GM: Hecate. The entire First Circle is dead, as are all but one of the Maraza.
HC: Then the Reach will rebuild as it has before. And our guest.
BB: Hecate. I still can't see.
HC: Last of the Maraza. Lightning child. I task you with one last quest. The Bella Corona stands at the center of it all. Puppeteers with strings in every corner of the second sphere. They did this to me, to the First Circle, to the planet.
GM: I will bring you their heads.
BB: Holy crap.
HC: It hurts. They have leaders. Cut off the head. Watch them fight among each other. Scatter them, rob them of everything, hound and harry them. And only then may you destroy them all.
BB: Why did you bring me here? I can only go where Sarese goes.
HC: Her goals will bring their wrath down on her. Wherever you go, so will they.
GM: And so will I.
BB: Then I accept. But not cause I want to. You mind controlled me to come down here, I don't know you just yet, and I don't have a choice in any of this. I accept cause I have to.
HC: You can always walk away. You may die, but you still have a choice.
GM: I can walk away. Walk to the surface, survey the toxic scraps of meat that used to be over a hundred million people. Catch something on the wind and die.
BB: You heard me.
HC: Then one last request, child. This toxin is inevitable but slow in progress. You have a gun.
BB: And this can kill you?
HC: It'll shatter me. The Chains will do their work faster.
BB: Alright then. I hardly knew ya, Hecate. Last words?
HC: Something cryptic? Or genuine? No. Find the ones responsible. Break them.
Xescali Pilgrim attempted to start a conversation with Zhaest Origoth'bokrug and Bernard Bartlett at 7:46AM, 10/22/1738
XP: Hey guys.
XP: This is awkward.
ZO: You had rebuttals. I did not. And no, I don't wish to discuss it.
BB: We're screwed.
ZO: You think?
XP: We're right where we're meant to be. Right in our places, all of us.
ZO: We're all tools.
BB: Well... I was tryin' to be nice, but— yeah, sure. Tools.
ZO: Because you're the protagonist.
BB: I'd say y'all share that position with me.
ZO: You two really feel this way?
BB: Yes, Z, I do feel this way. I'm tired. I can't remember most of my life anymore, and I don't know why I get up in the mornin'.
XP: I can't escape it. No matter where I go, I just can't get away from her. Why am I even here?
ZO: Because we're strong. We're the finest the Ouroboros had to offer. We'll get through this.
Hey. You there. Author. This is where you expect me to band up and bond with 'em, right?
BB: Yeah, cause it's real easy for you, right?
ZO: I beg your pardon?
BB: I had to live eight years of life in as many months, rewindin' and retryin' until I had it perfect. Kali had to deal with Scarlett and Lucas. What the hell have you exactly done?
ZO: I preach defiance in the face of adversity, and I'm the weak one?
BB: Then answer me. What've you done to stand with us?
ZO: You think I'm a joke. I'm the comic squid man, you think I've had no trials?
BB: I think your whole aloof wise dude schtick you're tryin' to cultivate is gettin' on my nerves. Oh look at me, I'm so interesting cause you know so little 'bout me! Start all these rumors and memes, make them all true.
XP: No more than the dude angry at the world thing you've suddenly started.
ZO: Or your surprise descent into emotionless self-pity.
ZO: I apologize that my life wasn't full of suffering as yours. Contrary to the myths, the first time around is the best, looking how you turned out.
BB: Unrefined and unshaped. Fits the tentacles. Why do you even have those? You lookin' for Jack Sparrow too?
ZO: Contrary to belief, suffering isn't the key. When you wound and break, you don't come back stronger. The weight of your scars don't empower you, they drag you down, show how weak you are.
BB: Grats, we agree. Except you don't have them. You don't get it.
ZO: Of course I don't. I'm too good for that.
ZO: Put that away, we're onboard.
BB: You start something, Origoth'bokrug, I'm going to finish it.
ZO: Greeks aside, the last typically doesn't get to be the best, Bartlett. They're lucky to be bothered with.
BB: You? Lead us?! You're the smart guy. Stick with it.
ZO: Compared to you? Fucking. Genius.
BB: You understand I can kill you where you stand.
ZO: You realize I can make you kill yourself.
XP: Both of you need to shut the fuck up. This is pointless.
ZO: Would you like to take his side? He'll need the aid.
BB: I don't want or need anyone else. I never asked for any of you.
ZO: What's it like, being so childishly alone?
BB: I don't have an entire species to disappoint.
XP: I get it, you just wanted to help. But this is a personal issue we need to work out alone.
BB: I already have.
XP: No, you're ignoring it.
BB: So what, I should embrace it like you? Where's that gotten you?
XP: Fuck you, Bernie, I tried to help!
BB: I NEVER ASKED! I didn't ask for supporting characters. I could've hacked it myself, but no, I get you two minor characters.
ZO: Because you're such a colorful character you can hold narrative momentum alone.
BB: Says the guy whose previous character is summed up as wacky wise squid dude.
XP: And you're one to talk?
BB: Fine. Let's shake up the narrative. You two think you can be protagonists?
ZO: Judging by you and Justine, absolutely.
BB: Bring it. Kill me, or I'm going to get two more notches.
ZO: You've gone insane. Oh god. Hecate's driven you mad.
XP: You won't.
BB: You think I won't?!
XP: I think you're soft at heart. You won't.
SQ: What's going on here?
XP: Oh my god you were! You really were going to do it!
BB: I like you. I like Z. I won't hesitate to kill you.
SQ: While I love the kissing up, I'm waiting for an explanation.
ZO: We've all been changed by the archon. We can no longer work together.
XP: Turns out we hate each others' guts enough to kill.
BB: We're learnin' we never really liked each other.
SQ: And you do this now of all times.
SQ: Melpomene's spawn. Stand down.
SQ: Honestly never thought I'd need the command phrase. Children. Follow me.
RZ: You're throwing away a great asset. One of the greatest, in fact.
SQ: Then it'll have to do.
RZ: Even with your clock ticking down as it is? The Lord of the Pit awaits.
SQ: How great an asset?
RZ: Hmm. One moment.
RZ: Ulysaun knew that he would never bow to another, especially when he'd merely followed in the wake.
SQ: Greater than him?
RZ: Mr. Bartlett was formed of two of our more volatile kin. You've seen the lightning artist because little Bernie is a momma's boy, despite losing two of them. You haven't seen the warmind.
SQ: You gave me a tactical asset?
RZ: Strategic. You remember what happened. Samyaza captured the Archons, and many of the SSE's hearts with them. Ulysaun's throne was challenged by the one who helped put him on it.
SQ: You— you gave me one of the greatest masterminds of the era on a whim?!
RZ: Like Ulysaun and daresay, the Archons, I was bored. Do you still want to give him up?
SQ: How can I make him obey? What's to stop him from striking out on his own?
RZ: Give him what he wants.
SQ: What does a teenage alien formed from two infinitely older souls want in life?
RZ: Give him acceptance. Self-esteem. Self-actualization. What he desires cannot be made to exist. Make him desire new things, then fill that desire.
SQ: No one's fucking the underage alien.
RZ: I don't even.
SQ: What are you doing?
RZ: Self-actualizing. But since you bring it up, it could work.
SQ: Next topic.
RZ: Why was that even the first thing? What exactly goes on in that mind of yours? I didn't realize Kyliss was a horny bastard.
SQ: He's come into contact with multiple females I plan to use. I could link them to him, though that makes the female even more important. How should I link him directly to me?
RZ: Are you familiar with the human concept of motherhood? It's similar to the crownworld's bond between wigglers and lusii.
SQ: If I could mold him, perhaps. But you've already done that.
RZ: My, my, you are a dense one. Be his caretaker, you silly girl! Listen to him when he whines, comfort him when he won't stop hanging onto his constructed past, just ask about his day, that's a start!
SQ: I have to ask. Why are Zhaest and Xescali less work?
SQ: What the fuck.
RZ: You are in the Da'at Monolith World, fledgling thematarch. I can do as I please with myself.
SQ: You haven't answered my question.
RZ: Zhaest believes he's already completed his journey. His past has been tied up, and he's content to go wherever he find himself. Stable, relatively powerful with the two healers, and absolutely BORING.
SQ: And Xescali?
RZ: She's resigned to it. She embraces you like a black hole embraces all things, because like a black hole she is devoid of hope, self-esteem picked apart by failure and a rightly perceived uselessness in shaping her future.
SQ: Then your matrix found the balance? The thesis, antithesis, synthesis?
Sarese Qentas was supposed to give an information dump on the Pit to Bernard Bartlett at 12:06PM, 10/29/1738
SQ: Where to begin.
BB: This is iced tea.
SQ: I need a large amount of sugar every day. Chocolate?
BB: No thanks.
SQ: You're not any happier under Calliope.
BB: Why would I be? I'm free from Raziel, but where am I goin' to go? Everyone I know never actually existed. I got nowhere to go.
SQ: Why go anywhere? Just stay here. Don't give Raziel cause to come after you.
BB: That's 'bout it. I'm here cause I have nowhere else to be. Raziel, Calliope, Gallas, they assume I'd listen.
SQ: They'd hunt you down, bring you back. Maybe not in Gallas' case. Except...
BB: Am I that obvious?
SQ: A bit, yes. You have no will to live, do you?
BB: Thank you for taking a scalpel straight to things I intentionally don't think about.
SQ: Hence you've been studying history.
BB: Give me numbers, facts, figures, graphs, I can keep myself occupied and you can stop worryin' 'bout one of your assets bein' suicidal.
SQ: While I have the scalpel. It wouldn't be suicide. Your life isn't yours to take.
BB: I really, really hate you sometimes.
SQ: I need to know. Because then we have an understanding.
BB: Oh hell no. You too?! What the fuck.
SQ: I need high amounts of sugar, I avoid starlight whenever possible, and inflicting my will on others makes me chemically happy.
BB: Is the Pit just a cloning facility or a heart of evil in the universe?
SQ: It's just a cloning facility like Hamal is just a non-SSE native. It has cloning facilities, brood caverns, breeding pits, hospitals, workshops. All the disgusting biological processes of society are industrialized and used to hold society in a vise.
BB: You're in the vise.
SQ: I physically can't live without the services of the Pit.
BB: I have Raziel to ambiguously despise. You?
SQ: Kyliss Jenova. You met him back then, when we first met.
BB: So we're both stuck. No, we're all stuck. If I talk to Jenova, I guarantee you he'll tell me he's chained to someone else.
SQ: Do you know the truth behind your creation?
BB: Of Barachiel and Samyaza? I do. I'm supposed to be this genius or whatever.
SQ: I suspect Raziel knows about my relationship to Jenova. So he gave me you, expecting you to set me free.
BB: Except I read the histories. Arista itself is chained to the Pit.
SQ: If it were simpler, you wouldn't be here.
BB: Have you considered takin' control of the place yourself?
SQ: Jenova is old enough to remember the angelic invasion. He was there when we changed the calendar to our current system. And he was the Lord of the Pit then too. Even if I could, I don't know that I could run it.
BB: And you don't trust anyone to rule it in your stead?
SQ: No one that could do it, no. Jenova also knows every process performed in the Pit inside and out. In fact, he likely developed most of them himself. No one like that exists here, perhaps deliberately.
BB: So we have to overthrow the status quo, make it easier to put in a replacement. Which then affects you... wow.
SQ: And if the Pit's production falls, then the SSE will investigate. It's the biggest single contributor to their forces.
BB: So why should I help you?
SQ: I'm on a time limit before Jenova decides I'm not worth the effort and does something else with me. An angelic genius' mind is exactly what I need.
BB: What were you goin' to do if Raziel didn't give me to you, then?
SQ: I don't want to think about it.
BB: I have you at my mercy, then.
SQ: I'm the thematarch of the Diamond. Don't overestimate how much I need you.
BB: But you need me all the same.
SQ: Don't be sadistic. Don't be like him. Please.
SQ: Xescali and Zhaest have returned from their mission.
BB: We'll continue this later. Let's see what they got.
XP: The Jove Monolith world wasn't even listed anymore.
ZO: It seems the world was used as a prison for an angel after it was put there at Quan'as Ulysaun's personal request. It's been cut off, with no access from the outside.
XP: Also... Raz contacted us after we found out. He said it's his version of a dead troll's switch. If whatever's in there gets released, we all lose.
BB: Guys. It's where Justine is.
SQ: Another Ouroboros subject?
XP: Same creation, different batch. As in, if she gets out into this world, she'll take out all our enemies, then us, then everything else.
BB: Imagine if Jenova decided Arista wasn't enough, and decided to create more of the Pit across every world in the SSE, then integrate or kill anyone who wasn't part of it, until everything that lives belongs to her.
SQ: And if we somehow get in to rescue Kavary, this Justine will figure it out, escape, and become like Yaldabaoth?
SQ: Can you kill her?
BB: I can, but imprisoning her is easier.
SQ: Gallas. I said to knock.
BB: I'll see you guys later?
BB: Alright. What's up?
GM: It's not an isolated incident.
GM: The Reach is being systematically destroyed by the Crimson Chains.
BB: You suspect Arista? They've never had the best relationship with the Reach.
GM: Perhaps Aristan ships, but stellar travel in the region is being disrupted. There're angels involved.
BB: Does Sarese know?
GM: No. There's a blackout right now. Several of the worlds struck were isolated, but it'll happen soon. Too many trade ships are disappearing, too many communication channels left hanging.
BB: Except if the angels are in on it, they'll just suppress that too. How did you find out?
GM: I've been reestablishing contact with off-world members of the Circles. They're disappearing as well, going into hiding if not dying.
BB: And since Hecate died, any sort of precognition or mystical foresight or whatever is out of the question.
GM: They're trying to exterminate us, and I don't know why. The angels need our psychic fodder.
BB: The SSE's angelic hierarchy is divisive. But no civil war would be worth eliminating one of their best sources of food. I don't know that they could sustain their current population like this.
GM: It's self-destructive. None of this makes sense. Our Patron died, and the rest of our people are following.
BB: The Bella Corona. Something akin to the war crown. Sounds like something the Imperious Condescension would wear, if that position still existed.
GM: Already thought of that. Still too many holes.
BB: Hey. Look at me.
BB: We're goin' to figure it out, okay? They're an organization with the logistics to support complete media blackouts and replenish their virus stores. We're just two people. They can't stop us.
Things have changed. Honestly? I've written this off as yet another rough draft. I know how this story goes and ends. It'll be a ride, but one day I want this story actually written. Maybe in ten years, maybe two, maybe twenty. But I'm young. I'll do it one day, and it'll go from here.
Oh yeah. Stuff happened. So let's see........ Kali would hate her life if it were hers to hate, Z is actually normal that lucky bastard, Sarese is just a pawn of the symbolic Devil, Tina is the host of the worst parts of a Greek god except the part where she beds everyone.
And Gallas decided to make a deal with a death god because she can't sit by and let her people be destroyed.
HM: Then we're agreed? I will give you access to my portal network, and in return, you'll target various enemies of the Bella Corona and the Aristan state whose elimination would tangentially or directly benefit me.
HM: Then it's done. Are you ready to go now?
BB: What, now?!
HM: Yes, now!
Gallas Maraza had the last conversation with some not-important-enough-to-name Random Schmuck at 6:31PM, 10/29/1738
GM: Speak or your head follows suit.
RS: There were a dozen guards.
BB: Now there's a dozen corpses. Now, Mr. Random Schmuck, let's have a little chat.
RS: I'm the head of accounting. No amount of fiduciary shenanigans is worth this.
BB: Rumor mill has it that the Bella Corona has eyes and ears on every planet worth a damn. Don't suppose you'd know 'bout that?
RS: Is that it?
BB: Where is the Northern Claw? No one asked a lot of questions after the angels captured the archons.
RS: Why would I know that?
GM: Do you actually know anything?
RS: I was told to cover up discrepancies in the Levanwell Corporation's accounts two perigees ago. Three perigees before that I was told not to. Then three before that I was supposed to. No one of my station knows why.
BB: Are they a shell company?
RS: It's primarily angel-owned, far as I know. Couldn't be.
GM: The Bella Corona isn't angelic?
RS: Yes. Who are you people?!
BB: He asked too many questions.
GM: Not angelic. Let's go. You take point, I need to think.
GM: Primarily angelic?
BB: They've been told different things. Make sure the grunts don't know anything too important. We need to go deeper.
BB: Yo. Hamal. Yeah we need a higher target.
GM: Angels can kill other angels. You were made from two of them. In hindsight we should've known.
BB: Suddenly our range of targets got far wider.
GM: Do we tell Sarese?
BB: Not yet. She'll want us to strike at the angels, and we're not ready for that. Let's keep this between us, 'kay?