Thanks to a prohibition on removable devices, this page serves as a medium for transferring storywork between work and home. Nothing on this page is canon.
Separate story scraps Edit
The Last Library Edit
Libraries are wonderful places, at least for some. And the most wonderful among these is the Last Library, the heart of all knowledge; more wonderful when it can actually be found.
The Last Library was meant to hold all the universe's knowledge in one place, constantly growing to keep it all contained. And so it does. The only problem is where it is at any given time.
From around the universe, information flows in through Gates both large and small, processed by the Legio Libram: copies of the Eighth Library's thirst for knowledge and hunger for organization. The Last Library is unbound by physical limitations, extending deep into the aether and perhaps beyond, though the truth of that is only known to the Librarian herself.
It is a treasure of truly infinite value, or as near infinite as is comprehensible. Such a treasure must be guarded from those who would harm it, or use it for their own gain. And guarded it is, by a remarkably clever device called a randomized aetheric displacement generator. When activated, the Last Library's front door - its only means of conventional entry or exit - is suddenly somewhere else entirely.
Cynthia vs. the Wizard Edit
It was a losing battle, in many ways.
Cynthia was losing to an unpleasantly (also in many ways) skilled wizard, who was powerful and subtle enough to reach inside her mind and disconnect the links connecting the individual components of her thought processes. Even the Library's autobarrier, as powerful as it was, couldn't block every single attack; and with each blow that connected, the Metal Mistress lost a little more of herself, her formidable mind becoming less so by bits and pieces. Not destroyed, just fragmented - but in such a way that it would be difficult to fix, and certainly impossible while this wizard kept battering her.
"So this is your limit, is it?"
She barely heard the voice, as if from a distance. A gritting of her teeth, and she refocused on the wizard himself. A decently handsome sort, but with the odd lines of the face belonging to someone who made his way in the world over the bodies of his opponents, those usually with steel driven into their backs. Dusty, plain-looking dark blue robes, with the Dazzled Eye in silver on the right breast.
I don't want to lose to this kind of-
Another tweak and the rest of the thought snapped off, spiraling into the oblivion of wherever forgotten things go.
"I had thought you were more capable than this. More resistant. Apparently I was mistaken."
Fear and anger arm-wrestled for dominance in Cynthia's rapidly fading mind. Fear won in a matter of seconds, but anger made a strong showing with several pointed kicks at fear's shins.
I will not let it end this w-
Devworld Meeting Edit
In the middle of a nearly endless field of chaos, a small silver light coalesced and brightened, freezing the restlessly shifting world around it. It was not a Stabilizer, but rather the source - or, perhaps, the guardian - of all the Devworld's stability.
Alpha, the Creator, settled its spherical body on a newly crystallized section of rocklike ground. It stretched its wings, then curled in on itself; the chrome silver body flowed like water, reforming into a definitely feminine human shape.
Alpha, the Silver Lady, ran a chrome hand through her ruby red hair and looked out at the sea of chaos with similarly red eyes. Then she stood, and waited.
She didn't have to wait long.
As the Silver Lady stared into the chaos, the chaos stared back.
At first there was only the suggestion of soft blue light; then individual blue lights formed, three then six then twelve. Then a dark, marbled shape appeared behind the lights, like a picture gradually coming into focus behind a lens, and at last the spherical form of Omega solidified: Omega, the Destroyer, with its Crown of Blades and nine attendant Bits. It floated past the fault line of order and chaos, warping it in its wake, and twisted the space around it, taking its own female form.
Omega, the Obsidian Lady, alighted on the ground and laughed softly as she felt it quiver at her touch. Her hair was always some shade of blue, but today it was a perfect copy of high-grade lapis lazuli, down to the small inclusions of pyrite that mirrored the white patches on her snowflake obsidian body. The nine Bits melted into her skin, drawing three glowing blue dots on both wrists and across her forehead.
"Omega." The Silver Lady's tone was flat, with the mild undercurrent of irritation that invariably accompanied it when she spoke to her other half.
"Alpha," returned the Obsidian Lady playfully, flashing a smile as she floated forward across the trembling earth to embrace her 'sister'. "It's been too long! I was hoping you hadn't forgotten about me."
Alpha hmphed, but slid an arm across Omega's back to give her a hug anyway. "You know neither of us can forget. What are you up to this time?"
"The game to end all games," came the cryptic reply, Omega's vivid blue eyes twinkling with all manner of not-so-well-kept secrets as she floated back to give the Silver Lady her personal space. "And I think we've found a new player, someone who can really shake things up..."
"Again with the cards."
The Obsidian Lady grinned widely. "Ah, but this time we have divine approval. Doubly so, in fact. I'm not sure why," she admitted, "but whatever the reason, this time we'll be able to Make the cards as we play them."
This revelation was met with a quite incredulous ruby gaze. "You don't say," Alpha mused after a moment, wheels already turning rapidly in her head. "So who's this new player? Someone I know?"
Omega shrugged. "Maybe. You know the Nilium kid?"
"I thought Maestros weren't allowed to play the game any more, after what the last one did."
"Not him, a friend of his. Seraya something-or-other." The Obsidian Lady grinned. "She's kind of cute, too. Roguish type, but smarter than she looks."
Alpha hmmed. "Maybe that's why... Oh well, no use conjecturing for now."
The Silver Lady shook her head, and smiled lightly. "Not while we have a chessboard to set up."
"So you're saying we should advertise, then?"
The tavern was supposed to be a great place to hire adventurers. It wasn't. This tavern had the right environment, sure, what with being dimly lit and shabby-looking and thoroughly saturated with the smell of cheap pipeweed; but the clientele left a lot to be desired, primarily in quantity. Apart from the three adventurers themselves, there were at most five people in the place - and one of those was the bartender, a thin and balding sort of man with a neutral expression, currently hard at work polishing empty glasses.
"Do people really advertise for that sort of thing?" Melissa mused, half to herself. "I know kings and the like do, but ordinary people?" The fire mage fingered the cuff of her left sleeve, the gray robe's dark blue trim frayed and burned; the whole garment had obviously seen better days. More even-tempered than most stereotypically hot-headed fire magic users, Melissa was the group's treasurer and much-needed voice of reason. "It's not like we have a lot of money, either..."
The man on her left made a derisive sort of hrumph sound. "Not enough for those bloody clerics, anyway. Greedy, the lot of them. You'd think a healer would actually help people, but just because we don't follow their gods religiously enough..." Bartholomew the Breaker - just Bart to his friends - was the muscle of the group, and handy in a fight with just about anything except a boomerang. Tall, tan, and toned, with plenty of scars and a mess of dark brown curls, Bart was also not a big fan of religion in general since most of it recommended that he stop hitting things for a living.
"Ridiculous," spat the third of the trio, a sneaky shadow of a man by the name of Dennis. "If we don't take care of this problem soon, not even their gods will save them." Dennis was a killer, and a very good one at that; the man seemed to move faster than the wind itself, always ending up where he could do the most amount of harm and be in the least amount of danger. He was also quite charming, and handsome in a sharp-edged sort of way, provided he was in one of his better moods. Today was not a good day. "Don't people understand the gravity of this horrible mess?"
Melissa sighed quietly. "At least we do."
"Fat lot of good that does us. I won't dare go up against the Council without a healer to watch my back." Bart leaned back in his chair. "It's one thing to charge into a mob - you know I've done that before-"
"-and had to off half a dozen men just to see your back so I could watch it, thank you," groused Dennis, only half-seriously.
Bart grinned widely, the sort of smile that makes a man wonder whether he'll be talked to or perhaps just eaten instead. "Good times, yes. But these guys... I don't like what I've heard, not at all. Which brings us back to our original problem - no bloody HEALER!" The last word came out in the warrior's command voice, turning the heads of everyone in the bar.
"Doesn't work like that, you know-" Melissa started. And then stopped, as someone was quite suddenly standing behind her.
A quiet and very tired-sounding voice spoke, after a moment: "Someone call me?"
"You a healer?" Bart inquired, flatly.
"A cleric," the black-haired woman returned just as flatly, revealed as she stepped up to the table between warrior and mage. "But I do healing, if that's what you're after." She was clothed in a thin white blouse and light brown leather traveling pants and boots, all of it quite well-worn. She held a black jacket slung over one shoulder, was wearing a black blindfold, and smelled noticeably of alcohol. "So what's your game?"
"I could ask the same of you," Dennis interjected. "We probably don't follow your god."
The woman looked directly at Dennis, despite the blindfold. A moment's pause. "... No. No, I don't expect you would. That doesn't bother me, though. Why'd you call for me?"
"Direct," laughed Bart, "I like that. We're going to go and stop the Council from doing whatever it is they're doing this time. Sound like fun to you?"
"Not exactly," the cleric admitted, "but it's better than drinking myself into oblivion. Who's this council you're talking about?"
"Ever heard of the Council of Dawn?"
The blindfolded woman looked down - again, directly - at Melissa when she spoke. "Lovely. No wonder you want a healer," she mused. "Well, sounds about right. I needed something to take my mind off events anyway. When do we leave?"
Dennis was a little taken aback. "What, just like that? No bargaining?"
"No need. After we're done you can pay me what you think I'm worth, and we'll call it even. How's that sound?"
"Curiously reasonable." Bart leaned back. "Done and done. So what's your name?"
The woman smiled a little crookedly as she looked over at the warrior. "... Rosewood."
Maintenance 1 Edit
Does a starship dream?
Part of it does.
It had been a long time since the core of the Everwatch was first installed, and the Preemptor-class destroyer had already been through innumerable scrapes that had taken their toll on the stout vessel. Already two years had passed without so much as a decent patch job in some of the roughest and most violent areas of space, and so the ship had limped into the Nilium Collective's best repair facility with a severely scarred hull. She had only lost a single engagement, her most recent, but it was enough of a blow to put her at the head of the list for repairs.
So here I am, the ship's core thought to herself.
The core of the Everwatch - every ship's core, for that matter - was bioengineered for the job: human enough to interact, and yet so much more than that. Hairless, deathly pale, covered with external connectors that could mesh with any system or subsystem aboard, she had been sealed in a container in the center of the ship since its activation; a container that felt like freedom itself, when she was linked to the ship and felt all its sensors as though they were as much a part of her body as her eyes and ears.
And now, securely strapped down onto a gurney, Everwatch - never having needed another name - felt incredibly isolated.
Being limited to the standard five senses was a humbling experience, one she had not felt since before her first activation; and as her light gray irises twitched, trying to regulate the light, she took in the blurry shape of her other self through the window as the medical technicians guided her stretcher along. The Everwatch, its stern, angular lines cratered and scorched but still unbroken, reminded her of the pride and determination she felt when she was inside the ship - when she was the ship - and defended herself and her fellow vessels with unerring accuracy, vaporizing anything the enemy could send her way.
Anything but the last shot, anyway, the cynical reminder came, unbidden, bringing with it the memories of her last battle.
They were fast. Too fast.
Pirates were always a problem; probably always would be, particularly for anyone allied with the Collective and its wealth of knowledge. Over a hundred attacks in the first year alone had gradually worn her down, ship and crew as one; weapons lost their speed, power, and accuracy just as the crewmembers' burning drive had dwindled, making them slow and irritable. It was nothing she couldn't make adjustments for, she had told herself. Just another day... another week... month...
And finally it had happened. One shot, one crude but infuriatingly effective missile, had slipped through her lagging defenses. All it took was one, and suddenly her active complement was down by thirty-four personnel. Only nine of those survived, and most would never serve aboard a ship again. Though all calculations pointed to the fact that nothing could have been done to prevent it, that it had happened at all still weighed painfully on her mind.
For my failure, my own were taken from me, Everwatch lamented internally. Better mine than another's, for the blame lies ultimately with me. But they were my own, and will always be...
"So you can cry," a familiar voice came from her other side. The ship's core turned her head slowly, flinching a little as the tear she had barely registered was wiped from her cheek with a small square of cotton. Captain Victoria was striding as regally as always, easily keeping even with the gurney despite its fast pace, her officer's utility coat billowing after her. "I do forget sometimes that you are not so unlike the rest of us mere mortals." The last words came with a gentle smile, a little uncharacteristically for the hard-edged captain, but not unwelcome.
"Captain..." Her voice was weak and strained, betraying her mood.
Vicki shook her head. "Do not say anything, Miss Everwatch," the captain interrupted quietly, forestalling any further discussion. "You will be taken care of as befits your station, and I shall see you renewed and ready for action when we next meet. Of that I have no doubt."
Her throat could barely manage a whisper, but she felt it was necessary. "Aye, Captain."
The captain slowed down and disappeared from sight as the doors to the next section hissed open, but the ship's core was able to hear her parting words.
"Rest well, Miss Everwatch."
Maintenance 2 Edit
A gentle hand on her shoulder awoke Everwatch from her daze. Blinking away the mists of lowered consciousness, the ship's core sat up, the gurney having been replaced by a comfortable bed at some point. A flicker of movement drew her gaze to the right, where a wall of her room was graced with a view of the Everwatch undergoing maintenance.
The ship's core blinked back another tear as memories resurfaced, evoked by the removed hull sections and showers of sparks, and turned her head away to see the person who had touched her.
Seated on a chair next to her bed was a dark-skinned woman, dressed in a simple white blouse and skirt. Long, wavy black hair framed a pair of warm gold eyes and an expression of serenity better suited to a classical statue, though that shifted to a gentle smile as she saw the ship's core looking at her. "Hi, Everwatch," she murmured quietly, sliding a hand underneath the covers to take the pale lady's hand in hers and give it a soft squeeze. "Feeling well?"
Everwatch blinked a few times, taking in everything with her woefully limited senses. The room's walls and ceiling were a stark white, or would be but for the subtle lighting; the carpeted floor was a very light pink, giving the room just a touch of color. Opposite the wall with the view were a pair of doors, barely noticeable as soft gray outlines in the expanse of whiteness. Her bed was outfitted with white sheets and pillows, with a comforter the same pink as the floor, and a white metal frame.
And her companion's hand was pleasantly warm. It reminded her of the pulse of life from the ship's reactor when the two of them were linked. "I... I suppose," Everwatch finally replied, a little hesitant, still very much out of her depth. "Why am I here?"
"Primarily to keep you away from the ship until its repairs are finished, because as much as it hurts you to look at it from here, it would hurt a great deal worse if you were still connected. And secondarily, but no less important, to take care of you personally," the lady added, her voice soft and soothing and... somehow familiar. "You have a great deal on your mind, do you not?"
The ship's core met the golden gaze with the silver-gray of her own. "So, a psychologist? A counselor, friend, confidant?"
"I am... whatever you need me to be," she returned vaguely, with another smile and soft squeeze of the hand she still held.
"And that is why you are here?"
Yet another smile, this one with a faintly wistful look. "A long time ago, I made a promise: to watch over all the Cores and their vessels for as long as I was able. I have not lost any of my ability, so the promise still stands - and it probably will for a very long time."
"A weighty promise, then."
The dark lady just smiled again. "For what I was given, it is but a small thing."
A nod. "... He taught me what it truly means to love."
The ship's core gazed over at the viewing wall, and lost herself in thought as her eyes traced the lines of the Everwatch.
Descent of the Gods Edit
There were two planets in this system, once. Now there is but one: a little ball of rock and ice which orbits the dull red star at a far distance, never close enough to thaw its frigid surface to any noticeable extent, like an ice cube resting in a deep shadow. Its orbit is erratic and inconsistent, far more so than it should be, even accounting for the various natural forces at work.
At a distance of half again the orbital radius - or at least the average radius - of this forgotten planet, there lies a vessel of incredible size, a dark gray arrowhead whose length approaches the diameter of a small moon. It is no less than the collected remnants of the system's missing planet, both physical and aetheric, and it has been lying motionless and deathly silent since the catastrophe that heralded its birth.
But now the aether rages with the clash of unseen forces on an unimaginable scale, causing the red star to convulse. A flash, as of a nova, emanates not from the star but from the gray wedge, lighting the barren system for just a moment before vanishing.
The vessel glows now with a soft but steady light. The aether, still far from quiet, shows no signs of calming.
There was a long moment of silence within the glowing craft. Nine bodies, each faintly luminous, had appeared along with the nova of light; nine bodies remained after its passing.
The Assembly Hall of the massive starship was a grand affair, cast in alabaster marble-analogue with bright gold trim that seemed to shine of its own accord; a lowered area, five steps down from the nearby floor, surrounded by tall pillars and graced with an overhead view of the starry expanse beyond. Yet all its grandeur could not compete with the deep gloom cast by its occupants.
"This is an unprecedented disaster," came the words that finally broke the stillness. The speaker, with pure white hair and ancient bronze eyes, currently possessed a deep frown that marred his otherwise regal earth-tone features; Dio, God of Time, was most upset.
"But not an unmitigated one, thanks to me," replied an ebon-haired lady, leaning back against one of the pillars. "Though our powers are not what they should be, we still have our respective existences, and for that we should be thankful. I certainly am." A wry smile touched her lips for a moment, the woman's violet eyes glowing faintly.
Dio glanced over at her. "Did you know this was going to happen?"
"I am the Goddess of Design," Rosewood reminded him, and perhaps everyone. "I remember how lesser beings think, and I plan for the consequences of their meddling. I never took our directive of non-interference as necessitating passivity." A pause. "I did not expect it to come so soon, but we should be safe for the time being regardless."
A soft but well-carried *clonk* echoed as a second lady with hair of even deeper black placed the end of her staff deliberately on the floor. "I believe an explanation is in order then, since you seem to know so much." As always, the Goddess of Death was quiet and somber, but the turbidity of her blue-gray eyes - now tending much more towards the gray end - belied her hidden anxiety, or perhaps irritation. It was always a little difficult to tell with her.
Rosewood nodded at Bethany, and stepped down from her pillar to the center of the main floor. This was going to be awkward.
"Gods and goddesses of the Pantheon," she began, without preamble, "we have been cast out of heaven."