Chapter IV - Earthly Delights

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Re: Chapter IV - Earthly Delights

Postby TennyoCeres84 » Wed Apr 25, 2018 1:00 am

Meris nodded knowingly and smiled. "Not surprising, what with the umbrella/sword cane combination I've seen you carrying. You're more of the discreet type, obviously," she noted.

*~*~*

Him, Her, They... With the planar merger, who knows what could happen?" Abdiel speculated with a smirk. "I imagine that God would readily take up the job, much to the horror of the fussy-pants and blissbrain types."

"You keep using They to refer to God. Does that mean God doesn't have a specified gender?" Aislinn asked with a raised eyebrow.

The angel shrugged and ran a hand over her partly shaved and then into the long, dark tresses. "Not really. Where do you think demons got their gender fluidity from? Even angels will occasionally change their appearance either out of necessity or preference."

"As for the human experience, how do you think I learned the essentials for being a bartender?" she noted rhetorically, then smiling widely. "However, I'll heed your advice. I'm not so arrogant as to assume that I know 100% about what being a mortal is like; there's always something to learn."
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Re: Chapter IV - Earthly Delights

Postby IamLEAM1983 » Sat Apr 28, 2018 2:15 am

"Discretion will be needed in the coming days," noted Titania. "Swiftness and diligence will be required of the both of you. We may keep you here and forever discuss our means, or we may leave you to your toils in good faith. Is there anything else that requires addressing?"

Vernon eyed the supposedly bulletproof baywindow and frowned lightly. "I doubt it. We have your leave to unite our Houses and strengthen Hope's balance under Faerie, and you have proven aware of our coming plights."

He eyed Naberius and Nybbas. "Sirs?
- Well, there is the matter of mister Gammell's genetic testing..."

To that, the Queen lightly smiled and produced a small vial from one of her previously closed fists with a little blue glint of via. Its white plastic stopper was capped with half of a cotton swab that extended down into the tube, and she quickly removed it and handed it to the toymaker. Gingerly, Gammell tried to keep his rubbing of the swab's tip against his gumline as discrete as possible. Titania sealed the vial and used the same trick to more than likely cause it to appear on some contracted biolab worker's desk some distance away, in the mortal plane.

"When can I expect results?" he asked, to which the Queen lightly shrugged.

"It all depends on you, sir. Either your makeup proves to be sufficiently mundane for the sequencing process to be of short order, or you cost my associates more in terms of processing power. Nowadays, there is very little that Karthian or Paradise hardware cannot decipher on the genetic level. The real catch will be in seeing what your DNA is perceived as. Are you a Chimera of some other making, or perhaps a simple reinterpretation of the human corpse Amaxi first used to birth you?"

Still, she added an encouraging nod. "One or two weeks, give or take. Assuming this Armageddon of yours does not plunge Europe into another Dark Age, that is."

To that, Gammell had to sigh wistfully and give Meris a partly amused and partly concerned look. "Only one way to find out, I'm afraid," he said.

* * *

"Like gender as a notion, to begin with," opined Tom. "You saw me," he said, smirking at his lover, "just before I entered Quint's body. I'd needed an anchor, someone I'd at least be able to steer towards the right hospital room. Nurse Kathy Peters happened to be in the right corridor at the right time, so I flooded her conscious mind with dopamine and took over while she was blissed out. If she'd been a mage of some persuasion, I might've even gone for her instead of Quint."

He briefly chuckled. "I don't do long-term possessions, though. Not anymore, at least. We incubi have it easier than even the Goat, at first, since pleasure is universal. The problem is, expose someone to enough bliss over a short amount of time and they, well, desensitize to it. The mind wants to be conscious, control the body again - but I never was a good Goat ersatz or a Volker wannabe."

Melmoth grimaced lightly. "Hrmph. Same. Active possession's messy; it scars your vessel for life! You're sticking nitrous down a V6 engine when you do that; mortal bodies aren't meant for long-term cohabitation. It's a lot easier to coax a target into biting it and claiming the turf once they vacate the premises. It's the best we've got, when it comes to living like you fleshies," he told Aislinn. "You're changing things, but picking out your Sunday best for the next sixty years or so is gonna be a tough habit to break. If you think I've got issues about my looks, you haven't met your average determined possessing spirit: self-loathing's a big motivating factor in the Pit."

Volker had to scoff at that. "I'd rather stick to loathing Asmo for interrupting me while I was unpacking my stuff in my condo. Speaking of, don't we all have shit to do before the big to-do rears its ugly head?"
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Re: Chapter IV - Earthly Delights

Postby TennyoCeres84 » Sat Apr 28, 2018 1:16 pm

Meris smiled sympathetically and patted her friend's arm in a reassuringly. "Whatever the results are, that combination of DNA traits made you one of my greatest friends. I can only speculate where you get your talent as a conversationalist from."

*~*~*

Abdiel nodded. "Of course we do, but I was wondering if you have any thoughts or concerns that might need some answers, Melmoth, " she asked as as she looked in his direction.
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Re: Chapter IV - Earthly Delights

Postby IamLEAM1983 » Sat Apr 28, 2018 11:16 pm

As the group gathered its belongings, George couldn't quite stifle a smirk. "Considering how my origins paint me as a failed Build Your Own Machiavellian Schemer from the Loyalists' point of view, I suspect they tweaked a few things so I'd carry some of that verbose relish associated to classic evildoers. I came from the tail end of the Victorian era - a time rife with grandiose ne'er-do-wells, and the Order of Cosmic Machinists did honestly fancy themselves as would-be nemeses to figures like our own Archie Holden. All they needed was someone with the right basso, a billowing laugh and enough of a penchant for grotesquerie..."

Naberius grinned at that, while handshakes were exchanged with the King, Chamberlain and Queen. "What were they thinking, by the way? Those few records we found of your former self as a human toymaker paint you as a positively mild figure. Kind, unassuming, shockingly ordinary in temperament... You'd assume your shell's own skills as an engineer trumped all of what they would've considered to be defects."

Gammell had to shrug. "I think you just answered your own question, mister Naber. They took a gamble and assumed the vessel's skills would survive while its temperament would not. You might say they've lost; I simply wonder if I would have turned out the same way I have if my son had not entered my life. Boredom and isolation could very well have pushed me down darker paths."

Titania smiled reassuringly. "Despite all appearances, I am an optimist at heart. I've seen enough of Winter's hinterlands to know of several monsters with hearts of gold, so I would rather believe your son merely coaxed what was already there."

A faint shade of pink colored the small patches of skin left past George's lip corners, where human ears would normally be. He tilted his head and toothy maw in a way that appeared bashful. Titania's smile grew warmer. "Seems I've now met an adorable one, too," she said.

Agent Spector parted with an impressed whistle. "I was wondering when I'd get competition in that field... Of course, I've got a Veil worthy of a Rogaine commercial to fall back on."

Benson made his neck pop a few times. "That's about to end, Spector. Once the demons tear through the world's major cities and the survivors rebuild, we'll be all in for some extreme sensitivity training. Veils might fall out of use within a few weeks if that happens, or they might turn into Covert Ops spells nobody uses unless they need to impersonate someone. How are you gonna do once you'll be stuck applying to dating sites as Slender Man?"

The FBI agent parted with a self-motivating sigh. "That's a bridge we'll all have to cross when we get to it. I'm just glad I'm not a demon; they're the ones who'll have the biggest stigmas to overcome. It's the Chimeras all over again."

* * *

The Broker gave it some thought. "Okay, um... Just how phenomenal and-slash-or cosmic did I just get? Am I still largely focused on ridiculously good karma around myself and dishing out Murphy's Law to others, or can I expect myself to get all capable in a standard demonic throwdown?"

Volker frowned at that. "Yeah, about that, how do you fight, Othstein? You're chunky going on flabby with and without your shell, and you look like the type who'd spare tumescent groans for an Excel spreadsheet. I have a hard time imagining you sheltering anyone once shit goes down."

Melmoth parted with a sharp smirk and dug into his pocket, pulling out a quarter. "Hand me one of those coasters," he asked Abdiel, pointing as he did, "and one of these pens for your orders."

Once the items would've been proffered, Othstein etched a line straight down the middle of the back of one of the Club Ishtar coasters. One side was marked Heads, the other one Tails.

"Heads or Tails?" he asked Tom.

Shrugging, Magnus went for a tentative "Tails."

That done, Mel handed the quarter to Abdiel. "I know you're not the Metal Throne, but you probably know how I could've warmed up that coin to relocate some of the tin, more or less load it like you'd load a, well, loaded die. Can you heat it up a little, just so everything's nice, fair and even? I need a third party to see I'm not gonna cheat on this little demo, here."

Volker followed along even before the demo began. "You're saying you can influence the outcome of certain situations...
- Close," replied Othstein, "but no cigar! I don't do quantum shit, unfortunately, and I've never dared to push our involvement with mortals to the point where I rob 'em of Gabriel's much-vaunted free will. The fact is I can't influence shit - except for what happens to me. Tom chose Tails, so I'm gonna wanna make sure the coin falls on Heads every single time. The best part is, I don't even have to think about it! No spells, no via-gathering, no pulling stuff in from the local Nexus - it's such a low-power process you'd need to be a mage specialized in electronics or a moron like Zeb Buck to so much as feel my micro-feed."

Tom made a few deductions. "Hence the interest in speculative markets or gambling, then. You can't break the randomness factor for anyone but yourself - and if you do your job right, you can stomach a losing streak if it keeps suspicion low."

Melmoth clicked his tongue. "Right on the money, mister Warlock. Keeping interest rates climbing up in early banking institutions is one thing, cleaning house at the Bellagio without Security breathing down your neck is another. Y'gotta lose a few million to make a billion, I always say. On a defensive level, all I gotta do is make sure my ridiculous good luck rubs off on my people. If some crazed gunman aims for me and whiffs all his shots, then he's whiffed for everyone else who's in that room with me, too."
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Re: Chapter IV - Earthly Delights

Postby TennyoCeres84 » Sun Apr 29, 2018 12:32 am

Much like Titania, Meris was an optimist herself and nodded to Spector. "It'll be rough for a while, but they adapted. So will demons and angels. The best thing we can do is offer support to those who wish to turn over a new leaf. That's part of why Mr. Magnus is starting his club, to have a neutral area where people can discuss and relax after the storm passes."

*~*~*

"A good defense based on good luck is a fairly solid attack plan," Abdiel agreed, then raising a finger. "However, I wouldn't put all my chips in one pile, so to speak. Some physical endurance and some scrappiness wouldn't hurt, though. I'd say maybe get a punching bag and practice with that. No one expects you to be able to run a marathon, but you never know when brute force can come in handy," she noted.
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Re: Chapter IV - Earthly Delights

Postby IamLEAM1983 » Mon Apr 30, 2018 11:17 am

While Titania followed the group back to the apartment's entrance, Oberon was notably absent, something which Vernon didn't seem to miss. Benson sent the Lord a vaguely puzzled look, the pointy-eared fellow settling with a mute plea for patience. Oberon being aloof in parlous times apparently wasn't new to Haskill.

"I must say these facilities of yours have us intrigued," she told Meris. "The last time a Warlock built a fortress strong enough to withstand the end of the world, woolly mammoths still walked the Earth. Even then, all that power couldn't stop the goblins' ancestors from losing everything. I've faith that with time and technology willing, those in Hope who take shelter in Magnus' walls will fare better."

She then grew a tad more serious. "You are all facing a storm front from head-on - one we will have the luxury to see coming. Your bravery is commendable," she said, nodding to Meris. "You have my thanks, as well as those of my people. Oberon's as well, even if he would rather make ready for war."

The Queen then contemplated Naberius and Nybbas. "Demons fighting for Humanity's future, vying to inspire and guide us... It seems as though the Greek philosophers were right - the religious fundamentalists of this world owe you an apology."

Naberius shrugged. "Good work is always performed thanklessly. Those of us who conversed with the thinkers of old and marveled at Humanity's prowess were and have always been altogether too mild to shore up the Greek roots of our name. Demon was once a marker of nobility, now it is the name of what we commonly face.
- I doubt the Maker is truly thankless," she said. "It could be It simply has not found a way to further alter Its initial fractioning of the Afterlife, especially if It is as young as some theories claim It to be."

She smiled. "Be that as it may, you are noble to my eyes, Sir Naberius. You would make a burlap sack look kingly."

That made the demon look sharply aside to cough his flustered ego away. Being the Steward, he was used to being buttered up by mortals or diplomatic envoys of low rank. Being buttered up by the Queen of Faerie, however? He couldn't find it in him to go for a self-satisfied head tilt or a lapel clasp and looked like he'd been put beside himself.

She extended that smile to Nybbas. "Noble, yes - and also debonair. I haven't met such a forward individual as yourself, Sir Nybbas, in a dozen of my former incarnations. Druids still tended to dryads and water spirits that clear-eyed and perceptive rakes plied their harps and silver tongues to keep swords sheathed. Consider your sins forgiven by this humble woman; I've no doubt a lover's heart beats in this chest. You simply haven't found the right one yet."

The Faun-like demon briefly fawned over Titania. "Oh, Your Highness is too gracious, far too kind! A scoundrel with sharp eyes I've been for many moons, with so few good housekeepers to find me of decent repute - but I give of my words and myself freely!"

The Queen softly chuckled. "I wouldn't have gone for eighteenth-century France if I'd been you. The next time you're looking to bar-hop for fun and profit, try pre-Roman Great Britain's clans. Summer's roots lie in hospitality and pleasure - moreso than anything you'll ever find in Paris' courtesans and serving girls," she said, winking conspiratorially.

Nybbas could only blink at that, looking alternatively shocked and pleasantly surprised.

* * *

Melmoth canted his head to the side. "It's been a heck of a while since I worked on my right cross, 'Diel," he told the Throne. "I've had to leverage market assets more than bench weights, obviously."

Tom smirked at that. "Eh, I know a couple guys who could help with that. We might be short on time, though; so unless we raid what's left of the Spire and somehow find a primer on self-defense we could make you eat up the way we did Rhadamantus, you're in for the best didactic approaches money can buy: the old-fashioned one."

The Broker rolled his eyes at that. "Swell. I'll just settle with arming my rent-a-cops on both sides of the fence for now. We'll hopefully have time to work things out once the immediate clusterfuck blows over."

He then frowned and looked back at Magnus. "When's Ephesian's hearing scheduled?"

The warthog checked his watch and sighed. "Two days from now. Past that, the class-action unfolds for however long it needs - and then shit hits the fan. The Goat isn't going to settle on an orderly occupation force, not after the hit we've dealt."
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Re: Chapter IV - Earthly Delights

Postby TennyoCeres84 » Tue May 01, 2018 2:06 am

Meris beamed at both demons, though her eyes eventually landed on Nybbas. "Old rhyme or not, there may some truth in there for you as well, Nybbas. You don't necessarily have to be an amazing archer or tracker, but I agree with Her Highness, I still see the greatness of the Old Fauns in you, just as Solomon did."

Despite Oberon's absence, Meris bowed her her respectfully to Titania. "Thank you for having us, Your Grace! I am deeply grateful for the trust you placed in us, given the tense events that are currently with us, and the open ear to hear our call for aid."

*~*~*

Abdiel smiled at the Broker. "I might be more of a bagh nakh person, but I might be able to help you at some point with the punching bag."

She then nodded in regard to the warthog's assessment and frowned thoughtfully. "For now, it'll be good to rest up some and then double-check that everything is order. Magnus is right in that the Goat won't go for a strategic strike; chaos will be his MO for the battle. Hit hard and unpredictably."
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Re: Chapter IV - Earthly Delights

Postby IamLEAM1983 » Tue May 01, 2018 10:29 am

The former Faun scoffed, bashfully smirking and looking away, as though Meris' compliments were so much flim-flammery. "My Queen is too kind," he then said, "but I appreciate being recognized for my efforts. Your predecessors typically kept things implicit."

Naberius looked like he agreed. Solomon had probably been the type to radiate silent approval when good catches were performed, but it was nice to have someone around who wasn't adverse to patting the odd demonic ego. Not that either men and the rest of Meris' retinue would let her overdo it, however.

"And I'm glad you came," replied Titania. "As much as our Archduke symbolizes both our authority and some of the mundane world's, I find it reassuring to see that the old ways haven't quite faded away just yet. No matter how contemporary or conservative our pursuits," she said, "I've only ever been able to chart my course through this life because I remember who I was before the Choice was made for me."

She then shook everyone's hand, lingering slightly longer on Meris. "Safe travels, my friends," she said. "I will ask of our druids that they speak words of protection in your names."

* * *

"And I'd be glad for the assist," nodded Melmoth.

Tom smiled at Abdiel's words. "I wouldn't worry too much. Ezemial has dirt on the Goat, we've got backup from Heaven and four to five allied Void Weavers to lean on, one Warlock, maybe two Archmages, the local superspy and superheroes..."

He made as though he'd forgotten something. "Oh - and a handful of Thrones. It won't be easy, but we'll do fine. I'm convinced of it. Now if only God noticed how much of a game-changer Ephesian now happens to be, we might be able to short-circuit this and rely on a good old-fashioned Deus Ex Machina event..."

Volker scoffed at that. "Fat chance of that, boss. I wouldn't say the Big G doesn't give a shit, but the Cuthbert guy might say we're God's plan made manifest. If anything divine happens, it won't ever be that obvious. Probably for good reasons, too."

Tom faked a dejected look. "Shucks. It's always the same ones who get the booming voices and burning bushes!" he joked.
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