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Dungeons and Dragons, Sci-Fi, Story Experiments, Uncategorized

Alpha Tallus: Part 1

It’s hard to say how we got here. Anyone who knows us, knows we like to make a little money. Time has also told that we love making mistakes even more… I don’t know why I am still saying “we”… maybe it still hasn’t hit me that I’m alone. I am stranded, I don’t have supplies. I’m gonna die… but the story is interesting and I have literally nothing better to do.

Dulora was once a great world, a haven to many… but that time is barely remembered. The planet became over populated and struggled to produce enough food to support it’s population. The rich are the only ones who can afford to import food, but it’s gotten so bad that as soon as the gremlins see you in the sky, they assemble a task force to rob your ass. The surface is a mad house of dying and angry, starved people, most of them natives. The solution is increasingly unclear. Dulorians are high maintenance and not suited for space travel. Anytime someone tries to leave their home planet, they die of hypoxia or psychosis of some kind. Something about them needs their home world and scientists are too busy to figure it out.

As a result, Dulora has turned in on itself. With nowhere to go, the cream sunk into the earth rather than rising. A few men got smart enough to dig deep, literally. Decades later, there are vast tunnel systems in Dulora, protected by well fed men and women. The man with the most power on Dulora is Dr. Mentz, a man who has become very rich, but not in paper money. In people. You work for him, you always eat. He pioneered hydroponic food growth on Dulora, starting as a child when his father brought his family underground. Some say Mentz senior was the first to come up with the idea of a system of tunnels. It didn’t take much to get some men together under the premise that they would work together to protect the tunnel and resulting homesteads from outsiders. Mentz senior was a hater of money and resisted most technology in favor of the fruit of his own hand. He was always looking for a way out from under the thumb of Dulorian government and it seems his vision is still firmly planted in the minds of the friends he left behind. These days the Dulorian government is powerless.

I met Mentz Jr. through my father, who was friends with his father somehow. We didn’t see each other much and we still don’t, but in space friends are very few and VERY far between. When it came my time to inherit the freight business (when my father died suddenly and left me in command), the young doctor became a lucrative contact. You see, he grows these mushrooms that are ultra nutrient rich. A case of them guarantees I can feed the crew I need for an entire year. I feed my crew well when I can, but this is space. Having that guaranteed nourishment takes a stone off my back. Yearly, I pay a visit and bring as much water and seed as I can along with any equipment that needs replaced and enjoy a few days in the tunnels. It’s dirty but cozy work and I look forward to it.

This year, Mentz had a visitor. A daughter I didn’t know he had was visiting from Xeugantu. This is big news because Xeugantu is the Black sheep of the galaxy right now. The planet is so heavily guarded that the dangers of the activity there have yet to really be assessed. Mercinaries trying to get to Xeugantu to retrieve the lost frequently return in body bags, if at all. The only tech anyone on Xeugantu could possibly have their paws on is the outdated nuclear technology stored there for ages, now illegal in most systems. It is insanely impractical for ships to use nuclear technology. The radiation’s the thing.

Xeugantu was a storage spot for warheads, but when task forces came to disarm and dispose of the waste, war broke out. Xeugantians are a fierce people, with great numbers. The planet itself is 6 times the size of Earth, with a greater land to water ratio. The citizens went mad and demanded warheads be left and used to provide power to it’s citizens, in lieu of the lost income. When the Directorate of Alpha Tallus denied the request and elected to dissolve the contract with no compensation to Xeugantu, there was immediate bad blood. Xeugantians began assasinating outsiders and ejecting their bodies into space. Directorate liasons were first to go. This tactic was effective, as the Directorate ultimately made an offer of astronomical proportions, which Xeugantu denied. Since then, the Directorate has run out of assets to send to fetch the living. Powers from other systems have come in in hopes of purchasing what’s left of the technology, only to find themselves ambushed.

Mentz claimed his daughter was a spy who had escaped with vital intel. She had lost her husband and needed to escape to the home they built on his home planet Hivis. Hivis is a remote planet in the system and it is a planet in turmoil. Hivis is managed by an Order of The Few that has recently fallen to a race of Clones created to provide mining labor. At birth, you could elect to submit your child’s genetic material to a registry and if that material was selected to produce clones, the child would would be paid for Clone labor when reaching adulthood, minus the cost of feeding and boarding. Needless to say, everyone without scruples took advantage of this program, which led to a class of super rich people being in control of everything. What they did not realize was that if you engineer a clone to survive better on your planet, they can really kick your ass if they decide to embrace their sentience and take over. Unfortunately, rebellion amid the Clones was creatively quelled until it could be quelled no more, you see the clones were the first to see the end of the line. They knew what they were doing to the planet and did not understand the lack of action on the part of the Order. Clones leaked this information to the Organics, who promptly emigrated with the quickness.

With the buffer of the middle class gone, the relationship between Clones and The Order polarized and war became inevitable. Clones began asking questions and the Organic workers who stayed behind began discussing their scruples. Some Organics even stayed to help defeat the Oligarchs. Such people were led by the man who pioneered cloning on Hivis and in the Alpha Tallus system on the whole, Dr. Rolo Vork. Vork did not count on his work leading to exploitation, not on this scale anyway. He sympathizes deeply with the Clones and has been running underground schools to encourage education ever since the Order took his work and ran with it. With organically developed humans disappearing, Clones are the only hope for Hivis to be a functioning planet again. The Order have no idea what manual labor is and their happy little cul-de-sac of safety will soon be burst through, extinguishing them.

Dr. Vork knows Hivis needs educated entities to rebuild the planet and find sustainable ways to live there. It helps that Clones have been engineered to be work horses (tweaked really, as so little is yet known about genetics). It is vital that they figure it out, as Hivian clones cannot live in space. Most of them still live in the mines where they have always lived. Some have began funneling into the homes left behind by those who have emigrated. Vork continues to create more Clones under the advice of Clone leadership. Clones are “born” sterile and the planet will need a supply of caretakers after the Order are defeated. Currently The Order are outnumbered 10 to one, but their defenses are so sophisticated, they are basically locked in a fallout shelter the size of Mall of America that has always been well plied. It it unknown how they are doing in their cozy little box. If the weaponry protecting them is automated, it will take awhile to tell. It’s likely they have some kind of self sustaining food source, leaving little reason to breach their own perimeter. Meanwhile, the planet has lost over 50% of it’s population, so you have a planet the size of Earth with only fifty thousand people and a bunch of abandoned property. If you have any experience as a criminal, you can imagine the possibilities. This is where we found ourselves… being asked to take a wayward daughter to a crazy planet. The only positive is that it is fairly desolate if you know what you are doing. Since The Order entered their Cube, criminals have been looting the left behind homes. Clones are powerful, but most of them stick to the mines and don’t give a damn about what the Organics left behind. Martial law is a given, but the cities are still being picked apart, so if one could find a remote area, there is a chance of staying out of harm’s way and possibly securing a great location, if you don’t get shot down trying to land. There is no way of knowing the magnitude of the prospecting going on by now.

I had a pretty good idea what we were in for. Xeugantu being the mountain of radioactive gold that it is, The Order being the humanitarians that they are (Clone-itarians? Who knows?)… I would not be surprised if something radioactive is on Hivis ready to be set off by the Order. Haryet probably has some sort of proof of an exchange. Proof that Xeugantu is selling nuclear material (and not using it for power) would enable the Alpha Tallus Directorate to recruit forces from other planets in the system to repossess the technology. The only problem is how do we prove it’s still weaponized and not just being used for power? And how the fuck do they move it?

None of that was my problem. And old friend asked me to keep his kid safe. I was always going to say yes. Space is a death wish anyway. It’s a blessing to go down doing something cool because most of us die due to stupid mistakes and bad planning.

Dungeons and Dragons, Story Experiments

Fiction Snippets: Lothatio Part V

I awoke to a stinging ache behind my eyes in a darkened room with checkerboard walls. Stoneshrooms were peeking out from the light squares. There appeared to be no entry or exit. Just as I gained my composure, the tiles on the walls began to sink in one by one. As stoneshrooms were swallowed, choke mold appeared. I began to smell the witch weed and like a mist, he appeared in a dark corner of the room, his gray elvin figure hugging the darkness. I began to choke.

“ My dear girl, at long last! To what do I owe this pleasure?”
“Excuse *gasp me? *cough”
“Well, I must have done something for you to come sniffing around my neighborhood. Don’t you prefer the pub district? I bet you really clean it up at the mud wrestling.”
“Asshole”

The choke mold retired into the wall, which then blossomed into stoneshrooms top to bottom. I began to breathe deeply and soon regretted it. Shairkash slunk towards me and he reeked of something foul. Otherworldly in it’s foulness, almost alien. I’ve been in the lairs of dragons and have never smelled anything so vile. He looked into my eyes and smiled.

“I see you are responding to my scent. It is a new project I am working on. Axis body spray. It is created from the leaves of an Eastern plant I’ve been trying to cultivate for years, the Djinn Blossom.”

I didn’t ask, you shouldn’t have told me.”

I don’t want to take advice from fools, but what do you think of the scent? You know… as a woman? How does it make you feel?”

Nauseous. But it could just be the man wearing it.”

It increases Charisma”

That’s all just whispers at the bus stop.”

“Indeed”, he replied curiously.
“ Is it my turn to ask questions?” I began to stand.
“Yes, DO tell what this intrusion is about”
“ Do you know anything about the recent sale of a ring with peculiar powers? One that might, say, inspire a young woman to engage in human sacrifice?”
“ Well, I’m gonna need a lawyer…”
“Indeed”
Just then, Shairkash seemed to vanish into the darkness, whispering “A real man makes his own luck. – Billy Zane”

Hours would pass. Hours which felt like days. Then, suddenly… massive amounts of light. Blinding light. Sunlight. The room opened to a cliff near the sea. When my eyesight adjusted, I recognized my whereabouts and made my way home with ease, but what the hell was that? I leave with no answers. I walk home, wondering if there be an antidote to the choke mold he used. I need dirt to get dirt. I would need something incriminating to leverage in order to force him to make things right.

I’ve learned how to work with Evil people. It becomes so easy once you acknowledge that they are really just pragmatists at heart. Offensive linemen in the game of life, trying to get theirs and then just hang onto it. It’s all about the lie of security. The Evil man is the biggest slave to security. He wants it the most and that is what drives him to success. He is willing to achieve “security” at any cost, usually in the form of money, and then power. The more people with their hands in your pocket, the more power you have. It’s sort of insidious. Ironically, it often begins out of a desire to mix things up and to rebel against convention, and then success begets a craving. Security begets the need for more security, powered by the fear that it will all one day come crashing down. And it does. I can’t tell you how many pirates lost ships in just that way. You get high, then you get weak, and then the strongest of your slaves pulls you down. It is a cycle so predictable, I’ve learned to ride the wave. I’ve been in Murann the past year waiting for the tides to turn at sea and within.

I’ve had many offers for work and everyone around here is getting sick of the sight of me, but let them be sick. A girl has a right to cling to the land if she wants to. Truth be told, I get seasick. It’s embarrassing, so when I’m out at sea, I eat minimally and have become stealthy hiding my aversions. Over many years it’s become exhausting, so I’ve been considering going in search of work land side. This is a complicated endeavor. It might also be time to find out what has happened to my father, just to silence the part of my brain that wonders if he is even still alive. Knowing he is dead would just set me free from the worry. It seems odd that he wouldn’t have found me sometime in the last 7 years, but who knows. He could be imprisoned or exiled somewhere. I didn’t necessarily want to intervene… I honestly think he is probably dead, but it would be nice to know for sure.

Dungeons and Dragons, gardening, Story Experiments

Fiction Snippets: Lothatio Part IV

Nobody knows much about Shairkash, which is odd, seeing as how his industry is trade and he’s the richest guy around. Still, he meets the criteria for shut-in, as he is so sly and cunning and slippery. You can have a conversation with him without ever looking into his eyes. How I long to wrap my hands around his neck.

His humble home lay at the center of Merchant Town, a disheveled two story piece surrounded by a collection of things. The plant life is really above board this year. The barrelstalks that line the streets of Merchant Town are full and pulsing and looking quite odd. Some street folk were sharing wine on a hammock and busking. I took a swig. Alfengrape wine. I threw a few gold their way, but nobody even noticed. They just stared despondently up at the skies, singing a hollow tune.

” The day is coming soon
The day we all turn blue…”

Before he became a sea trader, Shairkash was renowned for his gardening skills and made some of the most potent tinctures known on the sea. Many assume he settled here because he became too old to handle travel and used his connections at sea to create his estate. Though it’s right in the middle of the Sailor’s City, it is definitely his domain. Shairkash draws in the desperate and impoverished and once they get here, they never seem to leave. Barrelstalks provide plenty of water, glowing Alfengrapes are made into wine and light the streets at night, pomow grows everywhere, stoneshrooms gather under every soarwood tree, lish nut trees also abound. You would have to be dumb and lazy to go hungry in this place. Somewhere, shrouded in protective darkness, there is a field of Arkas grass that provides the majority of Shairkash’s income, as I understand it. The rest comes from goods he takes from his pile of wares and shines up, much of it custom attuned for the buyer.

When you enter Merchant Town, the vibe changes considerably. People on the street are listless and despondent. Everyone seems drunk and not particularly interested in anything, almost as if in a trance. The Bilge Rats (Murann’s sect of the Shadow Thieves’ Guild) won’t touch Shairkash for some reason. They are reluctant to touch anything on land. Still, everyone’s avoidance of him seems odd, as he is clearly parasitic to his own people here in this microcosm of scum and villany. As a lone traveler, I could sense a pack forming behind me as I made my way toward Junk Mansion. I could feel the hostility building in my newfound followers.

Finally reaching Shairkash Manor, I opened the gate. I barely caught the scent of telltale witchweed when an entire patch of choke mold just inside the gate released spores that rendered me immediately useless. Things went white, and then black.

 

 

 

( Plant information provided by:
http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?479663-Magical-Plants-and-Where-to-Find-them )

Dungeons and Dragons, Story Experiments

Fiction Snippets: Lothatio Part III

Ordi regarded me with his trademark twilight apathy. It took no time at all to rouse him. As suspected he was up late working on 3 men who were brought in from sea for burial. I could smell the sweat on his brow. Clearly he had been struggling to manipulate their bodies into the proper position. Lothatio stood near the door, ready to vomit any moment.

“Well, sis what brings you to me at this hour?”
“I have a body”
“Oh?”
“Lothatio, would you like to explain our predicament?”
No response. I continued,
“Ok… This and 3 other unidentified ladies lured my friend here into the woods for an apparent human sacrifice last night. He escaped and came to me for assistance. When we returned to obtain his affects, we found the 4 around the fire chanting inaudibly. I noticed a ring pinching off the finger of this one, known as Lillith. I ensnared her, but could not get her to talk. Suspecting foul play, I took it upon myself to eliminate her. The other 3 ran when I ensnared her and Lothatio may or may not be able to identify them. They may have been under a spell, as we waited a few hours and they did not return. I want to ask Shairkash about the ring, but I needed a neutral party. You know how he is, the snake.”

“ Ok and Lillith is in that bag?”
“ Yes.”
“ Let’s see her.”

I gently laid out the bag with Lillith inside. Rigor mortis has set in with her, and she was sort of U shaped as a result. Everything was soaked in blood. I was shocked by the fact that her eyes were still opened. I could have sworn I closed them, but you never know. She let out a breath as Ordi and I worked to straighten her out. Lothatio soiled his dress.
“ Do you recognize her? Lothatio’s fine attire was hers, so I suspect she was wealthy and might be missed.”
“ I don’t recognize her, but you know how I don’t get out much. I know someone who would know her, if she is from anywhere in Amn.”
“Can I place you in charge of identifying her?”
“Of course. I’ll send Wilbur to you when I know something.”
Wilbur was Ordi’s White Owl, gifted to him at birth and ever so faithful. Makes for good company at night too.
“ Well done, then we will go to Shairkash unless you think we should inform your father or someone.”
“ You might do well to see Shairkash and let me update Father. He may call on you, as he had a job.”
“ Fair enough. I’ll be around the usual places. He met these ladies at the Sea Elf’s Lover. I may head there first to see if the servers might know who the other ladies were or where Lillith came from. Meanwhile, do you have any spare duds for my friend here? You are similar sizes.”
“ Indeed. I’m sure I have some old rags somewhere.”

I waited outside for Lothatio to get dressed and we pressed onward to the Sea Elf’s Lover, where I stood out like the sorest of thumbs. Most people in Murann are humans, with a small percentage of half elves. This tavern was swarming with Elvin blood, and you can imagine the reaction to an orc prancing in. Still, the musician played on and I approached the bar. To my delight, I found a familiar face, Mirin Tuskar. Mirin is the best barkeep around and the youngest daughter of Forgone Tuskar, who owns all the taverns in Murann and some elsewhere. When Mirin came of age, but declined to marry, her father gave her the Swinging Berth, his seediest, most affordable tavern and my favorite place in the world.

“Moz? Are you lost? Feeling ok?”
“Not exactly. I need to talk to someone who was here last night.”
“Aye, I’ve been in and out for the past week while Father is away.”
“Has anyone mentioned any trouble or oddity last night? Specifically involving Lothatio?”
“Has he got you running errands for him? The fiend.”
“Indeed. I’ll have to leave Amn to get rid of him.”
“Ketha did say he pulled 4 ladies last night. Didn’t mention anything foul.”
“Did Ketha name names?”
“No, she didn’t know who the lasses were. They were all well dressed and good looking. We all found that surprising for Lothatio.”
“No odd behavior or outside spirits at the table?”
“None mentioned.”
“Where might I find Ketha? Will she be on tonight?”
“In time for dinner and working until the witching hour at least.”
“Noted. Thanks, love.”
“Welcome, love. Have one on me. Will Lothatio be playing tonight?”
“What choice does he have? He’ll be needing all new rags.”
“Send him in. We’ll find something and he can work it off.”

It was now time to talk to talk to Shairkash about the ring. His hop lay on the north end of Murann, just North of the Tethyr Road. It was a place shrouded in darkness. Shairkash had become so wealthy that he had a small following of wealthy investors, protectors. The result was a merchant town teeming with the spellbound, the desperate, and the addicted. It had an energy that attracted the broken and made the worst of their plight. Merchant Town was also the last place I saw my father.

Dungeons and Dragons, Story Experiments

Fiction Snippets: Lothatio Part II

Part II

The orc in me couldn’t help but get a little excited at the sight of Lillith all pricked and nakey there by the fire. I don’t care who you are, when a naked lady is in front of you, you notice. Especially if she is beautiful. I never learned to shame myself for such things. Lothatio and I stood there drooling until we realized the other 3 girls had run into the forest. I was more interested in the captive before me and continued to stare, taking in the sight of her poreless pale skin glistening in firelight, bleeding a bit from the thorns. She was a sight.

“ Are you just going to stand there drooling?” -Lothatio
“Yes.” -Me
“ Should I go after the other girls?” -Lothatio
“You’ll probably get your arse kicked. They’ll be back.” -Me
I walked up to Lillith and just looked into her eyes. Sometimes this helps me think of a way to be humane. This time it did not. I knew the other 3 would be back and that my spell would only hold Lillith for so long.

“Poor girl, I am sure this all has something to do with your jewelry and for that I am going to have to kill you. Have you any last words?”

Most people don’t actually have any last words. Lillith was most people. Just before the hail of thorns dissipated, I slit her throat with a daggar and put another in her heart just in case. We waited around for the other girls to show. They may have just been commoners under a spell, which would have broken with Lillith’s concentration. I took what coin she had, which was plenty. The mystery ring was still on her finger, which had decomposed rapidly. So rapidly that it came clean off with the ring. Somewhere between looting her body and arguing with Lothatio about whether he should go naked or put on a dress, I realized I may have just killed a rich girl. I didn’t recognize her, but that means absolutely nothing.

“Who was this girl?”
“She said she was from out of town. I didn’t ask questions. Haven’t seen her around and that’s all the better for me, eh? Here today, gone the next.”

“Did she say anything that suggested estranged family or the law coming after her?”
“Not that I can recall, but I was well under the influence”
“Well… I’m hauling her back for identification and burial. Did you get any other names from the other girls? Could you describe any of them?”
“I’ll think on it”

Lotatio did decide he needed clothing, and so we put him in ladies rags and headed back to town. By now it was roughly 4am and I had the remains of a young rich girl in a bedroll. What now?

I could wake up Shairkash and ask him about the ring. Perhaps he even sold it to her. I would need to wake up some more honest authority and tell them what hapenned and pray they believe me before I could breathe a word to Shairkash. He has held his position in this town by blacklisting anyone who questions his abhorrent practices. I saw fires at the Murann coroners, and so decided to start there.

Ordi Nubaedfyd was the black sheep of his family. Could never bring himself to kill or eat whale. Learned to make his way stealing and trading to help feed the family. Today he is an honored member of the Bilge Rats. His father was a friend of my father’s. He could help if someone tried to hang me for this.