pierce the calm mountain air with a howl of bloodlust. I'm just about to land my very first ravenous bite into his shoulder, just about to feel his warm blood, coursing down my chest in pure joy, when I feel a weight on my limbs. I fall like a feather from my seat, fluttering slowly to the ground and watching that sumptuous and wonderful ork slowly sail away into the white. The rage and desperation in my heart are about to burst it through my chest when I hear a soft voice calling me...

"Sam," she says in the most soothing voice she can muster between coughs. She wheezes, trying to catch her breath. "Sam, wake up!"

The calcified and acid covered beast snaps it's armored eyelids open, revealing his feral, bloodshot eyes beneath. Without a thought or a breath, he lunges at the nearest form he can find, the woman in the mask, howling in hunger at her.

"Принесите мне орк!"
"speaking out loud"
<<matrix actions/communication>>


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« Reply #259 on: <05-28-15/2045:46> »
[End of Chapter III. Chapter IV thread here:]