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Occular (Worm x SWTOR)

Discussion in 'Questing' started by Aldsan, Jan 10, 2020.

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  1. Threadmarks: Prologue 0.1
    Aldsan

    Aldsan Getting out there.

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    The temple rumbled and dust fell from the ceiling. The distinctive scream of intercept fighters could be heard even here, as well as the explosions that followed as they were torn apart, the ground shuddering under their impact.

    Korriban, the homeworld of the Sith, was under attack.

    And yet, Darth Occulus did not stir. The other members of the Dark Council had long since left -- whether to fight or to flee in the face of the enemy -- and the Council chambers sat silent. The Head of the Sphere of Ancient Knowledge however, did neither. They had analyzed the enemy forces and realized that there would be no victory in this battle. However, even if the Sith were to be denied victory, they could at least avoid defeat. It was something that Occulus excelled in. To retreat when necessary, to build power and wait for the opportune moment to strike. Though this battle might be lost, the Heir of Kallig was not so easily defeated.

    Immersed in the Force, visions flickered at the edges of their vision, even as they pulled on it, shaped it into the form they desired. Flickers of color, sights processed and discarded and replaced with more. A great creature stood over a city, wreaking devastation with each step it took. A Jedi stood firm in the face of an Emperor. A golden man shone with power, yet seemed all the more empty for it. A great planet seemingly made of crystal. A young girl screamed, trapped in darkness. The Emperor was betrayed, stabbed from behind. The Emperor looked at Occulus and smiled, his plan coming to fruition.

    Occulus jerked back. That Vitae’s latest shell had seen them, even in a vision, was disturbing. The agitated whispers of the ghosts teased at their ears, and the sound of combat came from outside the Council doors. They ignored both. Khem Val would be their last line of defense and the Dashade did not fall so easily.

    There had been an answer there, in that final vision of Vitae. They would need to commit everything to it. The spirits they had bound would need to wrung for every drop of power. The spirits would annihilated by the effort, and Occulus did not count on being able to so easily find powerful Sith ghosts to bind once again. It would be a permanent loss of power. However, it was necessary if they were to survive.

    Occulus began to gather power, to direct it, swirling it about them until they seemed to be sitting in the eye of a maelstrom. It was not some simple circle however. The power followed patterns, eddies moving across the ground in eldritch shapes that Occulus had not bothered to draw. There was no need after all, so long as they kept the necessary sorcery firmly entrenched within their own mind.

    The door shattered, a powerful wave of the Force sending it sliding into the Chamber. A pair of men, twins from the look of them, strode in -- one clad in black, the other in white. They immediately began to separate, circling around to surround Occulus. The one in white was the first to speak. “So this is the final member of the Dark Council? It feels a bit underwhelming to finish things off by fighting a coward who hid away.”

    Occulus did not answer. They simply closed their eyes. The last of their companions had fallen. They had felt Adronikos and Talos fall, the Fury crashing into the surface. Ashara and Xivhkalrainik had been part of the ground defenses. And now Khem Val was gone as well. Well. Let it not be said that they were incapable of being spiteful. They might not be capable of killing these aggressors in turn, but they could at least manage some petty vengeance. The man in black frowned and began to step forward before suddenly stopping. “Careful, Arcann. I can feel her power. And… there’s something wrong here.”

    The man in white, Arcann apparently, let out a disdainful snort. “We’ve already trampled through the rest of the so-called Dark Council. I doubt this one will be any more of a challenge than the rest.”

    A cold voice cut through the conversation. “You would be incorrect, Arcann. Thexan is wise to be wary. Of course, you are used to being second-best to your brother, aren’t you?”

    The man -- no, the boy, Occulus corrected themself, flinched ever so slightly, his lightsaber seeming to ignite almost reflexively. Occulus tilted their head, the pale mask finally turning to look directly at the man as they analyzed him dispassionately. Arcann was a brute, favoring aggressive swings and keeping his opponent on the backfoot using sheer power. Thexan seemed to prefer a more defensive style, luring his opponents into making mistakes before crushing them.

    Occulus was a competent duelist -- but only competent. They would be at a disadvantage in melee, especially with Thexan there to contend with as well. In that case, Occulus would need to act first. A ripple of power went through the room as the Heir of Kallig drew upon the spirits bound to them, the ghosts forming visibly to their back and their side.

    The ritual had already begun, and Occulus would be able to continue it while fighting. They would not need to stall much longer, but they would need to disorient the two, draw Arcann and Thexan out of their usual tactics in order to buy time if Occulus was to be victorious.

    Occulus felt the Force, felt the shape of Arcann’s thoughts for a second time, and then smiled beneath their mask. “Foolish Arcann. Weak Arcann. Unwanted Arcann. Did you wonder why your father sent Thexan on this mission but tried to hold you in Zakuul? It is because you hold no value to him. Not as a son. Not even as a pawn to be used.”

    Thexan drew in a sharp breath, tried to speak out to warn his brother, but Arcann did not wait. As they had anticipated, Arcann let out a roar and rushed in, leaping through the air to attack them -- and immediately found himself flung back into the wall, durasteel cracking under the force. Shadows seemed to gather around him, the darkness of the chamber crushing him beneath it.

    With that, Thexan’s hesitation was gone and he rushed Occulus as well. Yellow blade met white, as Occulus brought their lightsaber into a block before sending a burst of lightning towards Thexan to force him back on the defensive. Thexan’s charge had been enough to free Arcann however, and Occulus was forced to make a careful dance between the two.

    A twist, a parry, a step to the side. Darkness caught at their feet, making even simple movement a struggle. A storm of lightning fell, scorching the chamber. Unnatural winds kicked up, swirling around them, lifting them into the air, only for them to tear their way back to the ground.

    All the while, Occulus’ concentration was on manipulating the Force. Another minute. If they could last a minute it would be enough. Occulus touched Arcann’s mind and he swung at Thexan before realizing the truth of the illusion. The thrones that the Council once sat upon ripped down to barrage the two, forcing them to dodge back. Terror crept into their thoughts, their strikes coming slower, more hesitant with each passing moment.

    Thirty seconds. It wouldn’t be enough, Occulus realized. Even in the depths of rage and terror, Arcann fell into old habits working together with his brother, and their strikes were easily coordinated. A shimmering barrier of force caught a pair of strikes that would have bisected Occulus, and the Heir of Kallig frowned slightly before bursting the barrier outwards, sending Thexan skidding back even as Occulus slapped Arcann’s saber aside with her open palm, channeling the heat, the energy, through her and converting it, lightning lancing out to burn along the boy’s face. Occulus would fall here, but the Heir of Kallig could at least ensure that their enemies did not emerge unscathed.

    Twenty seconds. It wouldn’t be enough for what Occulus had originally planned. However, plans can be adjusted. It would not be ideal, but it would be functional. Occulus closed their eyes, burning through the spirits, crushing their existence one by one as she bound the last of their power into herself. Arcann screamed, raising his arm to keep the lightning from his face.

    Ten seconds. Arcann screamed, as the flesh seared from his bones. Arcann screamed and Occulus smiled as she flayed him for his arrogance. Occulus smiled, her head quiet for the first time since she had first bound Lord Ergast. Then, Thexan’s saber pierced through her, finding her heart.

    With a final spiteful laugh at the twins, her spirit abandoned her flesh and her robes fell empty to the floor.

    She would not be able to direct where she went. She had not had the time for that. Occulus had bound her spirit, much as she had once bound so many other Sith Lords. It would, in time, find a host, even if she was unsure as to who it would be. So, she would simply have to trust in the Force to carry her to safety. Her body would expire, but her spirit would remain whole.




    Occulus’ spirit binds itself to someone in a moment of trauma, replacing the shard-based power they would have received with herself. Who does she bind to?


    [] A girl in a locker.
    [] A girl being attacked by gang members.
    [] A girl desperately trying to save her sister.
    [] Write in: A girl who blames herself for her brothers suicide.
    [] Write-In

    There is the strong possibility that the danger of the situation combined with the trauma of the binding can lead to the host’s injury. How are they injured?

    [] Relatively Unharmed. (No particular leanings).
    [] Blinded (Decrease to learning Physical abilities, such as Lightsaber combat; Increase to learning Mental abilities, such as precognition).
    [] Sepsis (Increase to learning Physical abilities; Decrease to learning Mental abilities).
    [] Visibly Scarred (Increased leanings towards aggression and Dark Side abilities).
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2020
  2. Index: Rules
    Aldsan

    Aldsan Getting out there.

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    1. If a vote is particularly close, I might find ways to make use of a runner up vote.

    2. Write-In Votes are highly encouraged as a way to generate ideas. They will not be beholden to the system however. I reserve the right to veto a Write-In even if it wins, or to include it if I particularly like it.

    3. This will be my first quest as a GM. Any advice or thoughts on where to go is appreciated!
    Generally speaking, each week will have five Major Actions available to you. This can be taken up by training, focusing on school, hanging out with someone, etc. These actions are outside the scope of Taylor's "normal" routine. Going to school does not take up an action. Doing something unusual at school would. If Taylor adds something special to her routine (Deciding to regularly volunteer at a Clinic, for example), she may have less Actions available in a typical week.

    I will be rolling dice in the background for encounters. So even if you planned for something to happen in the afternoon, it’s entirely possible that it might get interrupted by something unexpected.
    Your chosen character will have to train to become proficient in the Force. Early on, there will be few options, but as more abilities are mastered, they will branch out further and further based on what they’ve learned so far.

    Learning some abilities will allow you to learn other abilities faster. (One point spent, will instead be worth 2, for example). Which abilities help which will largely be kept a secret however.

    Occasionally, when relevant events occur, your chosen character may receive dreams of Occulus’ life, speeding along their training in a related discipline.

    Omakes and Fan Art will also allow reward points that the contributor may choose where to spend.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2020
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  3. Index: Character Sheet
    Aldsan

    Aldsan Getting out there.

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    Reserved
    Experience will be rewarded from using actions to train, story bonuses, or omake/fan art gains. Getting into fights will also gain experience, though the amount will change depending on the difficulty of the fight.
    Yellow Skills are available to train.
    Red Skills have are unavailable due to an unmet prerequisite, but close enough to learning that they are visible.
    Green skills receive double the experience gain from spent experience due to a bonus prerequisite being met.
    General Physical Training (5/5) Work out and get your muscles into shape.
    Equilibrium (0/6) Bring your body to it's most "natural" state. You'll find an unmatched sense of balance, but also some resistance to poison and ability to shrug off pain to a degree.
    Inertia (0/8) Maintain your body's inertia, allowing for impossible feats of acrobatics. Run along walls or even ceilings and vault long distances. This won't maintain indefinitely -- you aren't Spiderman.
    Vital Transfer (0/8) Channel life force into someone, healing them at cost to your own health. Spend time sick for healing a single person with major wounds.​
    Martial Training (0/6) Generalized training in hand to hand martial arts.
    Weapon Training (0/8) Training in a weapon of choice. (Baton, staff, two batons? Maybe something else?)
    Energy Resistance (0/8) Gain damage resistance to forms of energy attacks, whether lasers or electricity. This is not immunity.​
    Quick Reflexes (0/6) Focus on increasing the speed of your reflexes.
    Redirect Shot (0/8) Use your lightsaber to block lasers, or more practically on Earth Bet, use the Force to stop bullets and send them back at the people who shot them. [Additional Prerequisite Not Met]
    Surge (0/6) Draw on the Force for a quick burst of speed and strength. Excellent for a single strike or jumping a large gap.
    Force Speed (0/8) Draw on the Force to enhance your speed over a sustained period. You won't win any footraces with Velocity, but you're noticeably faster than what should be human.
    Slow [Dark Side] (0/8) Physically impose your will upon someone, making their movements and reactions more sluggish and slow than they otherwise would be.​
    Rage [Dark Side] (1/5) Draw on your anger and be rewarded with greater strength and speed.
    Force Scream [Dark Side] (0/8) Let your pain back out upon the world as a scream of sonic force, rupturing the eardrums of anyone nearby, and probably breaking any glass as well. Get those Shatterbird associations.
    Hatred [Dark Side] (0/12) Seethe in Hatred so deep that it physically rolls off of you, making your proximity painful to those you fight. This will enhance other Dark Side abilities, but will also affect Taylor's general judgement of a situation.​
    Meditation (5/5) Focus your mind.
    Serenity (0/6) Continue your meditation to the point that you can keep a cool mind even under pressure.
    Rebuke (0/10) Enter into a contest with another Force user to negate their use of the Force. Exceptionally strong wills can even turn powers back upon their originator.​
    Basic Telekinesis (3/6) Use the Force to move small objects.
    Push (0/8) Send a strong directed Force to push a person or object away from you.
    Wound [Dark Side] (0/8) Cause a painful spasm in the target's lungs. Probably won't kill them, but will at least incapacitate them for a few seconds. Probably.​
    Basic Awareness (4/6) Have a faint sense of danger in your surroundings.
    Prescience (3/8) Short-term precognition. No more than a few seconds.
    Empathy (0/8) Gain awareness of the emotions of others. This isn't mind-reading, but you could probably make good educated guesses based on a person's emotional state.​
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2020 at 3:02 AM
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  4. Scion of the house of hal

    Scion of the house of hal Know what you're doing yet?

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    [x] Blinded (Decrease to learning Physical abilities, such as Lightsaber combat; Increase to learning Mental abilities, such asprecognition).

    I always liked the blind badass characters, and i would hope this leads to sith sorcery and alchemy.

    EDIT: whoops forgot to vote
    [x] A girl being attacked by gang members.
    (emma i think? Don’t see her as a main character too often.)
     
  5. goddess15

    goddess15 Getting sticky.

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    [X] A girl in a locker.
    [X] Visibly Scarred (Increased leanings towards aggression and Dark Side abilities).
     
  6. Greatazuredragon

    Greatazuredragon Versed in the lewd.

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    [X] A girl in a locker.

    [X] Relatively Unharmed. (No particular leanings)
     
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  7. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

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    [X] A girl in a locker.

    [X] Relatively Unharmed. (No particular leanings)
     
  8. ZiPeppe

    ZiPeppe (⌐■_■)

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    [X] Write in: A girl who blames herself for her brothers suicide.

    [X] Relatively Unharmed. (No particular leanings).


    I don't particularly want to play as Emma or Amy (I think?).


    Lisa might be an option though.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2020
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  9. Aldsan

    Aldsan Getting out there.

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    One of the forums this is cross posted to has several instances of [X] Write in: A girl who blames herself for her brothers suicide.

    As such, it has been added to the options. If you want to edit your vote to reflect it, feel free.
     
  10. ZiPeppe

    ZiPeppe (⌐■_■)

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    Done, thank you :).
     
  11. Aldsan

    Aldsan Getting out there.

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    Alright, time for a bit of transparency. Since this opening vote is so integral to the story going forward, I plan to keep it open until Tuesday afternoon. (Specifically, Tuesday until I get home from work and start collecting everyone's votes).

    In the meantime, I thought people would enjoy seeing some of the collected voting.


    CharacterBlindNoneScarredUnharmedGrand Total
    Saving Sister6  511
    Attacked by Gang4 1510
    Blames Self for Brother2 2610
    Trapped in Locker217414
    Grand Total141102045
    Here are the votes as they stand (Discounting duplicates from a few voters who I caught voting twice on different sites).

    As you can see, Blind and Unharmed tend to be the most popular. Interestingly, there haven't been any votes for a more physically oriented Jedi/Sith. There's also been quite a few more people wanting a Dark Side Taylor than I expected.

    As for characters, Taylor is the most popular, but all three of the runner ups have just about even votes at the moment. Lisa, being a write in, was something of a dark horse, but she certainly seems to have held her own.
     
  12. Aldsan

    Aldsan Getting out there.

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    So I just wanted to remind people that voting ends tomorrow.

    And while I'm at it, I thought I would stir the pot a little. I've decided on a slight rule change, where each character will start with a few points in a different power depending on their natural proclivities. This won't be a fully learned power, just something they have some beginning talent in to explore. All of these are starter stages, with more training leading to greater strength and less downsides.

    Taylor: Prescience (About a second of precog to avoid danger)
    Emma: Force Aura (Use the Force to physically shield yourself against danger. This stage is a bit weak)
    Amy: Vital Transfer (Transfer your life force to a target to heal them at cost to yourself)
    Lisa: Empathy (Basic emotion sensing)

    Remember, you're free to edit your vote before the vote ends!
     
  13. turilos

    turilos Getting some practice in, huh?

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    [X] A girl desperately trying to save her sister.
    [X] Blinded (Decrease to learning Physical abilities, such as Lightsaber combat; Increase to learning Mental abilities, such as precognition).
     
  14. Index: Skill Tree Preview
    Aldsan

    Aldsan Getting out there.

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    From another forum:
    I was looking to prevent metagaming to a degree, as our Protagonist would be learning somewhat in the dark with no one to guide her initially. (I also may have been changing the trees up and tweaking them slightly in the background the last few days). That said, I think you're right and a general overview (if not the specific requisites of each tree) would be helpful.

    So, to start off, this is only going to be listing the "major" trees. There are several minor split offs, where there's a few powers you can grab relatively easily here and there, but dead-end fairly quickly. We won't be going over those. All of these trees have Dark Side split offs as well. Generally speaking, Dark Side powers will be cheaper and quicker to learn than their Light Side equivalents, but have less utility as you're pigeonholed into violence. There's a few exceptions to this -- Sith Alchemy, for example, has incredible utility. It's also incredibly difficult to master, despite being a Dark Side discipline.

    Also be aware that there's some crossover between trees. For example, Prescience is a Mental Power, but learning it will assist your melee combat as you're better equipped to defend yourself against attacks, etc.

    Physical Trees
    Melee Combat (Stronger, faster, more fit)
    Tutaminis (The conversion and use of energy)
    Healing

    Mental Trees
    Telekinetic
    Telepath (Sensing minds, reading minds, linking minds)
    Illusion (Mind fuckery)
     
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  15. Aldsan

    Aldsan Getting out there.

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    Alright. Voting is officially closed, everyone.

    My apologies to people who did not want a Taylor quest. She won. By a single vote. We actually came extremely close to having an Emma quest instead. In fact, if SB had been the only forum this was pulling votes from, this would be an Emma quest. Interestingly, if SV were the only forum, then this would instead be a Lisa quest. Alas, Taylor was second on both sites and had enough additional votes from QQ to pull her into the lead.

    This is fine with me, the author, as it means less rewriting I have to do. You see, the idea for this quest started as a Blind Taylor fic, and I managed to sketch out a few chapters for it before deciding it would be fun to run it as a quest instead. Funnily enough, I ran into and read Camera-Shy after coming up with the idea and saw what a fantastic job that author did with depicting a Taylor struggling with blindness, so while the voting didn't swing that way for this quest, I would recommend the fic for anyone who wants to see it.

    Anyways, I'll get to work on writing, and should hopefully have a new post within the next few days. o/
     
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  16. Threadmarks: Prologue 0.2
    Aldsan

    Aldsan Getting out there.

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    [x] A Girl Trapped in a Locker
    [x] Relatively Unharmed
    I whimpered.

    It was too much. The locker pressed in tight around me. The pungent stench of the waste that Emma, Sophia, and Madison had left in my locker combined with the acrid aroma of my own puke, leaving me nauseous. I wanted to vomit again. I wanted to scream again. I wanted to pound on the walls and break my way out.

    I can’t.

    My stomach was empty. My voice had gone hoarse from screaming, little more than a croak escaping me. The walls didn’t budge and only seemed to close down even closer every time I pushed on them. The darkness pushed in and I couldn’t do anything to stop it.

    A laugh drifted by from outside the locker. Sophia, I think. I can’t make out the words. I can’t make out the words, but I still know what she’s saying. It’s the same sort of thing she’s been saying for two years now, afterall. Look at Taylor. What a loser. What a weakling. Why is she even still here? Can’t she tell she’s unwanted? She should just kill herself already and spare us the effort.

    I bite back a sob. I bite back a scream. I ignore the tears running down my cheeks. I won’t lose. I won’t lose. I won’t let Sophia Hess of all people break me. I won’t--

    Something crawls along my neck and the sob escapes me.

    I can’t do this anymore.

    Two years. I had put up with them for two years. Every taunt, every piece of stolen homework, every time I had been shoved around in the hallway; I had raised my head and ignored them, intent on being the better person, on maintaining some sort of moral high ground.

    Well, the high ground had done me jack shit. It just meant that they kept escalating, trying to get a rise out of me. I couldn’t do it anymore. I needed to escape. I needed to punch their faces in. I needed to run away and hide. I needed to dump juice over Madison and leave her soaking in the hallways. I needed to leave this school and never come back. I needed to push Sophia down the stairs. I needed to put a gun in my mouth and end all of this. I needed to hold Emma down and choke her until she begged for forgiveness.

    I needed to know why Emma had suddenly betrayed me two years ago.

    I try to scream again, but it sounds more like a whimper.

    I felt as though I was barely holding onto consciousness. I couldn’t let myself drift off. I knew somehow that if I fell unconscious, I might never wake again. That I would die here, trapped in my own locker, mired in human waste. I wouldn’t let myself die. I would beat them. I would be stronger them. I wouldn’t let myself die.

    Whatever it took.

    Pain shot through my head. My vision was suddenly a whirl of color as galaxies spun past. Stars spun out to infinity and collapsed in turn. Life expanded out to infinity and collapsed in turn. I was surrounded by anger and apathy and love and hate and kindness and cruelty and elation and dismay and satisfaction and regret. A single person was the Universe writ small. The Universe was a single person writ large. The cosmos turned unheeding of our actions. The cosmos ached with our every hurt.

    A pale girl is being beaten, shackles keeping her tied to a wall. Lightning lances towards a pillar and a woman’s chains are broken. A youthful woman turns and her visage withers into a hag’s. A proud, arrogant man crawls away, a spineless coward in the end. Darkness swirls over a world and leaves it barren.

    Image after image spun through my mind, faster than I could comprehend. A scream escaped me, uncaring of the damage it did. Fingers scratched at my face, uncaring of the damage it did. I slammed my body against the locker, desperate to get out, uncaring of the damage it did.

    Light appeared in front of me.

    And then there was only darkness.

    ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━

    I woke to a faint beeping. It didn’t sound like my alarm clock. It was too quiet. Too regular.

    I was hearing a heart monitor, I realized.

    I let out a soft sight. I was in a hospital then. I suppose it must have been night, since the room was dark. I shivered, biting down on my lip to keep the scream from escaping me. I wasn’t in the locker anymore. Just because it was dark didn’t mean that I wasn’t safe. I was in the hospital. I was safe. I was safe. I was--

    I can’t keep the whimper from escaping me this time, but at least it isn’t a scream.

    I take deep breaths, trying to force myself to calm down. I’m alright. I’m still alive. I’m safe.

    The lie isn’t even convincing in my own head.

    I try to sit up, only to fall back with a small groan. My whole body aches. I jump however, when my groan triggers a scramble of noise at my side, and I pull back, ready to lash out. It’s the voice that stops me. “Taylor! Oh thank God, you’re awake. You’re awake.”

    “Dad.” A voice escapes me, so small I hardly recognize it as my own, and I’m soon engulfed in a hug. I smile and close my eyes, letting myself lean into him. I was safe.

    I clung to him for a long time, just shivering in his arms. His arms are solid and steady and more than anything, warm. His voice is as choked as my own however. “I’m so glad you’re awake. They said -- They said it was touch and go for awhile.”

    Touch and go. A euphemism common to doctors, a way to easily say that a patient might not make it. I’d nearly died there in that locker. I squeeze my eyes shut. Sophia, Emma, and Madison had nearly killed me. I took a shuddering breath. “How long?”

    “You’ve been asleep for nearly a week now, Taylor. I thought -- Nevermind. I’m just glad you’re okay now.”

    “Yeah.” I let myself slump back into the bed. “I’m okay now.” A week. They’d taken a week from me. A week later and my body still ached. The darkness suddenly crushed down on me again, like I was back in that locker. I bit down on my lip, fighting back the shame that rose in me. I shouldn’t be embarrassed. I shouldn’t feel weak because of this.

    I blinked back the tears and asked quietly, “Dad? Could you turn the lights on?”

    ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━

    Apparently, I had beaten myself bloody trying to get out of the locker. There had been a very real fear of infection and toxic shock with all the shit that had been in the locker, but apparently I got lucky and whatever antibiotics they put me on did their job.

    I got lucky. I wasn’t dead. Just a few more bruises and scratches for the Trio to laugh at me over.

    My Dad was out in the hallway yelling -- at someone from the school from the sound of things, but I really couldn’t bring myself to care right now. It wouldn’t make a difference in the end. It wouldn’t change anything. I shifted and tried to stifle the groan that came in response. It still hurt to move, enough that I was more or less confined to bed.

    A bitter laugh escaped me. I was trapped. In this hospital. In that school. In my life.

    My Dad’s voice rose in pitch, obviously unhappy with whatever he was hearing. I simply shook my head and tried to shut out the sound of him yelling. Dad yelling at Blackwell or whoever else might be out there just brought back thoughts of school, and that made me think of the locker, and then I was trapped again, the walls closing in on me, the stench causing me to gag. I couldn’t move, couldn’t escape, couldn’t breathe --

    I choked and forced my panic back down. The faces of Emma, Sophia, and Madison loomed in my mind and I clawed them back as well.

    I wouldn’t let them control me. Not anymore.

    I felt my nails dig into my palm. I winced, the pain throbbing in time with the rest of my body. But it helped clear my head. I forced any thoughts of Madison, Sophia, and especially Emma out of my head and simply… focused on my breathing.

    In.

    Out.

    In.

    Out.

    A minute passed like that. Slowly, I began to feel some unseen tension unravel itself from my shoulders.

    My Dad’s voice had gone quiet outside, but he hadn’t returned to the room. For all his short temper, he never wanted me to see him angry. He always tried to stay out of sight when he blew up like this. It’s not like I couldn’t figure it out when he did though. So he probably wandered off down the hall, to get a drink from a vending machine. Give himself time to cool down.

    I leaned back, idly watching a fly buzz around the room as I waited for Dad to return. I made a small game of predicting which way it would go. Left, down, right. Onto the TV. I can’t say it made for particularly enthralling entertainment, but it did serve to pass the time at least. As it turns out, flies are actually kind of predictable.

    The fly lifted itself off the TV and I waited until it came close to me to reach up and swat it out of the air. It changed paths, dodging out of the way, and I just barely clipped it, the bug barely even disturbed by my attempt to hit it. It flew a circle over my head and I scowled up at it.

    I heard the door click, and turned my attention back down as my Dad stepped into the room with a tired sigh. “Hey Kiddo. Sorry if I was a bit loud out there. How’re you doing in here? Need me to grab anything for you?”

    “No, I’m good, I think. Supposed to get discharged tomorrow anyways, right? No point in bringing in extra stuff now.”

    “I suppose not.” He gave me a weak smile and sat down next to me. “Did Emma swing by while I was gone? I thought I saw her for a second when I was coming back.”

    Darkness pressed in on the corners of my vision, memories of the locker returning. I pushed it back down, careful to keep it from reaching my face. “...No. She didn’t. It was probably someone else, Dad.”

    “Oh.” Dad paused for a long moment, the silence stretching out. I was tempted to break the silence. To reach out and reassure him that things would be alright. I didn’t.

    When he spoke again, it was with a quiet, serious tone. “Listen, Taylor, I’ve been talking on and off with Principal Blackwell. They’ve offered to cover your hospital bills, but… We’d have to drop any possibility of a lawsuit against the school.”

    I felt my gut clench. So that was it. The school did the minimum amount possible and got off free, all because we couldn’t afford to pay for my treatment. Hell, we couldn’t really afford the lawsuit either. We’d go broke before it was over and there wasn’t any guarantee that we would even win. I didn’t even really have the grades to try and get a transfer to another school anymore, since the Trio had been sabotaging my work for so long.

    “We don’t have to take the deal if you don’t want to, Taylor. We can find some other way to make things work.”

    I pause, stifling the urge to say that it was fine, to take the deal, on my tongue. I wasn’t entirely sure why. It was just one more humiliation from Winslow on top of everything else, wasn’t it? Nothing I couldn’t take. But…

    Would I simply return to being a slave?



    What to do about the settlement?

    []Take the settlement, we need the money.
    []Try to bargain for small gains. Maybe assistance in getting a transfer?
    []Try to bargain for large gains. You were seriously injured on their watch.
    []No settlement. We fight until Justice is done.


    Regardless of the settlement, you’ll be returning home and have the week off for school. How do you spend it?

    You have five actions to spend. Any training action will result in 2xp towards the chosen skill.

    []Training of some sort? Maybe if you were stronger the Trio wouldn’t have such an easy time pushing you around.
    []That breathing exercise really helped you earlier. Maybe get used to doing that?
    []Everything about this has left you frustrated and angry. Maybe work out some of your anger by breaking things old things you have that still remind you of Emma.
    []Work on homework, in case you get to test to another school?
    []Write-In


    Taylor gains 1 point in Physical Training and 1 point in Meditation as a result of being relatively unharmed by her traumatic experience.

    Taylor gains 2 points in Prescience due to natural inclination and talent.

    A relatively quick chapter this time, but don’t expect them quite so quickly in the future. A lot of this was pre-written and adapted slightly to fit the change in circumstances.

    I’ve also edited the rules regarding actions slightly, as I decided doing it day by day was a bit too granular. Instead, we’ll be taking it as a week at a time.
     
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  17. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

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    Was torn between 'small gains' and 'large gains', but with the way negotiations work, starting out asking for large gains and settling for small gains is not unusual (and you at least have a chance at getting large gains), whereas if you start out asking for small gains, you don't have as much to bargain down to (and have far less chance of getting large gains).


    [X]Try to bargain for large gains. You were seriously injured on their watch.

    [X]Training of some sort? Maybe if you were stronger the Trio wouldn’t have such an easy time pushing you around.
    [X]That breathing exercise really helped you earlier. Maybe get used to doing that?
    [X]Work on homework, in case you get to test to another school?
     
  18. ZiPeppe

    ZiPeppe (⌐■_■)

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    [X]Try to bargain for large gains. You were seriously injured on their watch.
    -[X]You want out of there. Either a transfer or money for homeschooling.

    I don't know if write ins are ok or how homeschooling works, but coming back to Winslow is out of the question. Too much energy and time better used somewhere else would be spent dealing with that shithole. As for the three harpies I'm all for gifting them a cask of Amontillado if they even dare nosing around us ever again.

    [X]Training of some sort? Maybe if you were stronger the Trio wouldn’t have such an easy time pushing you around. X2
    [X]Everything about this has left you frustrated and angry. Maybe work out some of your anger by breaking things old things you have that still remind you of Emma. X2
    [X]Work on homework, in case you get to test to another school? X1
     
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  19. Its_a_cauldron_plot!

    Its_a_cauldron_plot! ( Or is it Simurgh?)

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    [X]Try to bargain for large gains. You were seriously injured on their watch.

    [X]Training of some sort? Maybe if you were stronger the Trio wouldn’t have such an easy time pushing you around.
    [X]That breathing exercise really helped you earlier. Maybe get used to doing that?
    [X]Work on homework, in case you get to test to another school?
     
  20. Threadmarks: Slave 1.1a
    Aldsan

    Aldsan Getting out there.

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    What to do about the settlement?
    [X]No settlement. We fight until Justice is done

    How do you spend your time?

    [X]Training of some sort? Maybe if you were stronger the Trio wouldn’t have such an easy time pushing you around. X2
    [X]That breathing exercise really helped you earlier. Maybe get used to doing that?
    [X]Work on homework, in case you get to test to another school?


    The graveyard had a certain kind of peaceful stillness to it, I decided.

    It was never easy coming here. It brought too many memories of Mom. Too many memories of better times. Still, right now I needed this. Needed to see her, even if it was just her grave.

    It’s not like I thought she was actually listening. Our family wasn’t really all that religious, after all. But, I suppose this wasn’t really about her in the end. It was about me, about letting myself have some measure of peace after all the fucked up shit that had been going on in my life.

    I let out a slow breath as I slowly sat down, just staring at the slab of rock, not quite sure what I should say.

    I’m not really sure how much time passed like that. Just me sitting there, staring at the headstone, the world silent and still around me.

    I finally got up and left.

    In the end, I hadn’t said anything.

    ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━

    I idly tapped a pencil against the paper and scowled. Truly, Algebra II was the most perfidious of school subjects.

    Okay, so it wasn’t that bad, really, but I was still annoyed with having to work on it at the moment. It’s not like a teacher was even expecting me to turn it in or anything. It was just busy work that I had saddled myself with. Still, there was a good chance of having to take placement tests if my Dad managed to get me a transfer, so it was probably better if I was prepared.

    It didn’t make it less annoying though.

    My eyes drifted across the desk, my attention span spent for the moment. I had ultimately decided to tell Dad to turn down the settlement, to fight things out in court. I’m not sure it was right decision. By all rights, if the system was in any way Just, we should be able to nail the school for what had happened on their watch.

    But when had the system ever proven to be Just when I was concerned?

    Even if we won the suit, it would take months at the minimum, and Dad had to figure out how to pay off both my hospital bills and whatever fees the lawyers charged him in the meantime.

    I bit down on my lip. Was I being selfish by insisting on this? Dad was already stressed enough without me making him fight for his bullied daughter on top of everything else.

    My eyes wandered to the corner of the desk, where a picture sat. Me, Mom, Emma, and Anne, all together. All smiling. I’d put almost all of my pictures of Emma into a shoebox that I’d stuffed into the back of my closet, but this one I’d kept out. I’d told myself that it was because it was a picture of Mom.

    For a brief second, I wanted nothing more than to smash the frame it was in and tear both it, and every picture in that shoebox to shreds.

    Then, the second passed and I pushed the impulse down. I wouldn’t let Emma control me. I wouldn’t give her that sort of satisfaction, not even in the confines of my own mind. No, even if it puts some strain on Dad, I would fight her and the school for what they had done to me.

    We were still broke, but maybe I could look into getting a part time job or something to help out? It was worth looking into, at least.

    I let out an aggravated sound and threw on a jacket. I’d spent enough time brooding this morning.

    I got a full blast of cold, January wind as I stepped outside. I grimaced, locking the door behind me. It’d been a relatively warm January this year, which is to say that the dusting of snow we’d gotten over the weekend had mostly melted by this point, and there was only the occasional roadside puddle or smattering of salt to show for it.

    It was still colder than I really felt comfortable walking about in, but I pushed past that annoyance and set out at a run. This is the other way I’d been spending my time since getting out of the hospital. I’d decided that I was tired of getting pushed around by Sophia, so I was working on getting stronger. Right now, that mostly meant running, but I figured I could ask Dad about getting self-defense lessons in the future.

    It was honestly a lot easier than I thought it would be. Sure, the first day I was a sweaty mess and my heart felt like it was trying to rip it’s way out of my chest. Despite having been so terrifically out of shape though, I’d shaped up surprisingly fast. It’d only taken a few days for me to run the distance the library comfortably, and I’d quickly been expanding my range.

    A small part of me wondered if maybe I was getting in shape too quickly. It’s not like I was upset with the results though, and maybe I’d just been pushing myself harder than most people did. I had more reason than most people, after all.

    The library came into view across the street on the left and I ignored it and kept going. A fierce grin stretched along my face as I sprinted into the wind, my hair flowing out behind me. I’d never really been much into exercise of any sort before, but right now I could understand why people like Sophia joined track. There was something freeing about just focusing on the here and now and letting your cares fall away as you run.

    I turn a corner. The pedestrian signal up ahead is blinking, a warning that it would be unsafe to cross soon. There should still be enough time for me to make it if I hurry though. I rush into the crosswalk and--

    -- A car flies through the intersection, running the red light. I notice it too late, I’m too far into the intersection. I manage a scream as three thousand pounds of metal crash into me --

    -- I stop, a few feet into the crosswalk, and a car flies through the intersection, running the red light. I notice it, but it’s still moving too fast, and I’m not sure I’ll be out of the way in time and -- I fall and hit the sidewalk, the car barrelling past. A moment later, I hear a siren as the police follow on the driver’s heels.

    I stare at the intersection for a long moment. What had happened there? By all rights, I should be dead. I’d seen myself die. I let out a small, shuddering breath.

    “Hey, you okay there?”

    I look up at the voice -- a young girl, clad in green, a visor protecting her face. Vista, one of Brockton Bay’s Wards. I scramble to my feet, trying to ignore the heat suffusing my face and the bruises on my ass. “Uh. Yeah, I’m alright.”

    Real smooth.

    “Glad to hear it. I was worried for a second that I might not have gotten to you in time. It was a pretty close call, even with my power.” She smiled and stuck her hand out. “I’m Vista, by the way.”

    “I seem to be having a lot of those these days.” I try to hold back my grimace and instead take her hand. “Taylor. Do you need to go catch that guy, or…?”

    “Nah, the BPD’s already got him, it sounds like.” She paused and then carefully asked, “Hey, so where were you off to in such a rush? Shouldn’t you probably be in school right now?”

    “Er. I was just sort of running. For exercise, you know.” I glanced away, the blush in my cheeks returning full force. Could there be anything more humiliating than having a Ward catch me for truancy? Maybe if it was somehow one of the Trio who did. “I’m sort of in the middle of a transfer between schools, so I’m still waiting for that to go through.”

    “Oh. So… what school are you transferring to?”

    “Arcadia.” Vista looked like she was holding back from asking the obvious question. I didn’t really want to talk about it, but… Well, I’m sure it’d be over the news soon enough. “You’ll probably hear about Winslow getting hit with a criminal negligence case before long.”

    “Er. That sucks, I guess? For you, I mean.” Vista floundered for a moment before settling on the safe choice. “But hey, I’m supposed to start at Arcadia in the Fall. So I guess I’ll probably see you there? Except, I guess, you won’t know it’s me, secret identity and all.”

    I couldn’t resist sporting a small smile at Vista’s babbling. “I suppose I’ll just have to keep my eyes peeled for a cute Freshman then.”

    Vista’s visor concealed the upper half of her face, but I could still feel the rolled eyes. “Yeah, sure, if that’s enough to give me away you probably deserve to know my identity. Anyways, I’ve got to get going, but feel free to shoot me a message on PHO sometime if you want to talk.”

    I managed to get out, “Sure, talk to you later,” before space warped and she was standing on the roof across the street instead. She waved, and then space warped again and she was gone.

    ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━

    The graveyard sat still and quiet once again.

    I wasn’t entirely sure why I’d come here in the wake of running into Vista. Maybe I just needed some reassurance. Regardless, I closed my eyes and leaned against the headstone.

    “Hey Mom.”

    She still wasn’t there to listen. I still didn’t know what I wanted to say. So instead, I just sat there, listening to the wind. It shuddered through the trees in uneven bursts, kicking up and then dying down.

    Wild. Still.

    In. Out.

    My breathing matched the wind, and I moved in time to it. Or maybe it moved in time to me. I was a part of the world, but it was also a part of me.

    I smiled slightly. This sort of pseudo-philosophical thing wasn’t like me. But right now it felt right. Right now it felt as though the entire world were some vast lake, and though I was but a drop of water in it, my movement would cause ripples that affected everything else.

    Or perhaps, instead of a lake, it was a web, a tapestry of threads all connecting to one another. Tentatively, I reached out and pulled on one of those threads, feeling it vibrate. It was a fascinating, if somewhat meaningless feeling. This was, after all, just some picture my mind had cooked up while letting it drift.

    I opened my eyes.

    A small pebble was floating in front of me.



    Later, Emma knocks at your door and asks if she can come in to talk with you. Do you:

    []Slam the door in her face.
    []Let her inside to hear her out.


    Regardless of how things go with Emma, Danny has managed to get you scheduled for placement tests at Arcadia. You have 3 Major Actions to spend:

    []Homework, homework, homework. Buckle down and be prepared.
    []Maybe spend some time looking for a part-time job?
    []We’ve apparently got powers. Experiment with them?
    []Write-In

    You have 2 Training Actions to spend:

    []Choose two available skills from the skill tree.


    Please read the AN. I’ve modified a few things regarding the skill tree.

    Encounter Roll = Nat20. Wow. You guys have some serious luck right out the gate. Follow up roll netted you Vista.
    Transfer to Arcadia Roll = 18. Danny manages to arrange for Taylor to test there despite the waiting list, thanks to how bad things were at Winslow.

    Negotiations Roll = 17. We wound up not using it, but this would have been high enough to succeed at getting a Large Settlement had you guys chosen it.
    Alright. Wow was having 5 training actions hard to keep track of. Anyways, we’ve got a few changes to the skill tree to go over.

    First, I’ve reduced to the cost of a lot of skills.
    Second, Equilibrium has been moved to being a Tier 1 Physical skill, and thus, is now available for training.
    Third, Martial Training is now hand to hand. Weapons training is Tier 2.
    Fourth, now that Tier 0 has been cleared, Tier 2 abilities are visible.

    4 xp to Physical Training. (Physical Training maxed).
    4 xp to Meditation. (Meditation maxed).

    1 xp to Prescience from a close encounter with a car.
     
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  21. Its_a_cauldron_plot!

    Its_a_cauldron_plot! ( Or is it Simurgh?)

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    Plan: Best mind reader

    [X]let her inside to hear her out.

    [X]Homework, homework, homework. Buckle down and be prepared.
    [X]Maybe spend some time looking for a part-time job?
    [X]We’ve apparently got powers. Experiment with them?

    Healing
    Telepath (Sensing minds, reading minds, linking minds)
     
  22. Aldsan

    Aldsan Getting out there.

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    Please check the Skill Tree for currently available training. I'm guessing you want Equilibrium (leads to Vital Transfer) and Awareness (leads to Empathy)?
     
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  23. Its_a_cauldron_plot!

    Its_a_cauldron_plot! ( Or is it Simurgh?)

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    Oh, yes please. Here, let me look for it again. I think I may have looked at the wrong tab.
     
  24. Korst

    Korst Of Beginnings and Ends

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    [x]Let her inside to hear her out.

    [x]Homework, homework, homework. Buckle down and be prepared.
    [x]Maybe spend some time looking for a part-time job?
    [x]We’ve apparently got powers. Experiment with them?

    [x]Awareness
    [x]Serenity

    All of these seem like they'd be rather important. Though I'll admit I really want us to slam the door in Emma's face, it's important that we understand her angle. If she's just here to gloat then that would be that, but if it's something actually important or some kind of threat? I might be better for us if we know in advance before she actually decides to pull something and a conversation might give us some form of pre-warning of anything like that; if from nothing else than Emma's general attitude and approach to the conversation.

    EDIT: Actually serenity might be more important for the moment. Can't have tay-tay lash out or run at the first baddy she finds and try to be a hero. It'd also help her stay focused while studying and that's a big plus.
     
  25. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

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    [X]Let her inside to hear her out.

    [X]Homework, homework, homework. Buckle down and be prepared.
    [X]Maybe spend some time looking for a part-time job?
    [X]We’ve apparently got powers. Experiment with them?

    [X]Awareness
    [X]Serenity
     
  26. ZiPeppe

    ZiPeppe (⌐■_■)

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    [X]Slam the door in her face.

    [X]Homework, homework, homework. Buckle down and be prepared.
    [X]Homework, homework, homework. Buckle down and be prepared.
    [X]We’ve apparently got powers. Experiment with them?

    [X]Awareness
    [X]Rage


    No, no Emma. Fuck hearing her out.
     
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  27. LokKi

    LokKi Why so serious?

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    [X]Slam the door in her face.

    [X]Homework, homework, homework. Buckle down and be prepared.
    [X]Homework, homework, homework. Buckle down and be prepared.
    [X]We’ve apparently got powers. Experiment with them?

    [X]Awareness
    [X]Rage
     
  28. InfiniteDarkSide

    InfiniteDarkSide Making the rounds.

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    [X]Slam the door in her face.

    [X]Homework, homework, homework. Buckle down and be prepared.
    [X]Homework, homework, homework. Buckle down and be prepared.
    [X]We’ve apparently got powers. Experiment with them?

    [X]Awareness
    [X]Rage

    Because fuck Emma with a lightsaber.
     
  29. Aldsan

    Aldsan Getting out there.

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    Quick, lightning round!

    I'd like suggestions for what Taylor's current PHO username. (Basically, what she used prior to getting powers). If anyone knows what it was in canon, that would also work.

    Also, if anyone has a reference specifically to how Private Messages are formatted on PHO (as opposed to threads), I'd appreciate it.
     
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  30. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

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    Not sure about canon, but if 'Alexandria95' or 'Alexandria1995' was available when she signed up, I could see her choosing that (favorite childhood hero and year that she was born, IIRC).
     
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