The Museum

Anything you might want to try out that doesn't temporally or thematically fit the serial should go here. This is an ideal space for all your what-ifs and might-have-beens, as well as for your average silliness.
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IamLEAM1983
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The Museum

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Abraham Zahavi likely had his own little nocturnal routine. He'd brush his teeth, pick up after himself - do whatever it was someone of his stature did once outside of his friend's shadow and in his own private two or three rooms. Falling asleep might've seemed difficult, considering what he'd been told to expect. Would it come as a pull, or one of the quasi-waking nightmares men of his stripe or Charles' or Drake's could sometimes experience? Would he wake up in a cold sweat with next to no memory of the night?

Eventually, he'd be able to relay his findings with the Alexandrian, and he'd find that his experience was, well, boilerplate, as far as journeying into the Darkhallow was concerned. One moment you're half-unconscious, the sounds of your apartment familiar and expected, your trained reflexes now uncoiled, ready to spring if need be - but not needed at present. The next, daylight streamed in through his window, seagulls of a slightly different stripe calling in the distance.

Daylight, so soon? Had he slept at all, he might wonder; at first fully tethered to the dream's logic... It'd be a while before things clicked - as though his apartment in Hope and those far off gulls were meant to be conjoined. His alarm's radio was set on a different station, as well. This wasn't Hope, but it also was - a version of the city with more Hebrew on the airwaves, English relegated to half-heard snippets of music or emphatic Movie Trailer Voice drones during commercial breaks.

Half-aware, following the motions of his morning routine, that trigger he might've heard Vlastos speak of, that first indicator of the wholly different nature of his current state, waited in his fridge. It was a bottle of Malka, a beer that hadn't yet reappeared in the Rhode Island city's ethnic grocery stores, after the incursions. It was as though the white characters and transparent background said something else entirely - something along the lines of a cue to not so much wake up, as to grasp the nature of his surroundings...

Things would soon begin to unpack. This was Hope, yes, or at least a part of it - but the shoreline was entirely different, warm as it looked with distant palm trees and tall white buildings. This was a strip to rival Miami's Sunset Boulevard, with pricey pads, expensive shops and exclusive cafés and nightclubs galore, with a bright, brilliant sky perfect for beach-carousing or kite-flying, of the shade of blue most American canopies could only wish they could ever reach. He wouldn't have seen this perfect a shade of blue in the sky in long, long years.

This was Hope, and also Tel Aviv, Abe's usual morning-man on his radio app here conversing in a cheery pidgin of Hebrew and English the real person had never displayed. His radio app was then interrupted by the phone proper ringing. The caller was listed as Mystery Man :), smiley-face very intentionally included.
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Re: The Museum

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Abraham had a generally well-ordered mind, he had been told what to expect... yet he still caught himself immersed in the sensation of an old familiarity. The smell of the sea made him smile, the voices and music on the radio as he went about his morning procedures.

It wasn't until he saw the bottle of beer that his awareness started to catch up. He knew for a fact that Malka was unavailable in Hope as of yet, and he'd been looking intently for some too. He had, after all, made a bet with Three and Jenkins that Israeli beer was superior to the malty muck Americans called beer.

And as the awareness spread, he still smiled, for the reminders of his old home in a more peaceful time were welcome, indeed. Especially that sunny blue sky, beyond the window...

His phone rang, and he blinked at it for a moment, wondering when Hauser started using caller ID. He picked up the call and set the speakerphone. "Mr Hauser?" he said in Hebrew, a second before his mind caught up and he realized it wasn't Preston on the other end at all. He didn't use phones with caller ID after all, even when speaking to close associates! "..."
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Re: The Museum

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The voice on the other end of the line was chipper, obviously masculine, as sunny as the weather outside - and familiar, while still impossible to exactly place...

"Nope! I'm sorry Abraham, I'm not the network admin you're thinking of, but I am another one, so to speak. Hauser's not aware of it, but he's Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon'd his way into the Darkhallow - or at least the closed-off parts of it used by the rebels. When you'll get to speak to him again, tell him we thought his ideas about how to route VPN packets over onion routers without losing bandwidth were absolute poetry," the man said, chuckling.

"I'd, uh, tell you exactly who I am, but the catch is I've got the most cliché backstory ever, even for us Squids. An amnesiac and bodiless Prelate - if you knew half as much about my people as you do about sizing up a situation tactically, you'd realize there's a dime a dozen of those. I'm not quite like them, though - in that I don't have tatters of some sort, or vague memories of having a body, somewhere out there; but it doesn't really prevent me from popping up in a few of their illicit Dream Pulp material..."

There was a clicking sound, something he'd have heard Grimley or Nereus produce, not entirely unlike someone hemming and hawing as their minds switched gears. "I go by Ike or just Curator for Meris and Nereus, so just pick one of those two. I just stole another Squid's, erm, residual self-image, to pull from The Matrix, and did a bit of a spruce-up job on it... Old Ike was a homicidal librarian, anyway - none of the right people liked him all that much."

A few more clicks. "So! There's this little juice bar down by the beach I figure you might be able to recall, right? Head down to the beach, grab a stool and uh, look for the only tentacled freak in town - that'll be Yours Truly. You can walk, hail a cab, compress distant spaces together or start bounding on rooftops like a souped-up Blue Chimera - whatever strikes your fancy."

There was a grin hiding in the Curator's words, a trace of deviousness and an obvious dose of gleeful envy. "Welcome to a tiny bit of your own Sanctum, my man. Just - don't kill any of the projections while on the way over, that's just messed up. Everything else? You've just hit God Mode, Abe. Enjoy it a bit - work up a thirst, hm?"
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Re: The Museum

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Whoever this fellow was, he was awfully cheerful. Abraham had to work against the ingrained distrust of overly enthusiastic people that was resurfacing with all these reminders of his homeland; being around Charles for so long had worn it down, but without that one around? All bets were off.

"Parts of that cliche backstory do seem familiar, Mr Ike," the swarthy operative replied. "I have been hanging around Nereus for a while now, you know."

He walked to the window and looked out. "Juice bar, beach, tentacles. I will be there shortly." Don't kill any of the projections, he said. Who did he think he was dealing with? Abraham was a professional in all things.

Whatever. He hung up and walked out the door, opting for a leisurely stroll so he could enjoy the salt air and the sand between his toes. He looked down, noting he had a muscle shirt and a pair of shorts; Ike had implied this place was malleable...

Concentrating for a moment, he willed a pair of tattoos into being on his inner forearms, each of a gold-plated Desert Eagle. Another moment of focus, and they shimmered into being as a real set of handguns, gleaming in the sunlight. Smirking at his own wit he returned them to their inky form and went on his way, watching as details filled in around him in time with his memories of Tel Aviv. There was even a metropolitan skyline of skyscrapers and buildings, though he'd be lying if he could claim that was all Tel Aviv.

Eventually he reached the bar, wandered in and sat down. A waitress in a bikini came over. "Milk, please," he requested, looking around for the tentacled gentleman.
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Re: The Museum

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Abe would have a while, a few minutes to spend soaking in the kind of mundane tranquility that wasn't typically the province of dreams. After the shock of it all would've passed, it would be obvious that this place didn't exactly magnify Tel Aviv, his memories were doing most of the heavy lifting. Looking up at the sun, he'd swear he saw a long, stretched out and oblong shadow undulate behind the day star, one of the Darkhallow's arms moving past the bubble of his created reality. The entire world suddenly shifted, it seemed, moving by a hair's width without anyone noticing safe for him, something massive and subterranean producing a single, large creaking sound-

Out of a throng of laughing women walked a Void Weaver, clad in Speedo shorts and a dark blue and green Hawaiian shirt to go with his greyish-purple skin, eyes covered by modern aviators. Even with his tendrils swaying in front of his chest, it was obvious he had a little satisfied smile plastered on behind them. He looked average - neither in particularly good shape or out of it, but also didn't seem bothered that he didn't quite have the sculptured physique to be expected of some of the projections that surrounded them. His skin was dappled with water, and he had the look of someone who'd escaped a heat wave only just recently. He picked the stool next to Abraham's, tapping a little beat on the counter as he did, and started by glancing at the waitress.

"Spritz, please - I'll take lime and lemon," he said, in Hebrew, "non-alcoholic, go hard on the Seltzer."

The Squid then turned on his stool, offering his back to the waitress and propping his elbows on the counter, turning his shade-covered eyed towards Abe's.

"Ah, the beach," he started, sighing contentedly, "I missed beaches, hadn't infiltrated any Sanctum with a decent one in a long while, so thanks for that. Before that, it was all death strandings and oil-slicked coves, or maybe the occasional pretentious Norwegian volcanic rock slope that's right out of a pricey cologne TV ad. Meris and Nereus invite me over to theirs, sometimes, but, uh... I don't make it a habit of interrupting these two all that often."

He fell silent for a while, clearly enjoying the setting. A minute passed. "That massive arm thing, that thunk you felt? That was me patching in my own Sanctum into yours, temporarily. It's where we'll actually talk shop; this is still too close to your conscious mind for comfort. I know the Robertson guy and another one spotted a cell after they picked up sticks, and I don't need to tell you how to pick up a high-gain microphone? If you're not the type to talk in your sleep, they'll probably try and get as close as they can to eavesdrop on us."

Ike looked back to Abe. "Travers' guys, I mean. They do that, sometimes; lockpick their way in, pull up a chair quietly, spend a while watching their target sleep and eventually putting themselves in Seek mode, like you're sniffing for packets on a non-secure line. Cult freaks, though? They're more likely to ignore the obvious notion of you and your friends having workshopped some sort of diversion act for the morning and to just - go for it. Insane religious zeal and whatnot."

He turned slightly and grabbed his drink once it was served, giving himself a few moments to sip from the offered straw. "Oh yeah - fake electrolytes, that hit the spot," he said, sighing in appreciation. Something then made him vaguely gesture at the sea, as if it could stand in for the rest of their enemies.

"It must be nice sometimes, right? Not thinking, I mean. No questions asked, you just go with the flow in assurance that you'll reap your rewards in the end... Chambers is so consumed with somehow putting you and your buddies in a box that he's going to throw jobbers with telekinetic powers and linguistic constructs packed with eidetic and structural payloads against a vampire I wouldn't try to hit with the broadside of an RPG, and North America's most dangerous CEO-come-fugitive..."

He couldn't repress a snicker. "I was going to say that brute-forcing a three-pronged diversion tactic is sort of stupid, but these are the same people who've had centuries to get their ducks in a row about me and who still can't figure out how to extricate me from their little ecosystem. I'd be insulted if I didn't think this was fun."
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Re: The Museum

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He noticed the shift, saw the strange black arm behind his reality, but before he could properly react his contact appeared, and he willed himself to relax again. "I would not call this my Sanctum, not yet," he corrected gently. "Those have a sort of permanence, do they not? This is but a temporary meeting room."

The fellow went on, and Abraham got the sense he was showing off. But for whom? Not for himself, surely, he didn't have enough of a sense of this place yet to know if what he was hearing was supposed to be impressive or not. "Are you saying I may have assassins hovering over my body right now?" he asked. "If I die out there, what happens to me in here?"

Not like he really wanted to find out, honestly. He preferred to be alive.

"Are you talking about Marius Vlastos?" He wasn't sure who the fugitive CEO was supposed to be. "Am I in danger in the waking world, right now? Is that something I can check on without waking up all the way?"
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Re: The Museum

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The Squid gave Abe a sideways glance. "Did I come on too strong? Ooof. Sorry about that; this social interaction thing is a bit weird for me, I won't bore you with the details, but - no. You're not in any immediate danger. If you hear something that should make you wake up or something weird should pull you out, you'll react like you normally would. The freaks probably know I'm telling you all this, so they're not stupid enough to try and gank you tonight, of all nights," he said, smirking.

There was a clicking noise behind a few tentacles. "Buut, that said, I'd invest in new locks. Locks, a few smart cameras - good ones, pre-warded ideally, maybe a few trigger-based hexes set in a few thresholds around your apartment - and maybe a pet, too. Loyalists tend to ignore non-sapient minds unless they specifically need beasts of burden or War Forms, but that's the kind of ritual that takes some time to prepare. You can't just give a Yorkie attack legs or serrated teeth by barking a few command words. After tonight, you'll be the weakest link in the local Darkhallow network, at least for a while, until your bond with us strengthens overnight. They'll try and punch their way in here either physically or remotely."

He then sighed quickly. "Hokay, Darkhallow Rules Speedrun... You're in control of everything, but don't overdo it. Your mind isn't used to plugging into a virtual machine during nighttime, so you'll be hungrier and weaker than usual, this morning. Give it time. Don't head near the core simulations - ever, and learn to fold your world in on itself, to create mazes and traps - 'cause yes, if you die in here, you're a vegetable out there - in those specific instances where someone does you harm. If you die out there, you could be stuck here if and when your connection to this place gets to be strong enough. I've seen it happen; either you're a native like me and you can't spot adverse effects, or you just fall apart over time. It's not pretty.

If you're testing something out for yourself and run the risk of blowing yourself up, though, you can just... decide you won't die. It's that easy. There's some levels of harm you'll survive easily - noobie Prelates won't so much as get a scratch on you and you could kill them by blowing a freaking raspberry; the weak ones are easy to spot anyway. They're the ones not grandstanding or threatening others."

Ike added a shrug. "Oh, and if you run into the Speaker or Chambers? You run. They can create things you just can't conceive of, and sticking around to witness them could kill you. Even Marius had a warning to that effect. Chambers is weak as shit in the waking world, but in here?"

The purple-skinned Squid shook his head. "Oh-ho-ho-ho, you do not want to know, mon frère. The fugitive I spoke of would be Preston, and the other one is indeed Marius - there isn't much that doesn't bite it if you toss guided missiles at 'em, dumb cultists included..."
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Re: The Museum

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Ah, so he was talking about the whole kerfuffle that was set to go down in the morning. It made Abe glad he was going on ahead to London the quiet way, ways that one man could take unnoticed where a group could not.

"Run from the older ones, makes sense." He looked at the glass, willed it to refill, and it did. He looked at the nearest construct, willed her to be naked, and her clothes disappeared as if they'd never been. She covered herself and glared around, thinking someone had stolen them from her somehow; Abe shook his head and willed her clothes back into existence, so that the program or whatever could resume its routine.

"What a time to be weak and hungry," he remarked, shaking his head. "If this were not important, I would not be here, considering the day we all have to wake up to in the morning. So, not to be rude, but back at the rest area, when you spoke to me through that dying shell, I had the impression you had something important to say to me. Is this the right venue to say those things?"
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