Chapter VII - Healing Pains

This is what you came here for. Adventure, intrigue, murder, mystery and action - plus a healthy dose of boring everyday stuff. One continuous story-line, broken up into smaller themes for easier consumption.
User avatar
TennyoCeres84
Site Admin
 

Posts: 2893
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2013 12:59 am

Re: Chapter VII - Healing Pains

Post by TennyoCeres84 »

Alastriona found the small bottle of turmeric in the spice rack and gave it a few good shakes into the dip. Once it would've been stirred in, the dryad gestured for their taste tester to give it another try. "How is it?"

Meris smiled thoughtfully as her partner spoke of her qualities. "Thank you, dear. There were times, especially after my escape, that I had a great deal of doubt in you and our relationship. However, with the help of some friends, I saw the reality of the situation and learned to focus on your better qualities to see me through the centuries," she noted, looking to Matriel and Hanako.

The angel gestured dismissively. "I think you knew the truth of who your husband was and is, but you merely needed to be set back in the right direction. As Mr. Marinos stated, Chambers is good at what he does in being able to distort the truth. If I remember correctly, I had you focus on his best qualities and understand that he would come through for you by the next time you would meet, however long that would take."

Hanako smiled gracefully at the couple. "The both of you have always been star-crossed lovers, but you used those stars to navigate your way back to each other. Sometimes, all it takes is a nudge from your inner self or friends to remind you of that."'

The older selkie smiled fondly at the pair, grateful for the help they had provided all those years ago.

Returning to the former Augur's topic, Ciaran picked up the end of Nereus's explanation and asked, "So, to get started on or improve our meditation routines, do you think we should find our respective Life-giving Thoughts?"
User avatar
IamLEAM1983
Site Admin
 

Posts: 3654
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2013 12:54 am
Location: Quebec, Canada

Re: Chapter VII - Healing Pains

Post by IamLEAM1983 »

Nereus nodded. "It's a good start," he replied. "You can't expect to settle on one mantra forever, though. The most effective meditation is one that addresses whatever you need or want to do right after it. Setting a plan on a longer span of time and maintaining that conditioning for yourself is, well..."

The smirk behind his tentacles suggested humility. "There's a world of differences between scheming for something and telling yourself that you'll just do that tiny bit better, the next day - in recognizing that sweeping plans are the luxury of mortals and that anyone long-lived is better served by addressing things as they happen, within reason."

At the other end of the counter, Bucky had been fixing himself a hoagie of sorts with a rather massive Belgian bread loaf he'd reserved for himself. "Sounds a tad more active than Zen Bhuddism - I figure Old Man Eiji would have a few things to say about meditation, too."

That seemingly amused Nereus, who searched around for a small spoon for a few seconds, as he answered. "I'd say the Indians have the Japanese beat - Yoga Nidra isn't exactly native to Urakawas' tithes. In my case, it was something of a sidestep from the mental conditioning exercises I used to use to access the Darkhallow as a boy. You lay still, close your eyes and withdraw, then expand your senses until every cue you could possibly perceive is consciously registered."

He gestured inclusively at Marius. "I've helped younger vampires deal with their urges in the past, and they always were amazed at how much they could process when the need for blood or the Noise or their bloodline's respective burden was cast aside for a few minutes. Leaking pipes three floors down, cockroaches skittering along cracks in the subbasement, coil whine coming from a quietly-discharging phone battery hidden away in a nightstand..."

His spoon was then used to taste his altered tzatziki. "Even taste can be enhanced, especially for the Carmilla or the Vitellians."

The Squid gave Alex an approving smile. "The vampire I never was would've approved, Alastriona. Thank you for your suggestion, Miss. Silva."

Carrie smiled. "Maternal grandma was Lebanese; she stuck tumeric and rosewater everywhere."
User avatar
Karl the Mad
 

Posts: 1228
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:27 am
Location: Oregon

Re: Chapter VII - Healing Pains

Post by Karl the Mad »

Preston shrugged uneasily. "Learned networking in Chimera Row, actually. Learned as much on streets as from class. Books and stuff, all fine, but how is as important as why."

The revelation that some of his minions had been prodded his way might have elicited some sort of muted outrage before; anyone who knew him knew he wasn't the type to get mad, but to hold a grudge and plot the utter annihilation of anyone who was perceived as an enemy. Now, though, he just smirked. "Good help, always nice. Especially against zombies..."

Marius nodded to Nereus. "I've been trying to learn from Long about how to handle the Noise when it gets unbearable. And what helps, oddly enough, is thinking about my time on Mars. It was lonely and it was quiet, and more importantly the Noise never piped up once; it took a day or so even when I got back to Earth for it to notice I was there and start tormenting me again. Makes me think Mars must be beyond its influence, but I'm not willing to seclude myself that way again just for some peace."
User avatar
TennyoCeres84
Site Admin
 

Posts: 2893
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2013 12:59 am

Re: Chapter VII - Healing Pains

Post by TennyoCeres84 »

Alastriona beamed after the Void Weaver tasted the dip and grabbed a piece of celery to dip into it. She made a light, delighted squeal after chomping on it, the tips of her hair curling in enjoyment. "So yummy!" the young foodie declared. "Thanks, Ms. Silva!"

Aislinn scoffed as she also grabbed a carrot to get some of the tzatziki. "Let's just get our feet wet and make sure we all have regular meditation routines. We'll figure out which one is the best of them all," she joked.

Hanako smirked. "Aislinn-san is correct. Though, picking up on faint sounds and obscure details of your surroundings isn't as hard as it seems."

"Hanako, I've seen you adopt a meditative pose for several hours while we were on a mission. Nobody noticed your presence, but you were still able to collect full intel," Matriel lightly chided his wife with a faint smile.

"Exactly, tenshi," she replied. "Many species are capable of reaching out to sense the minutiae of their environment, but too often they let other noise distract them."
User avatar
IamLEAM1983
Site Admin
 

Posts: 3654
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2013 12:54 am
Location: Quebec, Canada

Re: Chapter VII - Healing Pains

Post by IamLEAM1983 »

"It's just Carrie, Alex," lightly teased the soldier. "No need to get so formal."

Archie seemed to have an inkling of Nereus and Hanako's suggested concepts. "Take it from someone who clearly has to put in work in this respect, having a clear mind has uncountable benefits. One's instincts are muzzled, another one's pain is lessened, et cetera. Call it Zen or Samadhi, but this particular state would have done me good several times over the past year."

Scoffing, Bucky couldn't hide a suggested smirk. "Some two hundred years later, he gets it. There's a heck of a lot of differences between British phlegm and actually being balanced. I've been sayin' it since the beginning, Arch, but you're exactly what the eighteen-hundreds' serial novels warned people about - a slightly neurotic remnant of aristocracy."

The android rolled his eyes. "Oh, of course, and the immortal Oklahoman in the Japanese loaner has pearls of wisdom to toss around! Please, Shamus - grace me with your superior mindset!"

By the way Bucky reacted and the smirk that lined the tail-end of Archie's barb, nothing serious was meant by this. Still, the big Clank started with a sigh. "You are the way you are because you've got a goddamn savior complex, Holden. It's kept you decent to a fault, sure, but it means you're willing to throw yourself in the face o' danger if it means someone else gets a ghost of a chance at escaping with their hide intact. You crave everything that comes with it - the attention, the friends - and the way you keep doing Crystal dirty and the way she just sits there and lets you interact with Andrea means you've earned something, true; but what that is, I don't rightly know. As for Anjali; you're the first in line for hugs and cuddles, sure, but have you done anything to help the kid come to terms with how fast she's matured? No, of course not, you're far too busy. You're leaving her to your employees and friends 'cause you're an android and she's Soulborn? Buster, Neasa and I have done more for the kid in three months than you've done in six."

This wasn't quite a friendly jab anymore, obviously. Archie had fallen silent and held Shamus' gaze. The kitaiteki went on. "Weapon forms and confidence tricks from me, strength-toning and body mastery from her. Her meditation routine? I taught her that. I get to be mindful because I know that if it comes down to the wire, there's a ton of ways I could fail you, me, the rest of the team. I don't see myself as a perfect spy - I'm just a huckster who got lucky. It keeps me grounded, and it keeps me to where I get to do my best. I'd say Anjali and Crystal are waiting for you to catch up to them, in that respect - 'cause it ain't me that needs impressing."

Sensing the potential awkwardness of the situation, Shamus then took another bite from his hoagie, his carved eyeballs swivelling across the group. "Sorry - just needed to be said, for a long time."

Holden parted with an uneasy cough. "It's, um, ahem, fine, Bucky. I appreciate your concern, truly. Perhaps I am not in the best position to expound on Nereus' teachings or the ways in which people like Marius or Shen Long apply similar concepts."

Shamus clicked his tongue. "No, you're not. That's a good segue, though - mayor and your uncle agreed on a few things about the new, uh, staff roster. Nereus is all fine and dandy and everything, but everyone in Vienna's under the impression you won't want to jump straight into playing superhero the exact moment Xenophon Thanos officially bites it."

The Void Weaver momentarily looked confused, and then seemed to catch onto what the Clank was referring to. Admission made his posture deflate slightly as he stuck his hands in his pockets. "It's fine, you're entirely right. I'm still out-of-shape, I never was a combatant - there's a lot I have to pick up beyond basic telekinetic slashes and scratch marks. I'd probably be better served as a consultant while my own legitimate existence gets off the ground."

Another nod from Bucky. "Which is why we've got someone new, downstairs. A referral from Matthias d'Aubignier, the Council's Head Secretary. Erich Kneckt - long-term loaner from the Council. Guildmate with a focus on behavioral psychology and a spec on crisis management. He's not here right now 'cause, well, Guildmate - and it's a little toasty for him out here, for now, but, um, I got told he'd stocked up on blood so he'd be awake in case anyone wanted to drop by and say hi."

That left Three blinking. "So we've got an in-house shrink, now?
- Just in case someone here reaches a point where basic care and friendship doesn't quite cut it anymore. Otherwise, he's had over eighty-six years to brush up on Criminology, so he'll help us build profiles if we need to. He oughta be good, his file says he's been ridin' the brain-train from Wundt to the DSM-6 with modernized appendixes on all us deathless freaks."

Nereus seemed surprised. "A Guildmate with a Kenning in Psychology... It's certainly less exotic than d'Aubignier's experimenting with ley lines or helping to devise arcane Faraday cages, but I imagine he'll be quite useful, with my kin around. I imagine he already has his extension, correct?"

Archie nodded. "Yes, of course. Head over to any desk on the main floor or use the intercom on the wall - this will be how Gubbin is likely to reach out to the rest of us on busy days - Doctor Kneckt is on 427. You obviously can ring him up on any smartphone, and I imagine he is likely to share his own contact details with you."

In the rear, Lucky looked like he couldn't agree more. He'd briefly paused as Bucky raised his voice and then gave Preston a look indicating that this had, indeed, happened - more of a slight eye-roll than anything that was outwardly judgemental towards Bucky or Archie - and then had refocused on their own discussion.

"Speakin' of zombies," he started, "I don't know if you've started to look into some of the Choosing ceremony's guests for tomorrow. Spector's on the case, but he's as straight-laced as he's Eldritch. You and I, we've respectively got more flex. I've got the usual handful of potential shit-starters, but my guess is any of the Yanqui Fae would rather wait for the Sharpe mess to blow over before trying anything. Got nobody sending signals South of the border, but Mexico's Fae contingent is still recovering from the incursions, dealin' with brand-new demon cartels... I doubt we'll see anyone from our side of the Atlantic who predates Cortez, on their end of things."

Arms crossed, happy to be largely ignored for now, Vargas gave Hauser a sideways glance. "I was hoping you could still pull on a few Euro threads before we head to London. I know the former White King is supposedly above reproach, but I've never trusted the word of anyone who does fieldwork in a two-piece."
User avatar
Karl the Mad
 

Posts: 1228
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:27 am
Location: Oregon

Re: Chapter VII - Healing Pains

Post by Karl the Mad »

"I'm the last person that should be giving out parenting advice, so I'll stay out of this," Marius said with a slight laugh. "But I will say that they're right, Holden, and that a shrink could do you all a lot of good. I know Cate's been a godsend for my own sanity and outlook."

Charles could only nod in agreement. If anyone was overdue for a little therapy, it was definitely him...

In the back, Preston could only shrug again. "Could try," and he pulled a device out to start shooting off texts. "Jameson should have Asian scene on lock, at least. Been doing a lot of c-consolidation over there, without having to worry about shadows and hiding and rivals and shit. Don't trust White King either, and we've met." He rolled his eyes. "2/10, would not recommend."
User avatar
TennyoCeres84
Site Admin
 

Posts: 2893
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2013 12:59 am

Re: Chapter VII - Healing Pains

Post by TennyoCeres84 »

Alex sent Carrie a pleased nod before listening to Bucky's rebuttal and quietened as she mused on Sophia's memories of Archibald. The Victorian clank would likely recognize some of Sophia's mannerisms as she turned to look at him.

Reminding herself of SIlva's request to be casual, she stated, "Archibald, Mr. Wa-Bucky is right. You've always had that quality about you. While a visit with Dr. Knecht would be good, you can start spending time with her now. I don't know where Anjali is, but I'd like to meet her. I want to be around people who are close to my age," she noted.

"I'd like for you to meet her too, if she'll get done here already," Miranda chimed in, whipping out her phone. The sounds of teenage texting were heard being typed out and sent. What's taking you so long to get down here? Alex is really nice and wants to meet you! -M.
User avatar
IamLEAM1983
Site Admin
 

Posts: 3654
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2013 12:54 am
Location: Quebec, Canada

Re: Chapter VII - Healing Pains

Post by IamLEAM1983 »

Miranda's message would receive the customary blinking ellipses indicative of a reply being posted - or a hefty download being processed - soon followed by a preview window. The view behind the Play button was a bit obscured, but it was obviously a chunk of street corner somewhere in Renton, a few minutes away from the mansion by car. Then came a written response.

Got held up. Be there soon. Watch the vid. Let the others know. - A

In the meantime, Alex's response troubled Archie. If he'd had flesh, he likely would've blanched. "Good Lord," he quietly said, "I'd expected you to be like her, but - to this extent?" he noted, then making an effort to steel himself. "I, ahem - you're obviously right, of course, but as it stands, I think the last few months have made her mature faster than my own attempts to keep up could manage. I tried to convince her to enjoy the moment - getting her to the dime museum was a task in and of itself - and now, well..."

As if on cue, Bagley quietly placed himself so as to loom over the others, in the kitchen's archway. "The young miss has contacted me," he said, his eyes glinting as he reviewed her text message through his own HUD, "stating she will likely miss dinner. She tells me something drove her to follow a small group of people that had watched us drive over to the mansion. A few faces stood out to her, in how they tried their best to avoid Mister Hauser's cordoning efforts and steadily remained in the front lawn's periphery, to avoid mingling."

Hearing this, Three frowned. "That means they didn't get a good look at Alex, so they weren't here for her. Does she say who they were scanning for?"

Nodding, Bagley briefly turned away, as if a text-message conversation needed that added bit of privacy. He took a few moments before looking back to the group. "Several seemed to have sightlines on Meris and Nereus, but made no attempt to act."

Anguish birthed on Nereus' features, but Three stopped him with an outstretched hand. "Don't panic, Nereus. Let's weed out variables first. Ask her if anyone looked like they could've been part of the Gentlemen or of Travers' group. Clear colors and custom-tailored suit jobs for the first, eye tremors for the second."

Bagley relayed the request. "All of them were clean and well-dressed," he then relayed, "everything from Business Casual to Smart Casual. No visible tremors, no unifying color scheme.
- How'd their skin look? Did it shimmer or ripple when nobody was looking?"

Another pause. "She says they're letting themselves ripple amply, now. Some are anxious, picking at slight neck folds."

Carrie sighed. "Looks like the party's over, huh?
- It would seem so," replied Archie, who gave his grid of partially-touched champagne flutes a disappointed look.

Three gave Marius a look. He was sure neither of them were to blame for the Squids managing to trace Nereus to the mansion as they'd both done everything in their power to contain their threat while on the road. It was obvious they would've been able to pick up on the former Augur's presence sooner rather than later.

"Okay," he said, giving levelled looks at Meris and Nereus. "Neither of you are leaving here tonight. Meris, you'll have to put Solomon's on high alert for a few days, just to be on the safe side. That means we can't use the reopened Gates for travel, tomorrow - they'd know to trace us at the expected exit point. We'll have to work with Thorn again, and I can't risk messaging Mary publicly about this."

Bucky groaned. "Oh, for God's sake, not the Wilds again; I wasn't even part of the last team that got to meet Morgana and I hate that woman's guts anyway!"

Next to Aislinn, Tom gestured faintly. "I normally would've advised a trek through Lucifer's demesne, but the Void Weavers now being known means they're as likely to Fall as anyone else. It all depends on their outlook, of course, but the risk is non-negligible. As for Celestial Gates, you couldn't find a more high-profile means of transportation, as of late."

Three nodded, realizing the bind they were in. He repeated the gesture a few times as he looked away in thought, and then rubbed his cheeks as if to massage more clarity out of his thoughts.

"Alright - suggested game plan: anyone who's only tied to the Choosing sticks to the original travel plans. That'd be Azazel, Aspasia, Spector, Coach - anyone who's already been confirmed for London. That gives more protection to our second HVT, which is Azazel. He's not in Team Amaxi's sights, so keeping him away from us should be enough. Nereus is our first HVT, and we know the Squids are working on means of breaching the Ways as they're being crossed. If we use a standard thoroughfare between Evergloam and London, we'll endanger civilians. If we tap Nodin and use the Far Reaches, we can feed the Squids false intel."

Nereus looked confused. "What's your plan, Aidan?
- I'm thinking we give the Loyalists what they want," explained the soldier. "We give them a detailed account of your death at their hand, we set things up so it looks like you're lost beyond the Reaches' waves. We could even make it look like it's cost us something, like you'd always planned on turning on us when we'd be vulnerable and left us no other choice but to kill you. Then we reach London as planned and petition Titania and Oberon for an extra boon - arcane assistance using the Summerwell, while you use the Speech to reshape yourself cosmetically, alter your own genes so no further traces you'll leave behind will ever look to them like they came from you."

Nereus looked crestfallen, while Three tried to look empathetic. "We always knew there was a risk you couldn't just exist as Nereus Marinos without suspicion. You just blinked out of existence for a few hours and then attended a high-profile event without a Flesh Mask, Nereus. That's a mistake we shouldn't have made, you should've stayed undercover until we would've been sure the Loyalists have nowhere else to look for you. We should've kept you at Magnus Tower, practically under lock and key."
User avatar
Karl the Mad
 

Posts: 1228
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:27 am
Location: Oregon

Re: Chapter VII - Healing Pains

Post by Karl the Mad »

"They won't be watching the skies, will they?" Marius asked, feeling the tension in the air. "It wouldn't be as fast, but if we could get choppers or shuttles to move everyone across to London, it might be a bit safer and more unexpected?"

"Or mebbe they is watchin' th' skies, an' we'll set it up like our boy died in a ball o' fire from th' shuttle or chopper crashin'," Charles suggested, clapping Nereus on the shoulder like this sort of thing happened all the time. Which, for him, it very likely did.

"Could borrow my chopper," Preston suggested, though he sounding a bit hesitant. Hardly unexpected, considering what he might have paid for an intact Marine bird. "But not for explosions. Rather go through Nodin." He was still firing off texts, presumably through whatever gopher warren of relays and anonymous bypasses he had set up.
Last edited by Karl the Mad on Wed Jun 08, 2022 3:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
TennyoCeres84
Site Admin
 

Posts: 2893
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2013 12:59 am

Re: Chapter VII - Healing Pains

Post by TennyoCeres84 »

Frustration graced Miranda's features as she waited for the video to finish downloading and then hit the play button. With Bagley's explanation of the situation, she sighed and looked apologetically at the new dryad. "Sorry the killjoy Squids had to rain on your parade, Alex," she commiserated with a frown.

The tree spirit was equally disappointed and resigned herself to the sudden tension, waving dismissively. "I partially expected this. Hope draws trouble like a magnet," she responded, then looking to her guardians. "Milady, Milord, with these spies, wouldn't all of this make your trip to London for the Choosing difficult? Unless you had no intention of going after just getting back?"

Meris frowned tightly and clicked her tongue, shaking her head. "Aidan, even if we had been extra cautious with Nereus, I imagine Chambers would've still found a way to find him. He's that sort of person. All they would've need to have done is trace me and use me as a means of leverage against him. Not to mention, being locked up isn't good for anyone's mental health," she countered.

"I don't mind staying here tonight and I'll let the Court know to be on high alert, but I'm still leery of returning to the Wilds and then having to go through the Far Reaches again. It was difficult enough for you to resist her wiles as it was, when we rescued Woodford," she noted with a sigh.

Hanako cleared her throat and approached the human and former Augur, raising a finger. "We could always use Mr. Wallace's dojo as a jumping off point, given its proximity to Eien-no-Yuki. Occasionally, the time dilations between the Eastern and Western Hemispheres of Faerie can create a severe jet lag of sorts, which could throw off pursuers. Matriel and I could travel as Malks, as could Nereus and Meris. I doubt our opponents are expecting a small group of Malks to be suspicious, especially if they look they're native to Eien-no-Yuki," she mused, waiting to hear the young man's thoughts.
Post Reply