[Various] The Setup to a Bad Joke (closed)

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The Scribe
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[Various] The Setup to a Bad Joke (closed)

Post by The Scribe »

Nos Dwicka, Kron's home

Despite her simple, blunt message Branka’s arrival to Kron’s home surprised him. She didn’t give him the chance to respond. And maybe it was for the best. He wanted to reply with something sincere, and allow her more time before pressing for a face to face meeting. But apparently she was ready.

She was standing in the doorway of his quarters. And she still looked angry.

There were few things that made Kron nervous. And the worst feeling he ever had was when one of his own children were angry with him. Lyet especially, who was sensitive, smart and vocal about the issues that trouble her. Branka reminded him of her. And the trouble he had when speaking with her is Branka was not his actual child so he didn’t have any authority over her as a parent. He felt it was best to let her be.

“Branka,” he nodded, speaking mainly for the sake of breaking the silence.

“Yeah, hey.” Her tone didn’t indicate any hostility. There was some small relief in the fact she looked nervous as well. And tired.

She gestured to the nearest chair. “May I?”

“Of course.”

She sat down, and took a few moments to glance around the room as her fingers drummed on the table surface. Before Kron could speak up to offer his apology she beat him to it.

“I’m sorry, Kron.” She stopped drumming her fingers. Her hands now clasped together tightly. “I acted terribly.”

“You had every right to be angry.”

“Yeah but that doesn’t justify my behavior. I bottled it in, I lashed out at everyone, and I let it affect my health.”

“I want to apologize as well. For lying to you, and for keeping silent on all this. I was aware you didn’t have many you could turn to about this, but I didn’t want to push you. Or make you feel I was your only option.”

Branka nodded, “I managed to talk to a few people who were willin’ to listen. Didn’t tell them everythin but it helped to let out my frustrations that didn’t end up as some kinda joke on the extranet.”

She held back a frown thinking about it. Airing out your problems in a public forum wasn’t the best way to reach out for help. Especially when it was a place known for unsympathetic people who only knew how to respond with snarky or self-righteous comments. It hurt. She embarrassed herself, and it made her realize she didn’t have many close friends.

Just because you happen to get along with someone doesn’t make them a confidant. Building up that kind of trust takes time.

“I’m glad you did speak to someone, it was a goal you had after all, to reach out.”

“Yeah but it’s so hard!”

There was something reassuring about that outburst. For a second he saw the old Branka again. Before the silence between them could become awkward Branka gave her famous sad-eyed expression.

Image

“Are we still friends?”

“Of course we are.”

He surprised her again when she left her seat and went in for a hug. Branka could barely wrap her arms around his waist but her grip was still strong. He could feel the air leaving his lungs, and when Kron spoke it was almost a hoarse whisper.

“It’s good to see you again, Branka.”





Sometime later…

It was nice having Branka around again. Their small community didn’t seem complete without her, especially when she was the one who spearheaded most of the projects to begin with. The rebuilding for their new soup kitchen was nearly complete, but everyone was still debating on a name. Kron heard that Grez was vouching for something with Branka’s name, and word was many supported the idea.

Even Babetown was a success and the krogan women Branka invited were helping Nos Dwicka residents to thrive, rather than just get by. Nella was satisfied by the protection they offered. Nos Dwicka was heavily populated by krogan gangs but there was a certain power krogan women held over them. And they enjoyed it too.

Velvia had more help with her clinic, and thanks to Grez and a surprising amount of donations, the soup kitchen would be well stocked when it finally opened. But things never felt quite right with Branka absent. And the others often expressed that Kron relay their feelings to her.

He relayed everything, talking while they enjoyed a cup of tea. And while it was not Kron’s intention he noticed the guilty expression Branka had.

“I didn’t mean to halt everythin’ that was going on.”

“You didn’t. It was their choice to stop. They wanted you to be a part of the very thing you started.”

Branka slurped her tea. She still looked troubled. “I’ve been angry before but something about this felt…off?”

“How do you mean?”

“I care a lot for Miss Lydia, and, I dunno, maybe because there was so much going on at the same time it felt overwhelmin’.” She shrugged, unsure if she was explaining it properly. “Usually when I get mad I sulk for a while and then I’m cool with trying to resolve it. But this time? Somethin in me didn’t want to. All I wanted to do was stay away from everyone. Not just you, but everyone here, and my friend Pyjak. A few others like Miss Tay, Afi, and Mr. Kenlin tried sendin’ me messages. I wanted to talk. But…”

“It felt better to go this alone.”

“Yeah. But the thing is I felt that before. It was more of ‘I don’t want to be a burden on others.’ This time it felt like everyone else was the burden.”

“Was there anything else?”

“I stopped eatin’, and it was difficult to sleep. All I could focus on was how mad I was. There were some good days where I thought I was over it but it kept comin’ back. I thought mebbe I was sick?”

“Mhm.” Kron finished off his tea and set the cup down. “I think it’s fair you know what’s going on.”

“About what?”

“The issue with Mekan. And Dwick. Because I’ve been feeling similar ‘symptoms’ as well, and it started after our visit with Dwick.”

He didn’t want to go further with the details concerning his isolation. He didn’t want to frighten Branka. Kron had been dealing with his sudden onset of anger by feeding Bibbles. The kakliosaur grew fat on the gang members Kron brought him during his patrols as the Ghost. Normally Kron avoided violent confrontations, opting only to knock out unruly trespassers looking to harass the slum residents. But there was something cathartic in tossing their unconscious bodies down into the sewer. Something primal.

Kron eventually stopped, but the damage was already done. Bibbles grew to an incredible size due to his new diet, and was now roaming free in the seedier parts of Nos Dwicka. He certainly did a far better job in clearing out the streets. All Kron could think of to do was warn others ahead of time before the kakliosaur lumbered through.

It was the least he could to, to prevent more life from being lost.

“Kron?”

He shook his head. “Sorry, I’m simply trying to figure out how to explain it.”

“It’s alright, take your time.”

“It’s certainly not a topic one can summarize.” The shaman looked at his empty cup, and stood up from the table. “I think we’re going to need more tea.”
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Re: [Various] The Setup to a Bad Joke (closed)

Post by The Scribe »

Nos Dwicka, Turak’s ship

The reunion with Lura was a weight off his shoulders. Kron was not a violent krogan, even at the worst of times. So he couldn’t understand why he had so much aggression lately, but after what Branka shared about her own he began to have a suspicion as to what might have caused it. But his sister’s presence was a calming presence. The minute she hugged Kron his worries, frustrations and anger suddenly didn’t matter. The Void lifted, and there was clarity.

He saw the same effect on Branka, but with more tears. She clung to the other krogan woman and sobbed. Both of them offering each other a string of apologies. Kron and Zoar felt it was best to let them be. They were in their own world for the time being.

His and Zoar’s attention was focused on Turak as he wheeled forward a tall container of some kind covered by a heavy cloth. He secured the cargo down again, latching belts to metal hooks and double checking what seemed to be a generator.

“So here she is,” he said bluntly. He tugged off the cloth to reveal what was underneath. It was a giant case, ten or twelve feet tall, with thick glass. Inside was a black stone pillar. Even as Turak removed the blanket, he, along with Kron and Zoar took several steps back.

“Where did you get this?” Zoar asked.

“Drau clan…”

“So the thief…” he gave Turak a hard glare before turning to direct it at Kron.

“yeaaaah…” Turak left it at that. He wasn’t about to reveal Vog’s name and get him involved unwillingly.

Kron let out a heavy exhale. Behind him he could hear Lura doing the same. She and Branka sat a bit aways from the group but she held onto Branka protectively when the Bhauhk was revealed. Lura had a rough encounter with the stone before.

The stone was impressive as much as it was terrifying. Similar to the one that appeared suddenly on SWOLK, it had an infinite blackness. Even behind glass inches thick he could feel it radiating. Whatever precautions Turak took worked, or else they would have all been losing their minds by now. But the most alarming aspect was the fact it now had streaks of color. Like molten lava leaking through the void. When Turak forwarded the image to him he didn’t know what to say then, and the fact didn’t change now that he witnessed it in person.

Why do you have one of those things?” Lydia accused.

“You’re safe. I have this generator to keep up a barrier over the glass. And the glass itself can withstand a hit from Hedy.” He cleared his throat. “I don’t think we have the time to debate on certain issues so let me sum things up. Got permission from Kron to take this, yeah it’s the one Drau clan claimed stolen, technically it is. Besides the point, I need it as it might help with what’s going on.”

“And what is going on?” Lydia asked, an edge to her voice.

Kron sighed and turned to face his sister. “Dwick is dying. We at least have enough information to make the assumption that he is.”

Lydia stared, wide-eyed. Her grip on Branka loosened as she slowly processed this information. Her gaze studied Kron, Zoar, Turak and then her brother again.

“What do you mean ‘dying?’ Since when?

“I had gone to see him about some job stuff,” Branka spoke up this time, gently pulling away so she could look at Lydia. Her expression sad and sincere. “Hadn’t seen him in ages and when I did he wasn’t looking good. Managed to convince him to let Kron inspect him.”

“We took a blood sample…”

“Which they gave to me, and the results weren’t promising...sorry.”

Lydia was staring at Turak now who nervously glanced around.

“What was it that you found?”

He rubbed the back of his crest. “I’m not entirely sure. I was on Tuchanka for a few weeks trying to find if any clans had information. Hump rot, thresher worms, nothing was matching the symptoms Dwick has been showing. So of course I tried to consult with Jorgal shamans. Tried being the key word here.”

“Shamans from our clan can be very tight lipped, just as much as drau shamans are.”

Kron gave him a look and Zoar chuckled.

“What? Think your clan is the only one with secrets? Don’t forget Jorgal is the oldest clan out of all you whelps. We have shit even Urdnot doesn’t know about.”

“Right,” Turak said, looking back at Lydia. “One shaman mentioned a curse called Kawk’s Taint. But I’m not too keen on taking a Jorgal at his word.”

“Normally you wouldn’t, but this has merit considering Kawk is a jorgal myth and Dwick’s father.”

“Wait a second! Dwick is dying, and Dwick’s father? What has been happening?” She looked at Kron again. “You knew?” and then to Branka. “And you as well?”

“Just recently.” Branka said with a little guilt in her voice.

“Well, I think it would be fair to bring me up to speed as well so all this can make a little more sense.”






Image






Lydia was still sitting, looking dumbfounded after everything was explained to her. Turak vanished for a second only to appear with a bottle of ryncol which he offered to her. She snatched it up and downed the entire thing in seconds.

“That son of a--”

Lydia repressed a snarl. Her fist clenched around the neck of the bottle causing it to crack.

“Everything is beginning to make sense now. He did his damndest to hide the fact he lost weight. Do you think he knew what was wrong?”

Branka and Kron shook their heads.

The cracks in the bottle grew longer.

“So he fell ill, and what I’m understanding is his father, who happens to be something of a god-like figure to clan Jorgal, wants him dead. Correct?”

Kron nodded.

“And,” Lydia sighed. Kawk is trying to influence Mekan into killing Dwick, as a means to erase his ‘mistake.’ How am I doing?”

“Good!” Branka encouraged.

“And this illness might be a curse called Kawk’s Taint. What even is that?” She looked at Zoar. “Old man?”

He shrugged. “Old Jorgal myth. Our ancestors believed it was part of being one of the marked, the bhadomm. According to stories the Void literally drains the life out of you. As punishment, as recompense, whatever it was Kawk wanted.”

“There has to be more! Could they cure it, or appease the Void somehow?”

He shook his head.

The bottle shattered in Lydia’s grip.

“I’m still determined to look into this. Curses, myths and the like are always born from an event that actually happened. It’s obvious Kawk ain’t some ghost if he was able to pop out Dwick. But there's something more judging by how the batarian kid was acting lately. It’s why I brought this thing,” he gestured to the Bhauhk before making the decision to drape the cloth over it again. “Something like that, dangerous as it is, could come in handy. And if I can get my hands on the one that appeared in the SWOLK arena...”

“Well, I know what should be done.”

“What’s that?”

“Keep Dwick away from Mekan. If Kawk wants him dead then deny him that option.”

“And keep him away from Narstak,” Kron added. “He only poses as a shaman. Plus he has been feeding Dwick all that blood accumulated from the matches. I have a strong suspicion the bhauhk was drawn to Dwick in particular.”

“Yeah, great, who has the authority to tell Dwick what to do?”

“I ain’t doin’ it again. He was a pain in the ass the last time.”

“One visit was enough.”

“I’ll just make him cry.”





Suddenly, all eyes were on Lydia.





”I hate all of you.”



=================================================================


They all discussed ideas well into the night, but soon decided it was time to part ways. Lydia and Branka were the first to exit the ship. The two women stood at the foot of the ship’s ramp talking quietly to one another. At the top, Kron stood with Turak and Zoar.

“If she’s still alive, I suggest you speak to Jorgal Bhak. She was--is a healer with shaman knowledge, but you should have an easier time speaking with her.”

“That name’s familiar. She wrote a book.”

“She wrote plenty. Said to have been one of the last clutches born before the genophage was unleashed. If her claim on that is true, she might have witnessed what gave birth to the myth behind Kawk’s Taint.”

“Thanks, I’ll get on that.

‘Do.” Zoar turned to Kron. “And fearsome as she is, I think you better push your mother for information on these bhauhk stones.”

“And if she doesn’t want to?”

“I think footage of one of their precious stones being birthed in the middle of a jorgal owned fighting pit should do the trick. And what about the kid? Heard anything since he made his smashing debut?”

Kron shook his head. “No. It’s too soon. His associates are aware of the situation, as far as I was told, but I imagine they’re working hard to figure things out just as much as we are.”

“Don’t wait. Find out what they know. I imagine his friends can keep an eye on him while we focus on what to do with Kawk Jr.”

”When we find out what Kawk’s Taint really is then I think we’ll have a better plan of attack.”

“Or we just have to accept the inevitable,” Zoar growled, sadly eyeing his daughter. “Dwick might kick the varren before the boy can get his grubby hands around his neck.”

“Hell of a contingency plan.”

“If that’s what it is.” Kron seemed skeptical. “Lura said Dwick was losing weight before things with Mekan started happening.”

“So there’s blood on the sand and the thresher maw has come.”

“Basically.”

“I’d be excited by all this if I wasn’t scared shitless. You have Kawk of Jorgal myth who’s Dwicks fucking father, a bhauhk stone in my ship, and one that was born on live HV. If that’s not tempting the Void I don’t know what is.”

“You could always write another book about it.”

“Yeah well that doesn’t stop--hey that’s not a bad idea.” Turak held up his hands to visualize a title. “Kings and Butchers.”

With a smirk, Zoar rolled his eyes and headed down the ramp to meet with his daughter. Kron patted Turak on the shoulder and followed suit.

“Goodnight, Turak.”

“Night, bud. Hmm Fruit of the Void. Nah. Or maybe Shadows are my Enemy. Hmm perhaps...Thieves of a Beast”
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Re: [Various] The Setup to a Bad Joke (closed)

Post by The Scribe »

Tuchanka, Drau clan settlement

Kron’s arrival was met with mixed reactions. His children were ecstatic and they all swarmed him the moment they spotted him. It was the highlight of his entire trip and he came prepared by greeting each one with a gift of their own. Majority of his clan members were glad as well, all happily greeting him, and asking questions of his present whereabouts. It was these responses which prevented the clan elders, his mother included, from administering a form of punishment.

Kron had been exiled, and he was bold enough to return home.

He was prepared for them as well. Before his mother could scream about clan laws he brought up his omni-tool and played a recorded clip of the recent SWOLK episode. Specifically, the scene where a bhauhk stone ruptured from the bully pit.

It was the first time he saw any of the elders rendered speechless.

=============================================================

Kron spent his day with his children, and catching up with other members of Drau. The Elders said little to him, only to wait till they decided how to approach this situation. He didn’t know what they were capable of doing at this point, but for now he wanted to set that worry aside and enjoy his limited time at home.

It was late in the evening when his mother came for him. Kron was jostled awake in the middle of the night by Shaga who put a finger to her lips and shushed him.

“Follow me. There is something you need to see.”

The caves and tunnels took on a different appearance at night. Since his childhood, Kron knew every turn and mark on the wall by memory. Guided by the light of their omni-tools he silently studied the stories on the walls. Shaga said nothing to where they were going, and he followed her without question. But the longer they traversed the more he began noticing the changes around them.

The air felt thicker, and judging by the incline Kron was aware they were traveling downward. He caught the writings on the walls in passing. And it surprised him to realize they were none he was familiar with.

“Where are we going?” he finally broke the silence.

“To a forbidden place.”

Kron stopped in his tracks. Shaga didn’t notice till the light from his omni-tool dimmed. She stopped and turned around.

“Scared, child?”

“I want to know what it is without you giving vague or cryptic answers, mother. What does this have to do with the bhauhk?”

She let out a harrumph. “A little further down and you will know.”

The elderly krogan shambled on in the dark. As much as Kron wanted to be stubborn, he sighed, relented, and followed his mother once more. When he caught up she spoke up again.

“These tunnels were once filled with activity over a thousand years ago,” she said. A claw was gently dragging along one cave wall. Kron could see the unfamiliar writings and glyphs. They were Drau, obviously, but many words he couldn’t understand. Figures and their stories he never heard of. The ones he was familiar with were old. But these were ancient.

“We come from a two-thousand year old line of shamans, Kron. Stories on these walls depict them as healers before and during the time of the Rebellons.”

“Healers?”

“In our Golden Age there was no need for shamans. Not as we are now. We deal with death, and help others to cope with it.”

“Right.”

“The healers practiced medicine, and with the technology they had before the nuclear winter, many clans flourished.”

Shaga stopped and Kron almost bumped into her. She was staring at a particular set of markings on the wall beside them. Weeping krogan, their hands raised to the sky. Above them was a tall spire and below them were dead infants.

“They lost much during the rebellions, and the genophage. But the healers continued with their craft.” He heard her snort. “They even healed our enemies.”

Kron was so engrossed in the details of the glyphs that he didn’t realize Shaga was already on the move again. Her voice echoed in the tunnels, breaking him out of his reverie and he quickly moved to catch up.

She waited till the light was upon her again, and showed another carving on the wall. A large figure of a krogan woman. Surrounding her were other krogan each wearing the same garments. Uniforms of some kind?

“At this point in time, Krantt’s daughter, Lura, led the healers. It was under her command to take in anyone who was sick or injured. That included turians and salarians.”

“These…” Kron hesitated. He felt knots in his stomach again. “These are not the stories you and the elders have shared with us.”

“Why would we? It was a vile, shameful thing she was doing.”

“She was saving lives!”

“And she was punished for it!”

Her voice echoed throughout the tunnels. Kron blinked but before he could ask her meaning Shaga was moving down the tunnels once more. This time she didn’t stop till the tunnel gave way to a large cavern. He raised his hand above his head but the light of his omni-tool could not pierce through the dark. There were no cave walls, no ceilings.

They were surrounded by blackness.

“What do you mean she was punished for it,” Kron said. The air was thickest here. Something felt off and Kron was afraid.

“Members of Clan Jorgal came to Lura and her healers. A curse plagued them, killing their numbers off one by one. A punishment from one of their gods was the claim. But Lura insisted they could find the answer.”

A jorgal curse.

Shaga moved forward and Kron was keen on keeping close to her. He did not want to be lost in this darkness. He could feel its weight pressing down on him.





“And did she find it?”


“She did…”


Kron heard the shift in her tone. Something akin to regret, perhaps. Or maybe bitterness. He was going to press for the answer, feeling hope rising above the knots in his stomach. Kron would have never expected to be taken down this path when he confronted his mother.

But what did this have to do with Bhauhk?

Again, Shaga stopped. Glancing upwards, Kron felt a wave of relief when the light of his omni-tool revealed a wall. So it wasn’t endless.

It was still difficult to see. Kron strained to catch all the details carved onto the wall. Again, there were words he could not understand. But he now recognized the figures of the healers in their particular garments. And Lura was the largest figure standing among them. It usually signified rank, but knowing the genetics of his clan it could also mean her literal size.

His gaze move downward, trying to decipher the story. Lura, the healers, Clan Jorgal.

Kron’s gaze focused on a figure unfathomably black. His light seemed to avoid it. Nothing reflected off its surface.

It wasn’t a carving.



It was solid stone.



Kron realized what it was.

“Mother!!” he found himself crying out. He stumbled backwards, and in his panic he tripped and fell over.

He was breathing hard, struggling to keep calm, and anticipating what usually followed when in the presence of a bhauhk. He heard nothing, save for his own heavy breathing and the footsteps of his mother as she approached him.

Shaga didn’t mock him. She held out her hand for her son to take and helped him back up to his feet.

“It’s harmless,” she said. Her hand still holding Kron’s she slowly pulled him along till they were face to face with the eerie monolith.

Kron wanted to pull away. Instinct and personal experience screamed at him to take his mother and flee. It was unsettling to be this close to a bhauhk stone. He didn’t want to believe it was harmless. Kron kept expecting to see and hear things at any moment. He was too afraid to notice that his mother was tightly holding his hand.

“Lura had enemies. She carried the blood of Shiagur. That alone made her valuable to many clans, and a threat to others. She found what the Jorgal needed. And if she could accomplish that, what else could stand in her way?”

“Are you saying these enemies feared they could have cured the genophage?”

“It might have been a possibility. Not that it matters. In the end she and her healers were betrayed. By the very ones they nurtured. They descended upon them like nathak. Lura tried to save as many as she could but no one came out alive.”

Shaga gestured above them.

“Above us are the canyons. Lura bade her sister, Denth, to evacuate the clan. The wounded, the sick, women and children. But they were murdered, none survived.”

Kron swallowed hard. He remembered the story of Battlemother Denth. But he never knew there was a connection to Lura.

“The stones grow there.”

“Death attracts the Void.”

Her hand still holding his, Shaga raised Kron’s arm so the light on his tool shone across the wall, the floor and the stone.

“This is her punishment, Kron! She broke Krantt’s most sacred rule. Do not tempt the Void!”

He didn’t understand at first. But he followed his mother’s gaze, first to the ground where he finally realized bones were littered everywhere. Krogan skulls, most of them adults, with a few turian skulls strewn among them. How many, he wondered. How many were hidden in the dark?

When he glanced up again he noticed a symbol on the wall he didn’t catch before. Looming above the carving of Lura. Aralakh? No, Morlakh perhaps, judging by the claw trails beneath it. But it had a ring of gold painted around it.

“Sorakh,” Kron breathed.

He felt his mother tug him closer to the stone. He reflexively pulled back but she insisted and Kron found himself uncomfortably close to the bhauhk’s inky black surface.

He spied something within it.

It was a skull.

Alarmed and frightened, Kron wrested his hand out of Shaga’s grip and stepped away. His back turned from everything he just witnessed.



Image



“I don’t believe you.”

“Not even your own eyes?”

“No.” Kron glanced back. “Lura wasn’t punished.”

“She showed mercy to her enemies, both krogan and alien and look what she was given in return!”

“She was a hero! As much as Denth was despite their failures!”

“Lura nearly annihilated our clan! She is a shame to us and the Bhauhk is a reminder of that!”

“How do you explain the one that appeared in the video?”

Shaga frowned, upset that she didn’t have an immediate answer. “It’s a warning. It has always been a warning. If you try and take what the Void wants sooner or later it will ask more from you. More than you might be willing to give.”

Kron shook his head. He refused to leave it at that.

“What did Lura find for the Jorgal who were cursed?”

“It died with her and her healers.”

“You,” he found himself snarling, “The Elders, and those before you never bothered to uncover the answer. You have been content with hiding everything!”

“We were sparing the future generations her shame!”

“There is no shame in helping others! It’s why we’re shaman! It’s what we do! Survival of all or none! That is also Krantt’s first law, mother. Or have you forgotten that?”

Survival...

-----------survival...

------------------------krantt’s law...

------------------------------------------forgotten...


The words boomed throughout the cavern.

The two shaman glared at each other, and it was Shaga who drew her gaze away first. It was the first time Kron seen her back down from anything. She was always such a proud and stubborn woman. His sister Lura definitely inherited that from her.

“You have two hours. Whatever it is you need in here, find it.”

Kron was taken aback. He didn’t expect that from her either. Shaga stepped away until she was barely visible in the light. There were so many questions he wanted to ask but it would have to wait till later. As a shaman, he was not happy with how the elders upheld certain traditions, and lying about the rest. Knowing their leaders hid the truth about one of their clan's “beloved” figures was like a knife twisting in his gut. Suddenly his exile didn’t seem so awful.

But Kron refused to be as hard and ruthless as his mother or the elders. He gave in once. Never again.

“Thank you, mother.” he said, turning to face the wall.
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Re: [Various] The Setup to a Bad Joke (closed)

Post by The Scribe »

Tuchanka, Jorgal Territories

“For being the loudest, oldest, most self-entitled clan you think it wouldn’t take much to get them to talk about themselves.”

Turak was in a sour mood, and the hours long drive didn’t help it any. He spent weeks going from settlement to settlement, making bribes, and trades to whatever Jorgal krogan he met asking about Jorgal Bhak. The woman was practically a celebrity; the author of countless books on Tuchankan medicine, but it was like every Jorgal was playing stupid. Each time he mentioned her by name it was like a trigger that set every shaman to go slack jawed.

“Bhak? Bhak who?” he snorted. “Guess it shouldn’t be a surprise none of them ever read a book?”

He remembered Zoar’s words.

What? Think your clan is the only one with secrets?

Bhak is said to have been one of the last clutches born before the genophage was unleashed.


“Hm. Could it be possible they’re being protective of this Bhak?” Turak bit the inside of his lip, grudgingly accepting the fact Jorgal were smarter than they let on. “Okay. Okay, I can accept that. But this drive better not lead to another dead end!!”

“Boof”

“I KNOW!”

Turak’s companion sitting in the passenger seat was a young varrun pup. He was meaning to give her away as a gift but with everything happening he didn’t have enough time to make the delivery. He didn’t fret too much over it, Turak was glad of the temporary company. These excursions could get long and tiresome and it wasn’t as fun when you only had yourself to talk to.




Few hours later...


“Stay, girl.”

The varren let out a small plaintive whine as Turak disembarked the tomkah. She did as she was told, filled with nervous energy, as she watched the krogan head into what appeared to be the entrance to a temple.

It’s what Turak assumed at first. Finding these weren’t uncommon since many ended up being discovered by chance due to shifting sands, sand storms, and the occasional thresher maw passing through. Though each of them were an exciting find regardless.Yet only a rare handful held anything within of true historical value. The tomb of a warlord, glyphs holding forgotten stories, and actual treasure. The kind coveted by hunters whose only purpose was to ransack sacred krogan grounds hoping to find shiny, hidden wealth.

Turak had gone on countless ruin dives so he took for granted the fact the pathway he was on didn’t lead further underground as most krogan temples tended to do. Many collapsed due to their foundations giving away over time. After a few minutes he began to notice and paused to get an actual look of his surroundings.

“Huh.”

For starters it wasn’t as dark as the typical krogan ruins. Curtains of light streamed down from the ceiling. It would have been beautiful but Turak’s instincts told him something was off. The stone floors were covered in sand but he spotted patches of green and vines, and heard the trickle of water. This place didn’t feel dead.

Or abandoned.

“Zoar, if one of these shaman’s led me into some kind of death trap I’m going to haunt you for the rest of your days.” Turak stepped closer to one of the walls to find any scripts that might tell him this temple’s story or purpose.

The walls were clean, save for the occasional vine growing up along the grooves. Turak found a set of script that looked fresh. He wasn’t fluent in Jorgal but he recognized one word.

HOME.

“Shit.”

“STAY.”

"SHIT."
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Re: [Various] The Setup to a Bad Joke (closed)

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Turak froze.

The booming voice sent a chill up his spine. It felt like it came from everywhere, sending vibrations through the ground and up his legs. He swallowed hard, slowly turning his head to find the direction of it’s source, unsure if he should draw his weapon or make a run for it.

“I was informed. Of a visitor. Stay. You are my guest.”

Okay that answers a few questions and raises a million more.

He was still on edge, but the fear of death was slowly ebbing away. Turak was holding his breath and he gasped when the voice boomed again, closer this time.

“Come this way. We shall talk.”

“Uhh..I uh,” he fumbled.

“You’re safe.” The voice gently insisted.

Turak couldn’t help but feel like a child. He gulped, suddenly realizing that his throat was awfully dry. His choice was made for him. Turak slowly continued down the path.

====================================================================================

The next area confused and intrigued Turak. It certainly looked like a temple but the small personal touches threw him off. Cloth was hung across cracked pillars, stone slabs were also draped with cloths. Were they meant to be sitting areas? He spied small nooks and crannies filled with candles, bottles, and other manner of trinkets. It reminded him of Kron’s home, both in Drau clan and in Nos Dwicka.

“Who knew old ruins like this could be so homey.”

“One does one’s best.”

Turak leapt three feet in the air.

Landing, he stumbled forward almost falling flat on his face. He heard grumbles, or what he must have assumed to be dry laughter. After composing himself the krogan turned to face his mysterious host.

This time his cigar fell out of his mouth.

Jorgal Bhak, according to what information Turak was able to glean, was an elderly krogan. Author of “What Doesn't Kill You Gives Opportunity for Something Else To” and a couple hundred more books. Majority of them focusing on healing methods, shaman rituals, and old clan stories. When Zoar told him she was one of the last clutches born before the genophage he was skeptical. And even if it were true he more or less pictured a withered krogan. Plates white with age, angry, and hungry to wax nostalgic to the nearest sentient being uncaring if they were willing to listen or not.

Bhak stood before him -- no --towered before him. The ceilings of the ruins were at least twenty feet high, give or take. Even though she was slightly hunched over, Turak guessed her hump could easily reach that height if she decided to stand erect. Her plates were white, and so were her eyes, but the way she was staring at him meant her eyesight wasn’t completely gone. Her smile was unnerving as well. He couldn’t help but feel she was amused by all this. She was a Jorgal after all, she was probably laughing at him inwardly.

It appeared as if she struggled to maintain a proper wardrobe. Similar to the ones draped over the pillars and stone slabs, she had large pieces of cloth covering her person. Not enough it seemed for her large stature. Vaul, her thighs alone could crush him like a kopsa fruit. Turak turned away when he found himself staring at them longer than what was deemed polite.

She was massive, and old, but her presence didn’t feel angry, or malicious. When he gazed up at her he felt a lump rise in his throat. Some deep instinct in him wanted to weep. Turak spent half his life studying Tuchanka’s history, trying to recover what was lost. And here he was, staring her in the face. He was humbled, and in awe of her.

I think her claim is legit.

“Your gaze is making me blush,” she rumbled. Her voice was deep, slow.

Ancient.

All Turak could manage was a nervous laugh.
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Re: [Various] The Setup to a Bad Joke (closed)

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Bhak invited him to sit and have a drink. And while he did politely accept he was still awestruck and remained silent (for what felt like months). His hand shook as he brought the cup to his mouth for a drink (it was taggaflower tea no less, good for his nerves) took a big gulp, cleared his throat and mustered up the courage to speak.

“So uh, this is a nice home you have.”

Not small talk, idiot!

Bhak didn’t seem to mind. In fact, she looked quite flattered. She kept flashing a warm smile at Turak which only made him more nervous. He wasn’t trying to be rude, but some ingrained instinct within him was telling him there was a chance he would get eaten. Krogan were not exactly the dominant species on Tuchanka when they were considered prey by everything else.

“Thank you. One likes to imagine. It is thanks to centuries of trial and error.”

She spoke in short pauses. Turak was curious about that and before he remembered his manners he spoke up.

“Your manner of speech is different than most Jorgal.”

He flinched, spilling hot tea on his lap causing him to jerk. This experience was untrodden ground. How did you speak to a krogan of a dead generation?

Thankfully, Bhak didn’t look offended. What Turak didn’t consider (yet) was how much of a treat it was to have a visitor after centuries of isolation.

“My voice,” she said, tapping the flapping skin of her throat. “Is loud. I’m sparring your hearing. Long ago. Jorgal used to take consideration. Of our words. Before speaking.”

Turak wanted to laugh but Bhak beat him too it, giving a perfect example of what she meant by loud. He heard Dwick’s signature “HAW” laugh, but this was different. His was raucous and rough, while Bhak’s own was deep and resonant. As before when he first heard her, it shook his very bones and Turak gripped his drinking cup for fear that it might shatter.

“Forgive me.” she chuckled. “When word came. I was excited to meet you.”

“Really?”

“My clan is protective of me. Don’t fault them for this. The number of my generation. Is few. Less than what I can count. On both my hands.”

Turak looked surprised. “There’s others like you? All from Jorgal? Or other clans? Dead clans perhaps?”

“Yes.” Bhak gave him that amused smile.

Turak resigned to take another drink of his tea. He deserved that he supposed. It was a blessing to even be speaking to her, he shouldn’t be pushing to find the location of others like her.

Don’t be greedy. Why don’t you actually focus on why you’re even here?

“So uh...I was actually directed by a friend, another Jorgal, to come find you.”

“Oh?”

“It’s uh...strange, to say the least.”

“Try me.”

Turak breathed hard.

“What do you know of Kawk’s Taint?”

The air around them seemed to shift. Bhak’s warm smile vanished and her gaze grew cold as she stared at something past Turak. Even he couldn’t help but feel a chill the warm taggaflower tea couldn’t ease. Bhak rose from her position and lumbered to the corners of the room to light incense. Turak could already catch the scents; thick, earthy, spicy. It almost brought his eyes to water.

“Breathe deep.” She gently urged him.

Turak did as he was told. As he inhaled his lungs felt like they were on fire, as if he drank the purest bottle of ryncol. But as he breathed out the sensation faded. And he noticed that his fatigue and aches from all the traveling seemed to wash away.

“Cirge. Merdo. And what is now called. Mother of Tuchanka.”

“I’m not familiar with any of these plants.”

“You would not be. Endangered. Near extinct. Difficult to grow. I save the seeds. Plant and nurture. But one can only do so much.”

There was a lot to unpack there. Turak already wanted to go off the path and ask about these seeds. But he felt his time with Bhak was limited. And that infuriated him. All the knowledge he could learn!

“These are old customs. To ward off Chez’kaba.”

That was a word Turak was becoming familiar with.

“To invoke his name. Invites ruin. His name has haunted our clan. Even when I was a child.”

Turak was already forming the timeline in his head. If Bhak could live as long as she did then who was to say it was impossible for Kawk to live just as long, if not longer? Bhak alone proved Turak’s theory of their ancestors being giants before the nuclear winter. The galaxy praised or cursed krogan for being hardy, and difficult to kill now but what power, resilience and sheer force of will did they possess long ago compared to the shadows of what they were presently? The thought of it astounded him.

“Who was he?”

“A conqueror. A devourer. Murderer. Deceiver. Seen as both curse and herald. A God of avarice. Of Plenty.”

Her tone was harsh and filled with disgust as she described him. It made Turak feel guilty for asking. It was always hard to make others relive painful memories for the sake of recording history.

“What did you see him as?”

“A krogan. Different but the same as other males. Greedy. Always wanting more. He simply had the luck to take what others could not.”

“What do you mean?”

“He ate a piece of the Void.”

Turak blinked. “I’m sorry, what?”
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Re: [Various] The Setup to a Bad Joke (closed)

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“I’m sorry, what?”

“He took a piece of the Void.”

There was a lot to process in that simple statement. Turak’s mind was already flooding with images. Mainly of the interpretations his people had of the Void; a massive inky space, visions of red eyes forever watching, a gaping maw.

The Pit, the Great Maw, Vaul’s Threshhold, the Eternal Return.

Thousands of years of tuchankan legacy, hundreds of unique clans, and yet all of them had a similar depiction of this one presence. To hear of a krogan eating a piece was a story that was unknown to him. And already he could feel his hearts quicken. It was still history.

He cleared his throat, finally getting over the initial shock.

“Please, continue.”

“Centuries ago. This Krogan was a warlord. A scourge. Before the time of my hatching. He pirated with bands of Quarians. Not as you know them now. But healthy. Unmasked. Fierce and foul.”

That roughly gives me an idea on how far this goes back.

“Growing up. We were fed these stories. Cautionary tales of the Krogan who devoured a piece of the Void. And returned different.”

“When you say different, do they elaborate on that?”

“In some tales. When He returned from death. His countenance changed. He was described as dark. Hungry. Massive. He stayed among his kin. For a century or less. Then He vanished into what my clan call The Furnace.”

Turak’s expression showed a spark of familiarity upon hearing that. He nodded.

“I’ve heard of the place. A vast waste, some say it’s the hottest place on Tuchanka.” He shrugged. “We’re never really sure because that place is full of superstition no one will set foot there.”

Yourself included. Supposedly it’s where Wrak the White resides.

Bhak nodded this time. “He is the reason for that.”

She paused for a moment and closed her eyes. Turak began to wonder if this was a painful memory to relive for her. Or maybe age had taken it’s toll, and she needed to recall back old memories. Whatever it was Bhak simply leaned forward and, with her large hands, very neatly poured him more tea.

“His presence and influence were powerful. It split our clan in two. He had supporters. Who fiercely believed one must fight and consume all to become strong. The other half wanted no part in that. We have always been large, with appetites to match. But we were joyful in the fact. They wanted no part in conquering. Many found it hard to argue. When His supporters were nearly three times as large.”

Jorgal were always fat and gluttonous. No surprise there, I suppose. But to imagine they were once happy and peaceful?

“I grew up in this turmoil. I witnessed what they called Kawk’s Taint.”

Why is it when she says it, it sounds all mystical. But when anyone else says it, you wince?

As if reading his mind Bhak added, “It was meant to insult him.”

Turak couldn’t help but snicker there, but he quickly coughed and gestured for her to continue. He noticed she was smiling briefly.

“Many believed it to be a curse. A punishment against those who shunned his ideals. A disease, in truth. But still a curse.”

“What were the symptoms?” Turak quickly brought up his omni-tool, kicking himself for not doing that in the beginning.

“It was deceitful.” Her voice grew harsh. “Manifesting as a greater appetite. Blessing those with increased size. Strength. But shorter temper.”

Sounds like someone we all know.

“And yet oddly it only affected those who did not sincerely follow His ways. In a short time it’s sinister nature was revealed. The sickness destroys a krogan’s ability to regenerate. Wounds would not heal. The glorious appetite vanished. Leaving one’s body to waste away to nothingness. Many died. It was a miracle I did not.”

Her expression made Turak’s hearts sink. All he could think of to do was reach over and place his hand over hers. It was dwarfed in comparison, but all Bhak saw was the sympathy he offered. She sighed, deep and raspy and managed a smile.

“The Jorgal were afraid. And desperate. Many offered all they could to The Furnace. Hoping it would appease Him.” The smile didn’t last long. Bhak couldn’t hide how she felt. The wrinkles and crags on her face deepened when she grimaced. “The Furnace is home to the bones of children. Still born, and new born alike.”

Turak winced, making a sharp hissing noise as he inhaled sharply.

“Eventually my people sought the Drau. For their knowledge.”

“Shamans?”

Bhak shook her head. “They were healers in my time. Fledgling shamans, yes. But before the Winter they specialized in medicine. Many used to say they thrived with what we used to have. Before Krogan as a whole destroyed all.”

That was always the painful truth Turak hated facing. The technology, the knowledge, culture, flora, fauna. What existed before krogan decided they would fight one another with nuclear weapons. He would never be able to truly fathom the loss. And it only made him angry when he tried.

“I’ll have to talk to Kron about this. See what he found out.” He muttered to himself as he typed something on his tool. “Was their clan willing to help you?”

“Yes,” Bhak nodded. “They welcomed all. Even when the last fires of the Rebellion burned. They even helped turians and salarians.”

“That’s...surprising, to say the least.”

“Not all supported the Genophage. Krogan still had friends even back then. We are blinded by our pride and rage to remember.”

Turak didn’t know what to say. Something about that statement made him feel both humbled and relieved. As a child even he grew up on stories that his people were alone and hated in the galaxy, and there was nothing more important than one’s self preservation. It was a sad way to live.

“The Drau healers were led by a woman named Lura.”

His head jerked up, remembering that name. But many krogan named their children after famous warlords and figures. No doubt there were countless baby krogan currently namd Shepard.

“Who was she?”

“A child of Shiagur and one of their famed warriors. A krogan named Krantt. Back then many had the honor of sharing Shiagur’s blood. Drau considered it a blessing her father was also Krantt.”

Turak nodded in agreement. “It’s quite the pedigree, yes.”

“With their help. Their compassion and determination. Lura and the healers found a cure. We would be rid of the taint that tormented us so.”

This is exactly what Turak wanted to hear. He breathed in sharply again, hopeful, and almost trembling. But it was short lived when he saw the sinking expression return to Bhak’s features.

Oh no.

“What happened?” he asked without thinking.

“He denied us.”

He wasn’t sure what that meant but she continued.

“Lura called the cure Blood of Shiagur. For her own blood was the very foundation. Word of their discovery reached the ears of His followers. So He took action. Through his strange power. His affiliation with the Void. He influenced a warrior. A vessel.

Long ago Drau clan were not so recluse. They welcomed all who needed help. Krogan, salarians, and turians. His vessel slipped in easily. With a handful of warriors. All feigning to have the taint.”


Bhak faltered. It was so sudden that it startled Turak. The old krogan began to heave dry sobs. Her face scrunched with wrinkles, chest and shoulders heaving. He was taken aback by the rush of grief.

“They were murdered!” She roared. Turak covered his ears, wincing. “He killed them all! Lura. The sick. The wounded. Even the children! But HE spared Jorgal. And they were left behind to grieve. For their friends. Their hope. Their cure.”

Turak stood up and held onto Bhak’s large hand. He gently shushed, as a soothing tactic rather than a way to silence her. It didn’t matter how long it took, he was going to remain by her side until she was comfortable enough to continue. And if she didn’t want to he wouldn’t argue either.

Bhak’s loud sobs quieted down after a while. But he still didn’t push. He didn’t ask if she was ready to continue. It would be a choice she would make on her own. Glancing around, he found a piece of cloth and quietly handed it to her. Even through her tears she managed a smile at his kindness, took the cloth and blew her nose.

“He destroyed so much. My clan. Drau’s clan. The relationship between the two. The hope there would be peace with our so called enemies. In one fell swoop. He took it all.”

“Wh-what do you mean peace between our enemies?”

“His vessel was not krogan. There were many supporters who were not. Blinded. Seduced by the size and power He promised.”

Shit.

“Everything was lost. Lura. The healers. The cure.”

“Her blood…” At that moment Turak wanted to cry himself. “What happened to the Jorgal?”

“They succumbed. A small number. Myself included. Fled. I have been living here ever since.”

He was dumbstruck. Turak stared off, his mouth agape, picturing the scenes of Bhak’s story. He didn’t notice the large woman shifting. And only broke out of his reverie when he felt her nudging him with her knuckles as she brought up a closed fist.

She didn’t give him the opportunity to ask when she opened her hand to reveal...cloth?

No. They were seeds. Bundles of seeds wrapped in thin white linen.

“Bhak?”

“The plants I’ve been nurturing. They were part of Lura’s cure. I took it upon myself. To care for them. As penance. As remembrance. I want you to take these.”

“But…”

“One does not mention this curse on a whim. You need them. Someone you know needs them. I regret I cannot offer more.”

“You offered more than most ever had,” he said, his voice thick with emotion.

“It’s an awful thing. And it will not wait. So you must go.”

He didn’t want to go. Turak wanted to stay longer and talk, and learn more about this amazing woman. The thought of leaving her alone made his heart ache. It wasn’t just because he was greedy for her knowledge. But knowing now what she suffered, how long she’s been alone. He couldn’t fathom the notion of being isolated the way she was. It wasn’t a krogan’s nature. As much as it was romanticized in men. But the women thrived in communities, and it was through them Tuchanka and krogan as a whole were able to get a second chance after the genophage was cured.

And Bhak was missing out on this.

Turak huffed. Gently, he closed her hand shut over the seeds.

“Keep them with you. In fact, gather everything of yours that's important or sentimental to you. I’m taking you with me.”

“Planning to kidnap me?” she said with a grin, not even looking the least bit surprised.

“Sorta,” he answered sheepishly. “Ever heard of a place called Babetown?”

This time Bhak blinked. “Im sorry, what?
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Re: [Various] The Setup to a Bad Joke (closed)

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THE ROAD SO FAR
[Shamanking has entered the chat]

LEtMe TYPe dAMMiT: HEy

Tomkah Tough: Kron!

Shamanking: She called you too?

Queen_of_Tattoos: Of course. You both visited Tuchanka and since we all had a meeting before it would be a good idea to meet again to share all that’s been discovered.

Tomkah Tough: Right. Well the most obvious is Babetown’s new resident, Miss Bhak.

LEtMe TYPe dAMMiT: Didn’t think shE would havE bEen okay with that. OR other JoRgal.

Tomkah Tough: She was all for it. And she insisted we didn’t tell anyone.

LEtMe TYPe dAMMiT: ShE’s mischievous.

Queen_of_Tattoos: I like her. But what else have you learned Turak?

Tomkah Tough: She knows about this thing about Kawk’s Taint. She lived through it and survived.

Queen_of_Tattoos: She lived through it. Was she sick? Did she get cured?

Tomkah Tough: She didn’t mention getting sick as far as I’m aware. And there was a cure.

Tomkah Tough: But it was destroyed.

Shamanking: Tell us what you know.

Tomkah Tough: So she said long ago when she was a kid there were all kinds of horror stories about ka—well him. Sorry, she didn’t seem comfortable mentioning this guy by name and I’m not about to invoke it more than I have to.

Tomkah Tough: anyway, there’s these horror stories of how he was this krogan who ate a piece of the void. Had a near death experience, came back different, and eventually vanished from his own clan living in the deserts of the Furnace.

LEtMe TYPe dAMMiT: With you so fAr.

Tomkah Tough: so Jorgal clan is eventually torn in two because one side wants to follow his ways because he promises size and power. While the other half is content in enjoying life as it is.

Queen_of_Tattoos: I can already get a picture of where this is going.

Tomkah Tough: It’s what you’re thinking and worse. Those who spurn his ways are eventually inflicted with this disease. For his followers it’s like a blessing of insane strength, and any who either turn away from him or reject him outright suffer basically the opposite.

Queen_of_Tattoos: The taint?

Tomkah Tough: Yeah. It’s more or less a disease. Something that destroys a krogan’s ability to regenerate. Wounds don’t heal, and you lose your appetite. The infected literally wasted away till death and there was nothing they could do about it.

LEtMe TYPe dAMMiT: As a boy wE had stories of that. CouRsE in my timE wE didn’t know it was a sicknEss. It was just a supERstition.

Shamanking: It’s how true events become fables.

Queen_of_Tattoos: That more or less confirms what’s wrong with Dwick. He’s been showing those symptoms for over a year at least. Does it say how long it takes before it kills them off?

Tomkah Tough: she didn’t say.

Queen_of_Tattoos: I’d rather not chance being lenient with the time we have. And the cure?

Tomkah Tough: Okay so the infected Jorgal visit Drau clan because back then they practiced medicine. And there was a krogan woman named Lura.

Shamanking: The daughter of Krantt.

Tomkah Tough: One and the same. She was their leader, and they actually managed to devise a cure.

LEtMe TYPe dAMMiT: But.

Tomkah Tough: …but he stopped them.

Queen_of_Tattoos: How?

Tomkah Tough: Okay well you know how you guys said that batarian kid was possessed and whatever? It was basically that. He used a vessel, influenced someone of his following and they killed Lura, the healers and destroyed all their work. Leaving the infected Jorgal alive.

Shamanking: Did Bhak know who it was?

Tomkah Tough: Only that they weren’t krogan. She said back then there were turians and salarians who supported krogan, who were against the genophage. But there were also those who were tempted in by his promises of power.

Tomkah Tough: Right, I forgot to mention. It was Lura’s own blood that was the base of this cure.

Queen_of_Tattoos: which was why she was killed.

Shamanking: And everyone else, including her kin.

Queen_of_Tattoos: Kron?

Shamanking: This coincides all too well with what mother told me. She showed me the caverns where Lura’s remains were. She told me our clan’s version of the story. How when healing the sick Lura and her healers welcomed non-krogan. And they were punished for it. Mother even mentioned how the Jorgal came to them because they were afflicted with a curse. And they cured it.

Shamanking: Denth was Lura’s sister. During this attack she took the injured and sick, the women and children into the canyons where they were eventually killed.

Shamanking: Since their deaths our elders have been hiding the truth. And knowledge of this cure was erased.

Tomkah Tough: Damn.

LEtMe TYPe dAMMiT: What ElsE did Bhak tEll you.

Tomkah Tough: There is a small ray of hope. She had been growing plants that were components of this cure. I don’t know how well it will do without the key ingredient but it’s better than nothing.

Shamanking: What are they?

Tomkah Tough: Cirge. Merdo, and Mother of Tuchanka.

Queen_of_Tattoos: Wait a second. Is that where my jar came from?

Shamanking: Turak gave it to me saying it was rare.

Tomkah Tough: yeah sorry, I said it that way so Bhak could have time to adjust to all the changes around her. I had a feeling you’d wanna meet her at some point.

Tomkah Tough: What did you guys learn on your end with the batarian kid? Mekan, right?

Shamanking: Unfortunately, not much. During our visit to the hospital there was no time to speak with him. His room was already heavily occupied by his friends and cohorts. And then I was distracted.

LEtMe TYPe dAMMiT: Bitch.

LEtMe TYPe dAMMiT: I think by now hE’s out but EvEn thEn there has bEen no contact. No woRd about furthER possEssion.

Shamanking: If there has been he has not said. By now I would assume the medicinal plants I gave him ran out, or they no longer serve a purpose. So far one of his cohorts, Worag, wished to consult with me over concerns about the Void. But that has been the extent of things.

Queen_of_Tattoos: For now, let’s focus on Dwick. I imagine his friends will deal with his issues in their own way as they know him better than we do.

Queen_of_Tattoos:That, and I would prefer not to see or speak to him anytime soon.

Shamanking: I apologize for my lack of voice in that particular topic.

Queen_of_Tattoos: I forgive you. As for Mekan, well, it's not like we've had any incentive to talk even before these events. So that bridge may not be crossed for a while, if at all. But right now it is not my focus. Still, should he ever reach out to you, I won't be against it. You know me, Kron.

Shamanking: I understand. It's unfortunate we don't have much about his ailment.

LEtMe TYPe dAMMiT: WE know hE's not dying.

Queen_of_Tattoos: And Dwick is. And for me, that takes priority.

LEtMe TYPe dAMMiT: Would it bE Redundant to ask what you aRE doing?

Queen_of_Tattoos: Why, a coup, old man. A good ol’ fashioned coup.

Tomkah Tough: What?

Queen_of_Tattoos: Just keep an eye out for the new SWOLK episode. Dwick revealed a few interesting things about Narstak and I think it would be in everyone’s best interest if we spoke to him in person. And with Dwick present.

Shamanking: It could have been done without you dragging me along into it.

Queen_of_Tattoos: No one said you had to do it in tight shorts!

Shamanking: If I’m going to do this then I’m going to do this right.

LEtMe TYPe dAMMiT: HEh. And that's how wE know thE two of you aRE RElatEd.

Queen_of_Tattoos: :}

Queen_of_Tattoos: Right. Well, I feel like we gathered a fair amount of information on this, and a plan on where to go next?

Tomkah Tough: I'll keep everyone updated on Bhak's adjustments here, and progress on the new batch of medicinal plants she's growing. And if she’s willing, ask further about more jorgal history and their connection to you know who.

Shamanking: It might be impossible considering Lura's line was killed off, but I could look into our clan histories. Turak, I could use your help.

Tomkah Tough: Sure thing, buddy.

Shamanking: Do you still have that bhauhk stone?

Tomkah Tough: Both of them. Locked away and safe, yeah.

Shamanking: If you can, ask Bhak about those. They’ve always been part of our history but I would be curious to know if it has anything to do with those events, considering they appeared after Denth was killed. And Lura’s own remains are surrounded by them.

Tomkah Tough: Vaul almighty. Yeah, I’ll see what I can do.

LEtMe TYPe dAMMiT: I assumE you still want to kEep Dwick isolatEd?

Queen_of_Tattoos: If possible, yes. He has his own ways of keeping up appearances in his company so I'll leave him to it. But you've been working at DDS. I want you to say nothing on the matter.

LEtMe TYPe dAMMiT: Right.

Queen_of_Tattoos: Thank you for all your help, gentlemen. I'll keep in touch.

[Queen_of_Tattoos has logged off]
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Re: [Various] The Setup to a Bad Joke (closed)

Post by The Scribe »

Nos Dwicka, Kron’s home

Welp, here we are again to talk about serious matters.

De ja vu all over again.

Yeah but this time—


Branka cut off her own thoughts by banging on the door of Kron’s humble apartment. She didn’t want to think about the weight of the situation. She didn’t want to think about the “no cure” part of the matter. She didn’t want to think, period. But she absolutely knew there was going to be nothing but that and conversations about Dwick’s illness and how it’s infected her.

Kron will make it better. He’s a shaman. It’s what they do.

As if on cue, the door opened and there he was. Standing at nine-foot-seven, Kron loomed over her, but his very presence made her feel safe. Branka didn’t give him a chance to speak. She lunged forward and wrapped her arms tightly around his waist and hugged desperately.

Surprised, he gently wrapped his arms around her and reciprocated the hug. He could tell by the tension in her shoulders she was doing her best to keep from crying. And when she pulled back she forced a smile. It vanished when Kron stepped aside allowing Branka to see he was hosting another guest in his home.

“Miss Lydia!”

“Branka…” the taller krogan rushed up from her seat and embraced her in a hug of her own. Kron only had seconds to step aside before his sister shoved him.

“Im sorry,” Lydia muttered, her face pressed against Branka’s hump. “I was too busy helping Dwick, and I left you alone. I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I’m sorry…”

It’s okay, Branka wanted to tell her but she was caught up in her own emotions and Lydia’s strength. The bigger woman literally swept her up off her feet and all Branka could say in response was a small squeak.

Lydia continued to whisper, and those whispers turned into quiet sobs.

“Im sorry…I’m sorry…”

===============================================================

For two hours the trio discussed what had been going on so far. Branka did her best to listen attentively though she had a million questions. How long did Dwick have? How long did she have? What else was she going to suffer through? Would there be a lot of pain?

Thankfully, a few of those questions were answered when Lydia brought up Bhak, the strange krogan woman who recently moved into Babetown. Branka didn’t have the chance to meet her yet but she already heard stories of her medicinal talents. She had plants that could ease any pain that might come, and possibly extend Branka’s time.

That’s when the weight finally settled on her.

“So it’s really real. I’m gonna die?”

Lydia did her best not to visibly wince. Branka only realized how rough this must have been for her. She was already stressed and heartbroken over Dwick.

“We’re not content in letting it be.” Kron said. “Drau once had a cure. And we’re determined to find it again.”

“Right.”

She didn’t mean to sound doubtful. Branka was in shock. Her mind was still trying to wrap around the fact her days were numbered. And even that was still uncertain. The sensation was odd. Branka didn’t think much of death as something to be feared. Growing up on Tuchanka taught her to be numb to it, but also be respectful. To be aware of the Void, and realize all things will be called to it eventually.

Now it was calling her. It didn’t feel profound.

It felt unfair.

That’s when her thoughts drifted to Babetown, her vorcha children, Mex, and others. How was she going to handle everything? What would happen to those who depended on her? Would anyone care?

Do you tell anyone?

What would Tank say?

Branka wanted to sigh. The young krogan male occupied her thoughts for the last couple of months. For a time she even dared of imagining cheesy scenarios of the two of them together like a couple. Being stupidly cute and happy. She even entertained the idea of being honest with how she felt. But it seemed that opportunity would never happen.

That voice of self pity nibbled at the back of her mind.

You don't deserve anything good.

“What do I say? What has Dwick been doing all this time?”

“He’s been making preparations,” Lydia said quietly. “It’s all under wraps right now because being who he is might make things worse when word gets out he’s dying.”

“I think I should do the same. Make preparations, I mean.”

Kron and Lydia exchanged looks with one another. Lydia still looked distraught and Kron had his usual stoic expression. He spoke up first.

“We’re here, Branka. For anything you need.” He took her hands in his own and held them firmly. “You won’t be alone. We refuse to let that happen to you.”

The weight became heavier.

“I’m scared,” Branka said in a small voice.

Tears were streaming down Kron’s face.

“I know. So am I.”

The weight was too much. And something in Branka finally snapped and she broke out into sobs. Kron and Lydia both moved in and held her tightly, weeping with her. Both wishing their embrace could protect their little sister from the Void’s grasp.
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Re: [Various] The Setup to a Bad Joke (closed)

Post by The Scribe »

[AUDIO FEED DETECTED]

[There is a loud clanking sound of metal meeting metal, followed by the metallic groaning noise of something being pried off. A loud POP and a CLANK is heard, trailed by the sharp gasps and coughs of someone struggling to breath after being kept in a cramped space.]

[LYDIA] “Not sure if adding the ryncol was a good idea. He positively reeks.”

[DWICK] “Now, now. Got dis recipe from Branka’s uncle hisself. ‘Sides, it ain’t da rync what’cher sniffin’, it’s da balsamic.”

[The sounds of wet, sopping meat rubbing against linoleum echoes across the speakers, accompanied by a pained moan.]

[DWICK] “Yup, one part balsamic, one part rync, pinch’ve salt an’ pepper ter taste. Gits da meat all nice an’ tender, see. An’ makes sure Big Boy here’s too sloshed fer his regen ter stiffen back up.”

[LYDIA] “Hm. And how are we feeling, Narstak?”

[The response to Lydia’s question is a low, shuddering inhale, followed by an immediate retching noise. Nothing actually splatters on the floor, but that meat-smearing sound from earlier is all too much evidence that the figure at the couple’s feet is writhing.]

[NARSTAK] “Where…” [Shuddered inhale.] “...Where am I?”

[DWICK] “Oh, jus’ a li’l place what I set up fer, oh, those one in a billion-trillion peeps what actually manage ter get under our collective skin. Place I set up fer peeps like dis dumbshit here. Say hi ter Stackers here, won’cha, bud?”

[A casual whack rattles against what sounds like a barred cage. Another moan comes out, this one deeper than Narstak’s - deeper, and far, far more animalistic.]

[DWICK] “You’ll fergive ‘im fer not bein’ talky. Loose lips an’ all dat.”

[NARSTAK] [Slurred, on the dawning edge of horror] “Is...is he--”

[DWICK] “Now, now. Don’ stare, he’s got a condition. One what’s called not tellin’ us what we need ter know.

[LYDIA] “Fortunately, you’re not even close to Sarg’s level of comfort. Not yet, anyway. And you can keep it that way by showing us what a lovely conversationalist you are.”

[Her voice takes on a low, sultry tone. The kind that warn her mannerisms border on dangerous rather than flirtatious.]

[LYDIA] “Regale us with your wisdom, O wise Shaman.”

[Narstak’s breathing becomes louder, sharper, upon hearing that voice. The mic casts a brief doppler effect as he turns his head to speak in Lydia’s direction.]

[NARSTAK] You… You’re--”

[A brief, wheezing laugh comes from Dwick’s direction - higher in pitch than usual, reedier, as though missing the proper middle to belt out his signature bell tones - but the guffaw is singularly his.]

[DWICK] “HAW! Shit, he is blind. An’ here I was, thinkin’ dat was jus’ an act.”

[A thick series of pops predicates the CEO crouching to his knees to address the former Shaman more clearly.]

[DWICK] “Lemme paint a word picture fer ya, then. Yer in a dungeon. Tooch-proof. Concrete walls, thick-ass chains, couple of forks dug deep inter yer noggin so’s you can’t reach yer biotics shit right. Kneelin’ a’fore you is a man you nearly killed as part’a a long con. ‘Side him?...Well. Let’s call her ‘da lady what caught you.’”

[LYDIA] ”To be fair you did put up an impressive fight in the bully pulpit.”

[DWICK] “An’ across from you, inna cage yer all sopped up against, is a guy what I’m tryin’ ter teach bonsai to but can’t ‘cos his limbs’re takin’ so fuckin’ long ter regen dese days. What was his name again? I’m tryin’ ter remember…”

[LYDIA] Piece of shit what sold me out to a brat-child of a slaver?

[DWICK] [Snapping his fingers] “RIGHT! Right. Dat fucker.” [Clanging the cell door] “HOW’S IT GOIN’ DERE, PIECE-A-SHIT?”

[The figure behind the cage moans ever louder, anguished but clearly, utterly impotent. At the same time, Narstak inhales sharply, both from the rattling cage and at the figure’s moans.]

[DWICK] Boy, you’d think ‘e’s never had his legs smashed in a dozen places a’fore. Ennyway - ‘pologies fer not makin’ dis clear, but he’s an example’ve what happens when you really git one’ve our goats an’ don’t doo nuffin’ ter even da score. You grok my cheese?”

[Pause, presumably as Narstak nods.]

[DWICK] Daaat’s better. Lydia?”

[Brief popping of joints as Dwick gets back upright, followed by the unmistakable sound of a peck on the cheek.]

[DWICK] “You got da floor.”

[LYDIA] “Thank you, sweetheart.”

[Beat. Lydia lets out a mournful sigh.]

[LYDIA] “Oh Narstak, you have no idea how much it pains me to see you in this state. Once so glorious and prestigious. Now you’re simply Dwick’s batch of pickled varren feet. How the mighty do fall, indeed.”

[Silence, save for the slight rustle of meat on the floor and drips of...let’s call it water. Narstak’s breath comes out in brief, slow pants; it’s only after a few seconds of this that the listener will realize it’s slow, wheezing laughter.]

[NARSTAK] [Still slurring his words] “Heh...he doesn’t sound too mighty himself, does he.”

[LYDIA] “No, but you knew that already. I’m inclined to believe you were encouraging that personally.”

[NARSTAK] [Warily amused] “But how could that be? I’m merely a Nakmor shaman, plying my abilities--”

[Narstak’s excuse is interrupted by a loud SNAP, following by a howl of pain from the figure in the cell.]

[DWICK] [Shouting over the screams] “Sorry, hon! Jus’ doin’ some prunin’ here, be done in a mo’!”

[The howling is reduced to a painful, sock-mouthed whimper.]

[DWICK] Here, stuff yer mouth wit’ dis, it’ll help wit’ da pain.

[LYDIA] [Calling out.] “You’re fine, dear!” [In a more conversational tone, addressing Narstak.] “Yes, and as a Nakmor shaman, you took Dwick under your care. Why is that? Besides bleeding pulpits are you a bleeding heart as well? Or did my Big Schwanzstucker win you over with his animalistic charms and winning smile?”

[There is a pause. Lydia’s voice is an almost-inaudible whisper.]

[LYDIA] “It’s alright to admit you were attracted to him.”

[Narstak’s voice is hurried, yet revolted - the wrong tone of voice to take in this situation.]

[NARSTAK] That fat fuck?! I’d rather fellate a klixen--”

[His insult is interrupted by another loud SNAP, followed by another muted howl of pain from the cellmate.]

[DWICK] “WHOOPS! Trod on da poor sucker’s toe. Pity, it was jus’ startin’ ter grow back--”

[NARSTAK] [Panicked] “All right--all RIGHT -- yes -- FINE -- all right, yes, I took your…fffat boyfriend under my wing! I needed patients, after all -- test subjects -- and he just happened to have exactly what I needed!”

[LYDIA] “And what was that?”

[NARSTAK] Blood.

[LYDIA] “Hm, yes. That was the main theme of your show. But test subjects? Are you telling me SWOLK wasn’t about kowla? What’s next? You’re not an actual shaman?”

[NARSTAK] [Insistent] “I am...though perhaps in name only. A Shaman without a clan. A mystic without a Flock.”

[LYDIA] “It must be difficult to keep loyal followers if they found you you were betraying their trust like that. Why did you need blood? And why Dwick’s specifically?”

[Narstak lets out a slow chuckle, one more in tune with his on-air persona.]

[NARSTAK] “Come now, Empress. You’ve seen your Emperor. His decline. His wane. See how he grows ever more frail, as those who would see him die swell in their ranks.”

[Beat. Even the other prisoner stops sobbing for a moment.]

[NARSTAK] “I’m after the Taint.

[Lydia falls silent for a moment. When she speaks up again all of her flirtatious pretenses have dropped. Her voice is hard.]

[LYDIA] “So you know of it.”

[NARSTAK] [Hissing] “Of course I’ve seen it. How could I not, when it was used to strip me of my flock?!”

[Brief pause as Dwick lets out a pained sigh. One can practically see the old krogan’s eyes roll in their sockets.]

[DWICK] Awright, Uncle Granma, tell us yer fuckin’ story, already.

[LYDIA] ”Hush, dear.”

[NARSTAK] “Three centuries ago. West of Kraangh. The Jorgals were expanding again. Ate through their reserves, I imagine, the fat idiots. Their envoy came to our clan’s territory, demanded we leave - or those who came would suffer a ‘dire fate.’”

[Lydia lets out a dramatic sigh, calling back to Dwick.]

[LYDIA] “Dwick, will you Jorgal ever learn to behave?”

[DWICK] [Snorting derisively] “Weren’t me. Ain’t bin on Tuchanka fer centuries, ‘member?”

[NARSTAK] [Continuing as if uninterrupted] “I was our clan’s shaman at the time. Caretaker for our warriors, shepherd for my Flock. I ensured that the ferocity of our clan knew no bounds. There was no one who crossed us and lived, and there was no way this foolish, doughy-humped malefactor could possibly herald a hassle, let alone our destruction. We cast him out - stripped him of his weapons, shorn his crest to nubs, and sent him whimpering back to his warlord with his tail between his legs. As was our right.

[There’s a brief pause as the former Shaman catches his breath. The cellmate whimpers, seemingly gagged as Narstak speaks - from the stabbing groans he makes every few seconds, it appears Dwick is using him as his own personal fidget toy.]

[NARSTAK] “Then my warriors grew sick. Wasted away before my eyes. Unable to eat. Unable to fight, unable to heal. Like watching a kopsa shrivel before the sun. And when the Jorgals came…”

[He lets out a shuddering breath.]

[NARSTAK] “They were as monsters. Huge, hulking beasts, every one of them, humps bent, bellies swaying low, almost quadruped so as to maneuver with all that meat that hung off their limbs. Ravenous beasts, all of them, tearing through the valley. And they were invincible - immune to bullet, fire, and blade.”

[NARSTAK] “They tore through our ranks as though they didn’t exist - and weak as they were, they may well not have been. My flock, sick as it was, was reduced to nothing, and the Jorgals swept through as such, slaughtering them to the last man standing, feeding on everything within sight until there was nothing - nothing! - left.”

[NARSTAK] “Somehow I was spared. I do not know how...But I was spared so that I could witness our destruction. And when that envoy returned - when he appeared before me, broken by our defeat, he was not the fool boy who had so come to mock us.”

[NARSTAK] “The last thing I saw before he took my eyes was of a demon. A great, hulking presence, twelve feet tall if he was an inch and half again as wide. He blotted out the sun, he was so enormous - I would not have believed it were the same creature had we not sanded his skull down to a whelp’s ripples. And his eyes…”

[NARSTAK] “It was like looking into a krogan-shaped hole in existence. An abcess, a hole in reality where it stood. All I could see were those eyes, those fiery, blood-orange slits in its skull. There was an absence of space where he stood, a yawning chasm in my head, as if merely looking at it would cause me to fall out of step with existence.”

[NARSTAK] “...And fall I did. It lunged at me, swiping at my face with its claws, and--”

[NARSTAK] “...When I awoke, I was in a place of ruin. Clan Narstak was devastated - those that survived fled, taking what they could before the Jorgals could descend upon them. I myself was expelled from my clan, for somehow bringing this fell sickness on my Flock. The Narstaks would survive - they would find a place far from the Jorgal valley, a place where their survivors would thrive - at least, until turning tail just before the Reapers came.

[NARSTAK] “But I, Nakmor Narstak, Shaman of the Nakmor Clan, was left blind and alone in the depths of what was now, undisputedly, Jorgal territory.”

[Silence dawns at the end of Narstak’s soliloquy. There’s a pause; all that can be heard is the cellmate’s soft whimpering and the dull whirr of air moving through ceiling vents. This continues for several seconds; however, towards the tail end of this pause, a new sound can be heard: the sound of vaguely sarcastic snuffling, coming almost at the same position as Narstak’s voice.]

[LYDIA] [Dripping with sarcasm] “Poor, poor, you.”

[The snuffling is interrupted by the deep foghorn of someone blowing their nose.]

[NARSTAK] “WHAT THE--”

[DWICK] “Yeahhh. Jus’ tragic. What a sad boy.

[NARSTAK] [Indignant] “What? Is that not what you wanted? Are you here just to laugh at my misfortune, now?”

[LYDIA] “It’s a treasure trove of information, Narstak. But you honestly didn’t expect me to feel sympathy, did you?”

[NARSTAK] “Oh, of course. You’re on his side. Far be it you show a single krogan emotion besides smug superiority.”

[Dwick gives a low whistle, performs what is assumed to be a badly-hidden stage whisper.]

[DWICK] “Has dis guy seen his show?”

[In response, Lydia snorts in amusement before continuing.]

[LYDIA] “So you know of the Taint. Then it means you know who is behind it. Is it safe to venture a guess you were aware of Dwick’s own condition? And Mekan’s? Dwick said you were the one who suggested he pose as the referee.”

[NARSTAK] “A means to keep your boy-toy at bay while I performed my experiments. Your animus with your chief of security has not gone unnoticed, sir. Nor your fear of him since he’s contracted the Taint. I can still recall the scent of urine running down your pants at my suggesting him as our referee--”

[DWICK] [Caught off-guard] “D-DAT WAS ‘COS I WAS PREGAMIN’ FER DA SHOW--”

[LYDIA] “What were you looking for in the blood of your test subjects?”

[NARSTAK] “Subject. Not subjects. Those reprobates on that blasted show were merely a convenient...donor supply for my work on the Jorgal here. It wouldn’t do to spread the Taint across the populace, after all.”

[Beat.]

[NARSTAK] “...At least, not yet.

[DWICK] [Another failed stage whisper] ”Lydia, can I pleeeeease rip off one’a his fingers already? He’s doin’ the smug thing again.”

[LYDIA] [Without hesitation] “One of the small ones.”

[NARSTAK] “Wait--WAIT--”

[Mild scuffling noises. Chains rattle as Narstak yelps.]

[NARSTAK] “Wait--look--PLEASE--I’m answering your questions I WAS LOOKING FOR A MEANS OF CONTROLLING THE TAINT SO I COULD ACTIVATE IT ON MY TERMS--

[SNAP. Narstak howls – but the telltale rip of flesh that indicates an amputation isn’t present.]

[DWICK] “Aw, relax, ya galoot. You popped a fuckin’ tendon, dipshit. It’s prolly already fixin’ itse--”

[Beat.]

[DWICK] “...Well. Would’ja look at dat. It ain’t.

[LYDIA] “Well, well, well.”

[Narstak doesn’t reply. He merely whimpers.]

[DWICK] “I was wonderin’ if’n he was lookin’ smallish. Dat much ryncol in ‘im, he should be bustin’ his pants, but…”

[Beat. Nastak inhales sharply in a way that has nothing to do with the presumed agony pulsating from his finger.]

[DWICK] “...Say, didn’ he look all swole-ish when you was fightin’ him last, babe?”

[LYDIA] “Now that you mention it...He was an absolute dish. Now he’s merely scraps.”

[Beat. Dwick grumbles something inaudible under his breath.]

[NARSTAK] “...No. No. No no no no no no. He told me he wouldn’t start as long as I believed, as long as I spread the word--”

[LYDIA] “Elaborate more on your process, Narstak. You were looking for a cure, you were using the blood of other krogan. You had Dwick feed on their blood.”

[NARSTAK] [Noticeably less composed for some reason] “Under -- under supervision....there are--there exist - certain blood rituals th-through which one can...stave off the infection. S-stop it from worsening. Alleviate its effects...b-but it involves the right...the right circumstances.”

[DWICK] “Dem bein’ me donnin’ a hood an’ slurpin a hemowhatsis cocktail on my hands an knees?”

[NARSTAK] “Th-those were your ideas!...you wanted to keep this quiet, maybe get a show out of this--”

[DWICK] “DON’ LISSEN TO ‘IM, LYDIA--”

[NARSTAK] “--But I-I-I-I-I needed an excuse to collect it in the first place!”

[Beat, scuffle; Narstak is presumably desperately trying to get Lydia’s attention over Dwick.]

[NARSTAK] “You think I wanted to do this in out the open?! I would have done it in private! I would have figured it out - pushed the Taint in the other direction, made your boyfriend the first honorary member of the new clan of Narstak so long as he pleased me--”

[Lydia backhands him, cutting him off immediately with a loud CRACK and sending him into a pained, close-mouthed cry of pain. Judging by the recording playback on stereo speakers, she’s just nailed him in his spiderweb forehead fracture. Dwick whistles.]

[DWICK] ”Niiiiiice underarm work dere, Empress.”

[LYDIA] “There is nothing you can do to cure this. You can't simply charm him to delay the taint’s hold on you while you figure things out.”

[NARSTAK] “NO! I’m so close! I can practically taste it, the solution’s right there--

[LYDIA] You're using the wrong blood!

[NARSTAK] “No--no! He -- he said any blood would do, so long as the ritual was--”

[CRACK.]

[LYDIA] “And you BELIEVED him?”

[NARSTAK] [Now speaking through a snoutful of blood] “Of course I did, he taught me everything! What do you think the bhauhk was, if not a sign of my success?! All I needed was to fine-tune the remaining gestures, and--”

[LYDIA] [Impatiently.] ”Dwick, break his hand.”

[There isn’t even an obsequious or subservient reply. Instead, a thin, reed-like *snap* is captured on the audio - just before Narstak’s howling fills the air once more.]

[DWICK] “Ennythin’ else while I’m at it, dear? Arm? Toe? A tooth?--Ooh, I could stick my tongue in ‘is shoulder socket--

[LYDIA] “Hold that thought. Narstak, the Bhauhk is not a blessing. My brother was not lying when he said tempting the Void was a serious offense. This-- what you've been doing has bitten you on the ass. Whatever bargain you made with Him has expired. And now you're left alone. With us.

[NARSTAK] [Barely coherent] “No--no--the reign of Clan Narstak was just about to begin! Please, oh Great and Mighty Kawk, I beseech you--”

[CRACK. Narstak screams.]

[DWICK] “Whoops! My bad, Lydia. You know how clumsy I git when sommat says Daddy’s name.”

[LYDIA] “I won’t hold it against you, sweetheart. Accidents do happen.”

[Beat. Narstak continues sobbing.]

[DWICK] “...Sssssay. Mebbe dis is jus’ my gears spinnin’ an’ shit, but, y’know, I just had an idear.

[LYDIA] “Im all ears, darling.”

[DWICK] “Well, I mean. Thanks ter ternight’s activites, it looks what ol’ Stackers here’s dealin’ wit’ da same shit what I am.”

[LYDIA] “True…”

[DWICK] “...Which means, well. He’s in our bodega now, y’see? It’s ter his bennies ter tell us all da shit he knows. It’s his life onna line, now, y’know?”

[LYDIA] “It certainly is the logical conclusion. But will he? Not that I’m holding my breath. I am content with also leaving Sarg here with a new playmate till Narstak withers away.”

[DWICK] “Oh, fer sure, fuck yeah. Nuttin’ else, seein’ dat hump’a his rot ter nubbins’ll be useful an’ shit - if’n on’y fer our own amusement. I jus’ figger, y’know - if’n Daddy’s left ‘im here ter be our plaything…”

[Beat. Narstak’s sobbing, while still present, isn’t quite as punctuated.]

[DWICK] “Nuthin’ like a little thirsty payback an’ shit, y’know?”

[Lydia hums gently in response to Dwick’s words, but then reminds oddly quiet for a few moments. Only Narstak’s sobbing can be heard until she finally breaks the silence.]

[LYDIA] “What do you want, shaman?”
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Re: [Various] The Setup to a Bad Joke (closed)

Post by The Scribe »

Medic Log:

Time: ██:██, Branka has already lost 65% of her fat reserves in her hump.

The reserves of Mother of Tuchanka given to her are enough to give her back her appetite.

She has done well in keeping her weight from dropping. It’s not enough, but it’s something

Image


Time: ██:██, Bhak’s reserves are low despite them taking well to Nos Dwicka soil. And in the end it’s not a permanent cure. Little by little the Taint is slowly winning.


Time: ██:██, I ordered Branka to bed rest. She can no longer walk on her own without assistance. Her fat reserves are dangerously low and Velvia has been keeping an eye on her in her medic bay. Muscles have atrophied considerably.

I can understand why she doesn’t want to let others know about this. But I don’t like the fact people are unaware. I’m conflicted.

Lura said Narstak was performing his own experiments. How many "followers" did he choose to be affected like this?

Image


Time: ██:██, weeks ago Lura sent me details of a ritual that was possibly done by Lura of the old stories. I’ve been puzzling over them non-stop. I think I have a theory to her methods. They seem far-fetched but there’s no more time. I’ll need to speak with her as soon as possible
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Re: [Various] The Setup to a Bad Joke (closed)

Post by The Scribe »

NOS DWICKA, ILLIUM

Kron woke up suddenly, surrounded by darkness and warmth. He kept himself from panicking, assuming he was trapped underneath burning rubble. The last thing he remembered was staring at Bibble’s gaping maw, and fire before he was knocked down by something heavy.

The space he was trapped in was tight and he began to shift in order to find out if he suffered any injuries.

Nothing broken as far as I can tell. But what is it I’m trapped under?

He dared to move a bit more, but whatever he was trapped under didn’t give way which emboldened him to shift until he was in a position to kick with his legs. He kicked hard at whatever was above him, and it felt both hard and soft. Soft, that it didn’t feel at all like rock or metal, but soft as if he were kicking a solid wall of muscle. At first Kron was confused, but when he kicked again the noise that followed made him realize where he was.

“GRRRRRRGGHGGHHMM…”

“HEDY!”

Everything around him began to shift. Above Kron, two massive heads lifted upwards allowing him to see where he was. The shaman was nestled safely beneath Hedy’s chest which suddenly explained the weight that fell on him. The kakliosaur must have thrown herself on top of the krogan to keep him safe. The surface of her hide was charred and smoking but the kakliosaur didn’t seem bothered by this. As soon as Kron found his feet he was nearly knocked down again when both heads moved in to cover him in slobbery kisses.

“Good girl, Hedy. Good girl. Thank you,” he laughed despite himself, while he held up his hands to fend off their onslaught. “I would have died if it weren’t for you.”

Both heads tilted to one side. The smaller one stared off at nothing but when Kron followed its gaze and through the smoke he saw Bibbles' colossal silhouette in the distance. Hedy’s sire had collapsed but his form heaved with each breath he took. Kron felt a strange sense of relief knowing he was still alive. He didn’t hate Bibbles, he was just an animal. And it would have been a shame if Lemmus managed to kill him.

Right. That one.

He patted both of Hedy’s noses. “Stay here, and out of trouble. I need to go now.”
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Re: [Various] The Setup to a Bad Joke (closed)

Post by Queen_of_Tattoos »

1 DWICKCAST TOWER, NOS DWICKA

The majority of Dwick’s penthouse suite had collapsed from the fireball blast, leaving piles of rubble and dust filling the room. Trophies, HV awards and datapads were scattered everywhere. Bibbles’ eruption alone was strong enough to throw even Dwick’s gargantuan concrete desk on its side...and there wasn’t a being on Illium besides the CEO who had the strength to move it.

Save one.

There was a faint grunting and snarling from somewhere beneath the rubble. Debris shoved forward, sprayed from an unknown source, and the large concrete slab was slowly but surely pushed along with it. Without warning, a hand literally punched through the rubble, knocking the desk off the pile, and sent it rolling before settling on its other side. Lydia burst through, gasping, plates scuffed and clothes torn, caked in dust. With some effort she pulled herself out of the rubble, stumbling before dusting herself off. She was an absolute mess, but had few injuries thanks to her hardy tuchankan stature.

Lydia took a moment to breathe, only to end up coughing from all the dust in the air. She looked surprised by how much damage was done, especially considering the penthouse suite was the highest level in the tower. Realizing that the intercoms were down, she activated her omni-tool to contact Dwick’s diligent volus.
Mr. Prundlebottom, are you there? Are you alright? Dwick’s entire penthouse has collapsed as far as I can tell. I need and assessment on the damage to the tower. The security barriers should have hopefully kept the brunt of the hit from causing too much harm.
Time crawled by in silence, the tension in the room growing second by second as the lack of response implied something far dire. After what felt like an eternity, however, a familiar string began sliding across her screen.
Thank you for your concern, Madame. I am...sufficient.

I was trained to handle Mr. Lenny’s tantrums when he was at his prime. This explosion is a mere trifle by comparison.

Similarly, the upgrades Mr. Lenny has built into the foundation seem to have held for the most part. Only select rooms have been affected by the blast, and it appears your patients were wisely moved inward once the ruse was detected.

It is my great dishonor that you were subject to his failures in updating his own apartment. Mr. Lenny always did enjoy the “risk” represented by a corporate takeover.

I apologize for this abhorrent gap in observation.
Don’t. He’s the one who missed out.
Lydia had to pause for a moment to weather the sting from her own remark. It was intended to be a joke, but only then did she realize that Dwick was gone. Panic took hold of her when she lingered on his memory.
Dwick. Is the room where Dwick and Branka were kept in still intact?
There was a pause in the comms.
Ms. Lura...I’m afraid I have some unfortunate news.
There was another pause, this one more significant, as Prundlebottom seemed to consider his words. The gesture backfired on him; when each line came in, they came as slow hammer blows, line after line inadvertently making the news that much more unbearable as the volus attempted to be humane in his responses.
When Mr. Lepetomay’s cohorts staged their attack, they did so on the northwest end of the company tower.

Thus, when the creature colloquially known as “Bibbles” underwent his...gastric distress…he...expelled his leavings at the company’s fourth and fifth floors.

It is with utmost shame that I must inform you that Floor Five was where we were keeping Mr. Lenny’s and Ms. Branka’s bodies. The damage done to that floor is...considerable.

I have already begun directing my staff’s biotics to clear the floor of debris, but...I fear their remains will be unrecognizable upon retrieval.

I am sorry.
Lydia’s arm dropped to her side. She didn’t want to re-read the message, but she had to give Prundlebottom a response. Her mind’s eye wanted to focus on images of Dwick and Branka’s mutilated bodies...but she forced herself to picture the face of Lemalein “Lemmus” Lepatomay. His arrogant countenance made her blood hot, and she could feel her krogan instinct to rip and tear rising up within her chest.

Blood Rage.

But it wasn’t the primal drive to kill blindly. It was deadlier. Her mind was clear and collected, with one single goal in mind.

Kill Lemalein “Lemmus” Lepatomay.
I’m sorry as well. Have your people do what they can to aid those still alive. Send the lab teams and the patients into the Dream Room where it’ll be safer. They’ll never receive a cure if this fiasco doesn’t end. I’m going to deal with that.
Lydia didn’t wait for a response from Mr. Prundlebottom. She closed her omnitool. Turning, she quickly assessed the damage within Dwick’s penthouse suite, and noted the gaping hole where a series of wall-to-ceiling windows once were. The balcony outside was barely visible underneath all the concrete and broken rebar. She picked her way over the mess, stepping outside onto the balcony. She then peered over the broken railing, taking note of the burning city, and the smoke billowing from the various floors of the tower.

She remembered Dwick, and Branka, and once again focused on Lemmus’ face to keep that feeling of anger in her chest. She put two fingers in her mouth and let out a shrill whistle.

And dove off the balcony.






‘HRRRRROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWRR!!!”


A biotic blur caught up to Lydia as she plummeted downwards. As she seemingly careened to her death, she reached out and grasped onto the telltale spines of a varren. Pulling herself towards this mass, she settled along its back. Dwick Jr. howled again, this time in delight, mouth agape and his tongue flapping wildly as they reached near-mach speed. His biotics burned brightly when they drew nearer to the ground, and when he finally made contact, the earth beneath him rippled from the force.

Asphalt and concrete exploded from the impact...and yet it all remained contained within a space labeled “DANGER: CEO LANDING ZONE”

DJ’s biotics slowly faded out, his master completely unharmed and unphased by the landing they made. She leaned forward to give him a hearty pat along his neck, causing his jowls to ripple.

“Let’s go hunting, DJ.”

“AWWRRROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!”
It's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring
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Re: [Various] The Setup to a Bad Joke (closed)

Post by LEtMe TYPe dAMMiT »

>Voice recording: IN PROGRESS<

[Wet, gurgling noises]

“ShhiiiT I think I’m rEally dying…I suRvivE castRation fRom a hanaR, ElEctRocution, fucking REapERs…multiple hEaRt attacks. FiguREs it’s a bloatEd tuRian that doEs mE in…”

[Zoar coughs, gurgles again and his breathing is labored and wheezing]

“Bhak, I’m sEnding this to you because that’s always bEen…your talEnt. To REcord, to REmEmbER...

LEmmus will want to wipE out thE cure, and even if they make as many as they can…kawk can tRy again. It’s what hE did. HE’ll go
[wet gurgling] hhfrgkgj hE’ll go aftER you. HE can’t kill EvERy kRogan with thE blood type but he can kill you…destroy all of youR plants. YouR lifework…

[more coughing ensues, followed by wet noises

“awww shit…

You pRobably know all this. You suRvivEd Kawk. Don’t lEt his fat hERald gEt you. Don’t diE likE thE LuRa of youR agE did.


[There’s a long pause before sniffing is heard]

“HE...hE’s going to kill my only kid. FoR a whilE I staRted to bEliEvE I wasn’t Void touchEd thE more I got to know hER. I wasn’t cuRsEd to watch all of my offspRing diE off.

SomEonE like hER is too good to bE my kid…shE doEsn’t dEsERve this


[His labored breathing slows down]

“Fuck you, Kawk."

[END RECORDING]

Code: Select all

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Re: [Various] The Setup to a Bad Joke (closed)

Post by Queen_of_Tattoos »

NOS DWICKA

When Lydia went idle in chat, Nella stepped away to find her in person. The large female krogan had retreated to a tunnel that led to a dead end and Nella found her sitting in the far corner. She was hunched over, with her head resting in her hand, her shoulders heaved with each sob.

Nella stepped closer and tentatively placed a hand on her shoulder. “Lydia…”

“I’m so scared, Nella. And I’m ashamed that I am.”

“There’s nothing to be ashamed about. We’re all afraid.”

“But how can I be afraid? I went through a blood rage to help others save Nos Dwicka residents.”

“And you all did well on that.”

“But I’m the krogan. I’m the boss lady. I was going on how I didn’t care if Lemmus set up a trap.”

Lydia sat upright, and even doing so she still dwarfed Nella. Tears streaked Lydia’s face, and more were still falling.

“I feel like such a fraud. I’m not charismatic like Dwick was, or even close to Branka’s level of determination. I’m just…some decorative mantel piece.”

A brief flash of Ruros appeared in her mind and she fought hard to brush it away. His words from her dream still haunted her, and made her doubt her worth and motives. Her self-pity wanted to dwell on all the things she was not. Make up scenarios of how hated she was.

Dwick, true to his log-in name, Infrastructure, was just that for Nos Dwicka. He set up a foundation in a place no one wanted. People jeered at his media corporation but it was flourishing just the same.

But Branka was the beating heart. Dwick’s foundation only served himself, then Branka came along and pumped life into the slums surrounding the tower. People followed her, they found direction, and suddenly communities began appearing in a desolate city wasteland.

But the heart stopped. Everyone fled or they were killed. And Lemmus was going to bleed out Nos Dwicka and collapse the foundation.

What was she doing to prevent that?

“Unlike Mr. Dwick’s girlfriend, I was picked for my job and wasn’t chosen on account of my intimacy with my boss”

Nella spoke up and pulled Lydia away before she could spiral deeper into her self-pity.

“We all have our moments of temporary bravado, Lydia. If you’re trying to paint yourself as a fraud, you’re not. You’re still here, you’re worrying over us, and your family. Despite the odds, you still want to help, and that’s brave.”

Nella felt the tension in Lydia’s shoulders ease and she pressed on.

“I can’t say much for Dwick, but I can speak for Branka. You two are not exactly alike, but she loved you. Fiercely. And you were her the basis for her decision making. She was afraid too. She went on how she wasn’t a leader, how clumsy she was, and expressed her feelings of uselessness. But then she would talk about you, about the confidence you exude. And how she wanted to be just like you.”

Lydia clenched her teeth and sobbed harder. Her hearts were full at the memory of Branka.

“Thank you, Nella. Give me a minute to compose myself and I'll be on again shortly.”

“Of course.”

Nella left and Lydia rubbed her face. She didn't have time to mope and she already wasted enough. Even if she had no clue to approach this she would still face it.

Ping

The glow from her omni-tool lit up with a message. It was a response from Afiyi.

As she read the first half of the message, her knee jerk reaction was to counter with her own logic as to why she couldn’t face Lemmus. But it was time wasted. She continued to read on and Afi’s words of assurance echoed Nella’s which gave Lydia a small surge of hope.
harness your rage. rally your people. if he wants a show, i say let us give him a show. but not on his terms. he wants to brute force the city to his will, and we will show him how far a little finesse can go.
Ping

And in an instant, the light went on in Lydia’s brain.


Encrypted message to Afiyi Maos

Thank you, Miss Afi. This means more to me than you know.

I would be honored to have you assist me in this endeavor. I have an idea brewing. I’ll send you the details in a few more minutes
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Re: [Various] The Setup to a Bad Joke (closed)

Post by Armax_Hammer »

“It’s time.”

“But I don’t want to go.”

Branka found herself face to face with her mother at their old Nakmor camp. The faces around her were familiar even as they all rushed off. It was the Reaper War, and krogan were packing their things to relocate, and others were preparing to fight. Branka didn’t care. Not like she did the first time. Back then she was so willing to dive into death’s open arms, while casting off her mother’s caring words.

It was different this time. Branka was face to face with her mother again and she was not going to leave her.

“You have to go. It’s time.”

“No! I made that mistake already. If I go, I’ll never see you again.”

“Yes, but that’s how it is, Branka.”

She felt a presence walk up behind her, casting a shadow over both her and her mother. She was too scared to turn around, but she saw her mother stare up at the mystery figure with an expression of sad acceptance.

“Ḁ̵͕͙͖̝̃̒̐r̵̡̼̥̥̥̩̱͋̇̍͐e̶͎͋͂̂̀̚̕ ̵̭̬͚̚Ȳ̸̮͐̌̍o̶̢̖̗̎ų̴̫̖͑̂̌́̈ ̷̨̪͚̤̏͜R̵̠͔̣̤͎̦̈́̍̾͝e̶̝̘̟̘̥͝a̶̬̎̅̓̓́̾d̷͇̐̌͝ŷ̸̢̚?̴̜̟͍͊͝”










Branka was in 1 Dwickcast Tower, pondering over Jorgal Dwick’s offer. The musicals, the antics, the feasts were to bribe and woo her over to join his cause. It was too good to be true. Branka’s immediate answer was no, but deep down she heard a voice telling her it had potential.

Suddenly the Pattermaster was standing beside her.

“For what it's worth...I think you should take his offer. It's not every day that a bloated landwhale shows up, orders everything off the menu...and demands you deliver it while singing Garmund Valtrak's History of the Invictus Lawnmower. But I honstly can't deny the paycheck. Or the recognition. Or - you know - the fact that he's rebuilding my hometown."

“How can you trust someone like him? He’s gross, he’s scummy, and he’s the kind of pyjak who has ulterior motives.”

"Of course. If it makes you feel any better, Monseiur Dwick rarely does these, ah, interviews. He only comes into the interview process when he actually likes someone."

There was a shadow beside the Pattermaster. And it didn’t matter how far Branka turned her head to look, it always stayed in the corner of her vision.


A̴͎̽r̵̮͓͝e̶̬͕̽͛ ̴͖͊y̶̻͆ŏ̶͓̰u̶͖̝͒̄ ̸̬̺̓r̵̩̦͋e̷̛̺̬ä̵̫́́d̶̗̻͆̄ỷ̵͎?̵̠̼͝










She sat across from Kron in a café discussing her personal issues. Branka didn’t know Kron very well at the time, but she was glad she was given the opportunity. He was a father, brother, mentor and friend to her. And unsurprisingly became a pillar of the community they eventually built in Nos Dwicka.

“You will be able to address your fears in your own time, Branka. No one can push you to, especially when you’re not ready.”

“What if they don’t go away?”

“They never truly do. But the greatest wounds fade, and become scars.”

“I understand. Thank you, Kron.”

“Mhm.”

Behind him the shadow loomed. And for the first time, Branka was able to see it. It wasn’t in the form of anything familiar. It was simply a mass. And she felt her hearts leap in her chest when red slits appeared in the black, opening up to reveal eyes staring at her directly.

Image

It spoke.


A̵̜̲̯̠̅̑̈́̈́r̶͇͈̯͊ë̶̢̛̥̅̅ ̷̦͐̑̆ȳ̷̲̟̈͆͗̕̕̕o̶̬̫̺̎̔̋̔̓ũ̶͎̩͖̥͚̬̙ ̶̫̦̰̈̇r̴̘͍͇̂͒́̕e̷͖͔͗͒̀̏̓̌̂a̵̧̞͂́́d̶̨̳̼͈͈͈͙̊͑̒̉̄͝y̶̰̞̍?̵̠͍̝̫̈́















The Void is quiet...

Image

As terrifying and confusing the events of Sorakh had been the previous year, Branka found it beautiful and haunting. In its full eclipse both Aralakh and Morlahk formed an eye. It was no wonder krogan centuries back found it so terrifying. No matter where Branka stepped, its unblinking gaze followed her.

I'm dead.

Branka heard herself speak, her voice strange and distorted, but her mouth didn't open. For a brief moment she wondered if this was what it was like to be a hanar.

She held her hands up and wiggled her fingers to make sure nothing else was out of place. An out of body experience didn't guarantee you left with everything intact. It just made sense to double check.

I barely remember anything. I was asleep, and then…



H̶̨̞̘͙̞̻͓͍̋̐̋̔̍͊͋̈́͘͘ȩ̶̨̧̧̛͕̱͎̼̦̝͎̝͉́̎́̌͑̃r̵̨͍̘͇͔̰͍̜̪̩̥͔̲̜̺̈̔̉̈́̀̀̓͘͘ȩ̸̞̣͔̪̟͉́͐͑͂̿̔̍̈́͜ ̷̢͈̠̋͑ÿ̴̛̛̮́̑̉̔̀̆̌̓͋̚ơ̸̛̭̣̖̟̓̎̈́̿̊͛̒̓͑̐ū̴̧̼͕̩͖̗͇͖̝̹̬̲̦͛̈́̓̊͑̅͊̉͌͒̈́̕ ̸̢̛̈́͒͆͑̍̎̇̉́̾̾͌̾̆ą̶̛͉̞̙͑̿̓͝r̸̡̢̰̝͍̝̗̜̿̔̓̀̈́̿̄͊͒͒̎̚̕͝͠ę̶̡̻̳̯̘͚͙̟͆̈́ͅ.̶̢̞̳͔͉̇͊̐̏̀̾̇̇́̊̉̚̚̚


The voice came from everywhere. And yet it didn't alarm her. Branka’s first instinct was to look up at Sorakh. She held a hand up to shield her eyes from the harsh light, but to her surprise she was able to gaze into it with no discomfort. Branka lowered her hand.

Are YOU the Void? The thing all our clans talk about?




Ỵ̸͕͔͚̎̿̈́̀͊͐͗̂o̸̧̢̫̥̜͈̮̙͚̦̣̬͕͈̳͍̬͉̻͎͒̍̆͐̈́̓̂̾͆́̅̋͌̚͠ù̴͕̰̱͇̩̩̬̻̬̰͓̠̲̠̯̯̲̿͠r̸̨̹͔͚̮̰̪̲͕̘̫͈̗̖̀́̐̀̔̊̉̈̌́͂̆́̏̃̕͘̕ ̶̢̲̖̥͍͔̘̼̬̓̉̒ͅͅc̸̨̢̱̳̰̞̝̙̞̘̯͈̬̞͚͘ͅl̷̡̨̫̯̯̪̥͙̯͛̏̇̈͌̀ͅa̴̧̞͔̱̘̪̤̠̠̤͗͛̈́́̆́̒͑̕n̵͉̅̓̆̄́̂̀͒́̀̅̓͌̈́̆́̅͛̕͝ͅş̶̨̨͖̲̰̮̦͍̼̠͔̤̬̼̙̭̱̳̖̬̿͊̀̉̊̍̃̓̔̅͝͝͝ͅ ̷̧̛̛̛̼̤̪͙͖̰̟̻͗̍̍̉̒͌͑ḥ̵̻̺̮͖͔̥̙͒̄̈́͒͒͑̿á̶̡̧̛̛͍̘̼̩͉̤͙̺̺̦̙̮̜͕͑͌͊̿̆̃̉͛̿̀̒͌͒̔̈́̚͜͝ṿ̴̧̡̛̦͍͕̘̻̜̳̣͇̥͎̊̾̿̐̃͊̾̚͜͠͝ͅȩ̷̙͕̫̣̬̳̣́͋̀̂́ ̷̥̠̠̻̻̣̖͚̦̺͍͙͕̳́́͒͌͌͐̌̐̑̅̎̑́̚̚͜ͅģ̷̛̳̳̺̟̝̗̱͓̥͈̖̱̠̝̑̓́̓̆̏̊̇̀͋̀͛̐͘î̵͓̎̏̓̉̃̍́͗̓̏͑̆̐̐̇͝͝͝v̷̢̺̭̭͉̰͔̹̽̎̀ę̶̨͈̦̻̘̣̠̫̗̖͖̻͔̥̜̘͒̐́̃͒̂͂̈́̇̍́́̈́́̂͝n̶̢͕̠̗͙̜̗̺͖̩̔͛̔͛͋̓̽̐̓̑̀̑͝ ̸̡̰͍̰͕̦͎̣͚͍̓̇̽͋͆͑͠ͅm̵̨̛̲̲̲͖̬͔̙̺̯̝̱̗̞̖͓̗͕̪̟̖͆̆͆̆̿̐͌̽̐͒͊̒̿͊͝ȩ̴̧̧͖͙̼̰̙͇̺̞̱̠̘̤̟̙̼̦̈̈́̀̐̂̉̕͠͝͝ͅ ̴̧̝͍̗̼̮̊̏̔̽̆͝ṁ̷̼̭̤͕̯̣̞̺͓̓̽͛̊̾̒͊͂͠͝a̴̪͙̖̘͓̬̪͋̎͂̃̇̂͌͘̕ņ̴͎͙̞̫͉̮̙̝̫̯̠̻̜̘̳̪̦̫͠ͅÿ̷̭͓̟̯̤̭͇͉̍͆͋ ̸͎̥͆̑̈́́̌̔n̸͎̩̩̤͍̪͇̂͒ȧ̶̢̨̛͈͖̥̳͇͓̭̌̑̋͊̆͆̇͑̓̽̒́͑̑͝m̶̧̡̧̧̢̨̤͙͕̟̻̱͎̪͙͖̳̖͔̜̖̋̀ę̶̩̭̤͇̗͉͓̑̋̄̍̌̊̀̉̍̽̿̽̆̎̋̀͛̍̽̒̚͜s̶̰͉̼̜͈̻͕̦̬̩̳̋͂͊͂͜ͅͅ.̷̧̨̢̪͇͇̝̮̺̗͖̬̟̫̝̫͕̺̬̪̒̓̐́͗̓̊̓̀̀́̀̍̕͘̚͘͝͝




But which one is it?




W̷̭̲̮̹͂̏̒̅͒̈̈͑͆͊̆̈́̊̚̚͘͜h̵̪͖̺̲̮͖̀͆̽̃̋̓̃̓͌̑̀͌̈́̿̋̕̚ǐ̴̲͓̪̤̗̖̖̠͑͌͛̍̏͂̄̓̊̏ç̴̼͈͉̗͉̀͌̿͌͐̚͝h̶̹͓͇̪̣̱̫̯͚̠̬̠̟̙̥̪͙̄͌̋̇e̴̢̨̨̢͍̝̜͇̞̱̭̗̠̬̖̣̫̩̓̀̊̅̑̏̅̈̀̾̈́͊̉̅̿͆̕̚͝ͅṿ̷̡̨̞̱̠͇̯̺̬̱͙̘͖̬̣̗͈̺̺̌̈̋͌͂̈̈́́̎̏̊͋͌̓̌̕͘͝ͅͅȇ̵̢̧͕̫̦̝͍̔͜ͅr̷̨̩̗̮͖̺̝͎̱͆̽͜ ̷̨̨̰͍̖̞̦̭̻̰̜̩̞̗͕͖̬̼̯͓̀̇̽̆́̐͛̆̋͆̓̀̆͝õ̸̺̼̞͖͔͖͙̺͇̯̖͍̯͊͌̀͂̔̃̄̀͐ͅn̴̛̫̱͇̺͉̭̋͋͂̄̋̓͛̔̆̒̕͝͝͝͝e̵̜̽͛̀̂̓̓̆̿̒̍̀̒̔̐̿́͘̚͝͠ ̴̛̳̞́̅͑͊y̴͎̹̗̬͕̮̳̞͕͔͍̪̮̆́̓̃͛͂͂̌ơ̴̧̦̜̟͍̙̝̝͕̟̣̯̿̉̈́́͛̍̎̇͛̉͊͗̓̄̈́̓̓͘͜͝͠ų̷̧̛̛̦̺̜̬͚̬̥͔̺͇̼̖͙͇̖͈̻̟́́̂̐͛̎̃̃͐͑̓́͝ͅ ̵̢̩̙͔̾̂̆̏́̓̑͑̈́̉͆̅͌͂̇̑̈̚̕͝͝b̴̡͙͔̺̟̼͖̬̦̼͂̽̍̃͑͂̊̅́̋͐͗̆͘̚ȩ̷̧̲̺̤̫̘̭̗͎͉͍̳̱̎͊̊͛͗͐̇̋͘̚͘͝l̵͖̖̮̺̫̺̟͓̰͈͉̝̱̹̱̺͔̦͇̬͂́́͗̍͋͆͘̚͝ȉ̶̧̞̈́̃̀͐̂̎̏̔͋͒̆̇͌͘e̷̪̗̳͋̄͑̈́̆̿͛̿͗̓̌̎̉̈́͝v̴̛̻̉͛̈́̀̊́̀̑͝ȩ̵͉͎͉͙͓͎̳̹̯͚͍̻̬̖͕̐̀͑̌̉͂̚͜͜͝͝ ̶̢̛̰͕̱͇̹͖̗̯̻̣͇̦͇̞̻̳̩̲͔̝̜́͌̊͆̌͋̓̅̽̎̿͊̿ĭ̸̧̮̣̯͌̋̍̑̂̑̅̇̏̈́̀̕n̷̨͕͈̲̗̖̫͙̪̭̠̫̙̪̹̝̙̮̣͊͐͆̃̇͌̓͊́͂̈́͗̎̈͊͘͜ͅ ̷̟̏̂͑̂͂ţ̸̡̨̡̡̢̳͍̬̫̝̩̦̪͎̩̗̲̹̊͒̈́͂͋̈̇͐̂̄͊̈́̅͝͝͝ͅͅh̷̰͚̀̀̍̓̍̾̉̅̉̀̃̔̔͂͘͠͝ę̸̢̡̭̲̘͖̬̤̻͓̼̭̬̰̈́ ̵̧͎̤̼̹̻͇̳͉̝̞̪̖̳̝̣̝̳͍̦͇̾̋̒̃͋̍̾̄̾̒̎͊̐̎́͘̕̕̕ͅm̷̗͇͙̯͈̤̳̝͈̖͓͛̌̈́́͐̑͊̔͜͠o̷̧̥͍̙̳̝̪͂̉̄͆̂̓̓͐̄́͗̉́̎͗̌̕s̷̨̛̹̈́͂̅̋̑̇̍̈̾̚t̴͕̦̪̬̰̯̖̤̀̓̍̎̍͆̋̌̓̄̚̚



Branka frowned. She never took the time to consider what was real or personal to her. A force of nature, at best. And that is something you never really have to explain to yourself as it just does what it does. You respect it and leave it be.



Ẃ̶̢̡̧̻̼̗͈̭̝͐͊h̸̟̺̞͔͓̺̞̀͠ȳ̶̥̤̘̜̘̖̜͈̳͋͆̄̈̔́̅̇͗͝ ̸̡̬̝̀̔͐́̓͋̌͜͝͠a̵̡̨̛̲̣̭̻̺͖̅͑̐̓́̎̎̚͘ͅŗ̵̘̜͚̋̄̍̋̂̈͋͝ȩ̸̫̼̊̊̋̀͒̌̊̆̇̈́̉ ̵̝̲̮̝̜̮́̆́y̶͖̒̾̏͋̾̍̏̔̕o̵̼͓̞̐͒̌̕͝ũ̶̫̂̆̒̔̇̔̐̋͠ ̴̧͓̯̮̠͉̗̭͈̈̑̋̾̌ḩ̴̯͈͇͈̍͒̄͗̅̌̀̾̎̈́̚͜e̴̲͈̹̩̰̒́͆́́͐̐̉̎̐͘ͅŗ̴͇̬͙̪̭̓̕ȩ̴̦̗̗̿̑̍.̵̨̻̰͍̦̣͉̜̼͖̓̑̓̈́̄̐͝


What kind of question is that? Im dead! Aren't we supposed to come this way?


W̸̧̹̖̭͈̭͊̆̎̏̎̀̋̈̕h̷̨̦̩̥̘̘̃̌̆̃̇͂̉̍͝o̵̡̦͒̊́͆͋͐͝ ̶̡̢̺̮̜̲̀͗̍͛̈́s̵̻͓͙̈̍̏́̆͊̍̚͝a̸͎͈̖̲͙͎̱͕̲͛͛i̴̢̬̠͈̬͍̗̲̣͇͊̏̐d̴̯̖̩̘͉̙̀͆͗͑̔͌̚ ̴̩͒̐̽̇̂͌̐̑͘̕ŷ̵͖̗̘̭̯̪̿̈́̅͝͝o̵̟̝̫̣̖̹͋̽͐ų̸̲̥͉͉̫͖͑̂ ̶̰͚̗̮͕̔ͅs̵̡͔͍̩̠̺̥̮͎͌̍́̈̓̑̇̀ẖ̶͗͊͑̒́͂̾̈́̚͝o̵̢̥͈͔̹̙̦̍́̓̈́̀͝ͅṷ̴̲̲͕̲͍̺̓̂́̈́͐̂̕͜l̴̯̲̉̆̍̂̾͜d̴̬̝̥̯̹̄͋͐̓̈́̓̏͑̚͝ͅ


I…

Branka paused to consider that.

Well, no one I guess. But Everyone says the Void is the next step in death. You cross, and you go to Kruban or Sazgoth.

Now that she thought about it, Kruban didn’t really sound that appealing. Who wanted to be stuck in an eternal feast gorging on the parts of your enemies? Did she even have any? Why couldn’t it be a feast of pizza and zippy pies?

I’m confused. What do I do then?



W̷̨̮̹̝͍͚͙͎̺̭͒͗h̸̥͓̦̬̪̰̦̫̉̃̓ḁ̴̢̟͕͈̦̟̈́̾̇̂̏̕ͅt̸̡̡̼̦̜͇̙͉̹͛̏̈́̅̃̒̅͒̀̚ ̵̤̓̈́͆̈̕ḓ̶͓̣̃̅̄̇̄̇̓̂͝o̵͈̪̻͎̦͖̹̣̓̊ͅ ̵̛̙̱̩̰̜͖̭̟͉̔̽͒̓͛̈́̕y̶̭̯͎̠̲̠͒o̴̧̝̲̥͒̕ŭ̵̡͚̫̔ ̸̰̹͉͚͙̭̈́̑͌̂͑̔̅w̵̲͋̌͗͑̍͠ą̷͍̲̖̽̇̈́̑̂̋̈́̓̄n̵̛̹̤͎͖̙̮͙̜͓̓̄̇͆͛͒̋̐̽t̵̢̘̱͖͔̆̌̏̀͌̚



The thoughts appeared faster than words could describe. She wanted to be home. She wanted to be better and surrounded by her friends; Nella, Odrogar and Ikomak, Kron, Lydia. She wanted to hear Mex yelling about her fitness routines again. She wanted to play with her varren and sneak them junkfood. She wanted to see Tank again, and turn red when she caught him looking at her just long enough so she could appreciate his blue eyes.

But something inside her was awfully curious where this new path would lead. No one said death would be like this. (No one bothered to come back to describe it) The idea excited her that it made her wish she had the talents of the Pattermaster to sing a song about it. Whatever presence was there with her seemed to know her thoughts. And in the distance she could hear someone calling.


I̵͖͛t̷̺̎'̴͈̐s̵̝̚ ̸͓̓t̷̜͆ị̷̀m̴̌͜ë̶̳́

“But I don’t want to go,” Branka said aloud, surprising herself that her actual voice still worked. She didn’t even consider where it was she didn’t want to go to. Did she even decide?



Ĭ̵̛̛͉͉͍̗͆̃̃̃͒̈́̕͝͝ͅt̴̨̨̡͕̰̪̦͚̫̲̮̪͑̍̃̌͌̾͂͜'̴̩͔̮̯̱̜̜͉͆̕s̶̼̼̦̰̯̝̦̝̹̞̲̮̀̇̃͆͐̓̀̇̽̀̈͝͠͠͝ ̷̨̛̙̰͇̹̋̌̃̍̃̍͂̏̓̚̕͜͝ṭ̶̢̨̨̲̠̗̰͚̺͓̫̤͑̐̇̉̔̈́̽̊̍͐̅̊̚͝i̷̧̛̛̙̮͙͈̒̌̌̐̑̌̾͗̄̍̚̕͠m̵̙̗̳̭͗͗̕ę̸̻̀̈́͂͑̈́̅̿͠



“No, wait! I didn’t even say anything!”



Ỷ̵̢̩̭͑͗ḙ̸̡̻̖̮̺̯̬̻͍͖̘̩̽̇̇̀̔͑̃͆̋̏̔̄̚͠͝s̸̛̳͖͉̓̀̎͑̀͌̓̀͆̚͜͝.̶̢̱̬̦̭̩̰̐̈́̐ ̴͚͚̻̳̟͈̍̕ͅȲ̸̤̪̰̻̝̣͓̘͎̎̒͗̀̋͊̍̇̚ͅǫ̵͉̘̺͙̻̣̥̹͎̼͇̻̈́͜ư̴̡̨͖̳̱̖̩̲̻̲͓̼̪̂̎̉̀̾͊̊̃͐͋̂ͅ ̴̨̧̬̯̀̽̀̀̍͋d̸̰̟͋̔͋͑̎̈́͋͠í̴̡̢̮̠̩̖͕͍̤͖̗̗̳̓͆̐͂̉̍̄̏͂̍̓̕͘͜d̴̢̡̡̲̜͇̜̗͇̝̘͔̘̭̉̏̏.̷̢̯͈̹͊̽̇͊̏̎̀̾̆̐̈̆̅



I did.

The Void, or whatever it was, seemed to grow restless. Her quiet surroundings began to echo with the sounds of rumbling. Bits of dust and debri--like what one would see from a collapsed building--fell all around her. The ground beneath her feet felt unsteady, and Branka slowly began to sink in the sand. Was this its way of kicking her out? Where would she go then? For some reason Branka couldn’t bring herself to struggle. If it was nature, she would let it do as it did.

G̸̕͡ò́o̕͜d̸̸̀n̡̧͝igh̶̕t,̸͝ B̛r̷͘a̶̕ń͜͝ḱ̵̴à̡̡.̕͜ ̶̧I w͠as̷̴̨ ̕͢ha͘͝pp҉̸y̸ ͜t̡͜o ̷͘͟s̸̡e͢e͡ ̴y̸o͟͠u͘ ͜҉̨a̶͜͝g͢͟à̛ìn̵̡.̨

The second voice calling her in the distance grew fainter, and Branka immediately recognized who it was. And for a moment she struggled against the sinking sand to call back out to it.

“I love you, mom!”

The sand around her seemed to pull her now. Almost like a force taking hold of her. Branka stared up at Sorahk’s single eye.



G̶̩̮̈́̈̐̓̃̊̒ǫ̴̧͍̞͕͙̞̳̰̝̩͊̀͛́͑͌́̈̽̉̓͆͌̚ ̴̡̛͓̦͎̼̯͍̘̣̗̈́̌̂̇̆h̸̼͚͚͇͇̩͇͇̹̝̰͑̒̐͝ǫ̵̼͙̜͈̥̒̋̾̐͗̿̅̋̈́̉͜m̴̻̜͉̪̩͉̤̳̱͎͚͖̭̹̪̎͆̾̆̃̂̓̒̌̈͘͘e̸̲̱͈͇̺̬̹̟͇͕̙͌́̾͂̿̓ͅ.̵̪̏͐̒̋̎̆̈́ ̵̱̬̮̼̲̦̼͖̩̌̓̒̀̾̒̃Y̴̨̢̠͎̲͔͖̤͋̅́̈́̏̈́̅́̀͌͒̿̓͗ǫ̷̡͙͖͍̪̗̤̰͑̅̅̃̂̀̋͝u̸̡̢̡͕̩̭͇͚̠͇̟̒̈'̸̧̡̟̱̋̇̿́̓̏̚͜r̶̨̨̛̬̳͎̜͎̹͈͖̘̯͋̿͊́̕e̵̜̮̻̰̭̗̥̟̜̖̯̞͆̀̊͋͋̄͘ ̷̨͖̯͉̣̩͇̙̝̜̌͑̓̋̓̈r̴̨̢̨̬̖͔̗̖̝̭͎͖̞͓̔͋̓̾̏̒͌̂͜e̴͇̣̹͇̞̮͛̈́́͋̿̕͠á̸̜̮͚̱̣̗͚͎̩̟̥̫̰͙͗̀̽̍̾͌̐͂̚͠͠ͅd̸͕̪̖͚̹̲͕͍̦̙͕͆͊ͅy̶̢̡̡̛̜͍̯̟͓̟̖̹̆́̍̇̉̔͂͠.̷̢́̒
Being a good person doesn't mean you fit the life of every person you meet
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