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Topic Summary

Posted by: Cloak
« on: Yesterday at 09:32:18 AM »

New chapter.

It Works!

It was with great trepidation that the RAFians watched this mist envelope the entire city. But only Parker and Oceanspray seemed to be able to bear witness, having filtered out the mist from their views.

All the carnivorous produce became sluggish and lethargic upon mere contact with the bluish-white mist. Their ravenous, insatiable appetites began to wane. Slowly at first, but then building until they weren't so much vicious but almost somnambulate. Their actions and movement became less wild, frantic, and energized, and more somnolent, soporific, and drowsy.

This was good sign, as Parker and Oceanspray reported it to the others. It was a sign that the cure was working its magic.

Each and every single piece of produce fell, their bloodshot, beady eyes closed. Their gnashing teeth and ferocious snarling ceased. Their manipulation appendages fell and after a few minutes, atrophied and withered away into nothingness. Their fanged mouths, much like the jaws of a Vulpin Vulpimancer, curled in on themselves and the mouths sealed themselves up, as if they wasn't even there. Their slumbering eyes became puffy before the eye ball sunk into the produce's flesh or skin or shell -- whichever was applicable.

Within moments, the first infected produce -- a tomato -- reverted to an ordinary tomato. Fortunately, this had a domino effect. Soon, six percent of the infected produce was reverted. Then seventeen percent were cured. Then twenty-eight percent were uninfected now. The thirty-nine percent.

This was going swimmingly thus far . . .

Half of them was cured. It would be a downward battle now. Fifty-nine percent. Sixty-three percent. Seventy-two percent. Seventy-seven percent. Eighty-two percent.

So close now. All RAFians were making as many sweeps as they could to confirm. All except Cloak, who was still slumbering at this point.

Eighty-eight percent. Ninety-five percent . . .

There! All of the produce was now cured! The mist was already lifting -- which was good, because the portable Code Avalon was already starting to fail. . . .


It didn't take Bern Bridges long to react to this. And, of course, his conclusions were wrong. His assumptions were basically unsubstantiated conspiracies at best.

"And now they're gassing our homes!" he raged. "They're going to make our homes, our businesses, our schools absolutely unfit for human habitation! They're using this whole 'worldwide crisis' thing -- a crisis of their own making, mind you! -- to their advantage!"

He pounded his desk so hard that it toppled his drink -- some sort of coffee that evidently preferred black -- spilled unto his desk and upon the floor. He was so enthralled with his own voice and rant that Bridges didn't even notice. It was a wonder how it did not damage any of his equipment.

If it did, you could bet that, somehow, it would be the RAFians' fault and not this conspiracy theorist dullard.

"We are through the looking glass, people," he said. It was apparently the seventy-ninth time that they were "through the looking glass".
Posted by: Cloak
« on: Yesterday at 05:46:56 AM »

New chapter.


The four quickly had synthesized a potential cure -- a colloidal substance that was a mixture of white and blue. But it wouldn't stay this way -- it was designed to be an aerosol. It would blanket the whole of the city. It was harmless to animal cells, as it targeted cells that possessed cell walls. Fortunately, there wasn't any visiting Florauna,
 Methanosians, or any other sentient plant species -- there was no telling how it would affect them, and it might be considered a weapon of mass destruction for them. It might have killed them or just devolved them, like with the Darwin gun -- the four RAFians did not wish to test out these theories.

"Let's get this underway," Aquilai said, seriously, stowing away his sonic screwdriver. He moved to install the vial into the drive they developed to spread the cure throughout the city. The cure would dissolve into the air and it would only last a single morphing cycle -- two hours. "The sooner we do, the sooner we will be done with it."

They prepared everything with meticulous attention to detail. They had to be thorough. If so much as one infected oat was missed, then this whole thing would be pointless -- as the cure wasn't that easy to conjure up. Broken had made sure to have some back up vials -- but he hoped to not have to need them.

Suddenly, the red vent button glowed with a yellow light, giving the impression of it being on fire. Every calculation was checked, double-checked, and triple-checked. This had to work. They could not afford for it not to.

"Hold on to your butts," Xeno said, pushing the button that vented the aerosol form of the cure, rather like venting toxic gas from a room. Xeno didn't care for the analogy, but there was really no other way to describe it.

Soon the entire city was covered in what could have been Patronus mist. It had to work . . .


"These RAFian menaces are at it again," came Bern Bridges latest claptrap diatribe. He continued to palaver, "They come into our homes, our businesses, and our schools. They chivy us out of them. They force us out! They gave us no choice in the matter!"

He sipped from his navy blue mug, sitting on a gray-upholstered swivel chair in his "safe house". He didn't even really live in the city proper, but a little thing like facts weren't going to stop him from spewing his vitriolic, jabbering footle.

"They had no reason to do this, either," Bridges outright lied, "I repeat, dear listeners, there was no reason. They claim they were quarantining the city. Quarantining the city for no reason at all!"

He didn't really care if he put his listeners in harm's way, he just wanted to spout his venomous vitriol. Not to mention there was plenty of eyewitness accounts of the killer produce and the RAFians efforts to protect the citizens. He just dismissed that as hearsay, double hearsay, gossip, and rumors.

"And why did they do this, you may ask, dear listener," Bridges said, jowls quivering like Jello molds. "So they could loot you homes of your valuables and personal belongings. Do not be surprised, dear listener, if when you return -- if they even allow you to return -- to find your home ransacked and your privacy violated. Assuming your home is even standing."


And the ever so helpful government was still quibbling about whether or not the RAFians had the right to be proactive in dealing with this issue, instead of coming up with a plan, a course of action to take to deal with this potentially worldwide crisis. Just proving just how useless they really were.

If the RAFians had waited until they gave the RAFians the go-ahead, the infection would have taken hold over fifty to fifty-nine percent of the nation. And, with the possibility of already establishing a foothold in other countries.

The situation would gotten much worse if the RAFians had waited for government approval. They had the autonomy to act and they did. The situation would have compounded while the government was taking its time to pettifog and squabble and spin this into something it's not.

The RAFians did what had to be done, the RAFians did it when it needed to be done. The bureaucracy did not.
Posted by: Cloak
« on: October 19, 2017, 07:16:37 AM »

New chapter.

Aniyu, Adieu

Cloak gave Aniyu what was akin to a Realm Walker hug. Realm Walkers weren't much of a contact comfort, personable-type of species, but physical contact isn't as normal for them as it is for species like humans. True, they will make physical contact with each other, but, in their culture, it's mostly for signs of solidarity and unity with one another.

"Thanks, Aniyu," he said.

"Anytime," she said, fading back into the aether that came from Beyond the Veil.

Cloak shut his eyes, but found his body was not ready yet to wake. He had expended a lot of energy during that ailurosapien situation -- although he didn't know how long he slumbered. It had to have been a couple of days at least. He was actually kind of relieved that his apex level power has this kind of severe "cool down time". It meant that he couldn't abuse it willy-nilly.

Cloak decided to go through and see if he analyze himself. He sat down, and crossed his legs, the heels of his feet touching his hips. He put his hands on his knees. He took a deep breath, steadying himself and his mind.

Suddenly, the void took on yellows and browns, and stalagmites and stalactites suddenly jutted down around him as he focused on survival. What had made him feel fear in the past few months . . .

He took a deep breath and let those fears flow away. Let them flow down the river.

Then the void took on blues and whites, and a large moat of water flowed around him, as if he was on a slab of rock, rafting down a meandering river. He focused on pleasures, and sort through his guilt over the past few months. The Siren was still prominent.

He took a deep breath and let it go. What was done was done. It could not be changed. It was pointless to feel guilt over things he had no control over . . . yes, perhaps, he didn't handle the Siren thing well. But he cannot retract his actions.

He took another deep breath and allowed to it to flow down the river.

Then the void took on reds, blacks, and golds and the moat of water became literal fire walls. He focused on willpower, and any shame he felt. There were actually many incidents of this to mull through. But you cannot choose others views of you, and it's pointless trying to force them to see you a certain way.

He took a deep breath and allowed it to flow away.

The void took on tans and browns and it looked as if the slab of stone was suspended in air. He focused on love, and any grief he still felt. He still felt grieved for his aunt, but he had accepted her passing, with Aniyu's help and guidance.

He took a deep breath and allowed it to flow down the river.

The void turned purplish crystalline, affixing the slab of stone in place. Cloak thought of the lies he had told himself. Self-deceiving lies. There were many . . . coupled with his secret anxiety and there was some residential ones from his time with his mother that he had thought that he had taken care of.

He confronted each one, and confronted it with the truth. Then he took a deep breath, and allowed it to flow down the stream.

He would continue, but he felt his body actually, finally, struggling to wake . . .
Posted by: Cloak
« on: October 18, 2017, 06:58:10 PM »

New chapter.

A Lot is Happening

Broken had hit upon the idea of using the idea of "Golpalott's Third Law"-type of spell to split the potion magically back into it's separate ingredients. Granted, the so-called "Golpalott's Third Law" didn't exactly work like that -- but it was a starting point, anyway.

So he started to work on it -- all four appropriately weary of it. Merging science and magic was like mixing magicks -- highly volatile and highly dangerous. It was a very reckless move to do such, as if whoever was behind this -- and the four minced no words, it was obviously Malice behind it, as the RAFians didn't have any real supervillain threat other than her . . . an octogenarian Realm Walker with a superiority complex. The Knights and the Banned weren't really in her league, as far as antagonists go. And Cadmus was too much of an nonentity to them at this moment to count -- as if Malice didn't understand the serious backlash and dangerous backfiring this could have.

The aftereffects of whatever spell was cast could just simply explode, implode, transfigure, or a number of countless possibilities. It wasn't only volatile, but completely unpredictable, to merge science and magic. It wasn't like Coldsteel in that Gargoyles universe -- this was more . . . unstable.

But Broken was elated to discover that they had made some real headway. They had managed to separate the magic from the science goo -- which turned opaque white.

"Don't say it," Aquilai warned, seeing the goo. He didn't want to hear it.


"I think that that's it," Oceanspray said, double-checking and triple-checking.

"We should do another sweep," Parker said. He actually sounded anxious. They could not afford to lose this mission. They could not afford failures in this regard. "Hafta be absolutely sure."

Oceanspray sighed, his voice betrayed his weariness, "Agreed. As tiresome as it is, it must he done."

"We have to be thorough," Parker said, though his voice was fatigued. Whether from boredom or exhaustion, it was hard to say.

"We've been thorough," Oceanspray countered, lazily. "But let's go -- the sooner we sweep, the sooner we get done."

"So optimistic," Parker said, wryly and weary.


Malice was working to get her bug cams back online -- she had lost the video feed and she could not tolerate it. It was like an angry resident at an old folks home throwing their food tray into the hallway. Malice was a bit irate -- if she had missed anything because of this snafu, she would be apoplectic with rage.

Of course, she could get up off her butt and watch the unfolding of her scheme in person. But she wasn't willing to do that -- it was like asking a person in a recliner to get up and get the television remote from the far end of the coffee table. Impossible to do -- it would require to getting up, and she didn't feel like doing that.

There! The picture was back . . . but where was the audio?

Oh, there was. Wait -- she was going to have to resynch the audio with the video. Wonderful. She grumbled truculently as she worked on fixing it. It was remarkable, though, that she was willing to work with this kind of tech. Most Realm Walkers her age wouldn't have bothered, being cantankerous and rancorous.
Posted by: Cloak
« on: October 17, 2017, 08:58:50 PM »

New chapter.

The Last Truth Dreamer

"Aniyu?" Cloak asked.


"Where's all the other past Truth Dreamers?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, when I sought a council with the other Elements Masters, there was a bevy of them," Cloak elaborated. "Why aren't the other past Truth Dreamers here?"

For the first time since Cloak had met his paternal ancestor, Aniyu looked uncomfortable. She clearly was marshalling her thoughts to put her response in a painless way as possible for her.

"It is because . . . because there aren't anymore Truth Dreamers," she said. Cloak thought he heard a distinct and clear sadness to her voice, tinged with loneliness. "Until you, I was the first and last Truth Dreamer."

Suddenly, an obnoxious musical number intruded upon this moment. Funny thing was, though, it sounded as if GH was singing it. Probably because Cloak had come to associate anything musical with RAF's resident music connoisseur. Or he represented a more silly, zany, unpredictable side to Cloak's personality. Who knows?

"One! Two! Three! Four!
Aniyu, the Last Dreamer!
She's my friend and a whole lot more!
Aniyu, the Last Dreamer!
Shows me a world I've never seen before!
From the Nexus a long, long time ago,
Comes a cool, cool friend, my pal, Aniyu!
Aniyu, the Last Dreamer,
She's my friend and a whole lot more!
Aniyu, the Last Dreamer,
Shows me a world I've never seen before!
Everywhere Cloak goes, he doesn't really care.
If he stops and bares his very soul to his pal, Aniyu!
From their history to this very spotlight,
He found a friend that helps him do alright!

Then the voice of Leatherhead, but nothing more than a mental projection, as all of this was, joined in with this mental projection of GH's voice:

"That's Aniyu, the Last Dreamer!
She's my friend and a whole lot more!
Aniyu, the Last Dreamer,
Shows me a world I've never seen before . . .

It didn't make any sense, but then again, it wasn't supposed to.

"Sorry about that," Cloak said, referring to the pointless musical interlude. This was his mindspace after all, and his mind could be a bit unfocused and cluttered just anyone else's at times. He refocused on the conversation. "Anyway, what? You're the only other Truth Dreamer? Ever?"

"Yes," Aniyu said, who appeared actually amused by the musical interruption, "it's true. And, in my time, it was generally not well received. A small, but loudly vocal, group decried me as a mistress of death and a prophet of doom, when, in reality, all of my predictions were merely a result of perception and not Truth Dreaming."

So, she was kind of like the Realm Walker version of Cassandra, in a way. She told him that she was the daughter of a political figurehead (a woodpecker Realm Walker who eventually became a victim of Boss's take over with the Twelve, as well as Aniyu's mother (a bighorn ewe Realm Walker) and younger brother (a bluebird Realm Walker)), and while they weren't exactly affluent, her father made a comfortable living that afforded financial security.

The Boss came around with his henchmen, only known as the Twelve. It was true that Aniyu had dreamed that this was to come -- but as Cloak knew, Truth Dreams were not clear cut, and always difficult to interpret, even at the best of times. And it had cost her dearly. She was just about Cloak's age when it had happened, maybe a little younger. Her brother was barely fifteen, and their parents were well into late fifties.

She confessed that it took her awhile to not blame herself for what happened. It wasn't her fault, it was Boss's. She had to spend years dealing with the fear of Boss and his Henchmen Twelve, as she began to think of them. Dealing with the shame for having done nothing to stop them, refusing, at the time, to acknowledge that there was nothing that she could do. Understanding the survivor's guilt she felt for their deaths. Sort through and understand her own grief, which she allowed and mildly guided Cloak through his own. Understanding her own mental delusions and the lies she told herself, and realizing and accepting the cold, hard truths. Only after she did this, and after Master Avatar, Cloak's maternal ancestor (though she didn't know her line and his would eventually intermingle in Cloak, and his younger sister, Dagger (Faith had a different father, but Ursa was her mother, same as Cloak)) took down Boss and his Twelve.

She had eventually met a polar bear Realm Walker who gave himself the name of Freak -- mostly for the self-deprecating humor of it. Freak had a boisterous, optimistic personality that Aniyu just took to. And her down-to-earth, calm, motherly personality drew him to her. Soon that momentary affection grew adoration. The two eventually married in traditional Realm Walker fashion, two outcasts by the most conservative Realm Walker standards. Then they had a son, Humor, a march hare Realm Walker, which would perpetuate their line to Cloak himself.

SOURCE SONG: https://youtube.com/watch?v=sLlibrF5DRM
Posted by: Cloak
« on: October 16, 2017, 08:55:38 AM »

New chapter.

Diligence and Frustration


"Broken, we're all frustrated, too," Goom said, evenly, as if he needed to reminded everyone of it. It was immensely stressful what they were doing, as they were on a strict deadline, and were under a severe crunch time scenario.

"Prior incantato doesn't work," Broken said, mostly to himself. "Perhaps the scientific aspect of this concoction makes it difficult to impossible to work. Then again, the Priori Incantatem charm requires a wand to work -- a wand to enchant the produce."

They had managed to extract the goop from a killer tomato, and they've spent the passed four or five hours trying to analyzing it. There seemed to be to two layers of conversations going at the same time.

"Spectrum analysis is inconclusive," Aquilai said, irritated.

"Can't be Amato Animo Animato Animagus," Broken muttered, ransacking his annoyingly sluggish brain for spells and incantations to try. "That just makes Animagi -- along with other things, but that's not the point."

"As is the chemical analysis," Xeno said, "what is this stuff?"

Meanwhile, Broken was dismissing spells in his mind. The Draconifors Spell would just turn it into a similarly sized dragon -- not useful here. Colovaria would just change its color. Cantis would just make it sing -- if it could sing. Ascendio would just lift him up -- not useful right now. Arania exumai only worked on spiders. Anteoculatia was out, as it just grew antlers on a target's head. Arresto momentum slows or stops a target's momentum -- not remotely useful on this occasion. The Avifors Spell would just turn the goo into a bird, completely defeating the intended purpose. Cistem aperio would just open the container they had the goo in with blast of light, and the others would not appreciate that. Diminuendo would just shrink the goo, and earn him the emnity of the others. The Ducklifors Jinx would just turn it into a duck -- no good.

"Huh," Goom said, having observed the goo. "The way it undulates . . ."

"What?" Aquilai said, rather waspishly.

"The way it moves," Goom clarified, "it looks . . . somehow, it looks familiar. . . ."

Meanwhile, Broken was still going through a littany of spells, hexes, charms, and curses in his mind, trying to understand what could work. Hopefully, without mixing magicks. Everte statum wouldjust do more damage than help. The Ebublio Jinx would just bubble it. Epoximise would adhere it to its container. Flintifors would just turn it into a matchbox.

"Familiar?" Xeno inquired.

"It looks like . . ." Goom said, certainty looking out of him, "like Underseen in his natural shapeless form, only red and green instead of his opaque color."

"You can say that about a lot of of generally colloidal substances," the Time Lord dismissed. "Doesn't mean that there's a connection."

"Doesn't mean that there isn't, either," Xeno pointed out.

Aquilai didn't not appreciate this counterargument. Instead of even trying to refute it, he changed the subject, "The fact of the matter is that we have to find out how to cure this stuff and prevent a worldwide famine."
Posted by: Cloak
« on: October 15, 2017, 07:34:42 AM »

New chapter.

Acceptance and Moving On

Cloak righted himself to his knees. It seemed as if hours had passed him by, just grieving. He rub his face, wiping away his tears. He started to remember . . . not just the pain and shock of her passing. She went peacefully, in her sleep. There was comfort in that.

He began to have fond remembrances of his dear Aunt Wheeza. From the time when he was young and they went to a famous waterfall in the Nexus -- one akin to Niagara Falls in the Realms' various Earths. Granted, his mother (and Wheeza's elder sister), Ursa, and sister, Dagger, was there -- but he no longer considered those two family, despite the ichor relationship. He had not elected to stand under the waterfall, as was an option there,but Wheeza did.

More and more fond thoughts of her infiltrated his mind. All the humor she had given him, all the once-lost confidence she had helped him reclaim. Granted, there were moments when they argued and had disagreements, but that's true of anyone. She did everything that she could to teach him to let things go -- but he would admit, even now, he had a tough time letting bygones be bygones. He could be stubborn to the point of being obstinate -- it was a family hallmark on his mother's side -- he knew nothing of his father's side other than that's where his relationship with Aniyu and Truth Dreamer ability comes from.

He gave a shuttering breath as he finally managed to accept that she was gone, and there was no way he could communicate with her from beyond the Veil. She was neither Truth Dreamer nor Elements Master. He did not know why these two things enabled him to communicate with his ancestors that, too, were past Masters or past Dreamers (despite the only past Dreamer that Cloak had ever talked to was Aniyu), but he had conceived the notion that perhaps, just perhaps, he wasn't meant to know.

The one way he would be able to see Wheeza now would be drastic, hurt a lot of his friends in the process, and be something that he knew that she would not approve of. He wouldn't do it. He wouldn't hurt the people he cared about in that way -- the RAFians. Faith. Shadow. He couldn't hurt them . . . he had considered it so long ago, when he was forbidden by his mother from going to the forum . . . and she had such control over him that he complied out of fear . . . but he knew better now, thanks to Wheeza and the other RAFians.

He was not worthless. He was not expendable. He was a person, a man of his own right. He had a place and life of his own, uncontrolled by any other but himself. He was now the master of his own fate, instead of having someone dictate it to him.

"Good, Cloak," Aniyu said, after a long silence. "Good."

Cloak said nothing, turning his mind to affectionate memories with his Aunt Wheeza when he was a kid. And, after a moment, he let it go. He let her go. He let her be at rest. He had let it out, all the emotion -- the knotted up, twisted, entangled emotion -- he just let experienced it all in one go, and let it go. And there was an oddly freeing sensation, as if it wasn't weighing on his shoulders anymore.

He had truly accepted it. His Wheeza was gone, and at peace.

He stood, expect his legs to feel a bit unwieldy with his weight, as if they were were a sleep. He was mildly surprised that they were not. He looked at Aniyu and said, "Thank you."

"Any time, my young Dreamer," she said, very kindly and gracious.

It was at this point Cloak noticed something . . . something he found rather odd. He looked around . . . it was just so different . . .
Posted by: Cloak
« on: October 14, 2017, 05:50:39 AM »

New chapter.

Hasty Containment

"I must register my warning again," Yarin said, deftly setting a strange, boxy device in the middle of the town square, as Dino stomped a bevy of watermelons with gnashing teeth like switchblades. "This portable Code Avalon still hasn't been properly tested. It may malfunction. And I'm not entirely sure we fixed the power source economy of it -- its power source may run dry before we're ready for whatever comes next."

"The risks of letting these little buggers out outweighs that a bit, I think," Phoenix said. "If we can just by enough time for Aquilai, Xeno, Goom and Broken to find the cure --"

"Broken?" Faerie inquired.

"He thinks that whatever caused this . . . incident was magically-induced, at least, in part," Phoenix explained.

"Fusing science and magic?" Faerie guessed. "That's . . . that's a very dangerous ****tail of unpredictability. You'd have to either be crazy or desperate or just mentally unstable to think that it would be a good idea. It's like carelessly mixing magicks -- not a wise thing to do."

"Yeah, Broken indicated as much," Phoenix nodded.

Meanwhile, Yarin activated the portable Code Avalon sending a periwinkle-lavender energy dome around the city as the RAFians worked to evacuate it. Oceanspray and Parker scoured the exterior premier, looking for any and every straggler and eliminating them. They were trying their utmost to be extremely and exceedingly thorough, as this infection could not be allowed to spread. They had to nip this in the bud before it became a worldwide cataclysm.

They would deal with the ramifications and consequences for this hasty containment at a later date.


Malice wasn't too happy.

The fact the portable Code Avalon mockup had managed to incinerate her spying bug camera, which was her primary way of viewing what was going on. She had a secondary one, but still the fact the primary one was destroyed annoyed her.

But she could still view the goings-on at the city. She was slightly amused when she saw the city being evacuated and the attempted quarantine of the city until this whole mess is taken care of. She was confident that this quarantine would not hold and the portable Code Avalon would fail.

She was quite confident and arrogantly assured that her little curse of magic and science would spread beyond the city. Beyond the region. Beyond the nation. Beyond the continent. The world's food supply would be endangered, infected, and inedible.

This world would starve. It would be a slow, painful, and agonizing death -- much like when the meteor hit the Earth and caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. True, the world eventually bounced back from that, but many of the dominant species did not.

Mankind would not survive this. And she would revel in that fact.


"They've exceeded their authority," said Senator Mitchell Obstruere said, pompously. "They've no legal standing in which to quarantine the city. They've no possible reason for doing it."

"They've done so without the consent of the federal government," said Senator Sean Turgeo, with an irritating vainglorious tone. Like Senator Obstruere, he was a very grandiloquent man who had a very high opinion of himself, despite basically being a brazen obstructionist. "They did not allow the proper procedure for such a thing. There are proper channels that one must go through before any action of this magnitude are taken."

"They acted imprudently," said Senator Candy Insolens, pretentious and sanctimonious. "They overstepped their bounds. This cannot and will not stand."

Such was the conceited rhetoric of the bigwigs in the nation's government. There was a voice of reason here and there, such as Senator Bernard Reson, but they were few and far between. It was still a debate on whether or not to be punitive towards the forum on this.

The fact that there was a potential worldwide crisis being contained was not permitted to be discussed by the majority of the government, or outright dismissed.
Posted by: Cloak
« on: October 13, 2017, 08:27:59 AM »

New chapter.

Saddened and Depressed

"Please, Aniyu, I --"

"Allow yourself to grieve," she pushed gently.

Cloak found himself on his hands and knees. His right hand over his heart. He felt his heart squeezing hard, as if someone put in a hydraulic press. The veil of unreality seemed to have lifted for him ever so slightly as his eyes watered. As his tears splattered the floor of this purplish-black void. Unlike in the Realms, these tears did not sear the ground, burning and scorching it.

His sobs came out as stilted gasps as tears flowed in a strong stream down his face, matting his feline fur into streaks rather reminiscent to that of a cheetah. He had almost unconsciously stopped himself from feeling this. From feeling this as deeply as he should, as he needed to feel this. It was subconscious defense mechanism, he supposed, to protect himself, emotionally, from even more pain. But in doing so, he blocked the only way he could truly grieve, as grieving could be an emotionally arduous task, but, like Aniyu said, one that must be done to move onward with one's life.

He hesitated. Wary of feeling these . . . these unpleasant feelings of sadness and sorrow. He had to plunge into this well of sadness -- but not too deep. It would not do to wallow in despair. He just needed to experience this sadness and sorrow. Experience it and move onward. Allow himself to experience it, and move onward.

Only with this, could he truly accept his aunt's passing. He should've find solace in the mere fact that she went peacefully. She went in her sleep. But his heart still ached for his dear aunt, the pain in his heart and soul at her exit from this life. He never got to say "thank you" to her . . . there was so much left unsaid . . . there was so much left undone . . .

So much . . .

His heart ached with the loss. He felt as if his very soul was being squeezed, as if it was being wrung out. He felt his body's grief-stricken heaving, vibrating with his sorrow. He felt . . . he felt . . .

Here, he didn't have to keep up the pretense of being aloof and emotionless. Here, he didn't have to pretend that things didn't get to him, that he didn't get frustrated and irritated, that he didn't get stressed out . . . he didn't have to worry about never showing weakness or vulnerability.

Granted, he never had to do this with the forum and his Dweller friends, but he was so conditioned to be this way. For over two Dweller Earth centuries, he was conditioned not to show any emotion that his mother did not approve of. He came to deeply internalize his emotions, especially when his powers became linked to them. He ran from them, as he always did. He feared his emotions. He feared himself when he became emotional. When he lost control of himself, and the elements, as well.

Wheeza was always kind to him. Granted, they did not always get along -- but never having disagreements with loved ones? That is an impossibility. Disagreements are bound to happen, and are inevitable. But Wheeza did not react the same way to "insubordination" they way his mother did. Wheeza was never verbally abusive.

When his mother had kicked him out the house and, Cloak had believed, out of the family, Wheeza came to his rescue. She correctly deduced that his only real problem at that time was a lack of confidence. She had enabled him to come and actually live in the Prime Universe with his RAFian friends. It was she who came up with the idea to line his thread with the same fabric that all Realm Walker cloaks were made out of, so to block his corona from destroying that which he held dear.

All done with an irreverent sense of humor and honesty. He would miss her greatly -- both she and Faith were far more like mothers to him than his actual mother, his biological mother, a woman who was desperately and sadly fearful of losing control of those around her and pathetically incapable of taking accountability or responsibility for her own actions.

It was amazing two remarkably different women came from the two same parents.
Posted by: Cloak
« on: October 12, 2017, 06:40:46 PM »

New chapter.

An Impossible Impasse

"Then how do we . . ." Saffa said, half-paying attention, half-dealing with some killer kale. "How do we stop this without causing a worldwide famine?"

"It's a Sophie's choice," Helen said, knowingly. "A decision where every alternative option has significant negative consequences. We can destroy every infected vegetable, fruit, etcetera -- which would lead to worldwide famine. Or we can do nothing as more of the world's food supply is transformed into these monstrous sins against nature. Which would still lead to worldwide famine, as no one will want to eat this produce, mutated by whatever agent was used to cause this mess."

"It's also a Hobson's choice," Melissa said, deftly dealing with a pugilistic pumpkin. "A choice between the primary option or nothing at all. We can do what we've been doing -- and causing an unholy mess while we're at it -- or we can do nothing."

"Regardless," Parker said, seriously, wiping away a smashed tomato from his visor. He wasn't particularly pleased -- he had just cleaned that visor not more than thirty, forty minutes ago, it felt like. "The fact of the matter remains that we must do something. Something substantial preferably. Because inaction is also a choice."

"Trouble is," GH said, almost uncharacteristicall y pragmatic, "this is a sort of 'effed if we do, effed if we don't' type of scenario. The real question is what do we do about this? We cannot simply destroy every fruit, vegetable, seed, and whatever edible plant that can be afflicted with this . . . whatever it is. The only solution I can see is to just contain it within a small area and prevent its spread."

"No wisecracks, GH?" Dino chided.

"Now's not the time for it, Dino," GH said seriously. He glanced back at the direction at the forum. He had forbidden Leatherhead from coming, leaving him with the house-elves to watch -- he was fond of them, even with the names that Shadow had once given them. He had a bit of a fondness for a female one that Shadow named Ozzie -- after an Oshawott she had once befriended.

Maybe that put his parenting in question, but GH couldn't bring him into this, and all the RAFians were needed to deal with this potentially devastating problem. LH was too young for a real mission. He was only six years old. Leatherhead was still a young child . . . but GH's attention was split between his guilt of this, the situation at hand, and smashing some cumbersome cucumbers that wanted to beat him into submission.

"A cure needs to be found, and fast," Spectre said, not sure if his powers could reverse it, and the actual Spectre spirit wasn't exactly talkative. "We cannot destroy everything. GH is right -- containment may be the only viable option we have to us."

"Then the question is how," Shenmue said, seriously, "how can we contain all the infected produce? And be absolutely sure none escape?"

"Have project a portable form of Code Avalon over the entire city?" Parker suggested, seemingly displeased with the mush littering the road asphalt and sidewalk, making simply walking slippery. "Institute a quarantine and evacuate everyone out of the city into the relative safety of the outside world."

"We don't have that kind of authority," Phoenix said. "The government would see it as exceeding our authority."

"Then where the bloody hell are they?" Faerie said, harshly. "Where's their
grand solution? Where's their action? I'll tell you. They have none planned. They always react too late. They waste their time bickering when action is called for, and rush in hastily when deliberation and planning are called for."

She took a shuttering breath, as if she was feeling emotional.

"We're the ones on the ground every time a potential worldwide crisis like this happens. Where are they? Tucked away in their little safe spaces, issuing orders for others to die or be maimed in their stead. Then they have the nerve to act all offended when you confront the cowards with this fact."

She stopped to watch as a potato and tomato began to attack each other.

"Screw them," she said. "Let them bleat about 'exceeding our authority' when we make the danger pass. Again."
Posted by: Cloak
« on: October 11, 2017, 01:04:06 PM »

New chapter.

Bargaining Begging

Cloak's anger was now quickly evaporating. He let it go in an almost apathetic way.

"She has to come," he told Aniyu. He still had his back to her, but he was now on his knees, unaware of the internecine threat in the waking world. "She . . . she has to."

"She can't, Cloak," Aniyu said, rather infuriatingly patient. "She's neither a Master of the Six Elements, nor a Truth Dreamer. She cannot connect to you in this way, young Dreamer, no matter the strength of your bond when she was alive."

"Maybe . . . maybe I've done something wrong, then," Cloak said, not ready to accept Aniyu's truthful words. "Maybe . . . maybe this is just the wrong place. Maybe she came to another place, and I missed her. Maybe I still have time to meet her there!"

Aniyu only said on word, still with the patience of a saint, "Where?"

Cloak didn't have an answer for that, as he was clearly grasping at straws. Cloak's mind threw around other possibilities, each more unlikely than the last.

"Cloak, you need to allow yourself to grieve," Aniyu said, with the utmost seriousness. "You cannot continue this way. I know that she loved you, and you her, but she's Beyond the Veil. She cannot come back. She lives only in the memories of those who loved her, in your memories."

"Maybe . . . maybe I did something wrong," Cloak stammered, looking for any other solution, rather than face the truth. "Maybe I should . . . should . . . uh . . . um . . ."

"Cloak," Aniyu said, kindly, but firmly. Like a parent would. "No matter how much you cast around for impossible solutions and implausible scenarios, the truth still stands and it will always stand. It may seem cruel, but sugarcoating it would do you no good, young Dreamer."

"Please, Aniyu," the RAFian said, almost begging. "Please let me see her . . ."

Aniyu sighed deeply, but not in an irritable or huffy way. It was a good-naturedly, motherly sigh of exasperation. "Cloak. I am not stopping her from coming."

"Please . . ."

It was rather odd seeing the being that had kept the world rotating, to thwart the Machiavellian machinations of an ailurosapien whose name happened to coincide with a common internet abbreviation, now in this very emotionally vulnerable state. Granted, this was essentially all his head, and could very well not be true at all, but these emotions? They were real.

"Cloak, I cannot just make her arbitrarily manifest," Aniyu said. Her voice was soft, yet firm.

And it was true that he had not allowed himself to grieve. He had allowed himself to get distracted with the various RAFian missions. He pushed away his emotions, and he focused on other things. He had thought he had grieved . . . but he hadn't allowed him to grieve deeply. Part of him was stuck in the sticky tar of incredulous disbelief that she was really gone.

"Please, Aniyu. Please . . ."

Part of him almost expected that he could go and talk to her at any time, as if she was alive again. The reality of her death, the sheer finality of it, had never really hit home yet. He was still under the veneer of disbelief.

"Allow yourself to grieve, Cloak." Aniyu said. "Only then, can you truly accept her passing."
Posted by: Cloak
« on: October 10, 2017, 06:02:23 AM »

New chapter.

Acknowledgement of a Problem

"I just thought of something," Aquilai said, as he surveyed the damages and heard a produce merchant loudly lament "My cabbages!"

Cabbages that killed and ate sewer rats the size of an old rag, their appetites insatiable as a Guzzlord. They were rudely stomped by a passing Dino, her thick, scaly hide practically untouchable by the fangs and claws of the produce.

The merchant seemed to consider the fact that they seemed to be willing to move up from rat to human flesh, and decided that it was probably for the better that they were gone. But they were his livelihood . . . but if they killed him, eating him, having a livelihood wouldn't matter one lick. He dismissed it, saying, "Oh, forget it."

"What?" Xeno said. "There is still more of that infected produce to deal with, Aquilai."

"That's just it," Aquilai said, mind going eleven thousand miles a minute. "The produce -- the contagion that made them . . . like this."

"What about it?" Gaz said, as Lazerbeak wheeled around her like an Orbitar from "Kid Icarus".

"It's contagious," Aquilai explained, forcing his mind to slow down so he could put it into words, "it's catching to any uninfected produce within a very short proximity and very short incubation time."

"What's your point?" Faerie said, deftly slicing a really annoying orange into quarters, somehow with a single strike.

"Faerie, consider the larger stake in this," Aquilai said, "no form of produce is immune."

Sakki whistled a sonic whistle which shredded a murderous magosteen into ribbons and mess. Then she said, "Cut to the chase, Aquilai. We don't have time to --"

She turned what would be a slip on produce slush and mess and a hard landing on her backside into a handspring and somersault. She didn't expect or require any accolades or adulation for this perfectly executed maneuver, as she had honed it in the forum training room -- affectionately known as the "Danger Room".

"-- have time for lengthy antidotes." Sakki concluded, as if she were not interrupted. "Get to the point."

"I was just trying to impress upon you the potential worldwide consequences of this," Aquilai said, quite concerned. "No produce is safe from this viral contagion. None are immune. Consider the problems that would arise if there were no uncontaminated produce in the world."

Silence greeted this pronouncement, aside from the shrieks and snarls of the produce now being smashed and mashed to bits. The streets were littered with the remnants, debris, and various detritus from these fights. The gravity of the situation was being acknowledged by all.

"What we're looking at is a potential worldwide famine," Aquilai said, seriously. "And we need to stop it."

"Good idea!" GH said. "Any idea how?"


Malice cackled and crowed as she followed the conversation. "They finally got it. They finally understand my genius. They can finally appreciate the futility of their predicament."

She gave a laugh of which the Joker would be envious.

"There is no cure!" she said, savoring the moment of reveal. "Science will not undo it. Magic cannot undo it. It cannot be stopped. These Dwellers will die. They will starve -- animal feed is affected as well. Meat cannot last long without another food source. Biological specialists are more likely to die off than generalists."

She smiled a toothy grin, anticipating a crumbling resistance that would surely follow next. This was a rather slow burn scheme that had caught fire quickly and is close to becoming an inferno.
Posted by: Cloak
« on: October 09, 2017, 09:31:40 PM »

New chapter.

Angry Denial

"Liar!" Cloak said, abjectly rejecting everything that Aniyu said. "She'll be here. She will."

"Cloak," Aniyu said, insistently, "she won't come. She can't."

"You're lying!" Cloak said, angrily.

"Cloak," Aniyu said, "listen to me --"

"No!" Cloak said, obstinately. "You're wrong! She would not abandon me."

"Cloak," Aniyu said, "you're not allowing yourself to see the truth."

"I don't believe you," Cloak snapped.

"Cloak," Aniyu said, "you're not seeing this clearly."

"You're not seeing this clearly!" Cloak said, childishly stubborn, turning his back to her. He almost backhanded her when she went to turn him around to face her again. He stopped himself from striking his ancestor from who knows how many generations past.

She took a step back from him, keenly aware what inclination he had stopped. "You want to strike me down, Cloak? You want to lash at out at me? You want to attack me?"

She spread her arms out, palms up, head bowed. "Fine. Attack me, then."

Cloak, even in his anger, could not do this. His heart could not allow him to do that to someone who did not deserve violence. Violence should only be the recourse when none other are available -- although he was aware that in some circumstances in the past where he had reacted rashly, and used violence too quickly, made him rather hypocritical on this point.

He just turned his back to her again, and, once again, she turned him to face her. She said, "Cloak. Cloak, I'm not saying this to be mean. I'm not saying this to hurt you. I'm saying this because it's true. She won't come back because she can't."

Cloak said nothing. His anger had not ebbed in the least. He abjectly refused to believe what Aniyu was saying, and he wasn't willing to let go of his anger. Not just yet. It was actually starting to spread to Wheeza. What was taking her so long? Why didn't she show up just so Aniyu could be proven wrong?! Why . . . why was she taking so long? Why was she making him wait? She was never so cruel . . .

Maybe . . . just maybe . . .

No! No, he could not abide by that. He could not give Aniyu's words any credence. He would not. Wheeza never let him down before. She would be here. She would. He would see her again. He would hear her voice, her words, again. Feel her kind, understanding presence glowing with good humor. He would be able to speak to her again. See her smile, hear her laugh, again. . . .

"Cloak," Aniyu said, her words not reaching Cloak, "she cannot come. You haven't allowed yourself proper time to grieve over your loss. You pushed your feelings away,and refused to feel them."

He ran from them. Deep down, he knew it, but, in the current state that he was, he would never admit it. He kept hoping fruitlessly. For something -- for someone -- to never come.

Cloak was essentially hoping for something he'd see in the Mirror of Erised, something that was impossible to come true.
Posted by: Cloak
« on: October 08, 2017, 05:18:48 AM »

New chapter.

Sheer Malice

Malice watched it as her little fusion of science and magic took hold. She watched with smug satisfaction. This scheme of hers was perfectly evil, and these RAFian pets of Cloak did not seem to realize the true genius of the scheme yet.

These Dwellers were always enjoyably slow-witted, Malice mused. They haven't even seen the true consequence of this produce animation spell . . .

Oh, look there. The spell is spreading to more fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, and the like. More and more of the produce are being animated with fangs and clawed hands. The magical contagion, she projected, would eventually sweep over all produce of the nation, then other nations, and then globally. All produce would become carnivorous.

And simply destroying and killing all the killer produce would not be a very viable solution either, as Malice grinned at her own perceived genius. Because the destruction of the killer produce would not revert the foodstuffs back to their original form, and would make it impossible to be edible again.

She cackled at the thought, smiling a toothy, Tasmanian devil* smile. Realm Walkers aren't required to eat like the Realm Dwellers are. Besides, due to their coronas, they can't even eat Dweller food. Theirs is basically a species that has a self-sustenance power, though they do require rest and sleep from time to time. It is rare when a Realm Walker won't or can't sleep, as they have problems with insomnia as Dwellers do (though the more bigoted Walkers would claim that it's worse than anything a Dweller has to deal with). So, this super-contagion would have no real impact on her or Cloak.

But Cloak's friends and allies at the forum? They wouldn't fare so easily. Sure, some of them like Oceanspray or Spectre did not require food, but a fair lot of them were human, or species that required consumption of outside resources for sustenance. They were not immune from starvation from this perverse famine. If this were not to be remedied, then they most assuredly would starve.

And, of course, this is precisely what Malice wanted. She wanted to see Cloak suffer, for him to see his friends dying one by one a most slow and painful death. Wanted to see him struggle to save them, see the futility of the action. Writhe with painful agony that nothing he can do can make the situation better, nothing he could do could save his little pets.

What did she care if she had to sacrifice the entire life on a planet in order to do so? It was all worth it, in her view, as long as she got her momentary, fleeting pleasures from it. That's how she saw, not only Dwellers, but even other Realm Walkers. They were all expendable to her -- mere ants beneath her magnifying glass to burn indiscriminately. They really served no other purpose but that which she decided for them. She saw their deaths as meaningless and inconsequential, as if this were just some sort of big video game where there was an infinite chance to respawn.

But she was aware of the grim finality of Dweller deaths would be. She just dismissed it, as a man would when he stomped and crushed an ant or spider beneath the heel of his boot. They were just NPCs to her -- their lives had no purpose other than what they could do or give to her.

You could really consider her life rather sad and pathetic. In her roughly eighty years of life (or eight hundred years, by Dweller Earthling standards), she's never had a true friend. She's never wanted one. She spurned every attempt at friendliness or affection, unless she could use it to manipulate the person for her own ends. Her family life was also apathetic and detached. She never married, and never bore any children. She considered marriage a form of imprisonment and considered raising children an inconvenience, an annoyance, and a bother. She considered both a waste of time and energy, and only the stupid would go for it.

Of course, this gets interesting in . . . well, let's not get ahead of ourselves.

* This
and not this
Posted by: Cloak
« on: October 07, 2017, 06:29:36 AM »

New chapter.

Anger Tempest

Cloak continued to run. To run to the spot that he felt assured that she would be there. That she would be there so that he would be able to speak to. She had to be there -- she had never let him down before. She had never caused him pain before . . .

He was nearing the place now. She should be there, he believed with every bit of his heart. She would be there. She would. In this midnight blue blue void, where there were no visible ground upon which to stand, but the ground was still there, firmly supporting his weight. There was no sound with every step he took, but he found himself not really caring about that.

She would be there. He would talk to her again. He would see her again. He wanted this so much. He desired this so much that he would have seen it in the Mirror of Erised.

She wasn't there.

No matter, no matter. Cloak was just early. That was just it. He was early and she hadn't arrived yet. That was all. She would be there. She would . . .

But she wasn't.

Why was she making him wait? He never had to wait for Sage or Aniyu to manifest themselves. Perhaps she was just waiting to make an entrance, like Sage did just before he took him upon Epiphany Road? He wasn't too sure about it, and he felt a small bit of anger bubbling in him.

He did not notice the midnight blue of the void slowing and subtly translating from midnight blue to a color somewhere between maroon and dark red. And it did so as his anger grew and bubbled within him.

She was really being inconsiderate now, making him wait. The void now filled with a barn red mist, which swirled around Cloak in a loose circle. She was never this inconsiderate to him before . . . anger was building in him . . . why was he being disrespected like this?

Was this because she supposedly told his mother to tell him to forget that grizzly bear piece of . . . well, that's too bad! He would never accept his mother back into his life. She shut that door and burned that bridge, and he would not be the one rebuilding the bridge or opening the door. He may have accepted his mother for what she was, but that did not mean that his severe antipathy towards her was in any way extinguished.

No, that couldn't be it, Cloak said, trying to stem his anger. But why was she making him wait?! It had really been too long now. She was taking too long to manifest. It didn't take Aniyu or the past Masters nearly this long to do the same. What was taking her so long?! He could no longer tell if he was angry or just really impatient at this point.

He was so sure that she'd be here. . . .

"She won't come," said a familiar voice behind him.

"You don't know that, Aniyu!" Cloak spat angrily, not deigning to look at her.

"But, Cloak," she said, sadly, "I do."

"No, you don't!!" Cloak said, still irate.

Aniyu pulled Cloak around -- which was not easy as she, as a lupine Realm Walker, was smaller than Cloak, a tiger Realm Walker. She said, "Cloak, she won't come. She won't come, because she can't."