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[DC] Raven Lunacy (OC in Teen Titans)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Ace Dreamer, May 15, 2020.

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  1. Threadmarks: Deathless Training - Episode 19
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 19

    Breakfast, again. Is this a meal I should start being worried about? Raven and Robin. Looking at each other. Even Kory is quietly watching.

    "I'd like to suggest some combined training, today. In an unusual environment. Both for you and Sugoi. I'll be there, as well, of course. Unless you have something else planned." Raven has thrown down a gauntlet. She looks, calmly, directly at Robin.

    "Did you have somewhere particular in mind?" Everyone now looks at Raven.

    "Yes." A pause, that no one fills.

    "If you come to my training room, ready for vigorous exercise, physically, and mentally, that would work."

    Robin nods.

    After a little while, Robin finishes, leaves the room. Raven not long after him.

    The remaining four of us look at each other.

    "Isn't her 'training room' the same place as her room?", asks Garfield, a little querulously.

    ---

    I arrive at the same time as Robin, and as we approach her door it opens. Robin is in full combat array, with a small colour-coordinated backpack, and I'm in my 'combat clothes'. He looks briefly at me, then strides through the doorway. I follow.

    The room looks mostly normal, but feels a little strange. Raven has hung what looks like a large sheet of... leather, against one wall. Placed a half-circle of braziers around it. Is drawing a white-chalk half-circle before it. As we get closer I can see there's something drawn, or, maybe, branded, on the (scaled?) leather.

    She glances at us, indicates we stand a couple of meters, maybe six feet, from the hanging. Lights the braziers. Pleasant-smelling smoke rises, but seems to be pulled towards the hanging, where it disappears. Raven stops. Is motionless for a few moments, then makes a quick gesture, and stamps one foot. There's a flash of light.

    When my eyes clear the hanging isn't there, any more. Instead is an immense, gaping, pair of white, open, lips, like a snake's, with four small fangs around the edge, set into a wall of grey-stone blocks. Beyond the lips, instead of a mouth and throat, is a strangely-lit world, with a snaking path of yellow stones, apparently unsupported, leading out of sight. I hear Robin gulp, and my mouth feels rather dry.

    Oh.

    ---

    We are following Raven down the path. It's darker-blue above us, shifting, paler-blue, below. You can't see very far in any direction, but it doesn't look like normal mist. Apparently there's little risk of us falling off the path. The sound of my boots is muffled, I hear no noise from Raven or Robin's steps. Otherwise it's silent.

    I, briefly, speculate how difficult it'd be to get home if anything happens to Raven. We lost sight of the entrance some time ago.

    "Pay attention, Sugoi. This is a mixed realm, not completely physical or mental. If you know what you are doing you can shape the local... mists into apparently real objects. I could have opened the portal closer to the training ground, but that risked attracting the wrong sort of attention. So, a longer walk, but a safer one."

    Appearing, suddenly, ahead of us is a yellow stone archway, which could take two men, side-by-side, and another two standing on the shoulders of the first two. Beyond it a large, orange, flat area is visible, irregularly shaped, at least ten man-height's wide. There're a few objects scattered around on it, pillars, archways, small boulders, all orange stone, but otherwise it's empty. I'm guessing it's our destination.

    We stop not long beyond the arch.

    "You will not need to eat, drink, or excrete, here. In fact, you are breathing by habit. Sleep is not possible, nor real tiredness. This place does not allow death. Some use places like this to practice otherwise mortal combat, but you would be advised to heal wounds before leaving. Knowing places like this exist is useful. Some creatures drag mortals to somewhere like here, to threaten them. They shape phantasms from mortal fear, from the mists."

    Raven turns to look at us. Her skin is grey, and there's a faint red glow from her eyes.

    "I will demonstrate."

    There is a growling from a distance off, and a pair of vicious-looking dogs emerge from behind a pillar, far too narrow to have concealed them. I recall having once seen them, guarding a junk yard. They run towards us, Raven drifts up, and sits cross-legged atop a pillar. "You might want to defend yourselves..."

    ---

    We fought the dogs, and a number of other monsters. There were four-armed apes, swarms of rats, at one point something like a small rhino. For some fights Raven joined us, and they seemed just as enthusiastic about attacking her as us. She used her tentacles of darkness, striking or throwing beasts. Once or twice she used bolts of fire, but they seemed to drain her.

    Robin used a wide variety of weapons, including what I was later told were bird-a-rangs, small grenades, and paired fighting staves, that could be locked together into a longer pole. That he used more than once for vaulting. He fought silently, and sometimes I lost sight of him, only for him to appear from an unexpected angle.

    After a while, I'm unsure how long, as my usually accurate time-sense seemed... uncertain, we took a break. Raven asked if Robin was happy with the training. Rather reluctantly he nodded. I looked around, and confirmed my earlier suspicion, after a while the fallen beasts just faded away.

    We stood, again. Raven indicated a broad pillar, and a spindly-looking bird man, with sheathed twin swords, stepped out, looked us over, then bowed to Robin. Robin carefully bowed back, not taking his eyes off him. They started sparring.

    Raven indicated a convenient set of pillars, as targets, and talked me through trying different postures, ways of focusing and concentrating. Apparently I could conjure psychic bolts, of pure mind power, here. After a while I tried mixing them with chi strikes, and, gradually both improved, became sharper. The psychic bolts made the stone fade, briefly, the chi knocked it around.

    "Sooner or later you will have to fight, mentally. Knowing how to focus is important, and, here and in the astral realms, your mind, your will, can be a weapon. Now, try and move small objects by will, not your chi."

    A few small pebbles drift up into the air, then fall. I feel as if I've run a marathon, but the tiredness quickly fades.

    The swordsman, a tengu, I think, has finished working with Robin. Bows and takes his leave. We rest. Then, we fight strange plants, with strangling vines, bludgeoning limbs, and cast thorns. Robin seems quite familiar with this sort of foe.

    Walking back. The exit appears far quicker than I expected. Raven touches both of us, wincing for each. We step through. She puts covers on the braziers, and the portal fades back to marks on leather.

    "Only an hour has passed here. This gateway is something only occasionally usable, and I drew on favours, as well. It seemed best to show both of you there are strange places, where we may end-up having to go. Fight."

    "Would you agree this was worth it, Robin?"

    He twists his waist, swinging one arm. Grimaces.

    "Yes."




    AN: Are things a little more settled between them? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

    AN: I might admit Geo is more of a cat person than a dog lover. :)

    AN: in case you're interested, tengu.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2020
  2. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

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    I wonder if Raven realizes what that sounded like.
     
  3. MutantRancor

    MutantRancor [Suspected Sithspawn]

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    It's a Hayabusa Knight. Watch out, they attack twice per turn.

    This one's tricky because both the correct version and the wrong one are correctly spelled words, so spellcheck won't catch either of them, but only one means what you want.
     
  4. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    You might suspect Raven isn't carefully considering her words, in this disagreement with Robin. Robin's got the gym, and physical training areas, under his control. Cyborg's got the labs and workshops, probably the garage. Raven, and the others, have just got their rooms. And, use of shared areas. Sugoi, of course, has also got her own lab/workshop...

    Something of the tradition of wizards having towers, where their living quarters and workshop/ritual area share space? Of course, things get more complicated once you starting training others, or want to have 'safe' working areas...

    Might make issues of Raven wanting her room to be private, not intruded on, more interesting...

    She might have to think about organising at least a 'meditation room'...
     
  5. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Probably another thing based on Tengu...

    Yeah, I think I need to add another word to my list of 'words I misspell, and need to double-check'...

    Thanks for the catch.
     
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  6. Threadmarks: Planning, Robots and Hard Feelings - Episode 20
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 20

    Robin and Raven are, apparently, working together to create team training exercises. I'm guessing this is good news, as I prefer that to them competing as to who can torture me most effectively. But, I'll not be sure until I find if the Tower is still standing, this evening.

    Or, at least I thought I'd have a day to do other stuff. Instead, they want me involved, maybe as a target to try out ideas on. I'm hoping this isn't replacing one sort of battle with another...

    ---

    It started in a friendly-enough way. Robin and Raven agreeing that more than just physical training, for individuals, or the Team, was required. It wasn't clear where they went from there, which is why I suspected they'd dragged me in.

    "Can we treat this like a technical problem? Ask questions? Like...”

    “What are the resources we have, skills and material, information? What changes might we want to make to physical layout of the Tower to improve things? What new resources might we want to acquire?”

    “What do you think?" And my subtext is, am I going to get my head bitten-off?

    Raven appears to be waiting for Robin to respond.

    "That might be one way to start." He's obviously thinking, hard.

    "Mostly we've been working from our own training. Assuming that's the only thing that'd work. The last few days have proved we need to use... resources, gathered from all of us. Just one person's approach isn't good enough. Things Beast Boy may've learned from the 'Doom Patrol', for example."

    Raven nods. "That makes sense. My teachers made it clear to me that, past a certain point, I'd need to teach myself. Even if it made me uncomfortable. That as long as I maintained my self-control, and paid attention to what was around me, I should be able to survive, and go on learning. I think they were wrong, about certain things, but that was something they got right."

    I can tell Robin is a little shocked, but he's hiding it well.

    "Maybe we could make a few lists?" It was nice neither of them had, verbally, attacked me.

    Whiteboards had much drawn upon them.

    ---

    We were going to expand the gym and training area. Fortunately there were store-rooms around it, which we could re-purpose. Raven was sketching-out some ideas for permanent enchantments, mostly of illusions, that could make training scenarios more realistic. She thought that, with care, these could be made so no magical skill would be required to activate them, and choose from a menu of possibilities.

    Robin had asked if we could layer things, play with gravity, backgrounds, position of the sun, apparent weather. The two of them seemed quite excited by the possibilities. Each in their own restrained way, of course.

    I'd suggested that a list of 'Aims & Objectives' be created for each training session. Made available to all, at the start. That all team members be encouraged to contribute training scenarios. And, where possible, a list of planned sessions, with who'd be needed, be posted at least a couple of days in advance. Maybe a week for complex ones, requiring preparation by attendees. With provision for 'surprise events', of course.

    My suggestions appeared to be acceptable. And, as I suspected, I'd been tasked to document it all.

    What surprised me, was, my tentative suggestion that training robots be used was accepted. With the expectation that they would often be reduced to thoroughly smashed, broken, pieces. I'd got some ideas how to do that, economically and effectively, but those ideas would need more work. Robin remarked that, if we could source suitable holographic systems, or magical illusions were placed on them, robots would prove very useful.

    It was fascinating to watch Raven and Robin debate what we were going to do when someone took control of our training robots, and used them to attack us. Obviously they both thought this was inevitable.

    ---

    A couple of hours of meeting, I think they'd noticed I was flagging, after that. We'd wrapped things up, and I'd volunteered to make a first-pass over the notes, images and audio recording, turn it all into documents for further discussion.

    Robin was obviously concerned about... 'operational security', and asked that he get the audio recordings, for secure erasure, and that I take no copies. The reasons why my father did certain things, refused to do others, were beginning to become clearer to me. Possibly I needed to consider more what being a 'troubleshooter' was about.

    It was also becoming clear to me why my father was such a generalist, a 'renaissance man' as some called him. OK, yes, some called him a 'know-all'.

    In a lot of cases you needed to either do things yourself, or find someone you trusted to do it for you. And, you then needed to understand what they'd done, to be able to ensure that trust could be continued. Not paranoia, really, but could lead to a lot of hard work.

    However, I'd no objection to hard work...

    ---

    "So, you managed to survive, again?" It was kind of Garfield to be concerned.

    "That joke's getting a bit old." Victor was concerned, in his own way.

    "We're going to need to order a lot of material", it did seem wise to warn him, "Robin and Raven are working on a total re-write, re-build, of the training facilities".

    "And, I suppose you sneaked robots in, somehow?" Victor was, now, being a little... smug.

    Kory joined in.

    "Friend Geo. I'm sure you will keep any of the robot's feelings from getting hurt!"

    And, we all just looked at a smiling Kory.




    AN: I was having a lot of trouble with planning this episode, so I stuck another one in, instead. You can't see the join, can you? :)

    AN: I wish to point-out that the phrase 'Danger Room' has not been used at any point within this episode! :)

    AN: Should we take an interest in Troubleshooting? I don't think that's a bad idea... If you want to look at the classics (1980s), then 'Dirty Pair' is about the definition of troubleshooting...
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2020
  7. MutantRancor

    MutantRancor [Suspected Sithspawn]

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    Did someone say, "Cheap, disposable robots?"

    [​IMG]
    Punctuation goes inside quotation marks. Somehow, that's the only place in the chapter you put it outside and everywhere else is correct.
     
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  8. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Both better than that, and worse. Better because can add padding, surface texture. Worse because can omit on-board power and AI.
    Regretfully this is one of the differences between American and UK English...

    There's a book Fowler's English Usage, which tells the tale. My understanding of the logic is that speech and descriptions of speech are two different things, maybe in the same sentence. The punctuations in speech show you what the speech sounds like, outside the speech they show the structure of the sentence. If a sentence is purely speech, then it's easy, where the two are mixed...

    So, the commas that might go at the end of the speech, within the speech marks, are moved to outside them, if the speech is part of a sentence, and become an implied part of the speech. Ditto full stops, etc. Yes, it's a bit nasty, but it does have a certain logic. This means:

    Raven gulped, "I'm really not sure that's right", she paused, "but, for the moment, I'll believe you".

    is valid UK, but not American, English. Life gets messy when the speech ends in a question mark, but the sentence isn't a question...

    (I will point out that this is my understanding of the situation, and I might be wrong. Being wrong is fun! It means you've a chance to learn new things. :) )

    ((I will also point out that English, as she is spoken (and written), is a negotiated thing between people communicating, and changes over time, both short and long, to suit the needs of that communication. This can rather frustrate academics...))

    (((If I wanted to be really cruel I could refer you to Platonic idealism, and Wittgenstein's Language game. But, that'd be far too cruel. :) )))

    I do appreciate you checking the text, though. Thanks!
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2020
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  9. MutantRancor

    MutantRancor [Suspected Sithspawn]

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    I'm willing to give you the comma as a difference between UK and US English. Not the period, though.

    Putting the period outside the quotation marks is correct (in British style) when quoting a text that does not contain a period in that location. However, you're not quoting a text. You're quoting a fictional character within your own text. You can put a period inside the quotation marks and still be correct.

    In your example, Raven quite clearly did not end her sentence without any punctuation, as that's impossible to do. At the same time, Raven is speaking a complete sentence, which you are quoting in whole. The fact that the quotation is broken up by a non-quote narrator description is irrelevant, and the quoted sentence should be punctuated as any complete sentence is.

    Wikipedia agrees on that point.

    The relevant part:

    (Would you believe that's the only source I found that distinguishes between fiction and nonfiction usage? Every British style guide I found is meant for exclusively nonfiction publications, apparently. I can't blame you for using one of them without knowing that fiction has slightly different rules.)
     
  10. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Interesting stuff!

    I've not come across this. All the English language stuff that I was taught didn't distinguish between writing fiction and non-fiction - punctuation was punctuation. One of the reasons why getting a (retired) English teacher to help proof-read your work of fiction (that you plan will amaze the world) is a good idea.

    I can think of a possibly interesting case, though. If you're writing a non-fiction, factual, description of what someone says, and they quote from a work of fiction, which style should you use? Do you need to use both?
     
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  11. MutantRancor

    MutantRancor [Suspected Sithspawn]

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    In that case, you should use nested quotation marks -- either single inside double (" '...' ") in American and some British styles, or the other way around in older British styles, with the punctuation either inside the inner set if it's part of the quoted material or between the two sets if it's being added by the speaker. I've never heard of anyone putting it outside the outer quotation marks in any style.

    Basically, treat the inner set of quotation marks by the same rules as the original set, only treating the words inside one set but not the other like the non-quoted material in a regular quotation-containing sentence. ...That's a really cumbersome explanation that I'm not sure makes sense. Let me know if I should clarify it.

    Honestly, I'm not really an expert on the subject beyond what I learned from Wikipedia. It just felt wrong to me, and I had to look it up to figure out why.

    I knew it wasn't a British usage convention because I've been reading The Lord of the Rings lately and except for the quotation mark thing it looks the same as American fiction. I trust Professor J.R.R. Tolkien to know what the correct British fiction style is supposed to look like.
     
  12. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    There's a whole set of issues, here. Part of the problem is that the 'edge cases', the bits at the boundaries, in any subject area, science, philosophy, English or any language, they are fuzzy. More-or-less arbitrary decisions have to be made, hopefully consistently. This is where the Platonic Idealism I mentioned in an earlier post comes in. There's a belief that a 'perfect' solution exists, in some sense, and all imperfect humans can do is try and approach it.

    Where Wittgenstein comes in is that he tried to establish some clear, philosophical, logic. Then, in his later works, he made it clear that it's all about utility, not any Platonic perfect thing that can be approached. That much philosophy is arguably playing with words. And, that communication is about sharing 'mental models' of the world.

    So, what Tolkien did was attempt to create an 'English mythology', something he felt the country lacked. And, he used the tools, the language, of his time. He did an amazing job. Few can argue with that. But, effectively he was creating a 'mental model', to share with others. And, that's all any writer can do.

    I'm using what I've been taught. I know my knowledge is incomplete. And, in some ways, I can be sure it'll be out-of-date. Some things I can change, some may require more effort than I can afford.

    I do thank you for your feedback.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2020
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  13. Threadmarks: Chi, Robots and Thermite - Episode 21
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 21

    A quiet breakfast. No stand-offs between Raven and Robin. Only notable thing is Garfield and Victor looking tired, and Garfield doing improbably wide yawns. Followed by Victor apologising for staying-up late video-gaming with Garfield. Then, even later studying the plans of the Tower.

    Robin and Raven are doing further training planning in their own time, so I'm back to my morning torture sessions. I think Robin's a little surprised that I ask for a series of particularly intense bouts, with some opportunities to 'focus my chi' organised around them. I think my next request, after the warm-up, surprises him even more.

    "I've been thinking about my robe. Basically, it's defensive, and may be encouraging poor combat habits. I think I'd better practice without it, today. The chi-focus idea, I'm pretty sure most of my improvements have come from chi-manipulation. So, please, I'd like you to train me in Tai Chi, break-falling properly, and some more acrobatics. I've felt, for a while, that I'm on the edge of improving those last two."

    Robin obviously thinks hard. "I'm not a martial arts instructor. Yes, I've had a lot of training, but that's not the same thing. I do know how to fall well, am a pretty good acrobat, those I do think I can teach effectively. I've seen martial artists who do amazing things with 'chi', but I've always put that down to being a super-power, not really a mystic energy thing. So, I'll have to follow your lead on that."

    "But, I'm willing to see what happens."

    A better response than I was afraid I'd get...

    I take my robe off, and go over to train. Somehow, it's caught on my clothes. Some sort of static cling? I try again, and, yes, it's dragged along behind me.

    Right. Over to some wall-bars. Shift the robe to scarf form. Knot it around the bars. There!

    I walk over to train, hear a faint *creak* from behind me, but nothing else.

    "Magic issues." Robin nods in response.

    I assume the starting position. Breath out. In. Centre myself. Get that faint flowing-tingle that shows I've reached my chi. Look at Robin.

    "Shall we get started?"

    ---

    It was painful, but I've survived the session. Robin suggests that we skip the first aid training today, because I'm obviously exhausted. I'm really glad to go and unknot my robe-scarf. Something I may need to talk to Raven about.

    It seems to me that I managed to push myself a little further than I'd managed before. Yes, I'd lost my focus a few times, but, aided with a little meditation, I'd managed to regain it. I was falling better, towards the end. And, Robin commented my acrobatics were 'crisper'.

    For the first time in a while I'd got bruised. A useful reminder of my mortality. I'd seemed to be able to... read Robin better, anticipate his moves. I'd need to do this again. Meanwhile, because I've got some extra time...

    An extra-long hot shower.

    ---

    Victor has an extra-large mug of coffee beside him. The logo on the side a Steve Austin 'Six Million Dollar Man' one, as compared to his usual 'Cyberdyne Systems' mug. Apart from that, the lack of sleep didn't seem to be bothering him.

    "I think we need to discuss a few things... in more detail." That's unusually opaque for him. He looks straight at me, taps his ear, then his mouth, and gestures around the whole room.

    A while later we've done a thorough bug-scan. Clear, except for two bugs, one layered in the packing material of a just-arrived box of equipment, and the second carefully concealed within the test equipment that arrived in that box. Victor carefully studies both of them, then crushes them in his metal hand, brushing the remains into the trash.

    "Now. I think I need to know more about your robots. Yes, I've studied the documentation, and the science is pretty impressive. But, the details. Where do they get their skills from, if you need them to do different things?"

    I look at him for a moment, then tap the side of my head.

    "Cute. You'll have to do better than that. You don't just think them up, and use something like that mind interface to get them out of your head. I know my cybernetics, and human minds, even geniuses, don't work that way. By now I'm pretty sure you've no cyber-implants that do the work. So, give."

    Rats. I sigh. "I've only told Raven about this, so far. I knew I'd need to tell others, but..."

    ---

    He looks at me, and shakes his head. "So. You're a human-level intelligence robot. Pulled by Raven's magic from another world, and stuffed into a living, human, body, she magic-ed up. Right?"

    "Yeah. Rather surprised me to."

    "I bet." He sighs. "I knew she was really powerful, but that's a whole new level."

    "I'm guessing you use your previous robotic-ness to do all the AI design work in your head?"

    "The core systems are... 'free software'. Anyone who likes can mess with them. Study the source code. The complex skill sets, the sensory processing, not so much. They're either a neural net, or a carefully extracted part of a human-level AI's learned abilities. So, if you call the AI 'Level 2', L2, to make it really useful, able to have new skills added, you need a 'Level 3'. And, currently the only one of those in this world is... me."

    "Currently? You could make more?"

    "Yes, but they're people, and they start as children, needing to learn, and be socialised. Which is best done via a robot body. Humanoid. There's a load of things to do with 'theory of mind', and empathy. You really don't want one dumped into a military setting, with no socialisation, and going 'Skynet' on you."

    "The L2s, there's limits on how much damage they can do. You've basically got a smart dog, but capable of speech and using hands. And, you can control the market for skill chips, avoid military and police ones."

    "Right. I can see why you kept quiet. The robots for the combat training, L2s, I'm guessing. Needing combat, weapons, capability. And, for the big robots, you'll want to improve the build cells, I also guess?"

    "I think we need a few 40' shipping containers, and a larger build cell, with self-contained power, and computing systems. I'm concerned about security, though..."

    "Maybe a few mysterious 'alien'", he does the air-quotes, "parts wrapped in thermite jackets?"

    We get planning.




    AN: You need to be a certain age, or watched a lot of late-night tv, to remember the Six Million Dollar Man - I hate to think what inflation's done to him. :)

    AN: We shouldn't forget Cyberdyne Systems... Not an organisation you want anywhere around military hardware or software...

    AN: More considered to be a human developmental-psychology thing, theory of mind is of interest to a number of AI researchers. I'll let anyone interested look up 'socialisation' (hint: it isn't political) and 'empathy'.

    AN: Not everyone realises it, but shipping containers have been around for a long time now...

    AN: There's something called a 'thermite wash' proposed to deal with untrusted bits of tech...
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2020
  14. NightmareWarden

    NightmareWarden Know what you're doing yet?

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    Huh. I read chapters 6 and 7 so quickly, that I assumed Robin was still present when Geo shared her true background. He is the leader of the team after all. I hope that’s the only misunderstanding I’ve made so far.
    This is a lovely story so far, I’m excited to see what is to come! Especially since we haven’t reached Geo’s first mission yet.

    Other thoughts... I’m especially interested in that Alchemical Science Geo is going to develop, I’m not sure what to expect.
     
  15. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Geo's (true) background is part of her secret identity. Whether that's shared with other team members tends to be a matter of individual, personal, trust, unless there's serious reasons otherwise. Robin certainly isn't sharing his secrets with all team members. The whole issue of personal names and who knows them is touched on pretty early in the story. One of the reasons that this story is a mix of the comic book and cartoon Teen Titans is to explore ideas about secret identities, which the cartoon very carefully avoided, so as to not 'confuse the viewers'.

    The 'alchemical technology' is something borrowed from tabletop RPGs, specifically D&D. I believe the rules were created, originally, in the late 1970s, by players who wanted to use science-fiction themes in D&D, which is mainly a fantasy setting. Though, science fiction scenarios, with things like power armour and robots, have been around in places like 'Blackmoor', from the beginning.

    As I understand it a limited copy of these rules were placed online, in a web site, in the late 1990s, and can still be found. As far as I know there isn't a D&D 3rdEd/Pathfinder version, and there certainly isn't one for any later version of D&D. The rules have been adapted for Hero System, and GURPS.

    Geo isn't using the technology in quite the conventional way...

    Thanks for the feedback.

    (BTW, if you're interested, after a bit of experimenting. I found this duckduckgo search to work: "(A)D&D technologist character class -3e -4e -5e". But, who knows how long it'll go on working?)
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2020
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  16. Extras: Author Notes 3 - Team Structure
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Author Notes 3 - Team Structure

    On the surface the Team Leader is Robin. This is what a lot of people will assume, looking from the outside. He has the charisma and presence, and is willing to speak on behalf of the team. If you look a bit more closely it becomes rather more fuzzy. Neither Beast Boy nor Starfire seem willing to lead. Cyborg appears to prefer a background role, though he could lead. Raven is more tricky.

    The problem is that a team leader really needs to fully understands all the capabilities of their team. If they are unpowered humans this is a lot less difficult, as even though the team may have specialists the leader should have a general idea what they all can do. In a super-powered team, particularly of misfits like the Teen Titans, it gets a lot more difficult. In particular, no one fully grasps the limits of all their powers. Particularly Raven's. Maybe not even her.

    So, Robin is effectively the tactical, combat, leader. This fits in with his core skills, though, sometimes he tends to be a bit of a loner. Out of combat the team is a lot more democratic, and they have diverse skills, drawing on lots of sources.

    This story follows the assumption that the reason the Teen Titans exists is so these individuals have somewhere to live, work together. And, without the team no one would be supporting Raven, and the terrible risks that would cause. After all, she knows someone tried to kill her, at least once, as a very young child. And, that didn't go at all well, for them. Nor, she's pretty sure, would locking her up somewhere work.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2020
  17. Threadmarks: Pondering, Shadow and Teacher - Episode 22
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 22

    Pondering the work I did with Victor. Never 'Mr. Stone'. Yes, I'd told him more about the robotics than I was... happy with. Would truthfully've preferred to tell anyone, on this world. But, I'd got good reasons to trust him.

    And, I think I was realising some of the issues he might've have with family. From his remarks, his mother died when he got his... upgrades. And, I'm guessing his father did the upgrading. Alien technology? No one's said.

    He's also not said, but I'm pretty sure he was suicidal, for a while. And, the names on the plans, of the Tower, we were going over. 'Silas Stone', pretty sure that's a relative, maybe his father. Guess Victor might tell me, some day.

    I'd used the mind interface, loaded-up one of my skill chips. Boosted my engineering skills, for large stuff, like buildings, in a useful way. But, that was 'alchemical technology', so, I'd been working hard on gaining the basics of, I guess I should call it, a more conventional approach. Civil engineering. The two skill sets seemed to match-up, pretty well. Though, I'm pretty sure the local building codes don't cover force fields. Probably.

    Raven'd been a bit quiet. I'd told her about revealing my origins, to Victor - it seemed sensible. And, the bugs we'd found. She said something was troubling her magic. Launching more-or-less subtle probes at the Tower, at her. She'd fended them off, so far, she thought. But, they didn't feel like her father, so, that was something.

    Another thing I'd been pondering was talking to Victor about... prosthetics. It was obviously a sensitive subject, but, one of the reasons I existed as someone who could walk around was as a test-bed for my father's prosthetics work.

    Few people would be cyborged-up like Victor, but there's a lot of people in the world, particularly the locals of places where mine fields'd been laid, that needed prosthetics. And the, inexpensive, interface techniques that I knew, to provide feedback and feeling...

    Raven'd created a prototype transceiver collar, that looked like a piece of jewellery. I'd thanked her profusely, and I'd be trying it out. Even though I'd been missing my radios since I arrived, I find myself reluctant to test it. I'm not sure what's scaring me, so, I'll need to meditate on the issue.

    More books for me to study, I really need to work on my Ancient Greek. Strangely enough, I'll need to learn Persian, and that was something I'd considered before coming here. Was it bad that I wanted to be able to read the letters my dad'd exchanged, maybe still did, with his ex-wife? I'm sure if I worked at it there'd be other reasons to have that skill. Maybe.

    Revealing my concerns about my robe - those interested Raven. She'd said it may not be a major issue, but she wanted to consult some books, maybe some new ones she'd only heard about, before acting. So, even more bulging shelves.

    I think, on balance, she did look to enjoy having an apprentice. Except when I detected the hidden frustration with me not immediately grasping something she considered 'obvious'. So, learning on both sides.

    I got the impression that Raven was trying to nerve herself to do something that scared her. I don't think it was anything directly connected with me.

    Summoning the medical system, the pair of us had walked the sub-basement, discussed reinforcement, sensor meshes, wards to prevent intrusion. Victor'd looked-over the engineering side, seemed satisfied.

    I might have to do something drastic. Like, directly ask her.

    Raven says I might be developing my 'third eye'. Some mystics and seers do. Maybe that's why I'm getting some insights?

    ---

    What?

    I've been sitting here pondering, before breakfast, and that's the Tower alarm? Have people got no respect?

    Heroes need their breakfast!

    ---

    The rarely-used control room. Hopefully bug-free. There's visitors at the door. Still outside, they've not broken-in. But, they must've done something to set-off the alarms.

    Victor checks, does a quick video rewind. Spends a few seconds watching a screen. Raven takes a deep breath, concentrates, mutters something. Our night clothes are replaced by something more... battle-worthy. Except for Robin. Somehow he was already fully-dressed when he arrived. How?

    He can't sleep in his costume? Can he?

    Victor adjusts some controls. An image of two people appears on the big screen. A bald man in a tasteless Hawaiian shirt, dark glasses, bearded and moustached. A shorter woman, in grey, plain leggings and tunic, with shadow across her face, even though she's standing in the direct morning sun. Though, for some reason she looks familiar.

    Beast Boy looks at the screen, then at us, and shrugs, "Guess we'd better go see what they want?"

    ---

    The visitors are apparently a 'Master Roshi' and a woman who says she's my relative. The old man had met the woman in Jump City, and claimed they'd each sensed the hidden power in the other. Then, discovered both were planning on visiting the Tower.

    It would appear that 'master' means he teaches martial arts, to those who defend the Earth. Though, apparently not this one. "I'm dead, you know", a rather strange claim. "When we die, in our world, we 'go to another dimension'. This is another dimension, so, until my friends get around to bringing me back, I'm taking a holiday." Yes, that makes sense.

    He looks us over, while the woman stands, politely, back. Then starts with... Cyborg.

    "Reasonably strong, some basic combat training. I don't recommend cyborg enhancements, in my experience they can make you strong but limit your further growth."

    He turns and looks at Starfire.

    "Ah, if I was five-hundred years younger I'd sweep you off your feet! And, of course, if I wasn't dead. Excellent strength backed by some impressive training. The energy powers are interesting. You are good, and, with the correct teacher you could be great. Unfortunately, I'm not that teacher."

    Beast Boy.

    "You remind me of an old pupil of mine. Nice power, solid basic combat training. You need better self-control. Keep working, you could go far."

    He looks at Robin, and, I think his eyes glitter behind his dark glasses.

    "Ah. I'm sorry for your loss. Your training is impressive. But, I'm afraid you've taken the wrong path. Keep searching. Until you find yourself Love is a snare that could destroy you."

    Raven. He flinches.

    "I've met a number of... people like you over the years. Some became the world's greatest defenders, others..." He shakes his head. "There's nothing I can teach you. You must teach yourself. Value your friends."

    And... me.

    "Who taught you? I could feel you splashing chi around from miles, tens-of-miles, away! Such waste! So, show me a little of what you can do." Somehow I feel I... should obey him. Though, he doesn't feel evil, just... powerful.

    "I taught myself. After getting ideas from others." I rise into the air, reach out a pale-blue limb of light, scoop-up a handful of sand, let it trickle through fingers-of-light. Then, float over to a small boulder. Punch it with a light-limb, with all my strength, to little effect.

    He just looks at me. Then shakes his head from side-to-side, violently.

    "So. That's what I've got to work with. Plenty of room for improvement, anyway. Don't worry about cost, I've been paid, up-front, to teach you."

    He turns, looks at the rest of us.

    "What's for breakfast?"

    ---

    We move back into the Tower, following him, all, I think, a bit bemused. I'm at the back, with the woman following.

    "Excuse me?", I turn to look at her. And, her shadow expands to cover both of us. For some reason this isn't scary, more... comforting.

    "You may call me Tanya. Tanya Tesla. Tatiana's sister. Your family are OK, and so, it seems, are you. Sorry about the delay, the differing time-rates made it hard to get here. But, I found you, which's what's important."

    "Be well."

    And, I'm standing there, and there's no sign of her. At all.




    AN: Lots to learn about the third eye...

    AN: I will leave as an exercise for the student identifying Master Roshi. No, he's not going to stomp all over the story. Probably. Don't worry, he's been dead before, and it's worked-out OK. :)

    AN: If you're interesting, this is a more... restrained version of Master Roshi than the usual one. You can put it down to death. :)

    AN: 'Tanya' and 'Tatiana' are OC, from the original setting of Geo. Yes, some people do want to know what's happened with her.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2020
  18. Threadmarks: Slippers, Visions and Intercom - Episode 23
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 23

    Breakfast. With Master Roshi. Not what I expected. But, at least, everyone's being polite. And, we're getting to eat.

    Things got interesting when he entered the Tower. He'd looked around, spotted the guest slippers, I'd bought in Japantown. Almost as a joke. Carefully removed his sandals, selected the pair that most closely fitted his feet. Beast Boy looked at Cyborg. The later raised his eyebrow, The two gave a small nod.

    In his honour, a Japanese-inspired breakfast. The auto chef, Mark 2 as the earlier one hadn't handled group-eating well enough, laboured effectively, using less-commonly used ingredients. We're having boiled rice, miso soup, with vegetables. That tea was the main drink seemed a bit of a shock to some.

    Beast Boy seemed happy with the vegetarian meal. Cyborg just dug in. Starfire somewhat more politely. Robin and Raven were both using chopsticks, eating more slowly, and Roshi-watching. I wasn't proud, and followed Cyborg's example of using Western 'eating irons'. Better than a spork, I guess.

    I guess this is 'bread and salt'. Proving you trust each other, by eating together. Raven's books talked-up the mystical significance of shared food. I guess it's humans, round a camp-fire, with the monsters beyond in the darkness.

    So. Master Roshi is treating the Tower as a dwelling place. Giving us respect. I wonder how many of the more... unusual visitors have done that?

    ---

    We enter the training area. Master Roshi looks around, nods. Raven makes a complex gesture, part of the room morphs, into a business-like conference area, open on two sides to the larger room. Wheeled robots, with flat-screen heads, mysteriously appear, carrying table, chairs, whiteboards. A final one arrives with a tray, jugs of water, glasses.

    I'm guessing this is first-draft Raven-Robin training area upgrades... I knew Cyborg built some worker-bots for them.

    We sit. Robin and Raven, side-by-side, facing Master Roshi. Me off to one side. The others had been invited, but made polite excuses. Cyborg waved a hand, said he was available if needed, just call.

    Raven starts.

    "Just to be clear. Sugoi is my sworn apprentice. I have sworn responsibilities to her. Robin", she indicates him, "is our training manager, and team leader. If you are offering to train her we will agree, first, what that training will be.".

    Robin nods.

    Roshi looks at the two of them, briefly glances at me.

    "My training is hard, dangerous. Potentially deadly. But, it works. I take students and turn them into the best in the world. I've polished my methods over hundreds of years. My pupils may hate me, but, they will survive."

    I'm beginning to get a bad feeling about this...

    "But, I can see you don't trust me. Suspect this is a ruse of your enemies, who are gathering force against you. I suppose you need proof."

    He looks at me, stares at my forehead, nods to himself. "Like Tien", I think I hear him mutter.

    And, then, he says a WORD.

    ---

    It takes a while for my vision to clear. My normal vision, I mean. My third eye was blasted open. And I saw... everything.

    Looking around, Master Roshi looks composed, Robin shocked, Raven thoughtful. I suspect we all saw something different.

    I saw...

    I take a few moments to gather myself. Drop into a light meditative trance. Shock-waves are still roiling my mind.

    The first thing I SAW was a woman, pale-skinned, black hair, with an ankh. And, somehow, I both knew and didn't know her. I was pretty sure she was 'true', fundamental in some way. She smiled at me, and stepped to one side.

    Then, I saw the whole Universe, I was in. It was... strange, one of many, weird paths between them. One, I think, lead back to the world I'd come from. The local physics, didn't look quite broken, more... twisted. Time was... strange. Over all was a hooded figure, carrying a large book, chained to his wrist.

    Then I see the Earth, held in the hands of a pale-skinned man, again with black hair, and blue stars for eyes. He looks at me, and nods.

    The Tower. In broken pieces. A short girl with blonde hair stands in the ruins. A tall man with one-eye, a sword on his back, stands behind her, resting a hand on her shoulder. She doesn't look happy. A green hand sticks out of the rubble.

    I see the Tower, it is today, I see the life-lights of those in it. There's an extra one, in the entrance hall, facing Cyborg. It's the blonde girl, looking a bit younger, less careworn. But, behind her, I see a faint shadow, the tall man, resting a hand on her shoulder. I'm sure he isn't there, so, I'm guessing this is symbolic.

    The training room. Raven is a tower, of mixed light and darkness, Robin shadowy strength, wrapped around a dark knot, Roshi...

    Master Roshi isn't there. Well, as a living, physical, being. I guess, I'm sure, he is dead. Clothes, glasses, they rest on a pale-blue form of more life-energy than I thought could exist in one place. And, there's strength, over a hidden core of kindness, and, unfortunately, I think an... unhealthy interest in female beauty. But, that last thing's sort of wrapped in a binding... maybe a promise?

    He definitely doesn't mean us ill.

    "I'm glad I can't remember that word", he remarks.

    I rub my forehead, which, fortunately, doesn't seem to have sprouted a third eye.

    A crackle, so we know it's the intercom. Cyborg's voice.

    "We've got someone called 'Terra', down here. Must be our day for visitors."

    "Anyone coming down to speak to her?"




    AN: Slippers... This is the mall Geo took Kory to, 'Japantown, SF'. Looks like a fun place to visit.

    AN: The whole business of bread and salt is interesting...

    AN: Every story has to have at least one transcendental vision experience. :)

    AN: About that ankh, I wonder who in the DC Universe wears one of those?
     
  19. Threadmarks: Terra, Barbeque and Press - Episode 24
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 24

    In conference. In the training room. Cyborg on the intercom. Robin...

    Robin's still out of it. Raven, next to him, reaches out. Carefully touches his cheek. He flinches. Visibly gathers himself. Nods to her.

    "We'll be down, Cyborg, but there'll be a little delay. We need to... decide some things, first."

    The click of the intercom closing.

    ---

    Robin looks at Roshi. "You had to go cosmic? Yes, I now believe you're honest. Please don't do anything like that, again. Without lots of warning."

    Roshi shrugs. "I've met higher beings, fought them, worked for them, got to...", he looks over at me, "know some of them very well. You get used to it, eventually", and he shrugs, again.

    Raven coughs into her fist. "Certainly an interesting experience. I'll need time for me to fully understand it. Yes, I agree you seem to be here in good faith." She looks over at me. I nod.

    Raven leans forward, for a moment Roshi's glance flicks to her chest, then he winces, looks back to her face. Raven gives a very brief smile.

    "Assuming that worked as I think, we all got different visions. Robin, if you want to discuss yours, later, I'm prepared to do it in complete confidence. Interpreting visions is one thing I was trained to do. You need to be careful, there's traps for the unwary in many of them, even those sent by Higher Powers that wish you well."

    "Now. Sugoi. Have you digested yours well enough to be happy to tell us anything?"

    I shuffle, a bit uncomfortably.

    "Yes? I think so?" A long pause. "Some of it I'll need to talk-over with you, later, but, I suspect the immediate question is..."

    "Do you know a tall, athletic-looking, older man, with one eye, probably capable of using a weapon in either hand, who may wear a sword on his back?"

    ---

    We're down in the entrance room, Robin's talking to 'Terra', with Raven and Beast Boy behind him. Starfire's hanging back, so as not to overwhelm with numbers. We left Master Roshi looking-over our training facilities. And, I've taken Cyborg to one side.

    "I think you know a lot more about Slade, than I do. There wasn't time to brief me properly. He's got some sort of influence, maybe control, over that girl. But, Raven thinks she's not gone fully super-villain, yet. Troubled teen, in need of help."

    I notice the strange silencing of our surroundings, that Cyborg sometimes uses. Part of his sonic powers suite. I try to not even think about it, too much, as he wants to hide it from our enemies. Reminds me, I do need to talk to Raven about training my mental defences.

    "Hmph. We've all been there, at some point. But, this is a big risk to the Team. Could learn a lot about Slade. He must've some sort of handle, on her. Trick is, figuring what it is, how to help her."

    He ponders.

    "I'll get the robots, our robots, that is", he grins at me, "to set her up a room. Kick our anti-surveillance measures up to maximum, internal and external. I'm not going to bug her, but, I'll ensure the sensors will log anything unusual, inform me..." He looks at me in an enquiring way, I nod firmly. "And you, of anything unusual."

    The sound level returns to normal. We wander back over to the main group, Cyborg doing some theatre, wiping his hands on a rag.

    Beast Boy's eyes flick over to him, he nods. Starfire doesn't look our way, but I can feel there's less tension in her.

    "Booyah! Roof barbeque time!"

    And Beast Boy and Cyborg high-five each other.

    ---

    We're on the roof, a couple of barbeques set-up. The meat one downwind of the vegetarian. Sun loungers. Beach chairs. A few low tables. A portable cooler, or two.

    Master Roshi joined us, introduced himself as a visiting, mostly-retired, martial artist. Here to help with training. Told Terra she's got 'great potential'.

    Beast Boy is telling an outrageous story of his time with the Doom Patrol, which appears to include things like Robotman, and a magnetised wrench. Terra, initially rather quiet, is visibly coming out of her shell. She does look around, once or twice, and twitch her shoulders, though.

    I notice Raven's a good line of sight to watch her, without being watched in turn. Robin, I suspect, is alert to her every movement. I'm doing my best to be calm in the presence of a potential murderer. It's requiring all my skill in self-control and relaxation.

    "My brother..." Terra stops, looks upset.

    "Sorry, we had a big argument. About responsibility. This is the first time in a while I've thought of him in a good way."

    "Excuse me, for a bit."

    She goes off, sits at a table on her own, nibbles at her salad and cooked meats. Sighs, a lot.

    It's going to be a long day...

    ---

    I'm fingering my radio collar. I put it on, without thinking things through, as I'd planned to do. Without it I couldn't be ready, to help Cyborg.

    It was quickly clear we couldn't spend all our time entertaining/watching Terra. She was overjoyed with having her own room, keyed so she could control who went in there. Even more impressed with the cash-card Cyborg gave her, pre-loaded. I noticed Robin's lips thin at that. Was, last time I saw her, exploring the snack potential of the auto chef. And, talking to Beast Boy about video games.

    I'm back in the gym, with Robin and Master Roshi. The later has remarked on the wide range of possibilities, though he seems to think they mostly look 'a bit fragile'.

    Though he hides it well, I can see Robin is irked. Rolls out a system of hydraulics and weights, I'm pretty sure only our stronger members use that one. Roshi looks, sucks his teeth. Reaches out with one finger, gently rocks it.

    "I wonder if I could try that? On the lower settings, of course. I'm still concerned about the way Raven grabbed me, made me helpless, that time."

    Did someone speak? Oh. It was me.

    Strapped to a torture machine. Straining with all my might. Nothing. Why is Master Roshi touching that control? And... Pop.

    ---

    I can see them, but hear nobody, nothing. They seem to be searching the room. Fortunately, I can't see a squashed body in the strength press.

    I can't get their attention, and my hand just goes straight through them. With a tingling sensation for Master Roshi. The floor, the walls, seem to be solid. I'm reluctant to move too far away. Flying works. My radio collar's gone silent. And my third eye remains stubbornly closed.

    Maybe I should've been using my robe, rather than tying it up, again? Funny, I can still see it, in the gym. It looks lonely. Pinching hurts, I can hear my clicked fingers, and I'm not see-through. To me, anyway.

    What's going on?

    Help?




    AN: A cliff hanger? How could I do something like that? :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2020
  20. NightmareWarden

    NightmareWarden Know what you're doing yet?

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    Clearly the only explanation is Sugoi was brought back to robo-life on Earth (Universe 7, Dragon Ball’s setting) thanks to the Dragon Balls. Unfortunately Shenron couldn’t push her all of her overflowing spirit into an android body, so this was left behind. So sad, Rest In Peace Geo Mark II (Long live Android Geo!). At least Raven didn’t screw things up like she feared.
     
  21. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    So, that would make Geo's father something like a competitor for Dr. Gero?

    I like this theory. Neat! :)
     
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  22. Threadmarks: Scream and Shout, Retrieval and Insight - Episode 25
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 25

    How does it go? "When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout." OK, no one's doing that. Not even me. But...

    My father likes that quote. Says it describes many people's 'solution' to problems...

    In some ways, it's a bit funny. A dumb show. Maybe like a silent movie? But, in colour.

    The whole team's there, now. In the gym. With Master Roshi and Terra added. They're walking around, or flying in the case of Starfire. Poking things. Looking at them closely. Beast Boy's a green bloodhound, sniffing around. Then, taking human form, shaking his head.

    Robin and Cyborg are over by the control console. Playing back the gym camera recordings, frame by frame. Cyborg was wandering around, earlier, with a cart of sensors, sweeping the place. Then, shaking his head.

    Yes, it's a bit funny. But, the way they don't seem to know I'm there, and I can just walk through them, is eerie. Except, Raven. There's a field around her, a bubble, I think. Stops me getting too close. I can't get any purchase on it, either, get in her way so I can attract her attention.

    I. Just. Slide. Off.

    I'd considered telling Raven, "Send me home, now". I'm pretty sure she'd hear that. But, things haven't got that bad.

    Yet.

    She's obviously tried several spells. The OK symbol over one reddish eye, a few words (by the lip movement) and gestures, followed by careful looking around. Nothing.

    Now, she stops. Bows her head. Looks straight ahead as her skin fades to grey and her eyes glow red, with a faint hint of two more eyes, above them. She turns, slowly. Looks straight at me. A wide, genuine, grin occupies her face, as eyes and skin return to normal. She says something, and the others all look where she indicates.

    Then, she's next to me. And, I can feel her presence, as cool shadow touches me.

    "Nice escape. Neither sensors nor spells showed any signs of teleportation, so, we were a bit baffled. This isn't a place anyone normally comes. You are halfway to the sub-material plane. I really don't recommend visiting. Life can't exist, for much time, there."

    She looks me over.

    "No obvious injures. Not bad for your first dimension walk. We'll have to see where else you can travel. And, again, you used a psychic power, not magic. Probably a relative of your astral projection ability."

    She holds out a hand. I grab on. There's a sort of reverse 'Pop'. And, we're back in the gym.

    I take a deep breath. Carefully breathe out.

    Then, I stomp over to Master Roshi.

    "What were you playing at? That could have killed me! Should have killed me!"

    "But, it didn't. I've used the same 'look, you're about to die' training technique tens, maybe more than a hundred, times. No one's ever died. They might have got lightly injured, but I was ready to stop you getting badly hurt."

    I notice Robin fuming in the background. Raven is floating a few inches off the ground, and... I wouldn't want to stand between her and Master Roshi. Cyborg is tapping a large wrench on his other hand. And, both Starfire's fists are glowing. I'm sure that growling noise doesn't mean anything bad...

    Terra looks confused.

    This is going to end well, isn't it?

    ---

    I'm off, having a nice sit-down, a slice of cake, a pleasant cup of tea. The sound insulation is pretty good, so I expect I'll hear about it later. Though... Did the Tower just shake a bit?

    Raven insisted I go off, maybe have a brief nap. Don't do anything strenuous for a while. Let the new experience sink-in. Become a proper part of my meta-psyche.

    Now I'm relaxing I find I can meditate, again. My 'third eye opens'. Yes, I check in a mirror, no signs of real forehead-eye.

    I've got my radio collar, and robe, as a scarf, on the table in front of me. I'm comparing the magic. Using mage-sight. I think I've got the focus right so, at least, my psychic-vision, and super-science-sight, don't interfere. Like trying to keep several plates spinning on sticks. Which, I can't do.

    It's... interesting. Assuming I'm getting it right, the radio collar is near-pure Raven magic, with a thin coat of mine. The robe...

    Threads of my magic run all the way through it, in a complex, beautiful, pattern. There's something going on, and... I feel my chi-sight kick-in, providing an under-layer. Raven's magic is being, slowly, transformed into chi, and I can see a... coat of chi, just below the surface of my skin.

    I'm pretty sure it's protective. Spreads force over a larger area. Though, I don't think it'll stop blades or bullets.

    Why do I have a horrible feeling Master Roshi'll have a training technique to fix that?

    Looking at the chi-coat, there's another thread being woven in. I search myself, looking for the source. It's the anti-possession amulet.

    Raven's additions to that, the bits on top of the basic Buddhist warding, are also being transformed into chi, and woven into the coat. Sort of... generalised. I think it might at least slow-down quite a wide range of magic. Not just stop possession, and other things affecting the spirit.

    Hmm. 'Other things'? Possibly helps defend my sanity?

    So. Means I'm safer?

    I wonder what Raven'll say about this?

    If I've got it right, my magic is 'eating' the robe, the amulet, and digesting it to make something of my own. Not by any formal, trained, magical process. But, by... instinct?

    I guess I'll have to tell her.

    Tomorrow?




    AN: Herman Wouk, of 'scream and shout' fame, looks like an interesting chap...

    AN: In case you're interested in plate-spinning...

    AN: He Walked Around the Horses is a science fiction story. But, the man described in it, (Mysticism Warning) Benjamin Bathurst, actually existed, and mysteriously disappeared. Lots of people disappear on a regular basis, even in this era of mass information. And, on historical occasion people maybe mysteriously appeared. You might also want to note True Thomas. If there's a lot of worlds out there, and a shortage of sign-posts, walking between the worlds, then getting home again... But, what do I know? :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2020
  23. NightmareWarden

    NightmareWarden Know what you're doing yet?

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    So nice of Roshi to help the rest of the team with a training exercise :D. They don’t have any dummies or robots appropriate for powerful team-attacks, so this should help. Doubly so if he criticizes them for leaving openings.

    Sooo Geo doesn’t have her own pocket dimension (yet). However if she regularly returns to that magical sub-material plane, then her Chi should start usurping it! That’s how this works, yes? :V A whole plane to fill with nonliving items all to herself...
     
  24. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    I cannot confirm or deny that Master Roshi would supply critical feedback. :)
    Do you think Master Roshi is the sort of person who would encourage Geo to develop Hammerspace? :)

    Geo was only half-way to the sub-material plane, a sort of phasing or half-phase effect. Not a stable place. If she wants to pull-off Raven's float-through walls trick she'd need to go somewhere else, a different nearby dimension or plane that would leave her visible but make (most) physical things insubstantial.

    If Geo went all the way to the sub-material plane and her chi tried to fill it... That would be another one of those 'know what you're doing or you'll likely die' things... Really not a safe place. I think the origin of this plane is in one of Laumer's Worlds of the Imperium novels, though I could be wrong.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2020
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  25. Extras: Author Notes 4 - Geo's a Super Hero!
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Author Notes 4 - Geo's a Super Hero!

    More of the game mechanics stuff...

    As of Episode 26 Geo is a base 150pt character, which in Hero System 5thEd terms makes her, just, a Low-Powered Superhero. She's got quite low Disadvantages compared to a normal super-hero, only 50pts, and, as mentioned in Author Omake 1 her 'build' is 'heroic', not a 'super-heroic'.

    However, since the start of the story she's got 60 experience points, which doing the D&D equivalent level comparison is four levels. In addition to the gradually applied 75pt bonus 'becoming a hero' points, another five levels, is an in-story increase of nine (9!) levels, which with her initial five levels makes her 14th level. Still significantly below any of the Teen Titans, but, gradually, getting a bit closer.

    Will Master Roshi turn Geo into a world-saving super-hero? I certainly don't know! :)

    (Possibly worth noting is that this is 'fast burn' character development. What would be more reasonable? That's hard to say, as it depends on the story-style. If these events happened in a tabletop game then experience points awarded (that's the 60xp above) would likely be at about half this rate. Maybe. Probably. :) )
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2020
  26. Extras: Author Notes 5 - Story Tech
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Author Notes 5 - Story Tech

    I'm putting this here because there's a number of planned story elements which depend on the technology, 'tech', which is around in this DC Teen Titans setting. That's the 'common socially available' tech, as opposed to super-science, alien tech, or even the 'alch tech' (alchemical technology) known to Geo.

    A major shock to some, this setting does not have the universal Internet, nor the World Wide Web, which is something which runs on the Internet. There's no broadband, no digital cable tv, only plain ordinary telephone systems, which are analogue, not digital. And, at story start, the cell/mobile phones resemble house bricks, and do not include even non-video cameras.

    There are high-speed networks linking universities, many of the bigger businesses, banks, likely some government offices. But, there's no search engines, like Google, and the way home or most business computers talk together is via BBS, so early 1990s.

    No Amazon, no online shopping, no downloads of video, or even music. And, no MMORPGs, like WoW.

    Most television sets or computer screens are old-style CRT, though some expensive ones have flat screens, and some really expensive ones large flat screens. You can assume, though, that home, desktop, computers are quite powerful, about year 2000 grade. You need to be pretty rich to have a laptop, mainly due to flat-screen cost.

    So, a terribly primitive world, lacking in all modern amenities. :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2020
  27. Threadmarks: Hunting, History and Basement - Episode 26
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 26

    The Great Roshi Hunt has ended. Various people looked a little happier. Or, at least, a lot more tired. Robin, back to plain serious. Raven's gone off somewhere. Terra seems to have bonded with the team. But, I catch a few side-glances at her from Cyborg.

    Master Roshi had the grace to look battered, and was favouring his left leg, a little. Though, I'd a strange suspicion he could shrug it all off at a moment's notice. Not having a physical body to be injured likely provided some advantages. He lets me corner him, in a meeting room.

    "You took advantage of Terra's arrival to not make any agreements about getting your training approved."

    He gives me blank face.

    "I didn't join the 'Roshi Hunt', which I strongly suspect you thoroughly enjoyed."

    Stone face.

    "I'm going to call that a favour you owe me."

    I get a brief nod.

    Using the radio collar I turn-on the privacy systems. This gets me narrowed eyes from him. We sit.

    "Cards on the table. No guarantees I've not got a few up my sleeves. I don't like lying." A tilt of his head to one side.

    “It's a personal quirk.” I cough.

    "I was an unplanned child. Raised by my father, while he was establishing himself in business. I helped, first as a technician, then later, an engineer, myself. He was, is, a doctor, a genius polymath." Roshi does the most minute of nods.

    "I learned Tai Chi, and meditation, from my father, knife fighting, throwing, blade work, via a family friend, a soldier." I put my knife, naked, on the table, blade pointing at neither of us.

    "Astral projection, that's less certain, but my father learned it, maybe always knew it, at some level. And, when I survived my physical murder, I'd the beginnings of it, too."

    "Things got complicated, clones, aliens, time travel, Nazis, ancient conspiracies, more aliens, immortals, even more aliens, immortal time-travelling amnesiac priest... Alternate selves, secret bases, alien conspiracies, dimensional travel, magical aliens, more Nazis, alien robots, ghost Nazi, omnicidal robots..."

    "Yes, complicated. And, I picked-up the odd skill, here and there. Including the basics of super-science. Then, the beginnings of chi, from multiple sources."

    "I arrived in this world, naked. You might say that's when I was born, or at least re-born. Was offered and accepted an apprenticeship. Have worked to learn, be accepted."

    "And, now I'm here."

    Sucked teeth.

    "So. You're not a dedicated martial artist? You're an engineer, who by circumstance has got funny abilities. A tag-along. You don't have a drive to be the best of the best? Be admired by all? Save the world? You don't want to impress girls?" He stops, thinks for a moment.

    "Or, boys?" He pauses for breath.

    "No?"

    "And, Higher Powers want me to forge you into a saviour of at least one world?" Roshi glares at me.

    "Yes?"

    I watch him, briefly, as he moves, repeatedly.

    "Please don't bang your head on the table. Yes, it's sturdy, but I'm sure your head is more so."

    ---

    I'm with Cyborg. We've been discussing the situation. We agree it's messy.

    "Raven shadow-touched Terra. There's something wrong with her. Physically, she's pretty healthy, but, something's out of balance." He sighs. I slump, a little.

    "I'm sorry, I just don't have the tools. I'd need at least an alch-tech medi scanner, and while, theoretically, I might be good enough to build one, that's more than five-weeks work, in a good enough workshop. Which I don't have."

    "So, tools to build the tools. And, I'm not convinced I'm skilled enough. Which you'd better be if you're messing with medical stuff. I certainly don't have the practical experience." I wave my hands, rather helplessly.

    We try, and fail, at simultaneous sighing.

    "OK. Sub-basement time." He claps his hands together, bounces to his feet.

    "We'll do everything we can to finish preparing for installing that alien medical system, on the assumption Raven can actually summon it. You push-on with build cell work on all the construction and support robots. I'll twist Robin's arm to help with cryptography for the secure systems, the comms links. If he can't do it himself he'll know who to contact."

    "But, he will help."

    And, we get to work.

    ---

    Raven's in a thoughtful mood. Today I'm showing her my dimension walking, even though I only discovered it a few hours ago. She's 'walking' me through the various local planes, the safer ones, anyway. Explaining how to avoid the dangerous, the deadly, possibilities. Listing some of the entities I'll need to know more about. Teaching me how to tune my senses, to feel where the next step would take me.

    Apparently I can still astral project, but, that's sort of folded itself into the more general power. She thinks if I go some places I'll leave a false body behind, a sort of place-holder, even though my physical body will travel. That, I'll often be leaving a trail others can follow, physically, if they hurry, maybe even if they don't have the ability to d-walk themselves.

    It's a whole new world, in more than one sense.

    Once or twice she reaches out, touches my robe, looks pensive. But, says nothing.

    By the end of the session it seems she's come to some sort of decision.

    "Please have, what for us, is an early night's sleep. We'll be working in the astral, again. I was unsure whether you, I, were ready, but I think we've run out of time."

    "Then, in the early hours, we'll wake, do purification rites, go down and attempt that summoning. The dimensional tides should be nearly ideal, and I've found a target that should work. But, we'll need to make some deals, promises."

    "Have a pleasant evening."




    AN: I guess you could say Geo's had an 'interesting' life, before coming here, even if a lot of events were things she observed from the sidelines...

    AN: I guess stream ciphers might interest... A one-time pad might be nice, but, past a certain point sneakernet doesn't tend to be a usable delivery mechanism...

    AN: Dimension walking, sounds pretty useful, doesn't it. Of course, there's a risk you might attract the wrong sort of attention. (Just to be clear, I'm not claiming this world is a Shadow in a Chaos-Amber multiverse, but, Amberites can be well-travelled...)
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2020
  28. Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Apology - Mispost

    Sorry, Episode 27 was posted, for a while, rather than Episode 26. So, if you read that, please go re-read, and hopefully things will make more sense!
     
  29. Threadmarks: Dada, Gift and Fulcrum - Episode 27
    Ace Dreamer

    Ace Dreamer Questioning The Nature of our Realities

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    Raven Lunacy, Episode 27

    My evening'd been pretty quiet till Garfield came to call. A little light reading, mixed with meditation. Something Victor said, the other day, about everyone needing a hobby had struck a chord. His was tinkering with vehicles. And, I was trying to work-out what at least one of mine might be. Working all the time is bad for you.

    While some of my reading was fiction, the rest was advanced mathematics, 'bleeding edge' physics, technology. My dad's quite a good math-hacker, inventor, so, sue me!

    Garfield wanted to talk about Time, and Terra. Apparently he'd gathered we'd had visions of the future. And, wanted to warn me.

    "I said I'd memories of past decades. Something I try not to think about, too much. I died more than once. Went evil, for a bit. As did my friends. It's all really messed-up." He sighed.

    Sighing at the start isn't a good sign... I've a nasty suspicion my mind's about to be boggled.

    "Time. You're pretty clever, and I think from somewhere things are more normal. In this world you rarely get people talking about dates. Even what month it is. Except in fiction, tv shows. Time here isn't really broken, more really... stretchy."

    "If I try real hard I can remember being young, well, younger, in Africa, in the late 1950s. Caught a strange disease, my parents used... weird science to save me. That's where the green skin and the shape-shifting come from. Can also remember being a child several other times." He sighs, again.

    "No. This isn't reincarnation, that past lives stuff. This's all one, mangled, life."

    "Time is just a bit stretchy for most people, but things all tend to fit together. I'm different because I was in the Doom Patrol, we got mixed-up with the Brotherhood of Dada. Who were really, really, strange. That's why I can remember Time in such a mixed-up way." He looks thoughtful.

    "Bit of a curse, and I think it makes me easier to control, mentally confuse. But, yeah, the meditation is helping. Thanks, without you Raven wouldn't have pushed it on the rest of us."

    "So. What I want you to take away. Visions of the future. Steal ideas from them, don't trust them. If the past has changed the future is even less reliable. So, is Terra evil-evil? Mad-mad? Dunno."

    "Okay?"

    I just blink.

    ---

    I'd recovered from Garfield's visit, looked up 'Dada' in an encyclopedia, decided art wasn't going to be my main hobby. Settled-down, read some fantasy fiction Kori had loaned me. Dragons and the wizards that rode around on them. Nice story, if a bit 'light', a bit too heavy on the cliches.

    Managed the early night. Only took a half-hour of meditation and careful relaxation. I think I dreamed of flying, but underwater, with somehow no problems of breathing, and something about trying to find my lost car keys. Which, is a bit funny, because I don't own a car, and I've no license.

    This time I stepped-out of my body as Raven approached, astrally. If she wasn't trying to hide herself I'd got better at sensing (hearing?) her approach. She looked me over, nodded at my robed and booted garb, and, we started travelling.

    We'd stopped in an empty astral realm, I didn't think I'd visited before. I think it was pretty 'high', if that means anything. Good for private business?

    "I'd like to show you my vision", she makes a quick negative gesture.

    "No! There's good reasons those are private. Yes, you could manipulate our surroundings, replay the vision. But, there would be consequences. Possibly really bad ones." She looks me in the eyes. She didn't look angry, but, she was clearly very certain. Then, she relaxes a bit.

    "If you talk about the vision, that is usually safe. Avoid too much detail, try and concentrate on how it affected you. What you told us about Slade, the fallen Tower, I'm guessing that was OK for you to pass on."

    I think for a few moments. Something had been bubbling in my mind, for a few days now, and it'd finally come to the surface.

    "Raven? If we do it right, you could learn a skill from me, one I've carefully stripped-away all the personal context from? The reason I ask is that something's been troubling you, and, this might help..."

    ---

    I'd given Raven the skill, as a small, blue, pill. She'd looked at it, thought, briefly smiled, then swallowed it. Of course I agreed to what she asked next. I owed her so much. And she needed the help.

    Down, down, far into the depths. The depths of Raven. Her essence. Nothing as near-surface as our previous journey to the roots of her mind. Into her spirit. The lower boundaries.

    There were red tendrils, picking at her. But, they seemed uncertain, without a clear target. I provided a fulcrum, she with immense strain, shifted some of her flows, her fundamentals. Then, wove into place, other, ghost, parts, well-protected, but targets for the red attack. It hurt. A lot. In ways I'd never been hurt before. But, it felt right, worth it.

    Every so often, I caught her glancing at a tiny, blue, mirror. The gift I'd given her. The core of the self-analysis skill I'd been accidentally gifted, in turn, by my father. Not something I felt I could use, yet, myself, but it looked like she'd put it to good use.

    ---

    We're back in her normal mind-scape. It seems a more pleasant, balanced, place. I'd asked her if following the tendrils 'home', really, really, carefully was a good idea. She's started to say 'No', then, paused.

    "I'll have to think about it."

    "Something else I've been thinking about, Raven. Maybe a silly question, but, the whole third-eye thing. Seeing magic, other stuff. Got me thinking. What is magic, fundamentally? How does it work, at a basic level?"

    Again, she looks as though she's going to speak, but stops. Looks into the distance. Then, makes a small grin.

    "Really deep questions, tonight. Let's shelve those for the moment." Another tiny grin.

    “Not practical to actually go all the way there, with everything else we plan to do. But, we need some relaxation. I've got a mirror, over here. We can watch some of my favourite memories of the ponies. Are you happy with that?"

    "Sure!"




    AN: Recommended reading, anything by Richard Feynman.

    AN: Dada was a revolt against the traditional, claimed to be 'anti-art'. If you thought super-heroics is weird...

    AN: The film The Matrix is not known in this setting, and 'the blue pill' being Viagra might be a more likely association for the characters to make... except, that isn't known of either. I might recommend Dalmas's The Reality Matrix which out-boggles the film by quite a bit.

    AN: Seeing as it's not that common a word, fulcrum...
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2020
  30. MutantRancor

    MutantRancor [Suspected Sithspawn]

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    Probably a good thing you used a blue pill, considering what the phrase "red pill" has come to mean since The Matrix. The red and blue pill imagery might not be the best thing to use at all, though, if you're not trying to invoke memories of certain rather hateful parts of the internet.

    Chord, as in music.

    The correct way to punctuate a single speaker talking for multiple paragraphs is, counter-intuitively, to put an opening quotation mark at the beginning of each paragraph but no closing quotation mark until the point where they actually stop speaking.

    It's weird, it looks wrong, and nobody would ever think that it's correct, but that's the way it's supposed to be done.
     
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