Idea nicked from Ennien Ashbrook (sorry, Ennien) All Gatchaman characters copyright Tatsunoko Productions Brace Hoffman, Eric Waide and Ceiran Morag Maragorm (Kai) borrowed from Ennien Ashbrook
In the bright, but etheric light of a watery white sun, two lithe figures were sprinting with shoulder bags flying over wide meadows to where a creaking, hobbling cart was nearing a painted pole over a stone road that stretched into the distance at either end. Coming to the bordering fence, the foremost of them, rather than stopping to open it, leapt over without breaking his stride, swinging up both legs to one side with a rolling movement of the hips like a pro- fessional athlete. He ran to the other side of the road where the pole was and put a hand against it, flinging up the other hand to hail the cart as he stood panting, the half-filled bag hanging straight like a dead thing from the crook of his elbow where the strap had slipped. Some yards behind him, his companion cleared the fence in a similar way, supporting himself with one hand on the fence's top beam, and landed with a grunt. He was older and less lightly dressed than the other one, who wore a tight leather tunic over tan leather leggings, his long hair gathered in a single black braid. Rather than touching the pole, he fell against it, breathing heavily. The small woman driving the cart drew the horses to a halt, grinning widely.
"You are always late," she chided the first one, although semantically rendered her sentence would sooner read `unconditional- particle delayed pronoun second-person-singular-male vocative case indicating slight respect'. He uttered something expressing no respect at all, and she laughed. Yaana was a dignified and imposing figure, invested in addition with the air of mystery that came to people of great height, and his companion was downright icy, but it had been her privilege at every succession of the moons to see their composure break down completely as they pelted across the fields to make it on time for the only public means of transport available to the burg. They always travelled unescorted and unchaperoned, although she doubted anyone would dare lay a finger on them. Moreover, they were not particularly at risk. One was too plain to attract notice, as well as being a qualified Preserver of Justice, while the other was known as a hardened criminal.
"There is always much to do," Yaana said, although a more literal translation would have been `finish-imperfect tense imper- sonal, plural genitive pronoun-particle many-task' with the echo of a briskly polite vocative. "The new house is to be made for three, four if they all stay together. There's crops to be tended, drains to be laid and a baby to take care of, although mercifully I am spared that particular task. And then there's the case. I see you have a heavy load?"
"Fortunately for you, or I would have been long past the stop," the driver quipped, and then resumed more seriously: "I've been listening to those axles groan with a worried ear. Next time, I may tell people to save their sendings for a second round. Still, I don't think you'll be the straw that breaks the horse's back." She extended an inviting hand to a free bench at the front of the loaded cart, and the first one mounted. "And I wouldn't make you walk - not after working so hard."
"I swear I was pounding in a nail not one minute ago," the older one said, wiping back his mane. Both the palm and the back of his hand were scarred, the markings running up his wrist and disap- pearing into his sleeve. His long face, shaded by a springy forelock of vivid red, was made more sinister by the cuts that scored his cheeks and the black scarf covering his missing eye - the left, the fighting side. Yaana reached a hand to him to help him up. When she was satisfied they were both seated, the driver let out an explosive sound to set the heavy draught horses in motion. Sitting by the side of his companion, Yaana put an arm around him, lowering his voice and changing to a language that was hard and jagged as a magpie's chat- tering. "Are you all right?"
"You know how I feel."
"Will you be able to hold out?"
"I may have to leave tonight. I don't know exactly when, but I'll have to fly and leave you at the inn."
"But you'll be back tomorrow."
"Of course. They can't continue the hearing without me."
"Then there's nothing to worry about."
"I thought you might not want to stay alone in town."
"I'm not keen on it. But I'm not afraid. I think they're more afraid of me than the other way round," and the scarred face split in a mirthless grin.
"True," the younger acknowledged. One pale, unblemished hand folded around the scarred one and squeezed it. "You've done well."
"Thank you." After a pause, the other added: "So have you."
Back at the range, a very English-speaking youth was pacing round the yard, causing flightless, downy-feathered fowl to scatter at each step. A small white dog sat watching him with cocked head, then ran along a few paces as if hoping to lessen his burden by sharing it with him. "Where the hell is he??"
"Stop scaring the chickens," the pretty girl carving wood on the porch said; or maybe she only seemed pretty, through the combina- tion of her platinum-blond hair and wide-eyed, insolent smile. She was a great deal larger than the two shrew-like women sitting beside her, cleaning tack with saddle soap. She laid down the chisel and blew to clear the planks of parings. "He'll teleport if he has to. You know he'll be on time."
"I can't understand why we can't just go back to Earth," he said, underscoring his statement with a vehement gesture. The dog came to a stop and sat at his ankles.
"Believe it or not, this is easier," the girl said simply, continuing to carve decorations in the flat slab. He shrugged and went inside, the small dog following on his heels. The girl cast an eye at the setting sun, tinged orange at the underside. Although it was still light, dusk was approaching, the time when traditionally her kind became active. It would soon be time.
* * *
Joe chucked his bag on the empty seat beside him and pushed both the "On" buttons, waiting impatiently while the computer ran through the whole rigmarole of startup procedures, virus scanners and security codes. He was alone in the lab, the regular employees having long gone home. Computers had never been a favourite with him, but if he was going to use them, he thought, they'd have done better to give him the old Unix. You would think, he continued his mental monologue, that with internal memory boosted up to ten times that of last century, more and more of the OS functions programmed into EPROM and system speeds soaring up to 200 Mhz and more, computers might actual- ly have become a bit faster. No such chance. Whatever the hardware improvement, the software developers kept right up with it and developed even more ponderous programmes. Today's computers were mammoths, and he bitterly regretted their lack of simplicity, his lack of understanding of their complexity and Nambu's insistence that he brush up on his computer skills. He was no good at this, he told himself. This was Jun's area, maybe Jinpei's...
Messages appeared onscreen, leading him to believe some action was needed of him and then disappearing as the computer completed one procedure and went onto another, ignoring him. He hated it. He would have much preferred that the damn thing shut up and keep a blank face until it was ready. How this was going to help him in the war against Galactor he had no idea. Good thing he'd discovered a way of combin- ing business with pleasure; apparently these contraptions and their connections were used for more than scientific research alone. And the fact that he worked on a borrowed machine, to which he had no access until the owners were gone, leaving no one there to spy on him, made it all the easier.
At that moment, a brief message "Systems load completed" flashed onscreen and his internal monologue was cut short by the instant appearance of the long-awaited Desktop. Eagerly, he clicked on Networks-NetKit-Telnet and typed in the address scribbled on the envelope that he kept his ID pass and lab keycard in to prevent them from becoming grubby with Coke and breadcrumbs. Domestic hygiene wasn't his thing, not when he was used to lying under a car's greasy, grimy underside with his eyes screwed up against the falling bits of mud dislodged by his tinkering. The monitor flashed again and settled into the imitation, at least, of the old familiar Unix screen, scrolling up rapidly as it filled with the initials XAX and the mainframe's login frame. It was a multinational server that predomi- nantly used the Roman alphabet, although he had seen Cyrillic, kana, kanji and even Hindi characters. He had stumbled on it purely by accident, when in a fit of boredom he had opened the Networks menu and started clicking at random. Most of it was restricted, but the particular area where he was headed was a free-for-all chatserver with the nature of an officer's mess, but less formal, and a morbid- ity of imagery that suited him well. The sysop was strict in flinging out people who disrupted the telnet meets, and it had become his habit to drop in at the end of every week when some of the weirder customers were passing. He gave in the email address of the account, altered with ghost characters to prevent any unauthorized person tracing it or replying to its mails, to gain admission to the public area and, once there, typed in the address of Crossroads and entered his handle and password. Then the screen scrolled up again, showing:
__ You are now at . . .
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A public talker for people of all walks of life
Welcome User 23.58743386.6
.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.- Current date is Wednesday, 29 January 2067 at 12:36pm GMT. You were last here 6 days, 22 hours, 44 minutes and 42 seconds ago. Last login site: <********>
Current login site: <********>
You have no mail.
.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._ This is the central point of Crossroads, where all paths meet: a stone cross, and four roads leading in opposite directions. Overhead, ravens circle, searching for carrion. Suicides were buried here, and if you look carefully you can see the depressions in the grass where their graves used to be. Tread carefully, lest a hand comes out from the earth to grab you.
Exits to : Abyss, Forest, Graveyard, Meadow, Mountain Talkers present : Wicked_Witch of the Highlands
Beltane the Holy Fire
Codename Blenny a Private Dick |8*)
There are 35 messages on the board.
The topic is: Military Intelligence: a contradiction in terms??? .-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._
In the interaction screen that had opened above the prompt, he could see his own entrance announced:
** SpeedRacer - an Outsider has come to the Crossroads **
* * *
Blow_Monkey says: Hi Speedy
** Willy_Wonka the Mad Hatter has come to the Crossroads ** Wicked_Witch says TO Willy_Wonka: You're mixing your metaphors Willy_Wonka says TO Wicked_Witch: Wrong. I'm mixing my kidlit. Willy_Wonka claps Speedracer on the back Willy_Wonka says TO SpeedRacer: When are you going to change that .desc of yours?
Willy_Wonka says: You're not a newbie any more. Codename_Blenny says: Maybe he's ashamed to be named after a tacky show.
SpeedRacer says: I'm flattered.
Blow_Monkey says: Speaking of people who are named after tacky shows...
Beltane exclaims: Blenny Splash!
Blow_Monkey says: How do you know it's a he, anyway? Blow_Monkey says: Come to think of it, how do I know you're a she? Codename_Blenny grins
Codename_Blenny says TO Blow_Monkey: You'd better hope it Beltane says TO Wicked_Witch: No little green men on? Wicked_Witch says: not tonight
Wicked_Witch says: not if they value their lives Wicked_Witch says: oh, you mean those kind? Wicked_Witch says: they're not green
** Suicide_Mission of the Kamikaze Klan has come to the Crossroads ** Suicide_Mission says: Hi all.
Beltane says: Still alive, you old bastard? Suicide_Mission says: Not for long.
Blow_Monkey says TO Suicide_Mission: Do I detect a hint of pessimism? <Codename_Blenny has left Roadsign>
Suicide_Mission says: Not with what they've got brewing in the vats this time
Willy_Wonka says: Does it look like a squid? Wicked_Witch raises her broomstick
Wicked_Witch exclaims: AHEM!
Wicked_Witch says: excuse me, I'm being paged Beltane says TO Speedracer: So, are you going to stay here and chat with us, or run off to a room by yourself? Speedracer says: I don't know yet
Speedracer says: depends if Cougar comes in Beltane says: You like the old Cougar?
Speedracer says: I liked what he did with the soundfile. Beltane says: Isn't it amazing what some people can do with beeps. Suicide_Mission says: Beeps? Who beeped? Willy_Wonka says: Go back to sleep, Sue. Suicide_Mission says TO Willy_Wonka: You talking to me, Willy Wanker? Beltane says TO Suicide_Mission: If you want to fight, take him out to the Hayshack.
Blow_Monkey says: Now, now... All that repressed anger... Blow_Monkey grins
Suicide_Mission says TO Blow_Monkey: You'd feel some repressed anger if some idiot told you to fly over an army base and take pictures Suicide_Mission says TO Blow_Monkey: and "forgot" to mention their anti-aircraft equipment.
Beltane says TO Suicide_Mission: Whisper it, Sue. Beltane says TO Suicide_Mission: We have guests. Willy_Wonka says TO Suicide_Mission: Our Wiccan could toss you out for that.
Willy_Wonka says: Whoo.
Willy_Wonka says: Sue just "whispered" something to me. Wicked_Witch sings "A boy named Sue"
Wicked_Witch says: back
<Suicide_Mission has left Roadsign>
Harald_Hammer shouts: WHERE THE HELL IS PRIVATE BLIMP???? Willy_Wonka says: uhoh.
Willy_Wonka says: Someone's in trouble.
Speedracer says: You all type so fast.
Willy_Wonka says: Fastest typists in the West, m'boy. Wicked_Witch says: Practice, practice
Wicked_Witch says: sitting in front of a screen all day typing code Blow_Monkey says: for a very demanding boss... ** Crossberry hah! has come to the Crossroads ** ** Nurim_Artiprashankti has come to the Crossroads ** ** Bald_Cougar a furless feline has come to the Crossroads ** ** Robin_the_Hood steals from the rich has come to the Crossroads ** Blow_Monkey says: Speak of the devil...
Cougar shouts: Smooooooke on the water
Beltane says: Revving up and ready to go, I hear. Blow_Monkey says: Cougie's a nut.
Blow_Monkey says: Him and Unicorn Progress. Willy_Wonka says: Whatta couple.
SpeedRacer says: Him and who?
Willy_Wonka says: Tune in to -- wait, I'd better whisper that. Wicked_Witch is looking at Willy with pursed lips Bald_Cougar swats Willy with a paw
Bald_Cougar chases Blowmonkey up a tree
Blow_Monkey exclaims: awright awright!!!
Blow_Monkey says: Trees? Here?
Blow_Monkey peels a banana.
<Nurim_Artiprashankti has left Roadsign>
<Robin_the_Hood has left Roadsign>
Crossberry slaps Beltane on the shoulder
Beltane says: Ow.
Bald_Cougar purrs and rubs up against SpeedRacer SpeedRacer exclaims: Hey!
>> Bald_Cougar whispers to SpeedRacer: Howya been? >> SpeedRacer whispers to Bald_Cougar: Sortof okay. life's been a drag
Wicked_Witch wonders if maybe Baldy could spare a second for her? Crossberry sets the title to "To Baldly go where No Man has gone Before"
Bald_Cougar rests head on paws and gazes reflectively at Crossberry >> Bald_Cougar whispers to SpeedRacer: Still no luck with missions? >> SpeedRacer whispers to Bald_Cougar: The boss stuck me on an ff*ing VAXPro and told me I'm not getting off until I know the system - unless they bomb Tokyo that is
Beltane says: Sorry people, got to log off. Got a shift coming up Willy_Wonka says TO Beltane: You mean you don't slack on the job like the rest of us?
>> Bald_Cougar whispers to SpeedRacer: Give me your ID and squad number and I'll see about getting you some of the action. Crossberry eyes Bald_Cougar nervously
Willy_Wonka says: Out of my eyes, you swot. Beltane says TO Willy_Wonka: I'm patrolling. Security staff don't get to access computers on-duty like you lucky bastards. Willy_Wonka says TO Beltane: Oops. Sorry. >> SpeedRacer whispers to Bald_Cougar: Thanks, but I couldn't do that - it's classified. boss would go crazy if he knew I logged on here, let alone if I started handing out secret information >> Bald_Cougar whispers to SpeedRacer: There's always boss over boss. I *am* the leader of this joint, you know. Willy_Wonka says TO Beltane: See ya round. Crossberry says TO Beltane: Yeah, see you. Wicked_Witch says TO Beltane: Come again. Blow_Monkey mumbles bye through a mouthful of banana Bald_Cougar gives the tree a mighty swipe with his paw, sending Blowmonkey crashing to the ground
Bald_Cougar says TO Blow_Monkey: And that's for being rude. >> SpeedRacer whispers to Bald_Cougar: I think it would be a bad idea. But thanks all the same
>> Bald_Cougar whispers to SpeedRacer: :shrug: Blow_Monkey says: Sheesh.
Blow_Monkey rubs his sore behind.
>> Bald_Cougar whispers to SpeedRacer: Anytime. Wicked_Witch says: sorry people, I'm being paged again. Wicked_Witch says TO Bald_Cougar: I want to see you before I log off. Willy_Wonka exclaims: Ooh! Baldy's gonna get it! Wicked_Witch says TO Willy_Wonka: You wish. Bald_Cougar says: I'm leaving too - going to graveyard. Anyone come with me?
SpeedRacer says: I'm coming.
Crossberry says TO SpeedRacer: You are?
Willy_Wonka says TO Bald_Cougar: nope.
Willy_Wonka says: Waiting for some friends. Blow_Monkey says: Ditto.
Crossberry wonders if Bald_Cougar will be server-hopping again Bald_Cougar says: Maybe, maybe not.
>> Bald_Cougar whispers to SpeedRacer: type .grave and I'll be with you in a minute
.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._ A dank mist hangs eternally over the dreary tombs where warriors have found their last abode. Gravestones seal the underground burial chambers, and one shows a slight opening where adventurous tomb robbers forced their way inside - never to return. Behind the fog, the sun shines a dull and bloody red.
Exits to : Catacombs, Roadsign Talkers present : Erin_Slash I don't *need* a desc
GoonProof is a Super Genius
Kimberley_Nolan Born2Code (IDLE)
There are 35 messages on the board.
The topic is: Will Ryo and Kira get together again? .-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._.-._
<SpeedRacer strolls into the Graveyard>
Erin_Slash gives SpeedRacer a big hug
Erin_Slash says: Anyone been watching soaps lately? GoonProof says: Anyone here been *using* any lately? SpeedRacer grins
GoonProof drapes herself around Speed's shoulders GoonProof says TO SpeedRacer: You watch soaps, honey? Bald_Cougar comes strolling in majestically, with swishing tail Erin_Slash exclaims: Hi Baldy!
Bald_Cougar asks: What's the subject?
GoonProof says: see topic
SpeedRacer says: I don't watch TV much
** Blue_Lagoon of Waveworld has come to the Crossroads ** ** HexaDecimal Happy Happy Happy has come to the Crossroads ** ** Gravity's_Angel descless on purpose has come to the Crossroads ** Erin_Slash says: Hey, it's the asterisk people. SpeedRacer says: They're missing one
<Blue_Lagoon strolls into the Graveyard>
<Gravity's_Angel strolls into the Graveyard> Blue_Lagoon says: Hiyall. What's cooking? GoonProof says TO Gravity's_Angel: I'd been meaning to ask you. Are you American?
Blue_Lagoon says TO GoonProof: Like pizza pie. ** Rayek of Sorrow's End has come to the Crossroads ** <Rayek strolls into the Graveyard>
Gravity's_Angel says TO GoonProof: Home of the Brave. Gravity's_Angel says TO Rayek: You're *LATE*. Gravity's_Angel has set h* desc to The Naked Ape Bald_Cougar says TO Gravity's_Angel: That's disgusting. Change it back.
Blue_Lagoon licks h* lips.
Blue_Lagoon pounces on Gravity's Angel!!
Gravity's_Angel exclaims: help me someone! I'm being debauched! Rayek says TO Gravity's_Angel: A thousand pardons. Rayek turns Blue into a newt.
Rayek says: Never disrobe in the presence of damsels. Bald_Cougar wonders if apes make good eating <Kimberley_Nolan leaves the Graveyard>
SpeedRacer says TO GoonProof: ,wHow come they never miss on the asterisks?
SpeedRacer quickly stamps out his escaped .whisper GoonProof says TO SpeedRacer: Mistyped that period again what hey? :) GoonProof says TO SpeedRacer: Special codes. You'll notice Baldy overrides the defaults from time to time. GoonProof says TO SpeedRacer: Just like you have an unhackable address.
Erin_Slash has changed the topic to Why Gabardine is Timeless Gravity's_Angel says: Yes, why?
SpeedRacer says TO GoonProof: Huh? You tried? Blue_Lagoon has changed the topic to A Windoze Survival Guide. Bald_Cougar says TO Blue_Lagoon: You still work under Windows? Blue_Lagoon says TO Bald_Cougar: Doors, windows, chimney-pots. Blue_Lagoon says TO Bald_Cougar: It's a pain. GoonProof says TO SpeedRacer: I'm a professional hacker. B'sides, we check out everyone who comes here - we are a military base, after all. But the sysop hasn't banned you yet, so I assume it's OK. Gravity's_Angel says: Computers are a pain period. I was just whis- pering to OldanWise about fitting multiple SCSIs to hang on all the extras.
SpeedRacer gives Grav thumbs-up
Blue_Lagoon says: But they're fuuuuuuun!!! Bald_Cougar says: What's a SCSI?
** Kiran Anonymous has come to the Crossroads ** ** Thoth wants his pyramids has come to the Crossroads ** Erin_Slash says: What, you don't know?
Rayek says: Small Computer Systems Interface. First peripheral device interface to solve the incompatibility problem. Maximum of seven peripherals, although the standard's been improved since then. Gravity's_Angel says: and the big joke is, it's pronounced "scuzzy". SpeedRacer says: We call that a Multiple Device Interface. Gravity's_Angel says: MDI? Wasn't that originally just the system bus?
Blue_Lagoon says: You'll never guess what ISO used to stand for. Blue_Lagoon says: bar codes! <clue>
Erin_Slash says TO Bald_Cougar: You honestly didn't know? Bald_Cougar's tail begins to swish
Bald_Cougar says TO Erin_Slash: I'm perfect. But not *that* perfect. <Thoth strolls into the Graveyard>
Thoth says: Quiet night.
SpeedRacer nods to Thoth.
SpeedRacer says TO Thoth: Do I know you?
GoonProof says TO Thoth: Hey, it's Friday. People are either going on leave or getting soaked.
Thoth introduces himself to SpeedRacer
Thoth says TO SpeedRacer: Thoth, god of wisdom and learning. Enchante.
Erin_Slash says: SpeedRacer, speed freak, computer illiterate and general incorrigible. Pleasedtameetya. |:*) Thoth says: So. What's the subject?
SpeedRacer says TO Erin_Slash: Hey.
SpeedRacer says TO Erin_Slash: I can handle my own introductions. Erin_Slash says: Well, it *used* to be soaps... Blue_Lagoon laughs
Blue_Lagoon says: Anyone ever seen Deadline? It's a newspaper soap- slash-comedy
Blue_Lagoon says: with this megalomaniac boss and their staff who're always getting into family/love life complications Blue_Lagoon says: yet they always manage to meet the deadline. Ep always ends with the day's newspaper rolling off the press. Blue_Lagoon exclaims: "I don't care if a building just fell on your wife! Finish that article!!"
Blue_Lagoon says: Or, if you're more into Dragon Masters Blue_Lagoon says: the ep where Zybold finds out the old hermit he killed was actually the last person who could have told him where his mother was?
Rayek says: If indeed she was still alive. Erin_Slash says: Hey yeah, I remember that one. Bald_Cougar says: "Somebody's going to pay for this. I know - The Planet!!!"
GoonProof doubles up
SpeedRacer says: that show's so pompous it's funny GoonProof says TO SpeedRacer: Ah, so you *do* watch tv! Erin_Slash says: I watch that show whenever it's on, god knows why. SpeedRacer says TO Erin_Slash: You don't like Dragon Masters? Bald_Cougar exclaims: I utterly DESPISE Dragon Masters!!!!!!!!!!!!! Blue_Lagoon whips out a microphone and TV camera: Could you tell me what, precisely, you dislike about the show? Blue_Lagoon says: Could it be the century-old plots? The abysmal voice acting? The incredible-what-they-can-get-away-with animation? SpeedRacer says: The animation isn't so bad. Erin_Slash says: huh huh
Erin_Slash says: Like, when the club-tailed dragon is run through but no blood shows, and then suddenly it topples and coughs up buckets of red?
Gravity's_Angel says: Or each time that wooden ostrich flies around pretending to be a crane just before the Hero rides in? Blue_Lagoon says: Dig that subtle metaphor!! Thoth says: That show has the thematic subtlety of a rhino's horn up the backside.
Gravity's_Angel says: There's the good guys and the bad guys. The good guys trash the bad guys. The End.
Blue_Lagoon says: Or is it.
Blue_Lagoon says: To be continued in the next 1000,000,000 episodes. Bald_Cougar says TO Thoth: Don't you despise bird character shows? Thoth says: I should hope not. I *am* a bird. SpeedRacer says TO Thoth: you are??
Thoth says: though not a crane.
Blue_Lagoon says TO SpeedRacer: Thoth was an ibis. Rayek says: There's nothing wrong with cranes. They're beautiful animals.
Erin_Slash: Except when animated by Inkawa Studios. Bald_Cougar says: Cranes are the symbol of peace. GoonProof mwa-ha-has.
>> Rayek whispers to Bald_Cougar: Coming to Darkest Heart with us? >> Bald_Cougar whispers to Rayek: Maybe. >> Bald_Cougar whispers to Rayek: Got something to settle with Kai. think I'll .smail her.
GoonProof says: And that ancient sensei prick with his allegoric anecdotes: "If memory serves me well..." GoonProof says: Every Bloody Ep!!!
Thoth says: We have a Dragon Masters Drinking Game... >> Rayek whispers to Bald_Cougar: Okay. We'll be leaving in five mins or so, just .attach to us
Bald_Cougar says: I could quote those shows verbatim. Bald_Cougar says: That's why I never watch them. Thoth says TO Bald_Cougar: We know. Your photographic memory. Bald_Cougar says: I could quote every line I've seen on this screen. GoonProof says: We know.
Bald_Cougar says: Ask me anything. Ask me what Blue said about Windoze.
Bald_Cougar says: Doors, windows, chimney-pots. Bald_Cougar takes a bow.
SpeedRacer says TO Bald_Cougar: You really have total recall? Bald_Cougar says TO SpeedRacer: Heavens no. I'd be suffering from memory overload.
Bald_Cougar says TO SpeedRacer: I'd go insane. Bald_Cougar says TO SpeedRacer: I only remember if I happen to be paying attention at the time. If I commit it to memory, so to speak. Blue_Lagoon says TO Bald_Cougar: What was the first topic at Roadsign when we came in?
Blue_Lagoon says: "Military Intelligence: a contradiction in terms???"
Bald_Cougar BC says TO Blue_Lagoon: How did you know? Blue_Lagoon says: It's called scrollback. Bald_Cougar says TO Blue_Lagoon: I hate you. Bald_Cougar says TO GoonProof: What are you two whispering about? Gravity's_Angel says: Privacy protection laws, actually. Gravity's_Angel says: So stop screening our conversation, you para- noid puma.
GoonProof says TO Bald_Cougar: I was telling Grav about security versus privacy here on XAX. About how you never know when you're being spied on.
Gravity's_Angel says: QED.
GoonProof says TO Bald_Cougar: So Grav took it to civilian level, with the question is screening still justified when the people being screened are harmless and their personal data of no significance. Gravity's_Angel says: I mean if you can't even blow off steam... Bald_Cougar says: If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to worry about.
Blue_Lagoon says TO Bald_Cougar: If your boss is a card-carrying member of the Gene Police and *e's checking out your ancestry, you have *everything* to worry about.
Bald_Cougar says TO Blue_Lagoon: Point taken. SpeedRacer says: I wouldn't want to be screened in any case. SpeedRacer says: except if it was a security issue and then I'd still demand an explanation.
SpeedRacer says: my life is my own.
GoonProof says: Hear hear.
Bald_Cougar says TO SpeedRacer: You *are* a newbie. Rayek says: Speed is right. To be known is to be interfered with. Invisibility is the key to freedom.
Bald_Cougar says: Which is why you're invisible most of the time. Rayek says TO Bald_Cougar: Would we be speaking so freely here if we could see each other's faces?
SpeedRacer says: Getting heavy.
Bald_Cougar says TO SpeedRacer: Whaddya want? We're standing on gravestones.
Erin_Slash says: Not conducive to merriness and high spirits. Blue_Lagoon says: Hey people, we're leaving. GoonProof exclaims: Bummer!!!!!!!!!!
SpeedRacer says: That's early.
Gravity's_Angel says: and taking the furless feline with us. Blue_Lagoon says: Now where'd I leave that muzzle... Blue_Lagoon says: It's getting late. Let's all do a micro-second group hug.
*** group hug ***
** Blue_Lagoon of Waveworld has left the Crossroads ** ** Rayek of Sorrow's End has left the Crossroads ** ** Gravity's_Angel The Naked Ape has left the Crossroads ** ** Bald_Cougar a furless feline has left the Crossroads ** SpeedRacer says: Wow. That was quick.
The Guardian wishes to know your name
*e wishes to know your password
A chatserver for Persons of Ambiguous Gender
You are in a high cave. Rays of sunlight penetrate through cracks in the rock, faintly illuminating the rows of hanging vampire bats sleeping in the dark. There is the sound of water running through subterranean passages, forming a maze of streams housing white shrimps and other forms of life whose eyesight has long vanished in their adaptation to life in perpetual darkness.
Where everything is invisible, nothing needs to remain hidden.
You can sense: Blue Lagoon of Waveworld
Rayek of Sorrow's End
Gravity's Angel The Naked Ape
Gabriel-Ernest would never eat a tourist
Storm thinks computers are kewl
Blue Lagoon swoops down at you!!
You say: That always gives me the creeps. Blue Lagoon pools at your feet
Gravity's Angel says: watch where you walk Gabriel-Ernest grins widely
You say: Wait a sec while I get used to direct echo Gabriel-Ernest says grinning: makes a diff, dunnit? Blue Lagoon says: No encryption, eh?
You say: Don't you ever worry about having people tap into your system?
Blue Lagoon says: How? We're in another dimension. You say: Oh yes, I forgot. You're aliens. :*) Storm says: You think you're watching a computer screen, when in fact we're messing with your head.
Gabriel-Ernest plays the Twilight Zone theme Gabriel-Ernest says: we control the vertical... we control the horizontal...
Rayek says: We're demons. In the literal sense. Storm says: So. Howya been.
Gabriel-Ernest says: Yeah. Long time no see. Gravity's Angel says: We *missed* you, you crazy cat. You say: I've been - heh. Busy.
Storm says: Still conquering the world?
You say: And not making much headway.
Gabriel-Ernest says: Try stealing the world's sugar. You say: Been there, done that.
You say: Binged on sticky buns while the whole world was going into withdrawal. :*>
Storm says: You are such a meanie.
Storm says: What's your next plan?
You say: I'm a-gonna build me a biiiig rocket and set the world on fire.
Gabriel-Ernest says: As The World Collides - Next ep featuring Roast Mutant Rump!
Storm says: Seriously?
You say: Of course not. I'm not stupid.
You say: I want to *rule* it not *roast* it. Gravity's Angel says: I see. I think.
Blue Lagoon says: although what you would want with a whole planet is beyond me. I have a hard enough time running the range. You say: Yes, but it's all *yours*.
Blue Lagoon says: Of course it is. And I've got a couple of sharp nasty weapons for people who think otherwise. You say: That's more or less what I mean. Normally, I wouldn't have the right to own a single inch of anything. Legally, I don't exist. Storm says: Is that true now?
You say: Well....
You say: Remember I told you some things I say are lies and some aren't...
Rayek says: You have a right to your own secrets. Blue Lagoon says: Anyway, you decided to go the whole hog and take the planet. :)
You say: Well, I didn't so much decide... Gabriel-Ernest says: A big yellow glowing thing came out of the sky and told you to.
Gravity's Angel: You're a sort of second Jeanne d'Arc. You say: I'm not even going to ask who that was. Rayek says: Maid of Orleans.
You say: ah.
Storm says: Only I don't think Jeanne d'Arc ever went bwahahahahaha. 0 You say in Storm's head: Ahh, shuddup
Gravity's Angel says: Hey.
0 Storm says in your head: Bite me.
Gravity's Angel thwapps Storm.
Storm says: Do it again baby honey.
Gravity's Angel says: In your dreams.
Gravity's Angel says: Don't mind h*, Sharkey You begin to sniffle
You say: Storm said something bad to me boohoohoohoo! You say: I'm very sensitive :*)
Storm pats you on the shoulder
Storm says: There now.
Storm offers you a Girl Scout cookie
You say: Made of real Girl Scouts? :*)
You say: Won't be staying long BTW - have to get up early You say: wouldn't want to miss my favourite radio show now would I? Rayek says: Don't forget to page Kai.
Gabriel-Ernest says: You 'n Kai still hot? Blue Lagoon says: Nonoyoflaminbusiness
You say: Yep. Next week we're getting married. Got a little house in the country with flowery curtains and a white picket fence. Gravity's Angel says: Ooh yeah.
Gravity's Angel says: "Good Home"
You say: And I'll come back from work and *e'll come out of the kitchen with h* oven mitts still on and give me a big hug and ask me how my day was
Blue Lagoon says: Dream, baby, dream
Storm says: "Not too bad... Exterminated Japan today... Put a few craters in the Caucasus..."
Storm says: Slaughter! Bloodshed! Gotta love it bwahahahahaha Storm starts to stab bats at random
Blue Lagoon says: Hey! I was going to save those for later! You say: (to Storm) I can tell you're a warrior. Storm says: <hem> Stable hand, actually
Storm says: But I can do some interesting things with two Galactor goons and a knife.
You say: I'm a lowly office grunt.
Gabriel-Ernest says: At least you don't use yoyos. Gabriel-Ernest says: Oooo pull the other one! You look confused
You say: what other one?
Gabriel-Ernest says: BTW I was going to ask - does Kai morph too? You say: not that I noticed :*)
Storm says: Does *e mind if you do?
You say: I've had no comments yet.
0 You say in Rayek's head: Can I talk to you for a sec? Gabriel-Ernest grins
Gabriel-Ernest says: I morph.
You say: You told me.
You say: Howling at the moon.
0 Rayek says in your head: Of course. What is it, though, that you can't say it in public?
Gabriel-Ernest goes yip yip yoooooowwl
Blue Lagoon says: MoonS. seven.
Blue Lagoon says: spinning round the earth... 0 You say in Rayek's head: I shouldn't even be talking about this. It's confidential. But you don't sound like a squealer. 0 Rayek says in your head: I have no incentive to pass on any infor- mation you give me, if that's what you mean. Blue Lagoon says: H'lo? Sharkey?
Gravity's Angel says: Asleep
0 Rayek says in your head: So, speak.
Blue Lagoon shrugs and starts to skin a lizard 0 You say in Rayek's head: You know how I told you about taking over the world and all that.
Storm says: Phew gross!
0 You say in Rayek's head: So what would you say if I told you I'm involved in a military operation to conquer a modest amount of territory? And I mean, for real?
Gabriel-Ernest says: There's no good eating on a lizard. Gabriel-Ernest says: BTW How's Brace?
0 Rayek says in your head: Your life is your own. You say: H* usual meaty, succulent self. Gabriel-Ernest begins to drool.
0 You say in Rayek's head: Yes, but what do you think? Blue Lagoon hits two rocks together
0 Rayek says in your head: I don't think for other people. You are intelligent enough to make your own choices. 0 You say in Rayek's head: I'm not so sure. Blue Lagoon starts to build a Bar-B-Q
You say: Hey! Touch Brace and you touch me!! 0 You say in Rayek's head: So you'd give me the go-ahead? Gabriel-Ernest looks at you and considers Gabriel-Ernest says: Are you good eating? 0 Rayek says in your head: Are you asking my approval? Rayek says: Leave h* alone, people.
Blue Lagoon is gabberflasted
0 You say in Rayek's head: I don't know. I just want to know what you think about it.
Blue Lagoon squeals ooooooo wanna keep h* all to yourself? You say: I'm all skin and bones
Rayek says: (to Blue) go play with yourself for a bit. Blue Lagoon says: Phooey.
0 Rayek says in your head: What should I think? We live on different worlds. Nothing you could do would have any effect on me. Consequently, I have no reason to meddle with your life in any way. Gabriel-Ernest says: Phooey.
Storm says: Phooey.
0 You say in Rayek's head: I'm serious.
0 Rayek says in your head: What are you afraid of? 0 You say in Rayek's head: I'm not afraid. 0 You say in Rayek's head: I just don't think you see the danger. You say: The Phooey Club :*)
0 Rayek says in your head: I am no more in danger than you are. 0 You say in Rayek's head: If you knew more about me you wouldn't be saying that.
0 You say in Rayek's head: You just can't take me seriously, can you? 0 Rayek says in your head: If you want to warn me, go ahead. But don't ask me to judge you.
Blue Lagoon starts to play the drum, making one hell of a racket Gabriel-Ernest gets out h* banjo
Gravity's Angel starts to belt out "Walk This Way" Gabriel-Ernest says: I don't think I'll be needing that banjo Storm feels left out and indulges in some senseless slaughter You say: You're justa buncha little kids. Storm sticks a toe in h* mouth and starts to suck on it Gravity's Angel cries: wahaaaaaah! mama! mama! Blue Lagoon says: You were asking for it :) Blue Lagoon says: Finished yakking in people's heads? :) You check the chronometer
You say: I have to leave.
0 You say in Rayek's head: Will we see each other again next time? 0 Rayek says in your head: Provided we're both still alive, I don't see why not.
Blue Lagoon hugs you tite!!
0 You say in Rayek's head: And what if you die in a military offen- sive?
0 Rayek says in your head: Whose? Yours?
Gabriel-Ernest bites you on the leg
Storm gives you a mighty bear hug
0 Rayek says in your head: If you don't want people to die in mili- tary offensives, my advice is don't launch any. Even so, nothing guarantees we'll still be here. That's life. Rayek extends a hand to you.
0 You say in Rayek's head: Thanks, sunshine. 0 Rayek says in your head: For you, only the truth. You shake Rayek's hand.
0 You say in Rayek's head: Yeah.
You say: See yall again next week?
Blue Lagoon says: o'coooooourrrse!!!!!
Gravity's Angel says: love ya!
Gabriel-Ernest says: Stay longer next time. You say: I'll try. I have a busy schedule :*) Rayek says: Good luck.
You wave one last time
* * *
Logging off after an hour's chatting, Joe was satisfied; not only for implicitly disobeying Nambu's orders, but also, which was even more disobedient, for taking part in a community outside of the team, that shared his hopes and ambitions: for although both sides had been cautious in speaking of their professional lives, he had no doubt that this was one of the UN's secret military enclaves dedicated to fighting the forces of Galactor, like himself. Or maybe just an academy, and the chatters were young recruits. There were a number of people he couldn't place, but on the whole they sounded tough and professional, and he liked it. Regretfully remembering Cougar's offer, he wondered if he would ever be permitted to contact the base officially and meet the people he had spoken to. He considered taking it up with Nambu, tried to imagine what the Doctor's response would be if he found out about Joe's illicit netsurfing. Disciplinary measures, a reprimand, maybe a grounding... No, he decided. This would be his secret.
* * *
Coming to his senses after an intensive mindsession in a specially created pocket of reality, Angel was the first to remove the black hood from his head. "Air!" he exclaimed, sucking it into his lungs.
"Your fault for not breathing," Storm said, removing hers. She abruptly flopped onto her back.
Win came out of her trance by degrees. "Okay, gang, fine going. Jon, what was he saying to you?"
"It was private," Yaana said. "Basically, she feared the consequences of her actions. Practically speaking, I'd say withdraw anyone currently stationed in Slobodia and Transylvania, and see about warning the authorities."
* * *
The person of indeterminate age and gender sitting alone among the wires and metal of the XAX mainframe's main control room extended hir hands with palms flat on either side of the keyboard, and heaved a controlled sigh. These sessions drained hir - the cloaking of ident- ity while sustaining a new one, the necessity of shielding hir mind from the god-computer that ruled hir life - but they were worth it. What was it Grav had said? *Blowing off steam.* Playing the Prince and the Pauper, mingling with the commoners. So much safer than going out into the streets. And so much more satisfying.
Back to reality. The day would start early, and s/he would be expected. Escapism served no purpose to those who wanted to conquer the world. Taking a deep breath, s/he twisted hir hair into one long tail and laid it around hir head, then pulled over the mask. It snapped into place, fitting perfectly.
Tomorrow would be a long day.