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i-ching: a joker's coming of age

One the first day after her 12th Drive Kill, spandex woke up wearing a pair of striped thigh-high stockings that she'd never seen before. Over the next three days she discovered:

  • Each leg had six black stripes on an otherwise white stocking;
  • Some of the black stripes didn't quite go all the way around her leg;
  • Sometimes the striped pattern on the left leg and right leg didn't match;
  • She felt very weak and ill if she took them off for long;
  • Rarely and apparently without her doing, the stripes would change;
  • They meant something, surely.
  • Three-lined 'symbols' starting appearing everywhere, but particularly around particular jokers.

Marly's Symbol

Jardin Surleau

Bellwether Marly has crawled out of the DICE kitchens when no one was looking and slunk off here. She stretches. Floors are more comfortable when one is unconscious.

Bellwether Marly fills the tea kettle and starts the stove. She leans against the wall for a moment, humming a lone note. Then, she straightens and takes the teapot off a shelf.

Bellwether Marly fills it with hot water to warm it while she digs around in a large tin container for a particular type of tea. Bags with strange labels fall out onto the counter.

Bellwether Marly looks at one of them and frowns. When did she get black currant nettle? Has she ever tried it? Does she want to?

Bellwether Marly decides this last question can be answered later by Eben, and tucks the tea bag into a pocket. She pulls out two bags and empties the pot before putting them in.

Bellwether Marly turns off the flame beneath the now-whistling kettle and pours water into the pot, sniffing and smiling at the smells of peach and ginger that rise up.

Bellwether Marly takes the pot and sets it on a trivet on the coffee table. The trivet is black cast-iron, three parallel lines of equal height and width, the middle one broken.

Bellwether Marly goes back to the cupboard and takes down a tray, mugs and spoons and sugar on it. She goes to the fridge and takes out a small, half-finished pitcher of cream and puts that on the tray.

Bellwether Marly takes the tray over to the table and pours herself a mug, adding sugar and cream, then curls up in a corner of the couch, hooves underneath her.

Bellwether Marly gazes out the window at the distant sea, breathing in the fragrant steam. She coughs softly, hot tea splashing over the sides and dribbling down her fingers.

Bellwether Marly raises her mug and waits for the cough to subside before sipping.

Bellwether Marly swallows and clears her throat. It helps, somewhat. Her throat is still sore, made worse from her rough-voice impersonations yesterday. Well, she'll get better. She sips again.

Spandex is at Marly's house for tea. She smiles, and doesn't feel quite like the same person who planted two smooches on her the day before. "Hello there."

Bellwether Marly smiles and raises her mug. "Come in! There's tea; ginger peach." She motions with the mug to the tray and the teapot, and then to an armchair.

Spandex walks across the room, taking in the surroundings and view. A cloud untangles itself from the horizon. "Great outlook here, Marly." She picks up the teapot, "Top up?"

Bellwether Marly tilts her head. "Top up?"

Spandex gestures with the tea spout towards Marly's glass, "I mean, may I fill your mug? Sorry, I don't know how to properly speak Tea." She shoots espressos and whatever she finds in B's cabinet.

Bellwether Marly ahs, and holds out her mug. "Certainly!" She smiles. "So how are you?"

Spandex exhales, and fills Marly's mug before her own. She plofs into the armchair. She sips, surprised that she actually likes it. "Good today, thanks. Was just in Halls with the GERMS. You?"

Bellwether Marly sips her tea. "Oh, fell asleep in the kitchen, on the floor. Sore, tired, worn out. Happy."

Spandex looks over her mug as she sips. "Worn out and sore from what?"

Bellwether Marly frowns into her mug and adds more sugar to it. "Everything." She sips, and decides on honest, straight answers. She's too worn out for evasion, today."Did a very rough line of tricks lately."

Bellwether Marly says, into her tea, "Some are harder than others, see. And I didn't stop and rest between 'em."

Spandex sits up. "I watched you once. Joker.. games? Is that what they're called? Can't remember who your opponent was, but I remember that you completely dominated the entire scene."

Bellwether Marly laughs, the sound turning into a cough. "Thank you. That sort of thing is easy, for short-term. It's.. other things. Diving in deep, sorta." She makes a diving gesture with her hand.

Spandex adds, "I've been keeping an eye out for ages. To find the Best. What tricks did you do today? And what do you mean rough?" She inhales. "Your cough.. should we talk another time?"

Bellwether Marly shakes her head. "Don't worry about it, it's just a side effect of a trick. Got infected, isolated the thing, hurled it up." She sips. "I've not really done much today. Folded a paper plane."

Bellwether Marly tilts her head and sips. "What do you mean, though, the Best?"

Spandex smiles."oh sorry.. Good question. I meant.." She thinks. Spandex tries, "Intelligent. Not just silly parlour tricks. Deeper meaning. Fun, but another ring of purpose if you listen for it." She stares at Marly, before catching herself.

Bellwether Marly smiles. "Ah. Then, yes. I'm not the Best by any means, but it's never just silly parlor tricks. It all goes toward the same, single-minded goal of amusing myself." Bellwether Marly sips. "Among other things. Sometimes, a lesson is learned. Other times, a wrong is righted. Spirits are lifted, justice served. Sometimes, there's very little fun in the act. But still. Something."

Spandex asks with a half-grin, "And the lessons, wrongs, rights, moods, laws.. how are they determined?"

Bellwether Marly smiles around her cup, a matter-of-fact smile that a cat gives a mouse. "By a choice, dear Dex. Choosing.. puts an act of will behind it. Blind, careless use of power is dangerous, but.." Bellwether Marly pauses, to consider how to phrase it. "But choosing. Choosing how to use something makes one aware of its uses. And purposes. Not all, mind you, but enough to obligate one to know better."

Spandex nods. "Yes. I tried my first trick today. Well, my first conscious one? And afterwards I realised how a little mischief was potentially quite harmful. To a friend."

Spandex closes her eyes. "It was fun for the day, and I thought it would be good for him, but I'm not sure. Will talk to him later." She opens them and grimaces a bit.

Spandex leans over in her chair towards Marly. "I also just wanted to see if I could do it!" She pauses, "It's a creative act that carries its own potential, isn't it?"

Bellwether Marly leans over across the couch, mug in hand. "And shaped by will. All arts are, you see, and carry their own potential in them. I sometimes wonder if that makes people art."

Spandex taps her cup with her fingernails. "Whose will, though, Marly? And whose choosing? Who are you - or me - to determine rights, wrongs, justice, and what spirits need to be?"

Bellwether Marly smiles, tilting her head again. Her curls bounce. " 'Ethics, like art, consists of drawing the line somewhere,' " she quotes. "The important thing is to know where. Instinct is so bad at that."

Bellwether Marly rolls her head, cracking her neck. "So, we learn, we experiment, we listen to others. People have been learning for thousands of years where the line should be. So, we choose to draw it close."

Bellwether Marly says, "Sometimes, we're way off. Sometimes, we don't draw it. But that comes back to knowing better, choosing how you use it."

Spandex pouts. "I've no interest in Ethics but for my own direction. People can fuck up their lives as much as they want. Or otherwise."

Bellwether Marly grins and raises her mug in salutation. "And that's their choice."

Spandex hehs, adding, "And I'm the last person to talk about drawing lines. I've lived without them, or have been always pushing them away."

Bellwether Marly gestures with her mug. That's neither here nor there. "It's still a choice, an act of will. And in choosing, you've chosen how to shape your art yourself."

Bellwether Marly sips her tea before she spills more of it. "And there's probably more to it than parlor anarchy."

Spandex grins. "And you, Marly, your constant desire for amusement can - by definition - never be fulfilled. So you become, and are Desire?"

Bellwether Marly smiles into her tea. "The Pilgrim, perhaps, seeking. Or the Fool, an enlightened one. Or just Futility, Sisyphus and his task. But it's a happy futility. Each day is different and the same."

Spandex studies Marly's face awhile. "Did someone sit down with you like this? Like you're doing for me?"

Bellwether Marly shakes her head. "I had.. no such luck."

Spandex keeps her eyes on her. "And I have all the luck. You learned by experimenting?" She is craving stories but her mug is quite empty.

Bellwether Marly runs a finger around the lip of her mug. "By failing," she agrees.

Spandex nods with a grin. "I'm sure I have a lot of that to look forward to." Her face drops. "You hurt anyone?"

Bellwether Marly nods. "All the time. We hurt the ones we love." She tilts her head. "I'm sure you have, too."

Spandex asks,"For amusement?"

Bellwether Marly shakes her head. "Not the ones I love." She pauses, then, "Sometimes, someone will hurt the ones I love. Then.." Shrug.

Spandex grins. "Maybe this will be good for my bad Temper."

Bellwether Marly shrugs again. "Just be careful. Having it means being obliged to draw a line somewhere. It's not like there's a natural defense against it."

Spandex looks puzzled. "I meant, maybe using transformation creatively will lessen my need to feel angry in the first place. Or maybe I didn't understand what you meant."

Bellwether Marly hardly knows what she means. "That might work."

Spandex interrupts, "What lines do you draw, Marly?"

Bellwether Marly says, promptly, "The one between family and not-family, the one between what is and isn't natural, and the one between the boring and the fun."

Spandex chuckles, "many people differ on what is natural. But anyway. Yes. You seem to have a system that works for you." Spandex thinks that on this island everything is potentially natural.

Bellwether Marly shrugs. "There are some things that are just not right, like.. like an arm growing from your forehead. But, yes, it works for me."

Spandex almost drops her mug as the NEWday hits. She groans, and her shoulders slump a little. "Shiiit."

Spandex waves it off with her free hand. "You had this at the beginning? The wild swings? I'm learning to .. well .. at least keep them more to myself."

Bellwether Marly shakes her head. "No, I didn't. I had myself, what I was and am." She watches Dex with a concerned eye, looking her over for signs. "Everyone's different, I suppose. Improbably so."

Spandex hrmms, "Merlin tells me I need to work on evening it out. Bernard, interestingly, just suggests being more at ease with it. I'm more inclined to the latter."

Spandex stretches in her chair. "That one just now. It was a big switch. A bit difficult. Some I barely notice."

Spandex leans forward. "Do you not know of anyone else effected like this?"

Bellwether Marly hmms. "Why not both. Being at ease with what you are, yet changing? We all change. It's inevitable, even."

Bellwether Marly shakes her head. "You're the first."

Spandex says, "Well that's the point. I change daily. Why work to be static? And I fear static would then leave me at the median - and that's not me. Not in the slightest."

Bellwether Marly places her mug on the table. "Would you call me static?"

Spandex laughs aloud. "I don't know you well enough to call you anything but Marly. I bet you want me to answer 'No' though."

Bellwether Marly laughs. "I've staged a fake wedding to our mutual friend, fought atop the walls of AceHigh, captured Godzilla and run a business. I look for man-eating plants for fun. So, yes, the answer is no."

Bellwether Marly says, smiling, "I've seen lots of changes. I was human, I was a cat, I've been dead, and short, and hideous. I've been a robot. Then I became a Joker, then a sheep. Yet, through it all, I'm Marly."

Spandex taps her chin. "From what you tell me, you have a solid representation of Marly, that is static. But.. your moods change. As you say, today versus the chapel."

Spandex says, "Then we agree. Yes. Bernard is another good example, again."

Bellwether Marly shakes her head. "Static is boring, stuck. I'm constantly changing, yet staying the same. It's like running twice as fast to stay in one place. You gotta change to keep up with the world."

Spandex sinks into her chair. "And the Island's decided mine's going to be randomised day to day. And maybe more than that. It's early days yet. She pauses.. "Just hope I remain something I like."

Bellwether Marly smiles and reaches over to pat her on the knee. "If you don't, then change."

Spandex's gaze drops to the hand on her knee. "okay, Marly. Will do."

Bellwether Marly grins and leans back. "It's our great.. gift. The choice of changing. Good luck with it." She reaches over and lifts her teapot off the three-lined trivet and pours herself some tea.

Spandex stands up. "Thank you, Marly. I will continue to watch you." She smirks. "And thanks too for the fun yesterday."

Bellwether Marly nods. "Any time."

Spandex leans over and kisses her gently on the cheek and leaves.

Bellwether Marly smiles softly to herself and gets up, putting away tea things and going to bed.

Li: Fire, Sun, Conscious, Depending, Intelligent, Eye.

Paul Lo's Symbol

Dunbernarding: pool

Spandex marks the time on the giant white clock with black sans-serif Arabic numerals before diving to the bottom of the pool. She's seeing how long she can hold her breath.

Earth Mage Paul Lo is in the bottom, waltzing.

Spandex's hair raises and swirls in the whirlpools he makes.

Earth Mage Paul Lo smiles, squinted eyes directed at dear Spandex.

Spandex swims under the surface, to deeper depths. The water cools and stills.

Earth Mage Paul Lo isn't as graceful as he should, but he tries to adapt his moving.

Spandex can still see the clock, but not the time. Her lungs are burning. She puts them out of her mind and swims deeper.

Earth Mage Paul Lo follows underneath, further away from Spandex (and the surface).

Earth Mage Paul Lo is still following, a smiling watcher. No, not The Watcher of course, he doesn't have anything to do with that person.

Spandex falls underwater. Falls and falls. Who knew the pool was this deep? Her lungs scream. She puts them out of her mind still.

Earth Mage Paul Lo gets nearer from Spandex, or she is coming to him. Still squinting.

Earth Mage Paul Lo begins to realize that Spandex might need some oxygen. You know, lungs and all the stuff. The snack he brought isn't struggling anymore, the innocent typo gremlin.

Spandex is in the Depths now. She smiles, and squints. Lo's there, but also not-Lo? Her lungs are silent.

Earth Mage Paul Lo slowly shrugs, a little off-tempo. He quickly gobbles his snack before it gets too swollen from the water. Where is his princess? He attempts to hop, but his feet are too heavy.

Earth Mage Paul Lo 's right antenna slides down to his shoulder, maybe from the pressure; he shrugs it off, making it descend further. Heavy.

Spandex looks for Time, now under her feet, and pulling her toward it. 'I need no oxygen', she thinks-not-thinks. She feels verymuchalive. Wanting to live. She squints at not-Lo. He's something else now.

Earth Mage Paul Lo takes a more comfortable pose, wondering if he got chained without him knowing. What could make that, who would sense it? No response but bodily movements.

Earth Mage Paul Lo looks up, because it is were the surface should be. Only he's looking down. Trick of the eye, trick of the mind.. and trick of the body. Bad frame!

Spandex swims two strokes toward him. Only one way out, surely? Why are you different? 'He must hear these thoughts', she thinks, 'for I hear them echo.'

Earth Mage Paul Lo uses his shoe to step a foot over the bottom, but there are no shoes. Did he take them off before going in? He shouldn't have, probably didn't. Improbable, yes, but not really Island's way.

Spandex reaches for his hand with hers, holding B's dice. Placing them in his hand, he's got to know: All on a roll.

Earth Mage Paul Lo has the reminiscence of an echo, no, the memory of a memory. Princess? Different? He doesn't know. Inhale. Trying to talk. No? Same way of communication, then. Different is normal for him. Since here.

Spandex presses the dice in the hand. Small gesture with fingers tell the rules, but everyone else sees up or down.

Earth Mage Paul Lo 's thoughts are sluggish, they don't come swiftly. He is, they are, you are.. I am. A die? He fiddles with it, touches it, make it turn on itself. It is slowly falling to the bottom.

Earth Mage Paul Lo makes it roll with a hind leg. It goes up?

Spandex 's turn: Down. shit.

Earth Mage Paul Lo 's hind legs become lighter, no , he's being pulled up by the occipital? His.. ear comes back up too, where it was. But Dear? He didn't leave his eyes on her sight!

Earth Mage Paul Lo elongates slightly as he looks down where she was. Spandex? Dex? Where are you going? Something you found? Something you lost? Where are you?

Earth Mage Paul Lo 's gloves and shoes are shaking back on him. He straightens his tuxedo. His buoyancy is too high.

Earth Mage Paul Lo paddles down, to no avail. Chains are getting up, binding reinforced. He should be down.

Spandex yields and swallows, is swallowed. No fight.

Earth Mage Paul Lo tries contact again. "Dear? Little Princess? Where art thou?" He broke surface. No, that's not right.

Earth Mage Paul Lo senses a particular lack of Spandex, whether it is under, over, beside.. Where did she go?

Earth Mage Paul Lo is in a quest To Find His Princess! He hops on then out of the water and darts through a shortcut.

Lake and Cottage in GERM Old Clan Halls' gardens

Spandex steps out of the water. She sees Botticelli's Venus, Springtime muse and divine Love. You see a water-logged punk on her knees retching pool and lake water. Her eyes clam-shelled shut. Miserable.

Earth Mage Paul Lo comes here, hoping to find his dear Dex. Deer. Dect. Debt Dier. He quickly makes the tour of the main building (yes, even the attic) and ends in front of the Garden's gate.

Spandex heaves one last time--surely this is the last time. She rolls over onto her back, inhaling airnotwaterthankgod. She's sickened. 'Too close this time, dex and almost took Lo with you too'.

Earth Mage Paul Lo 's pant leg is jerked. He looks down, only to see Little Guy. Even if the Hall is deserted, what is he doing there? The wind sighs, only to be replaced by emotions. Paul melts into the floor.

Spandex feels a jolt of panic. She probably scared him half to death. Bloodyfuckingstupid. The lake water mocks her feet. Wait - Lake water?

Earth Mage Paul Lo shuffles aside some matter, concentrating on his goal. The cottage. The bench on the rock peninsula. He's there.

Earth Mage Paul Lo appears on the bench.. on his old friend, his scrap golem. He takes the time to greet him, he owes him at least that. "Yes, been a while. No rust after Winter? Remember me to thank them." Down.

Earth Mage Paul Lo looks down on the lake and its surrounding. Little Guy mentioned someone possibly familiar here, but that sounded far-fetched; all lost the memory of this place ever being mentioned. Maybe Bernard? No.

Spandex feels the water pull away, denying its warm caresses. She recalls a rejected chance for a decent dice roll. Fuckers. She opens one eye: cloud-covered moon. She feels sick.

Earth Mage Paul Lo stares for a moment at the middle of the lake, clearly seen from his vantage point. Ripples, yes; there was a disturbance. Was? Is? He slides to the shore, on the sand. No more snow, no more ice.

Earth Mage Paul Lo makes a ripple with a finger. Warm.. A minute trace of chlorine? No, yes? Yes.. Spandex? He slowly goes around on the shore.

Spandex grabs her dice and sits up, looking down at them in her hand with loathing. You almost killed us, she blames. She raises her arm to throw them in the lake: A roll is no way to choose up or down.

Earth Mage Paul Lo sees something- someone, as if he didn't see it before. He investigates, half-hoping, half-dreading, half-something else.

Earth Mage Paul Lo says aloud, "Princess?"

Spandex throws the dice. Two neat blop-blops in the lake.

Earth Mage Paul Lo sees ripples expanding from in front of the something. He's so near, yet.."Spandex, Dear, is that you?"

Spandex blushes deeply. "Yes. Paul Lo, I'm so sorry. Are you okay?"

Earth Mage Paul Lo stares. Coldly, calculatingly. No, he's not. "I was not the one who got lost. You?"

Spandex buries her face in her arms. He's really pissed, she can hear it. "YeswhereAreWe?"

Earth Mage Paul Lo giggles. That's Spandex. "In the Clan's Garden, the old building one."

Earth Mage Paul Lo 's long, furry ears tilt on the same side.

Earth Mage Paul Lo closes his eyes before seeing too much, a little of the gentleman side. "Would you wish for a towel, miss Spandex?"

Spandex lifts her head a little. Water pours out of her downward ear. "How did we get here? Fuck. Are we dead?"

Earth Mage Paul Lo giggles a little more bitterly, eyes still closed. "Don't say that girl. We are still on the Island." Girl?

Hell's face would have changed forever with those two.

Spandex presses her palms into her eyes. "How did you find me?" She lifts her head again, "What's funny?" She's aching.

Earth Mage Paul Lo pats the woman, more or less guessing by touch. "A little man made of mud said it to me." He is SO not answering the other question.

Spandex cringes at his touch. Guilt's a rare visitor, so she's having Him eat all her food, wear her clothes and move right in for a while. "Uuuugh. J'ai fait quelque chose d'autre de terrible."

Spandex lifts a forefinger toward the lake. "J'ai jete los dados de Bernard."

Earth Mage Paul Lo looks at the lake. "Do you want them back ? Even if it's just to give them back to their original owner?" He doesn't know their history.

Earth Mage Paul Lo 's voice is calm and not angry at all. He even seems peaceful among the usual playfulness.

Spandex bends forward, and heaves. She shakes her head. "you never give such a gift back, sauf si on est mort." She slowly gets up to stand and walks back into the lake, until waist-high..and dives.

Earth Mage Paul Lo opens his eyes again at that new splashing sound. He sighs. "Fautif."

Earth Mage Paul Lo scratches his shoulder, then the fur on his cheek. If he wasn't there at that time.. .

Earth Mage Paul Lo settles down near the water, making circles in the sand.

Spandex is back underwater in the depths, the darkness, hands running along the bottom. Danger-returned, shame-repeated. Frog-kicking, both hands fanning across the bottom. She's desperate for the dice.

Spandex won't come up breathing again this time until she finds them, no fucking around, this is business, this is what you get for the tantrum, this is for Bernard and growing the hell up.

Earth Mage Paul Lo sighs again, much longer. He can't let her go like that.. He tests the surface, then slithers into the lake to the points under the small ripples.

Spandex 's hand is grabbed by another's, she's yanked under a sea-branch, her arm almost pulled out of its socket, someone's got her and she's struggling--prying at it with the other hand, scared out of her wits.

Earth Mage Paul Lo 's senses are all fucked up. That's right. He gets pebbles, branches, dice.. One. Two. Three. Oh, one of his round dice!

Spandex is pulled along faster now--the harder she fights and pries, the stronger the grip and reallynow: her lungs. Chinese finger trap, she thinks. She swims forward, towards her captor. Kicks, swims hard.

Earth Mage Paul Lo pulls and pushes, still searching, still finding branches and aggressive legs.

Spandex is parallel to him, still carried forward. She gets her free arm around his neck, jams a foot into the lake-floor. Everything stops and relaxes and they float together for a moment. She looks.

Earth Mage Paul Lo has found something, or it's more like something has found him! He is staring at Spandex's armpit. Mischievous him ponders about tickling.

Earth Mage Paul Lo thought the legs were zombies' or plants. Although improbability should have a weak hold here.

Spandex twists until her eyes are on his. She's going to fucking kill him when she gets the hell out of here, freaking her out like this.

Earth Mage Paul Lo takes her wrist, gently now, pushes it up. The three dice exchange hand to the woman's before she touches the surface.

Earth Mage Paul Lo is smiling at Spandex. He can move freely again, that's nice.

Earth Mage Paul Lo moves to the shore nearest to the cottage, towing the female Joker. A quick glance proves him that the little Ones followed his advices.

Spandex gulps air and swims for the shore. Relieved, grateful but spitting-mad. She sits on the shore shaking her head. "what. the. fuck. Lo."

Earth Mage Paul Lo is holding the hand holding the dice, held by Spandex. Who threatens to hold Lo's throat.

Spandex doesn't threaten. She grips Lo's throat.

Earth Mage Paul Lo is laughing out loud.

Spandex screams, "MY HANDS!"

Earth Mage Paul Lo kisses them, those hands of hers.

Spandex yanks both up and away from him. "TURN THEM BACK!"

Earth Mage Paul Lo doesn't understand. He has always liked her hands, so why not now? "I did not do anything, Dear."

Earth Mage Paul Lo pokes them, touches them, li-no, he doesn't. He's not into that kind of fetish.

spandex opens her grip, 3 dice, but changed hand. She stretches and bends them, their range and flexibility intact, though the skin between the fingers has raised slightly. She almost sobs. "webbed."

Earth Mage Paul Lo hugs Spandex. "Why are you crying, dear?"

Spandex pushes her face into his shoulder and raises a hand in response.

Earth Mage Paul Lo raises his left hand. Gloved.

Spandex turns her head slightly and slumps. "No gloves, I love touching everything."

Earth Mage Paul Lo sighs. He slowly takes his hand's cover off. White. Clawed. What was to be expected "I made it well, didn't I?"

Earth Mage Paul Lo gently pushes his palm on Dex's. Still smiling.

Spandex pokes them, touches them. "Made what?"

Earth Mage Paul Lo spilled the beans, the pea, even the chickpeas. "My manicure."

Spandex lifts his hand, turns it around. "and under this?"

Earth Mage Paul Lo ponders. "It is earth, ashes, and dust. '"Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust'."

Earth Mage Paul Lo takes up Spandex, like a feather (doesn't forget to bring his glove), directing her to the Cottage.

Spandex still has a question about something else. She opens her palm -- cringes a little -- and shows him: 3 cubes 1 round.

Earth Mage Paul Lo , just at the door edge, kisses Spandex. Well, not kissing, more like nibbling, with his freakishly sharpy teeth. Her left ear's lobe.. . gonna leave a trace.

Earth Mage Paul Lo snatches his spheric die and leave her the cubes. B's, notably.

Earth Mage Paul Lo 's teeth imprinted three parallel horizontal lines of equal width and height, the top and bottom ones being broken in their middle.

Spandex clamps her hand to her ear. "owwwch!" She pulls her fingers away, and looks: blood.

Earth Mage Paul Lo gently pulls Spandex inside the house and up to a comfortable couch-futon wit multiple sheets on it, where he diligently let her fall. Only then he hands her a towel.

Earth Mage Paul Lo sits near Spandex and looks at what he has done.

Spandex sits and wraps herself in a towel. Touches her ear again. Still bleeding. "This is going to scar" she says quietly. "it better suit me."

Earth Mage Paul Lo takes out a simple handkerchief out of one of his marvel-pockets and softly presses it on the wound.

Spandex waits til he's close and turns quickly, snatches his nearest long ear and bites as hard as she can. It remains to be seen if it leaves a mark. She releases it. "oops."

Earth Mage Paul Lo 's other hand (the glove-free one) reaches for Spandex's lips and sweeps off something. He giggles.

Spandex touches her lips, "Don't mess around. we've been through enough."

Earth Mage Paul Lo looks at his bitten ear. "We have."

Earth Mage Paul Lo says, "You can sleep here if you want; since it is technically part of GERM's Hall, it's a wonder nobody else than me and jon set up foot here. For the better, I suppose."

Spandex sits for a moment, before breaking into a smile. "Was fun."

Earth Mage Paul Lo nods. "You don't regret it?"

Earth Mage Paul Lo takes one of Dex's hands and hugs it.

Spandex leans on him. She's got webbed fingers and a visible scar. "Regret what?" She looks around, "I'd like to stay here. It's lonely." She grabs a blanket and pulls it over herself.

Earth Mage Paul Lo yawns, whispers good night to his princess and goes to sit into a long-armed chair.

Earth Mage Paul Lo forgot something! He swiftly go kiss Spandex's forehead and give her a pillow. Shame on him, he who almost forgot that! He settles back to the chair.

Spandex opens one eye. Cloudy moon, still. Whispers good night, Lo.

Earth Mage Paul Lo 's mind slipped down into the fireplace up until now. It's midday for him.

Earth Mage Paul Lo asks for news of the cottage and get served a nice brunch, all regular food.

Spandex pings from foodspells and zingy DAYstats. "What you eating?" She ruffles the fur between his ears and looks over at the plates.

Earth Mage Paul Lo looks inside his plate. "Pork sausages. Fried potato slices. Meat pie. Eggs. Oh, fruits too. You want something?" That question includes alcohol, of course. He sips his freshly made tea.

Spandex gestures a polite refusal. "Don't usually eat on these days, cept coffee." With chocolate syrup it counts as food. She crouches onto a chair next to him at the table.

Earth Mage Paul Lo bites off a hardboiled egg and plays with the half left. "Well, I suppose there should still be some stock in the old building."

Spandex rest her chin on her knees and watches him eat. She wonders if he's as shook up as she is. She eventually asks, "How's your ear?" and everything else.

Earth Mage Paul Lo looks at it and smiles. " Still there." The ear and the mark. It just didn't have time to disappear, or something like that. "And yours?"

Earth Mage Paul Lo sucks out the yellow out of the boiled egg's remnant, then the white.

Spandex rubs her forefinger over her left earlobe, tracing the scabs. Three lines. Her heart contracts as she rubs them again for details. "Paul! Describe it to me!" She turns and tilts her head.

Earth Mage Paul Lo tilts his head, then answers. "Three vertical lines (because his head is sideway), the first one and the third are split at their middle, while the middle one is full."

Earth Mage Paul Lo , having finished his meal, goes to sit beside Spandex. The ear didn't bleed too much, it seems.

Spandex jerks her head up to look at him. "How did you do this?! What is it?"

Earth Mage Paul Lo shrugs. "It seemed to be simple yet fashionable. And a nice addition to your ear."

Spandex scrambles over the chair back to the ground. "Fashionable?! Since when did you notice fashionable?" She leans around to look at him closely, "Tell me."

Earth Mage Paul Lo honestly says, "I never did. But someone said that it would be."

Earth Mage Paul Lo 's voices say many things.

Spandex 's eyes are pleading. "Who, Lo. Tell me." No hand on throat again, but don't push her.

Earth Mage Paul Lo ponders about that. "I couldn't say. His voice sounded quite high in tone, maybe like a fashion midget." Those two words were never meant to be together, expect with a 'not' preceding.

Spandex is doing everything she can to restrain herself from shaking him. Her voice is stiff. "Where do I find this midget." She's got to find this person.

Earth Mage Paul Lo shakes his head by himself, thank you very much. "He had a kiosk selling ratsonastick.. But some angry female midgets threw him up in the open sewer."

Earth Mage Paul Lo thought his wares tasted good.. it's a wonder why his business got disturbed.

Spandex swears he's full of shit, but she can't fathom why he'd not tell her the truth. "I'm off to find out about this rat-kebab-midget-man." She wraps an arm around him in a hug, and leaves.

Earth Mage Paul Lo waves merrily a Spandex and readies himself. He sets foot out of the cottage and go sit on a bench near the shore

Earth Mage Paul Lo takes himself in hand (literally) and puts his glove back. Then waltzes out of the domain.

Earth Mage Paul Lo 's Least Littlest Guy cleans off.

K'AN: Water, moon, dangerous, difficult, abyssmal, cloudy, melancholy, anxious, ear

Bernard's Symbol

Dunb Lake - Pedalboats

Uncle Bernard tries to hook a pedalo, "Come here you bastard." for a second there it looks as though he's going to go in, "SHITTOCKS."

Spandex watches from the lake-edge, not offering to help. Pimms is possibly close to coming out her nose from laughing.

Uncle Bernard manages, somehow, to bring the bright orange beast under some semblance of control, and he gingerly puts one foot in, and tries to shuffle his buttocks across.

Uncle Bernard 's buttocks are getting quite the workout, if only he'd worked out. Unfortunately for any would-be camera-fiends out there, he manages to get both buttocks onto the moulded plastic seat.

Spandex jumps back a couple of steps as a huge fuck-off honker of a goose tries to run her off. She waves her jug of Pimms at it. "FOIE GRAS!" she barks, "TERRINE"

Uncle Bernard sees Dex at the water's edge, and his little legs do a swan-swim, powering the little orange surface boat Dexward, "Hello! Hello! It's me! Are you coming on board the Titanic?"

Uncle Bernard also has the good ship Graf Spee, the Battle-pedalo Marie Rose and Bismarck tied up on the side.

Spandex nods and lines up her sights on the empty seat, the Goose playing defence. She runs forward, dekes left-right-left and LEAPS onto the boat, causing it to yaw and pitch. "hey sailor!" She sits.

Uncle Bernard was going to have the SS Maru and the Estonia as well, but somehow they've got loose and they're floating about near the Island - over there.

Uncle Bernard pedals away from the angry walking Foie Gras, "Did you bring booze?" he asks, almost desperately.

Spandex is still completely on form and hasn't spilled a drop. She raises her jug o'Pimms above her head like the Stanley Cup or whatever the boating equivalent would be. "Yah. Toff booze."

Uncle Bernard makes a funny face, "Dooleys?" he doesn't look happy at her insistence on poorly thought out alcoholic beverages. He'd prefer something with boating connotations, like Pimms for example.

Spandex lowers the pitcherful of Pimms to lip-level and looks over the rim at him, reproached. She tilts it, and sips. "Sorry. I really tried my best to choose wisely."

Uncle Bernard realises his mistake, and apologises immediately. He fishes out a chunk of cucumber and munches on it, "I am sorry, really sorry. Pimms is just the ticket."

Spandex lowers her eyes to the veritable lake-of-booze she brought. She pours them each a tumbler-full and drinks, licking foam from her lip. "Where we goin?"

Uncle Bernard isn't aiming on going anywhere, "Shall we just have a pedal, and listen to the geese honking? You know something? They're the perfect example of synergy, those birds."

Uncle Bernard carries on, "Never mind, that in formation, they can fly 70% further than a solo goose, or that their honks are said to be encouragin'. If one attacks you, they all attack. Reckon that we.."

Uncle Bernard continues, "Should land somewhere else than by there, those fuckers are dangerous. Not like swans, mind. They could 'ave your arm off, just with their wings. Geese ain't like that. But they're mad"

Spandex pauses mid-sip and wonders when B was replaced by Bill Oddie. She nods politely.

Uncle Bernard has a song playing in his head for some reason, "BillOddie, BillOddie, put your hands all over my body.." he shakes his head, trying to clear it, "I quite like geese, all being told."

Spandex is enjoying herself immensely, but her expression turns serious. "Guess what, B? I'm from Canada, originally. D'geese are my homies. What about them do you like?"

Uncle Bernard used to have a goose when he was but a nipper, but it died. An amazingly graceful and friendly bird, but a horror as a guard-dog, "They're quite.. Characterful for birds."

Spandex giggles. "Know how the look when they tuck their heads in to sleep? They remind me of curling rocks. I'm always tempted to deliver them down the path. But, you're right, they seem inquisitive."

Uncle Bernard agrees! "They seem intelligent. Well, I've had less intelligent conversation on the Island, truth be told. Although I was hanging out outside of Maikos at the time."

Spandex refills their drinks. "B? Why geese? Is this a metaphor or something? Am I in shit for that elevator thingie with Sink, cuz I don't think the cameras caught it and if they did.." She stops.

Uncle Bernard stops as well, the pedalo seems to drift, "What do you mean, 'in trouble'? Have you been up to something?"

Spandex tilts her glass, hard. She shrugs. Lots of things, many things, always things. "Refill?" She holds out the pitcher, sploshing more Pimms into his mostly-full glass.

Uncle Bernard knows when he's being railroaded. "You know, although I'm old enough to be your father, I'm not daft. What's up?"

Spandex knows when she's being steamrollered. "You know, I'm young enough to be your daughter, I'm not thick. What's wrong?"

Lady Akitsu wanders by.. and GAPES. What the.. ? When the hell did THIS get here..?! She takes a seat on a bench and gazes out onto the lake.

Uncle Bernard knows when he's being rickrolled, "Hah, you got me. Okay, you can chalk that one up to your good self. Tell me why you think something is wrong."

Uncle Bernard waves at Kit from on the lake, "Hello!"

Lady Akitsu winces, ears drooping forward. Greeat.. Now it's in her head. Thanks, Uncle dear.

Lady Akitsu: blinks and BEAMS! Finally, some friendly faces! She stands, waving. "Uncle! Dex! Hello there!"

Spandex stands, ready to stomp off, but she can't walk on water yet. She turns on him, leaning forward, Pimms almost almost spilling. "What's been going on? We know the game and we're gonna play it."

Spandex waves to Kit, and yells, "Would I get this from any other guy?"

Uncle Bernard hollers, "Pour yourself a PIMMS and grab the Lusitania, it's over there, the green one! Watch out though, Mountjoy had to patch it."

Lady Akitsu facepalms. Damn it, Dex!

Uncle Bernard wonders which game Dex is talking about, "Sometimes Dexy, I don't know what you youngsters are talking about with all your mobilophones and EmptyThree players."

Lady Akitsu sighs and lugs a cooler into a boat, then pedals on out. She needs a good stiff drink (or three, or ten), and friends would be especially welcome.

Spandex swills some Pimms outta the jug, to make a point, like. She wipes her lips with her wrist."Huh?" She sits back down onto the plastic seat and slides a little. "So am I in trouble or what?"

Uncle Bernard is having visions, with Dexy and Kit at the controls of something akin to a maritime disaster occuring out here on the boating lake, and - worst thing is - this water is wet.

Uncle Bernard shakes his head, laughing, "Gosh no! Do I look like some sort of authoritarian figure? Me?! I ask you!"

Spandex is starting to feel paranoid. The boss and the Head of House are closing in. She scratches her head, trying to think which of the naughty things she did recently that could be the shit that's hitting the fan.

Uncle Bernard is being rocked by the slightly nervous Dexypoos, "Hey! What's up? You'll have us both in there, and there's knot-weed under the surface, and it can give us a nasty stain, at least!"

Lady Akitsu slows to a stop just on the starboard side of their vessel, then sits back and reaches into the cooler to crack open a cold one. Ahhh.. Guinness. Yum.

Jon Bishop steps in, lifting a brow. "Dammit! I made a wrong turn, again. What?! Ice cream?" He attention is suddenly stolen.

Lady Akitsu blinks and glances over at the shore.. Bishop? Hm. Oh, dear.. There go the geese.. My, they're especially impassioned tonight..

Spandex tries to takes a deep calming breath and a big sip at the same time and coughs. "Sorry. Where were we?" She stands, hacking and further rocking the boat.

Uncle Bernard is having problems with the steering, and there's a huge chunk of ice (jettisoned by the Ice Cream van) ahead, "Hard a-port!" he hollers at Dexy. Obviously, they're not pedalling in unison..

Spandex is waving at Bish and braking the pedals, hard, and leaning over to pour Kit some Pimms. "BERNARD. There's no I in TEAM!"

Lady Akitsu smiles tiredly, setting down the bottle after draining it. "Uncle, stop pedalling. You too, Dex. Why not just relax out here?"

Uncle Bernard KNOWS THAT! "There is a pigging 'I' in frigging 'Iceberg' though Dexter! Bugger, we've hit it!" he gets out his harmonica and begins to play it, whilst the pedalo slowly sinks 'neath the waves.

Uncle Bernard soon sits, in the pedalo, with Dex holding her Pimms above her head. The boat sits on the lake bed. And the two of them have very wet backsides. Bernard stands and wades to the shore.

Lady Akitsu sighs, shaking her head. It was an ice cube, but alright.

Uncle Bernard tosses, over his shoulder, "Come on, do you want a hand?"

Jon Bishop gleefully works his way to the ice cream van, scavenging everything in sight. Carrying a supply of ice cream bars, he happily flops in front of the lake. Eating commences. "Hrmello."

Spandex can't believe this is turning into another drowning episode. "What do you people want from me? GILLS?! I'm already fucking webbed for crissakes!"

Uncle Bernard tries to help Dexy up, and, indeed succeeds.. . He's stronger and more energetic than he thought, "Come on you wazzock, it's only shin deep."

Spandex accepts his arm, drunkenly, and stomps through the mud and reeds to reach the shore, stopping to swill more Pimms. None has been spilled. She scowls at Bernard, "Yeh. Thanks! Just thanks."

Uncle Bernard is also bedraggled, "Bloody hell, that's taken it out of me. I thought I was sure to sleep with the fishes tonight."

Uncle Bernard waves everyone a goodnight, he's off to go and get a shower, and go to bed, "Cheerio everyone. Hope everyone is well in the morning."

Spandex shakes her head and jabs her finger at B. "You know what?! I never had a father, but if I had.. he'd BE JUST LIKE YOU!" She slumps on the dock and gulps more Pimms.

Spandex flops on her back, the jug o' Pimms landing right side up, and the handle still safely gripped in her hand. "Gah!"

Lady Akitsu frowns and decides to pedal back to shore. Of course, she makes damned sure that the cooler is well taken care of along the way (i.e. emptied)

Jon Bishop laughs a bit before beginning to choke on the ice cream. He punches himself in the chest a few times in hopes that it will go down. "Ergh. There we are."

Lady Akitsu lands and steps out to sit next to Dex, cooler accompanying her all the way. "Come now, dear, no sulking. It doesn't suit you."

Spandex lifts her head slightly and watches Kit. "Hey Kit. Careful of the geese. And is B gone? He's like all paternal 'n shite tonight. Is he hormonal or sommat?"

Lady Akitsu smiles and ruffles the blue shock that is Dexy's hair, then reaches in the cooler again. This time it's one of those ready-mixed cocktails in a bottle. Handy. She cracks it open, taking a sip. Mm.

Spandex wraps her arm around Kit's waist. "Don't tell anyone, but I really really do love B."

part ii - DunBernarding attic

Uncle Bernard whispers to Dexy, "Come on, I found this earlier. It's a bloomin' Scalextric, Mini Coopers against Ford Escorts.

Spandex starts poking wires and prodding cables and turning dials and throwing levers. She likes the DUNK sound the old-style knobs make. DNK. DNK. THNK. Mmm.

Spandex turns, "Hard to find a good dial these days.. ooohh what? Bagsy the Mini."

Uncle Bernard hands Dexy a choice of remotes, "You can either have the JCW or the RS2000. it's up to you. Naturally, I'm inclined more to the RS2000 - but, no pressure, you choose."

Uncle Bernard hands over the remote with the red flashes to Dex, "Good choice. But - well, you'd not be able to carry four and luggage in that little bugger, for sure."

Spandex knows nowt about cars but the Mini looks less middle-class. Also: It's got a stripe. "Is this reverse psychology? Is this a race? I mean, we're trying to win, right?"

Spandex holds the car up to her left eye to look inside. "Donno. Baggage on people's laps.. maybe?"

Uncle Bernard doesn't know about winning, "Surely it's all about the fun of the drive. Yes! Pit your skills against someone, but - make sure you go the scenic route."

Spandex waves to the polite family of four in her car, and grins a little wickedly. They can only see her GIANT eye; though, so are unaware of their Certain Fate.

Spandex lowers the car a little and sees that B's thinking along the same lines. "Scenic route. Yes. Indeed. " mwahaha

Uncle Bernard is ensuring his driver is wearing a flat cap and driving gloves. He checks the tyre pressure, the oil pressure, the water pressure, the headlamps all working. The little groove thingy..

Uncle Bernard fits this same lovingly into the power groove, the thing that gives direction, life, power, energy and spark to the little cars, being, as they are, a metaphor for life.

Spandex looks under her car for any hangers-on. DE NIRO! She knew it. She pulls him off and sets him on the floor.

Spandex crouches down to get a good look at his tatts though, and damn he was fit in that film and - "Huh? What you doing? How's this thing work?" She shakes her remote.

Uncle Bernard rummages in his pocket for new batteries, which he fits into the remote. He checks the throttle and the steering. He fits a testing kit, and powers up. Satisfied, he turns to Dexy.

Spandex stands, remote in one hand, family-of-four-filled Mini in the other. She looks.. lost.

Uncle Bernard hasn't the foggiest, "I think it may be magic. You move the waggler" he waggles the waggler, "And you press the trigger!" and then? "And then it goes, as if by magic!"

Spandex oooohs. "ooooohhh" She presses the trigger and the wheels of her Mini spin. She startles, almost dropping it and plunging the family of four at least three feet.

Uncle Bernard does concede that the magic only works if the wotsit goes into the groove, "I do concede that the magic only works if you put the wotsit deep into the groove."

Spandex winks at him. Filthy bugger.

Uncle Bernard shakes his head.

Spandex gets into her groove. She carefully places her car on her track, fitting the pin-wotsit into the groove-thingmie. The family of four all turn their heads to look at her. She waves.

Uncle Bernard nods, pleased with Dexy's progress, "Now, finger the trigger, make it go! "

Spandex jams her STOP button several times. Nothing happens. She shakes the remote and jams it again. "MINE'S BROKEN DAMMIT!"

Spandex knew he'd cheat.

Uncle Bernard 's Ford Escort RS2000 is gently pootling around the track. "See! It's not all about get-away-from-the-lights. It's about torque and real cloth seats."

Spandex is named after an artificial fabric and she knows B wears poly, so meh on his real cloth. She takes a closer look at her remote and hammers the go button. Her car jolts forward. She releases it.

Spandex alternates quickly between GO and STOP a few times. The family of four now all have whiplash and the Maternal Figure is on a mobilophone to her Solicitor. "This one of those Creative Play games, B?

Spandex crouches down to her Mini and eyeballs the driver. "Lay off the brake dude, we're in a race." The driver tries to claim his brake is a fake. An argument ensues.

Uncle Bernard wishes the Mini would just participate.

Spandex and the Mini come to a mutual understanding. Namely, she'll not throw them out the fourth floor window in a fit of tantrum if it participates. She presses GO, and the car zooms along the track nicely

Spandex tries not to squeal like a girl and fails. "WEEEEE! I'm catching up look out!"

Uncle Bernard is enraged at the Sunday Driving and resolves to stay just in front, but slowly. He dials back on the speed, and is quickly overtaken, oh well.

Uncle Bernard has one finger lightly caressing the trigger, and the other rummaging, eventually, the non-redundant hand comes out with the barley sugar sweets, which he offers to Dexter

Spandex is glued to her Mini's progress, learning the fine-balance of acceleration and braking on straights and turns. She reaches over and takes a Joker-trick from him and pops it in her mouth. "Ok. Now what?"

Uncle Bernard tilts his head, NOW ALL THE FUCKING LINES HAVE GONE DIAGONAL. He untilts, "Now what? What do you mean? Does there have to be a now what?" Things don't have to happen. People can, though.

Spandex stares at B for a bit, who seems to have lost his direction. Her Mini almost careens off the edge of the track in a sharp bend. "Eh? We just go around in circles?

Uncle Bernard is a study in stillness. Not Bernard himself, he's forever changing, but he doesn't have to be doing. All of that is a lot of pie in the sky. Like racing. Meandering, on the other hand..

Spandex studies him further. He's not moving on the outside, but his internals are quite active! She hopes its not gas, and looks around for a window. Uncle Bernard releases.

Uncle Bernard makes a blowing sound, "Bloomin' eck., better out than in, eh?" his car has been stuck for ages, "Eh, look, in all the fun and excitement, my Escort has got stuck. Ere, let's get it sorted."

Spandex picks up his remote. "Here you go. Firm grip, buddy." She uses the opportunity to move her Mini further in front though. "I'm kicking yer ass, B. Look."

Uncle Bernard nods, "Well done. You must be really proud of your achievement!"

Spandex snickers at his broken-down car. She narrows her eyes and presses harder on GO. The Mini screeches around turns on its outer wheels. "HA!"

Uncle Bernard picks up his car and tuts, it's not working, bloody thing. He rummages in his pocket, and brings out a Formula One (JPS Livery) car, which he fits to the track, and then accelerates, zipping along.

Spandex raises an eyebrow at his placations, but keeps her eyes on her car. "Yeh. Whatever. You having a midlife crisis B?" She catches him switching cars, and thumbs GO even harder. The Mini careens.

Uncle Bernard smiles, beatifically, "Midlife? Me? I've barely started. What? I'm just trying to continue the game," as his racer overtakes the Mini.

Spandex casts her eyes to the heavens. She knows she's been sharked here, but she's still single-minded about winning with the Mini. "Awww. Look out the window, B. What a view."

Uncle Bernard knows ALL about the view, "I know all about the view. Have you seen this? Without even trying, I've won the race. I feel peculiarly unfulfilled, mind you."

Spandex hands him her remote. "I'm feeling unfulfilled too, but that's because I should have won that." She crosses her arms and glowers at him.

Uncle Bernard smiles, "Well I hope you've enjoyed the lesson." along the lines of don't gamble with a man named after a River. It's peculiarly the case for blokes named after British rivers.

Spandex tilts forward at him. "The what?"

Spandex swears she hears the family of four tittering at her, so she scowls at them, too.

Uncle Bernard repeats, "The lesson, of course. Don't get all competitive with someone who's normally quite relaxed. You bring out the worst in 'em."

CH'IEN: Heaven, Sky, Day, Creativity, Energy, Strength, Light, Father, Firmness, Mind/Head

g's Symbol

Dunbernarding Fairgrounds

Jokerbot g_rock walks in, shuffling his cards and grinning. The carnies all eye him warily as he approaches the midway. He nabs two cotton candies, passing one to Dex

Spandex pulls some cotton with her fingers and jams it into her mouth until everything melts. She stands close to G, grinning at him and watching him shuffle.

Jokerbot g_rock gestures toward a game booth "Wanna give it a shot? Games of chance, a Joker's bread and butter!"

Spandex pulls her fingers from her mouth and nods. Her smile widens--finally a Joker that's talking her language!

Spandex pinches a bit more candyfloss, licks it and sticks it on her nose.

Jokerbot g_rock grins and heads over, slipping a couple reqs to the tattooed lump of pierced flesh manning the booth. The carnie grins a greasy grin, and slides Dex a deck of cards.

Jokerbot g_rock chuckles at Dex "The look suits you!" the carny spins up a wheel mounted at the back of the booth, and explains that, to win, she must throw and stick 6 cards into the board

Spandex pulls the floss from her nose and sticks it on G's. "Now my look suits you too." She swivels to focus on the game. She smiles innocently at the carnie. A throwing game? She can't lose.

Jokerbot g_rock busies himself trying to reach the pink fluff with his tongue, darting a furtive glance at the booth feller, who seems genuinely interested in helping Dex win a great prize!

Spandex picks up a card and grips it between her left thumb and forefinger. She raises her hand behind her left ear. She can't resist a confident wink to the carnie before WWWHHHHPP!

Jokerbot g_rock unknowingly gives Dex the same look as the operator, one that says "Nice try, but this isn't going to go well for you" while her back is turned. The card bounces off and flutters to the ground

Spandex stands on her tiptoes and leans over the wooden bench to look at the impotent card on the ground. She grits her teeth a little and picks up the next card. She uses the same grip. Focuses.

Jokerbot g_rock pats her on the back "Nice shot, keep going. Make sure you get a tight grip on the cards. Lots of control through the wrist."

Spandex puts a bit more wrist-action on the throw. SSSWWWWWPPP.

Jokerbot g_rock shakes his head as the card pings off the board, rebounding limply to the ground.

Spandex sniffs. Frowns. She reaches for the next card, reminding herself that this is funand she's happy to be here with G, keeping relaxed for the next throw. Elbow back: SWWWWWWFFFFFPPP. It's sharp.

Spandex picks up another card and another and another. SWWWWPPP SWWWPP SWWWPP, as they slice past the carny. There's no way she can miss.

Jokerbot g_rock watches the cards, perfectly aimed and thrown, slice cruelly through the air, and bounce impotently off.

Jokerbot g_rock puts a hand on Dex's shoulder to stop her when after about half the deck litters the ground between her and the gleeful carny. "Hold on, lets try a different approach."

Spandex is trying her hardest not to get into one of her moods. She turns to G. "G-rock, dear. Throwing.. Throwing is my thing. I- Okay. Do tell. What." She exhales. "Well?"

Jokerbot g_rock grins a steely smile that makes the operator step back and study his shoes intensely "Let's do this the right way now." he motions for the carny to regather the cards and hand them back.

Spandex tears into her candyfloss and steps back a pace, leaning heavily on one hip.

Jokerbot g_rock gets close to Dex's ear "Controlling the throw doesn't seem to be working. Go the other way. Close your eyes and feel the wheel spinning, relax and tap into the improbability in the island."

Jokerbot g_rock hands back the cards and adds, quietly "Be open to it, you can't control the island. Be a vessel for the improbability, receive it. It feels weak, but once it fills you, you can adapt and guide it.

Spandex steps back and turns to look at him. Her eyes are brimming as she smiles. "Yes. Exactly." First Joker she's talked to about this that she doesn't want to argue with. He missed one thing though..

Spandex takes a moment to control her temper as she grabs a bit of floss with her tongue and concentrates on the crackling the sugar makes between her teeth as she bites. It melts. She softens.

Jokerbot g_rock grins and steps back, nodding to the carny, obviously not happy about all the whispering and mumbling

Spandex closes her eyes for a moment and puts the earth in a spin. Memories: Night skies, stars turning. Dancing in the air towards home. She picks up the cards and ties herself to the wheel, becoming the target.

Spandex, no longer just the knife-thrower but also her own assistant, spins. Trusts. Six are thrown in sharp succession.

The cards cut through the air, seeking a home. The edges of the cards improbably bury themselves into hidden gaps and nooks in the wood of the wheel, one after another, glowing slightly.

Jokerbot g_rock grins broadly at Dex, hearing the satisfactory thwwp-thwwp-thwwp-thwwp-thwwp-thw wp as the cards all stick, in two perfect columns of three parallel lines each

Spandex gawps for a moment before jumping and squealing and hugging. "G! We did it! It worked!" She squeeeezes him tightly. "I get it now. It's so clear!"

Jokerbot g_rock squeezes back "We didn't do a thing, it was all you. Now, for your prize.." this last is said pointedly to the proprietor, who looks to be trying to close up shop. He freezes.

Spandex releases the hug and reaches for his hand. "G. I've got the prize already." She leans her head into him. "What would I do without you" she says, feeling humbled and grateful.

Jokerbot g_rock grabs her hand and squeezes it "That's what your friends are for. Besides, I still owe you, as I see it. Anyway, how about this." he motions toward the deck.

Jokerbot g_rock holds out his hand as the carny gathers the cards and hands them to him begrudgingly. "Sorry, mate, don't think these'd work well for anyone else anyway." he hands them to Dex

Jokerbot g_rock smiles at the deck and picks up the top card and flips it a few times. With each flip, the back shows a different set of three horizontal lines, some solid, some broken.

Spandex gawps again and lets the deck fall into her open palm. She turns on the carny. "Where did these cards come from?!" She fans them out, showing him the backs. "You know the meaning of these?"

The booth operator practically throws himself backward to get farther from the improbable cards. He shakes his head furiously. "No, missus! 'Ey wuzzent like'at afore now!"

Spandex takes a step forward and jabs her candyfloss at him. "Fine! I believe you." Her eyes darken. "But don't ever call me missus," she snarls.

Spandex cracks a grin as she turns back to face G. "Do you know the meaning of these? I mean.. don't you recognize them?" She places a card next to her stockings. "G.. something's up."

Jokerbot g_rock smiles and shakes his head "No idea. The change came from your improbability, so it's got to do with you. With those." he gestures at her legs. "C'mon, lets go have a brew."

Spandex is speechless. When did he become so right? She follows him to the ale tent, her heart racing as she flips the cards and studies the symbols, many now recognizable.

Jokerbot g_rock heads off to the ale tent. The carny watches them go, then quickly packs up his wares. He runs out of the fair, mumbling about a nice quiet life grifting in the countryside.

K'UN: Earth, Night, Weak, Yielding, Dark, Nourishing, Adaptive

Callia's Symbol

Dock north of Lake

calliaphone scampers onto the dock, beckoning to someone over her shoulder. "psssst. this way." she scampers right to the edge, and peeeers down into the murky water below.

Spandex sneaks quietly to the very edge, then edges further out so her boots are perfectly balanced between dock and lake. She turns to her partner-in-crime and shhhhs, though unsure why. She peeers too.

calliaphone turns to Spandex, and grins. "I told you, s'the perfect place, didn't i?" she waves an arm, expansively, round the lakeside to the south. "Just look at all that mud."

calliaphone drops onto her front, resting on her accordion. and hangs her head and shoulders over the end of the dock, peering back along its underside, towards the bank. more mud thataways. she grins.

Spandex nods slowly and deeply and then follows callia's arm to look south-wards. "mmmm mud." Her head-arc arrives finally at callia's face. "what's it for?"

Spandex drops to her hands and knees and peeks underneath too. Her blood rushes to her head.

calliaphone says "what's it for? well .. . cooling the blood? and also .. . concealing stuff. as in .. . TREASURE" this last a sepulchral whisper, echoing under the dock.

Spandex 's forelock and callia's plaits are standing straight up, reaching for the lake. Dex replies to the whisper with a toothy grin.

calliaphone puts a finger to her lips. the treasure she's got in mind is elusive. liable to be shy, if it knows it's being sought. She studies the mud-water boundary, looking for signs of life.

Spandex studies the Callia-Dex boundary, looking for a clue.

calliaphone says, suddenly, and quite loudly, "FISHING!" And sits up. Then sways dizzily, perilously near the edge.

Spandex spots thousands of tiny creatures swim and scatter away from the shout, but it might just be an eye-trick from hanging upside-down for so long. She rights herself. "Fishing?"

calliaphone has recovered her balance. She nods emphatically. "Yup, we're here to do FISHING, aren't we." and, in a fierce whisper, "deaky'n'snevious, Battenberg said. if you want a frog, go fishing."

calliaphone digdigs in her pockets, and produces a ball of string (stolen), and a paperclip (ditto). She looks round vaguely for a weight. "hrmm, need a rock or sommat."

Spandex slumps a bit, and then picks herself up so as not to disappoint Callia. "You mean the two of us have to sit for hours.. like, still?" She thinks this would be one of the most Improbable Events on the island.

calliaphone says, loudly, "YES, THAT'S RIGHT." and shakes her head till her plaits fly out. She is unravelling the string at speed, but pauses to put a finger to her lips.

Spandex raises her chin and looks down at Callia's tools. "Rock? We're not smashing them are we? I.. I'm not so.." She decides just to confess. "Can we not hurt the frogs? I think they're cute."

calliaphone crinkles her eyes at Spandex, and whispers again, "All we gotta do is sell it to the frogs an' snakes. that we're here for the fish. and then bag 'em while they're not looking. simple!"

calliaphone laughs, "not killing nothin'! just .. this line needs a bit of weight on it, so's we can chuck it out over the water."

Spandex laughs. "Yeh. Weight. I knew that. S'like I've never fished before or something." She looks around at the mud and water. "What about a 'nade for weight? S'got a ring for tying too."

calliaphone grins. "Perfect. Knew they were good for something." she gives the free end of the line to Dex, to tie.

Spandex giggles, "Besides golfing, eh?" She's awash in warm nostalgia while she fishes a Zap from her pack. She ties the end of the string (stolen) to the 'nade's ring. "k. now what?"

calliaphone says, in a distant, thoughtful tone. "i wonder .. how's your throwing arm, Dex?" and looks out dreamily over the tranquil waters.

Spandex looks at Callia like she's completely insane. "Two words, skooch." She tosses the 'nade in the air a few inches and grabs it. "F'cking rocks."

calliaphone hops with excitement. "gwaan, Dex, far as you can!"

Spandex stands up and bounces on her toes with Callia, laughing. She then turns serious. She cracks her neck left, right, and grips the 'nade in both hands while looking out at the lake.

Spandex sniffs. In one fluid movement she lunges forward onto her right leg, moves her left arm back behind her ear and whiiiiips it forward. The 'nade leaves her fingers at her forward extension.

the Zap zzzzzzzzs through the air, drawing a neat and taut zip-line before BLOPping well out into the lake, and sinking.

Spandex smiles to herself. And she should be, for she's miraculously standing on the other end of the string, which she didn't know to tie to anything nor hold onto.

calliaphone looks down, and gassps. "Oh nice one Dex! i c'mpletely forgot to tie that." she takes the free end and hastily ties it to the ladder.

Spandex bounces on her toes again, and says loudly, "YEH FISH, THATS FOR YOU. NO ONE ELSE." She turns her back to the lake in case any frogs are watching, and waggles her eyebrows at Callia.

calliaphone is pole-axed laughing. But eventually, she manages to draw breath. "Riiiiight." she says. "Let's haul that back in now, see how deep it is, and i'll know where to put the bait."

calliaphone puts her hand on the string and starts to tug it back in towards her. tug. tugtug. tugtugtug. "nrhgghhh.." she screws up her face with the effort. "..guhh?"

Spandex 's eyes widen. "We caught something already? Shite, fishing's not as bad as I thought!" She nods at Callia, encouraging-ly. "Go, Callia, go! Get him!"

calliaphone looks round at Dex in disbelief. "but.. the frogs .. the deakysneviousness .. this isn't.." she gives up reasoning, and hauls on that line. And slowly, slowly, it comes in towards her.

calliaphone says, "halp, Dex" and sinks down onto her knees. "s'heavy! can't.." she drops onto her front now, still trying to reel that line in hand over hand.

Spandex crouches at the edge of the dock with her fingers loosely hanging on the line, ready to grab the frog, which is evidently big, heavy and fighting for its life. She looks down at Callia.. "oh!"

Spandex grabs the line too and starts yarding it dock-wards for all she's worth. "Bloodyhell. How big are the frogs in this place, Callia?!"

calliaphone looks like she's trying not to think about that right now. She hauls. It's easier now, with help - but still not exactly easy. Eyes narrowed, she scans the water to see the approaching catch.

calliaphone gasps, "Dex, it's there, can y'see it? look!" she nods her head towards a point just past the dock, where a shape is starting to emerge from the gloomy deep.

Spandex narrows her eyes at her foe, and pullllls. "shit we got a net or bucket or what?"

calliaphone hadn't thought of that. But it's possible it won't be necessary. For her catch is neither thrashing nor struggling on the line. It is merely very heavy indeed. And it has .. . corners?

Spandex gawps at their catch, then gawps at Callia. "Callia.. .? I think.. I think.. we got.. ." She drops to her tummy and reaches for the object. "TREASURE SKOOCH! TREASURE! PULL!"

calliaphone pulls, and eeeps as the Treasure breaks the surface. Yup, corners, that's for sure. And.. . almost rotted wooden slats, with rusty nails barely holding the sides of the crate together.. .

For that is what it is. A crate. But not your average crate. At least, to judge by the sound coming from within. The sound of .. . bottles, clinking.

Spandex is bent way over the dock, grappling with her fingers for the lower edge of the crate. "Callia. Get 'hold of the bottom, pull and rotate. We'll get it on the deck."

calliaphone nods. She's not got much breath left for speaking. She reaches out and plunges her arm into the water, grabbing for the bottom of the crate. "gottit! s'heavy" she's hanging right over the edge.

Spandex feels herself slipping crate-wards and lake-wards. "Shitshitshit."

calliaphone transfers her other hand now from line to crate. and slides forwards a little further, the weight of treasure dragging her. both arms in the water fully, nose touching the surface. "halphalpDEX!"

Spandex tries to jam her boot-toes into the dock but can't get hold. "HOLD TIGHT!" she yells, jumping back into a crouch, grabbing callia's by the ankles, and leeeeaning back, pulling her in.

calliaphone hangs on to that crate for dear life, though her arms feel like they're gonna pop out their sockets. She spits a little lakewater as she is hauled back onto the dock, but appears undrowned.

Spandex digs her motorcycled boots (stolen) into the dock, uses her butt as counterweight and hauls callia and the crate. Once both are a-dock, she releases callia's ankles and falls back. GLUNK.

Spandex rebounds and is up quickly to check on the Treasure! and Callia! and the Treasure!

calliaphone lolls on the dock, with jelly for arms and scraped up shins and a face shining with lakewater. "we gottit?" gassp "OHMIGODWEGOTTIT! WE GOT TREASURE!"

Spandex grabs callia's hands and is jumping up and down, wobbling her jelly arms about. "WE'S BITCHES WITH RICHES! DAMN! LETS OPEN IT!"

calliaphone is jumped about with! and promptly collapses in a heap beside the crate. "Yus! gotta open it quick. c'mon!" she looks round for a suitable implement. All she's got is a little pink screwdriver.

Spandex drops to her knees and leans over and SMOOCHES Callia. Her face turns serious. "Skooch. I don't even care what's inside." She breaks into a huge grin. "THIS IS SO FUN!" A beat. "OPEN IT!"

calliaphone grins back, eyes shining, brimful. She applies the screwdriver to the wood. It's not quite the right tool for the job really, but the crate's so rotten .. there's a glophCLUNKerchink and..

one side of the crate falls open. The movement disturbs the contents, there is another rattling clinkclank and a bottle rolls out onto the dock.

Spandex has no tools but lipstick, greasepaint, a blackmarker, 'nades and her abilities to throw a dinger and clear a room with her Temper. Also, remove pants with her mind, but that's still in-development.

Spandex squeals!

calliaphone picks up the bottle and examines it. It is thick brown glass, about 500ml in volume. Sealed with a crimped metal cap. The label has long since washed away. But it is quite unmistakeably beer.

Spandex leans over to look closely at the bottle. "Beer?" She grins. "Should we.. .?" Like, she needs to ask.

calliaphone looks from Dex to the bottle to the crate to Dex. "beer." she repeats. "should we heck as like. how many we GOT here?"

Spandex bends forward and tilts her head to look in the crate. "Lots, skooch. Lots." She pulls one out, leans it over the side of the dock and slams her palm onto the cap. POP! FSSST! She hands it over.

calliaphone accepts the open bottle, and sniffs it cautiously. Then incautiously, she grins, and raises it. "Wooo!" she says, "a TOAST! to beer and fishing! and to treasure everywhere!"

Spandex takes Callia's bottle and does likewise. POP FSSST! GRIN! She lifts hers to face Callia. "It's like The Treasure knew us, Callia."

calliaphone blinks. "Sentient treasure? Don't be daft!" clink. slrrrrrrrp. "ahhhhhhhhhh."

Spandex is about to wax on about finding what one needs, but: BEER. She laughs and tilts. GLGglgGLGglgaaaaaahhh She looks at her bottle. Callia, this is.. She sips again, holding the beer in her mouth.

calliaphone tries to drink faster than Dex. Tilts, tips, fizzes beer into her face and mouth. Gulps, gasps, "Race you! Best of three!"

calliaphone begins to drink in earnest now.

Spandex swallows. "We'd have to get B to test it, but I think it's Chinese. Hoppy, refreshing. Slightly citrusy?" She looks at her bottle again and- "what?? " TILLLLT GUGLGLGLUGLG. Slam. EMPTY.

calliaphone likewise glugluglugs, and attempts to slam her next. The bottle rolls away from her and she scrambles after it, trying to catch it before it goes over the edge.

calliaphone says "waaaughh NO FAIR you're meant to POP FSST not BANG ROLL"

Spandex burrrrps, and giggles while reaching for another bottle. She leans it over the side and POPs off the top by leaning on it with her palm. "HA! Strong DaySTATs have other uses!" She hands it over.

calliaphone grabs the bottle, raises it. "Ready?"

Spandex nabs another from the crate: lean, weight, POP, FSST. Tilt, GLGLGglgGlG. She keeps her eyes on Callia from her beer-neck vantage-point.

Spandex nods that she's ready as she's half-way finished it. Cheeeat.

calliaphone hastens to catch up, inhaling the better part of her second bottle, but apparently not letting that slow her down any. she RACES to the finish and SLAMS the empty down.

Spandex stops to hiccup. Scowls, grins, tilts. Beer drips down her mouth, chin and chest. Empty hits the dock. "NEXT!" She opens two, keeping hold of both until they're both ready. "3,2,1,GO!"

calliaphone up-ends her bottle. GLUGLUGLUG she's misting up with beery tears, the fizz stinging her eyes. She pauses for breath, gassping. "OhboythisisGOOD i LOVE fishing!" whoops, back to the race.

Chrome Accomplice Teh Dave finds himself drawn to the dock in search of a good view of the lake, but finds himself with a decent view of Dex and Calli in the midst of a Case Race. He stops at the edge of the dock, chuckling.

Spandex and her bottle are tilted. Her eyes are on Callia. She's behind. The tilt angle increases.

Spandex hears the sounds of A Beer Customs and Excise Official approaching. 'shit'. She works quickly to drink the evidence. Beer fizzes out the sides of her lips.

calliaphone leeeeans back to pour in more fuel, and upside down she spies .. chrome? she glurrrps and chokes and rolls over for a better look. "Whuhhh..Shiny?"

Spandex slams her bottle on the dock, and brrrrps. "Huh? What? You've only had three."

Chrome Accomplice Teh Dave grins and saunters down the dock. "Well well well, what have we here?" He crouches by the crate, and lifts out a bottle, inclining it to Dex and Calli. "Mind if I join you?"

calliaphone points. "Look! It's a METAL DAVE!" she grins, "LOVE the paint job!"

Chrome Accomplice Teh Dave grins at Calli. "Thanks. Wish I could take credit for it."

calliaphone beams."Have a beer, Dave. We got LOTS!" she knows this for a fact. Dex counted.

Chrome Accomplice Teh Dave grins and lifts the beer in a toast, popping the top by hand before tilting back with it.

Spandex palm-slaps open three more bottles and passes them around. "You gotta lot of catching up to do, Dave." She eyes his new stylings before necking her beer, happily.

Chrome Accomplice Teh Dave takes the beers, and blinks a couple times. "3 Behind, is it?" He downs the first beer, belches, and opens the second, raising it in toast. "L'chaim."

calliaphone nods to Dave, "Slainte" and she's EMPTY. GRAAAAH. MORE BEEEEEEER.

Spandex pauses mid-bottle to look out at skyline, the lake, the Treasure and lastly her family. She gets a little drunkenly-sentimental, and wishes for the ones not here to share the BEER.

Spandex pours out some beer into her hand and offers it to Eileen, the italics gremlin.

Jokerbot g_rock PAMPHs into existence on the dock with a grin on his face. The grin slides when he realizes he's 18 inches away from the dock, and in bellyflop position "SHI-SPLOOSH!!!"

calliaphone snrrks at Dex, trying to get the gremlins pissed. that'll never do. She snags another bottle and fails to open it.

calliaphone looks round wildly. "whuhhh? who fell in?" Dave? Dex? no, they're both here. "WAAAAHHH I'VE FALLEN IN!"

calliaphone flails, on the dock, drowning in beer.

Spandex spits beer all over herself, laughing. She waggles her fingers at Callia to pass her the bottle. She opens 3 more while she's at it, and hopes G can swim.

Jokerbot g_rock drags his boxer-clad self out of the lake, nursing his tingly pink belly

calliaphone yelps! "OHMIGODIT'SA.. .Ohhhh. G! What were you doing in the lake?"

Jokerbot g_rock grabs a beer, the cap popping itself off. He slams it in one go. "Ah, ouchie!"

Chrome Accomplice Teh Dave emerges from his reverie, and reaches for another beer.

Spandex upends her bottle, hiding behind it somewhat to eyeball wet boxers. She snrrks. TILTS. Slams. "It's a race, G and you's waayyy behinnnn." She sways, reaching for replacements.

Chrome Accomplice Teh Dave raises the beer in salute to G, and pops the cap off with his thumb. "How goes it." He grins and takes a slug.

calliaphone realises that she's not drowning after all, and starts work on her next. She is surrounded by a growing pile of bottle-caps. Shiny! Clinky! Jus' like reqs. She grins, and scooops them towards her.

Chrome Accomplice Teh Dave starts constructing a pyramid from the empties with one hand as he pops the top off his next, slugging that back.

Jokerbot g_rock grins and grabs another "Guess I'd better catch up!" the cap pops off and lands in Callia's pile. CHUG

calliaphone plays tiddlywinks with some of the caps, then pauses to examine one. She squints at it, and rubs it between finger and thumb. Her eyes narrow.

Chrome Accomplice Teh Dave finishes the pyramid with a grin, and gets to work expanding it. Glug glug.

calliaphone blinkblinks at the bottle-cap. and thinkthinks. why does this remind her of something? she frowns, thoughtful.

Spandex leeeeeans over to the crate, fingers outstretched. She drops her head into Callia's lap and smiles. "I like fishing." She pokes her nose. "And you."

calliaphone 's mind's eye is measuring. diameters. and imagining .. a safety-pin, some solder, a roll of stickers, and .. a machine. on a workshop bench.

calliaphone says, "i like TRESHUREHUNTING. we should get MEDALS for it."

Chrome Accomplice Teh Dave chuckles at calli. "Medals? How 'bout we get beer for it." Oh wait.. He opens another, cap flipping off into calli's pile.

Spandex rolls over and nabs more bottles. POP FSSST. She hands them out. "Medalsh?"

Chrome Accomplice Teh Dave practices his two-fisted Drunken Monk style, a bottle in each hand.

calliaphone nods at Dave and Dex. "Yup. Beer Medals." she starts filling her pockets with the bottlecaps. "Youleaveit toME, i'llhandleit."

Earth Mage Paul Lo has found his way to here. And glorious mud. He waves at clannies.

Chrome Accomplice Teh Dave raises an empty beer bottle to Paul. "Oi! Welcome to the treasure party." He stacks the empty and pops another for himself.

Earth Mage Paul Lo obviously asks, "Treasure?"

Spandex clambers to a more-or-less vertical angle and waves a beer bottle at Paul. "Little brother! Sishter'nme fished TREASHUR!" She drinks, while pulling off her boots and stockings.

Earth Mage Paul Lo repeats that same word twice. He looks at the soil, then nods.

calliaphone grabs Dave's bottle-cap, and another bottle for herself. She fiddles with it, pressing her thumb onto the flat surface - which is not quite flat, but ridged. She pockets it, and snags another beer.

Jokerbot g_rock greets Paul by tipping a bottleneck toward him, then keeps an eye on Dex

Chrome Accomplice Teh Dave looks about with a grin, then tilts his head at Dex's boot-stripping.

Spandex tilts hard, making a step backwards to counterbalance. Dropping the bottle, she gets to the edge of the dock and looks down at the lake. "Swim?"

Chrome Accomplice Teh Dave ponders. "Not sure." He slips out of his coat, and walks to the edge of the dock to stand next to Dex.

calliaphone says, "or Sink?" and gets up. She stumbles, not towards the lake, but back up the dock towards Paul, and the MUD. "yarrrrr" and Paul is mud-glomped by a girl-and-accordion combo.

Earth Mage Paul Lo glances at at tall G, then at a shining Dave. Has he been away for that long?

Spandex swivels and sways at Paul, "Lo! No trouble thishtime. S'differen'." She reaches up to rub the symbol still scarred on her left ear.

Earth Mage Paul Lo is then glomped into mudgy mud. And callia. He doesn't mind being glomped.

Chrome Accomplice Teh Dave has only become shiny in the past hour or so. Hasn't been that long.

calliaphone giggles. Let's hope Cordy doesn't mind mud-glomping either. Although, he's been through worse.

Earth Mage Paul Lo straightens up than let the mud slide away. He says to Dedex, "If you say so, little princess. Why not go in."

Earth Mage Paul Lo doesn't know about Dave's recent plating. Nor does he know how good an accordion fares mud-filled.

calliaphone struggles up out of the mud. It doesn't slide off her like it does Paul. But she don't care, she's beered-up and fizz-brained. She staggers ashore, and trips over the canoe. "Gahhfuck!"

Earth Mage Paul Lo stares a a falling callia. Where is the slow-motion when you want it? He hopes the spectators are having a good time.

calliaphone enters into immortal combat with the canoe, eventually managing to trap herself beneath it. It's dark inside, and quiet. As good a place to sleep as any other. She smiles, and closes her eyes.

part ii - 5days later: dunbernarding speakeasy

Kestrel: :steps in warily, with a calliaphone, and an off-duty constable.

calliaphone: :nods to Swede as she enters the bar, her backpack clinking and clanking as she walks. "Yup, Uncle B, as in Bernard."

calliaphone: :puts her fingers to her lips and whistles sharply, then follows it with a yell. "OY! Battenberg, you there?" Steve Guttenberg appears from somewhere, wiping a glass on an apron, and smiling.

Kestrel: :adds, "One of the only sane people left here on the Island. Everyone else just thinks he's barmy."

Constable Swede: /me sits at the bar: "I met him once fleeting. Seemed an okay figure, but my lips are sealed"

calliaphone: :grins back. "H'llo 'gain. Look, i got some guests. Y've met Kestrel have you? And this is Swede. Can you do aged rum and coffee, separately?" Guttenberg nods affably, and gets to it.

calliaphone: :winks at Kestrel, "Uncle B, barmy? Whatever gives people that idea? He's just a bit .. . dotty, is all."

Kestrel winks back to her, grinning. "Barmy, dotty, several cards short of a full deck.. . say it as you like, but he isn't quite there."

Constable Swede looks at Guttenberg "Wasn't he that old moviestar?

calliaphone orders up a chocomilk for herself, and as Steve Guttenberg serves up the drinks, she starts unpacking her bag. Lotta lotta empty beer bottles here. She stacks them on the bar.

Steve Guttenberg looks pained at the mention of his old life. It's not clear how he ended up tending bar for GERM on the island. Blackmail and kidnapping definitely weren't involved.

Constable Swede decides not to ask, and so picks up his rum and takes a sip. "A good one."

Kestrel accepts the mug gratefully, and drains half of the wonderous liquid caffiene almost instantly. "Ah, that's the stuff.. cheers, mate," she aims at the marzipan-cake-man.

Constable Swede looks content with his rum. "

Steve Guttenberg nods - affably as always. "Glad you think so, sir" he says. Showing the proper respect for one police academy graduate to another.

Constable Swede: /me asks: "This is indeed better then the stuff Dan's got. So where do you get it then? I thought the island wasn't on any import routes, so to speak"

calliaphone: :smiles. "he's not a bad barman, for a cake." then, to Guttenberg, "can you take care of the empties for me? y'never know when they'll come in handy."

calliaphone: :watches Guttenberg thoughtfully, as he stashes away the bottles. "Y'know, i don't know where he gets it." off the back of a lorry from Frinton-on-Sea-in-the-Sofa? maybe..

Kestrel: :considers that for a moment, warming her hands around the coffee. "Can you make it easily? My dad used to do a little wine making, maybe this battenburg fella brews it.. distills it.. whatever?"

Steve Guttenberg is examining the empty bottles, a puzzled frown on his face. "These aren't mine, or Dan's, are they? Where did they come from?"

Constable Swede: /me says: "It is not too hard. Some sort of fermented sugarcane I believe"

calliaphone: :looks shifty, and absurdly pleased with herself. "Lake" she says. "Fishing, jus' like you said."

Constable Swede: /me adds: "But the really good stuff used to come from the Caribbean.

Kestrel: :gives an absentminded nod at Swede's words, sipping, then raises an eyebrow at the pleased callia. "Fishing?"

calliaphone: :puts a finger to her lips and exchanges a Highly Conspiratorial Look with Guttenberg. He says, "Fishing-ohhh! Well, great!" and then, not a word more.

Kestrel: :looks between callia and Steve, then an understanding look dawns on her face. "Oh, right, sorry - fishing."

Constable Swede: /me sees all the conspirital looks, just shrugs and smiles.

Constable Swede: /me says still smiling: "That is exactly the kind of thing that makes an ex-cop curious.

calliaphone: :looks at Swede, a little anxiously at first, and then seeing he's smiling, she starts to grin. "we-ell.. .it was about the frogs, you see. and a grass-snake. i couldn't catch 'em."

calliaphone: :explains further, although it's possibly not helping, "and Battenberg here said i was using the wrong technique. said you gotta be deaky'n'snevious. so we went Fishing. to fool 'em."

Constable Swede: /me looks slightly confused at Callia, then decides she's leading him on: "You don't have to tell me if you don't want to. I was just curious. Old habits you might say"

Spandex wraps her arms around callia and hugs. "Good fisher-people never tell their secret spots though do they?" She smooches her on the cheek before turning to the others.

Kestrel chuckles quietly at them both, with a sheepish smile.

Spandex leans on the bar. "Hi Kes." She eyes the other warily. "Is it too early for drinking, skooch? I mean, if it's got juice in it.. ."

Constable Swede smiles: "Just continuing where I left off. Name's Swede" and extends his hand.

calliaphone was telling the honest-to-gods truth! A little garbled, is all. She hughugsmooooooches Spandex right back.

Kestrel grins. "Hi, Dex. This is Swede - he used to be a constable. But he's not now."

Spandex grips the fella's hand firmly and pulls herself closer to him. "What are you now then?"

Constable Swede is slightly surprised, then gives a firm shake, looks Spandex right in the eye: "Whatever Horatio choses to make me. Human for now"

Spandex decides she can't wait for callia's affirmation - which she's sure it would be - of drinking at any time, so she orders a drink. "Ezra! Zubrowka and apple juice please."

Spandex meets his gaze and says, "Human is just a race. Doesn't tell me much, does it."

calliaphone pokes Spandex. "he's not asking you anything personal."

Constable Swede grins: "Perhaps you should ask the right questions then?"

calliaphone snrrks into her chocomilk, and leeeeans over the bar to snag a pocket-sized bottle of some cheap blended whisky. that'll do for a hip-flask, for now. she tips a bit into the chocomilk. glugluglug

Spandex chomps her teeth at callia, "I'm just being friendly!" She gets her drink from Ezra and raises it. "What does this particular human do for fun, then?" She asks Swede.

Kestrel suggests, "The drawings? Or are those more of a necessity than a pastime?"

Constable Swede answers Spandex: "Looking around the island. Fighting monsters, looking for Horatio. I'm only here since a couple of weeks. So much is still new to me."

Constable Swede turns to Kes and nods: "More a necessity. They help me remember after a Drivewipe."

Spandex gulps at her drink nonstop until it is empty, and places the glass on the bar. "'nother please Ezra." Seeing callia on the chocomilk she adds, "Skooch, you should have one too, s'got vitamin c"

Constable Swede sips the last of his rum.

calliaphone turns up her nose. she does JUST FINE without any yukky vitamins, thankyouverymuch. then, a thought strikes her. "oooh, MEDALS!" she shoves a hand in her pocket. it jingles.

Kestrel gives an absentminded nod. "Hmm, yes. I'm sure that'd help quite a bit. It'd never work for me - one stickman looks pretty much like another."

Spandex nods at Swede's answer, and asks, "So how's a lover of law and order dealing with the unpredictability?" She grabs her second drink and sips it.

Constable Swede nods and smiles at the stickman comment. "Well I'm not really an artist, but I make decent sketches.

Spandex is distracted by callia's jingling. "Medals?"

Kestrel chuckles, opens her mouth to reply - then is distracted by the jingles.

calliaphone nods, pulling her hand out of her pocket and opening her palm to reveal two metal badges. Rather professionally made, out of beer-bottle caps, with safety pins soldered to the back.

Constable Swede looks over at Spandex, frowns slightly at her tone, looks like he wants to say something.. . decides not to say it, sighs and then says: "Like any other new person I'd guess.

Constable Swede silently curses the lag gremlin.

The badges are both decorated - apparently using stickers. One depicts a beer bottle with fins and scales and a big toothy grin - just about to be snagged on a hook. The other badge shows a trout in a deck-chair with a sun-hat over its eyes, and a line out in the water .. snagging a bottle of beer.

calliaphone offers the badges proudly to Spandex. "Pick one. For successful treasure-hunting." 2010-04-14 14:11:33: Kestrel examines the badges curiously from a distance, but murmurs quietly, "You alright there, Swede?"

Spandex squeals! "OH MY GOD WHERE DID YOU GET THESE ?!"

Constable Swede nods silenty. But remembers the years after the EMP.

calliaphone grins. "made 'em." she says. "gonna make loads more." she turns to Kestrel and Swede. "you guys want me to make you a badge each?"

Kestrel doesn't pry any further, or push him to talk, but instead listens to callia, smile growing. "That'd be brilliant! I mean, if it's alright with you, if you have the time?"

Constable Swede looks up slightly startled. "Ehm. sorry what? Eh, no thank you miss Callia.

Spandex pokes the badges with her fingers and bounces on her boot-toes. "Oooh I can't decide. Umm, the beerfish one, I think- YOU MADE THEM? HOW?"

Spandex adds quietly, "I threw the line back out, by the way, callia. In case."

calliaphone smiles at Swede. "alright" then to Kestrel she says, "have a look in my pack. big roll of stickers - choose one you like and i'll make it into a badge." and to Dex, "badge-making machine."

Constable Swede asks surprised: "There are still working machines here on the island? Besides the drive I mean?"

Kestrel immediately dives to callia's bag, takes the roll of stickers, and starts searching. The wide, wide grin betrays her excitement. A badge-making machine!

calliaphone looks up at Spandex's words, and merely grins, pinning the other badge onto her own bandolier.

Spandex takes a happy drink of her vodka-apple. "Right. Badge-making machine, I should have known." She frowns slightly at Swede's refusal of a badge."Skooch.. ? Badge-machine?"

calliaphone chuckles at Swede's words. "Depends what you call working. But yes. I mean, for one thing .. there's robots."

calliaphone nods to Dex. "yup. remember me an' G had that .. uhmm .. incident. at the fairground. with the runaway bumper car?"

Constable Swede says: "Yeah, but robots are sentient. Not what I'd really would call a machine"

Kestrel frowns with the agony of indecision, examining the stickers closely. But they're all just so pretty.

Spandex has no clue about the incident, but nods as she pins her badge on her bandolier, "Yeh?

calliaphone blinks at this view of life. "uhh" she can't quite process this. aren't all machines sentient?

calliaphone tears her attention away from the thorny question of whether machines can be non-sentient, and explains further, "so we sorta, went for an accidental joy-ride through the craft tent.. ."

Spandex is struggling with her pin a bit, so she sets her drink down and takes the badge in both hands and holds it up closely to her face to work on it.

calliaphone continues, "..and picked up the badge-maker somewhere along the way. an' when we crashed into the bouncy castle, poor ol' Cordy and the badge-maker got into a bit of a scrap."

Spandex is straightening a bent pin, and chuckles, "Damn, and I missed it?" Her eyes widen suddenly and she starts rubbing her badge between her fingers.

Constable Swede listens to the story and winks Guttenberg for a refill.

calliaphone looks sadly at her accordion. That's one machine who's pretending to be non-sentient right now. But she isn't fooled. "yeah, the badge-maker stove Cordy right in. but i've fixed him up good."

Spandex holds the badge at eyelevel and is tilting it this way and that to catch the light. "Scrap? Callia, can I see one of the caps?"

Kestrel chooses.. this one. No, that one. No.. she searches frantically through the myriad sticker designs, smiling at her own frustration.

calliaphone glances up. "caps? ohh, y'mean the bottle-caps? well, sure!" she digdigs in her other pocket and produces a blank bottle-cap (how many does shehave?).

Constable Swede nods at Guttenberg as his glass is filled. He quietly takes a sip.

Spandex takes the cap and, once again rubs it between her fingers and tilts it to the light. She looks up at the ceiling and shakes her head with a smile, eyes brimming. "Skooch. Notice the embossing?"

calliaphone says, "the whuhh?" and peeers at the bottle-cap. "ohhh, the bumps y'mean?" three ridges, to be more accurate. parallel lines, two solid. the top one broken.

calliaphone says, offhandedly, "yeh, i noticed that. it's on all of 'em."

Kestrel heaves a sigh of relief, placing her thumb on the chosen sticker, and hopping back up to the barstool. Where.. another mug of coffee awaits. She shrugs, and smiles her thanks to Guttenberg.

calliaphone looks across to Kestrel. "what've you chosen?"

Constable Swede is also curious about that.

Kestrel blinks, then unrolls the roll a little to show her. A stylised tree of blue and green. ".. .If it's okay for me to have that one?"

Spandex is grinning her ass off. "Callia. Look." She pushes herself up to sit on the bar-counter and straightens her leg outwards, while pointing at her stockings."Stripes. Some broken."

calliaphone nods, delightedly. "o'course it is! lookit that, s'LOVELY! ok, so .. . i gotta ste- er, borrow some more safety pins, and then i'll make you a badge with that on it. alright?"

calliaphone whirls round. "saywhat? Stripes?" she stares at the zebra-legs. and then stares again. "huhhh? how'd the stripes get broken?"

Kestrel grins, handing her back the roll. "Thank you! Thank you very, very much!"

calliaphone smiles at Kestrel, and puts the roll of stickers back in her pack. "s'a pleasure".

Spandex drops her leg, allowing both to swing, with her excitement. "Callia. The stripes change. I caught them the other day! Not often, I think. And the stripes are appearing everywhere!"

Constable Swede just smiles.

calliaphone blinks."everywhere?" she looks round anxiously for stripes.

Spandex reaches in a pocket of her bandolier for something, then looks up at the relative strangers and changes her mind. "I'm keeping notes, callia. They mean something, I just don't know yet."

Kestrel shifts guilty on the stool at the 'look', and busies herself with getting more caffeine into her system, by means of steaming hot coffee.

calliaphone nods, cross-eyed with confusion. possibly the whisky-in-chocomilk isn't helping. "yuss. notes. stripes. goodgood." she empties her glass.

Spandex giggles, "Not everywhere, but Scalectrix and trivets and cards and.. . look!" She points to her left earlobe, scarred with 3 horizontal stripes, top and bottom broken. "Lo bit me."

calliaphone winces. "he did? could you get mixingmytoasties from that? or has he been inoculated?"

Constable Swede downs his rum. Leans over to Kes and whispers: "Maybe it be better if we just left?"

Kestrel grins, finishes her coffee, and whispers, "Not just yet. How about exploring?"

calliaphone shakes her head, needing to clear it. "ohh, pleease 'scuze me, i'm bein' rude an' all that. not a proper host."

Spandex laughs! "Nono you two, please stay. Enough of my silly stripes."

Constable Swede smiles: "The problem with an open mind is that people insist in putting things in it." Then more serious: "But if I understand correctly you would have things you rather forget?"

Spandex snorts again. "I have an idea. Let's continue this as we tour about? I'm starving. Kes, what you think? Would I be interrupting?" She looks at each, and smiles.

Kestrel raises the other eyebrow, now. "I don't know what you're suggesting, Dex," she says dryly. "Go on, help yourself to him."

Spandex errks, and then softens, "Only take if it looks like there is an offering, Kes."

Constable Swede looks confused at Kes then at Spandex: "What?" Normally he's better at reading people.. must have been the rum.

Kestrel chuckles. "Sorry, Swede. And the tour sounds good. To the kitchens."

TUI : Lake, Joyful, Satisfied, Fullness, Pleasure, Openness, Excess, Mouth

Tyr's Symbol

Tyr and dex have a race to CC404

Carpen Tyr races into 404, and collapses inside the gate.

Spandex's swear-word that she shouted in ACEhigh appears first, followed by the swear-er herself. Horse canters in behind and kicks the gates. She collapses next to Tyr

Spandex wheezes, "Don't. Ask."

Carpen Tyr fishes a flask out of his bandolier, and passes it over.

Spandex wipes sweat off her forehead with the back of her hand and GLgGlgglgs from the shared flask. "Why they have to make mountains uphill?" She hands it back. "Thanks."

Carpen Tyr sits up. "I don't know, but I never get used to it. I used to spend a lot of time up here." He looks around with something resembling fondness.

The walls are in 404 are, well, walls. Except..part of the wall has gnarled roots digging into the snow and stone, and leafy branches reaching towards the sky. It is a tree.

Spandex pulls in her feet so her knees are raised and rests an elbow on one while she scratches Horse between the ears with the other hand. "Why here? I find it cold."

Carpen Tyr stands, and walks over to the wall. He places one hand on the tree, feeling the bark beneath his fingers. "Were you here when the monsters came?"

Spandex gets up and follows him to the tree. "The outpost invasions?"

Carpen Tyr nods. "I spent a lot of time here. With Marly. Fighting a losing battle. Every time we got the walls back up, they tore them right back down."His fingers explore a long gash in the bark.

Sergeant Katan frowns thoughtfully, "When was the outpost invasion? I always seem to miss them"

Carpen Tyr looks over at the robot. "Have you seen the monsters that shake the ground? We're still under attack. And an overrun outpost is not something you want to see. Shops closed, the walls smashed.."

Spandex notices the tree's gash under his fingers, and frowns. "Yeh. It was like that in IC for awhile. Got everyone down, a bit, I think. I struggled..I don't like war, or taking orders."

Sergeant Katan shrugs, "You mean the Titan? That was the first I've seen of them"

Spandex remembers how the constant announcements over the Loudspeakers made her a tad irritable.

Carpen Tyr's jaw is set. "Those are a new development, yes. But you don't need to be that big to do damage. You just need numbers. And they had numbers."

Spandex leans against the wall. "Yeh. It was fucked. 'specially when the Pub closed. Imagine."

Carpen Tyr looks at Dex. "I never used to use my powers. Not consciously. They were in the background when I worked, letting me work a little harder, a little finer, a little better."

Sergeant Katan heads towards the entrance, "I see, I hadn't the stamina at the time to do any damage to it. Next time, thanks for the info" Waves a claw back and vanishes into the jungle.

Carpen Tyr smiles slightly. "But I didn't actually try to use them. Marly changed that."

Spandex blinks at his seemingly sudden change in topic. "Oh? Did you even know you had them?"

Carpen Tyr nods. "I could feel them. And I knew they were affecting my work."

Spandex says, "Huh. And always positively?"

Carpen Tyr shrugs. "As far as I know? I wasn't really thinking about it. If my chisel slipped, was it improbability, or just bad luck?"

Spandex swallows an impulse to argue. "Okay. And you sought out Marly's help?"

Carpen Tyr hahs. "I was here, working on the walls again. I was nailing the boards up in patterns, making hedgehogs and such. Something to occupy my mind. Marly asked if I'd tried using Improbability.

Carpen Tyr says wryly, "I hadn't, of course. So she talked me through convincing the wood to do what we want it to, which was to endure. Last. So I asked it to be strong. To bend without breaking."

Carpen Tyr looks up at the leaves overhead, then at the acorns at his feet. "I thought of the strongest wood I knew. And I asked it to be oak."

Spandex pulls at her lip in thought. "Okay, and what happened?"

Carpen Tyr gestures at the tree. "It became oak. Just..not how I thought it would."

Spandex drops her hand from her lip and leans forward. "Oh? Explain what you mean."

Carpen Tyr laughs. "I wanted it to be like oak! Strong. Solid. I wanted the boards to protect us, keep the monsters out, stay up for more than five minutes. But I got a tree."

Spandex snorts as she finally gets it, and laughs along with him. "Awesome!" She presses the palm of her hand to the tree, fondly.

Carpen Tyr smoothes his hand along a branch. It's solid and strong, but the two below it are broken, slashed in half by an invader's weapon, or a defender's chainsaw. The broken halves are held up by a board.

Carpen Tyr says quietly,"You can control your power, but it's still improbable. Even if you know what to ask for, you might get something other than what you're expecting. But that doesn't mean you can't try."

Spandex decides she's ready to speak her mind on this, "I see it slightly differently than you do, Tyr. I've learned a lot since we talked last."

Spandex stares at the broken branches, and says, "There's something about control that- that doesn't work for me. I mean, I need to control my temper, and self, sure, but I can't control.. Uhhh."

Spandex tries to clear her mind by shaking her head slightly. "I'm just starting to have opinions on this. I think calling it my power is the problem. It's.." she points to the tree. 'there."

Carpen Tyr tilts his head. "Ah. The power is the island's, you're just able to use it?"

Spandex crosses her arms, and leans back. She's unsure why the - possibly small issue - seems important to her.

Spandex speaks very quietly, "You'll think I'm mad."

Carpen Tyr shrugs. "Try me."

Spandex's eyes are threatening tears, so she turns to the tree so he can't see. "Okay. Umm. Every moment is full of potential. Possibilities. You just gotta find one that works for this Place."

Spandex rests her cheek on the tree, "It wanted to be living. A sign of life, or a reminder.. " she says, pointing to the gash and broken branches. "You are just the vessel to make it happen."

Carpen Tyr smiles slightly. "I don't think you're mad. I think that's lovely. So they just work through us?"

Spandex turns back to him, her eyes and head clearer. "Every Joker's unique, as you know. Me, I'm tapping into feelings and ideas already there, but unexpressed. I just try to give it expression."

Spandex adds, "It's a bit slippery, obviously. Maybe that is Improbability having a laugh at us, or from us misreading the situation's potential."

Carpen Tyr looks up at the tree. "Or not realizing all the possibilities," he murmurs. He looks at Dex, his smile brightening."That is so cool."

Spandex jerks a little out of her musings, "It is? I'm not just being argumentative?" For a change. "Uh, yeh. Lack of Imagination make for Shit Jokers."

Carpen Tyr laughs. "I think lack of imagination would be as crippling as a broken leg here."

Spandex smiles with tight lips, keeping Opinions to herself. She then asks, "So, given my theory.. why do you think you respond to Improbability through your hands and wood?"

Carpen Tyr shrugs. "It's what I know. It's what I do." His mouth quirks. "And it's more interesting than being a cocoa-joker."

Spandex 's words remind her of Horse. She leans to look where they left him, and finds him standing stock-still but for ears that twitch towards the various nearby sounds.

Spandex looks back to Tyr. "Tsk. You are a cocoa-joker. And I can't be a wood-joker because I don't understand wood, or trees."

Carpen Tyr nods. "Makes sense to me. So, hows the expressing been working for you."

Spandex giggles at his turn of phrase. "Causing no end of Trouble. So yeh, awesome. Also, have I ever told you about my stockings? The stripes?" She looks down at her legs and pulls the fabric.

Carpen Tyr shakes his head. "No. They're very nice, though!"

Spandex laughs again, "Okay. Get this. The first day after my twelfth Tea, I wake up with these on. Callia thought I'd become a Zebra. Anyway.. check out the pattern on these things. Broken stripes?"

Spandex says "Get this. They change. No clue yet when or why, but they do. AND not only that, they mean something. I've been seeing three-line symbols in so many.." She stops.

Spandex has moved in front of the three branches on the tree. "Broken. Broken. Solid." She reaches into her bandolier and pulls out a notebook. "Look. Others. Let's work on this one together, wanna?"

Carpen Tyr moves over to Dex, peering over her shoulder at the notebook. "Sure! How'd you figure out they were symbols?" He looks up at the branches.

Spandex stops flipping through the pages. "First ones were fairly obvious. Like the bite-scar Lo's left on my ear. Others I found later, after I started talking about it, like Marly's trivet. Now I look."

Carpen Tyr says, "Hold up. Bite scar? He peers at her ear.

Spandex pulls out her ear lobe and chuckles. "Yeh. Lo's teeth. Also. Another important clue." She looks at her book, having just realised it. "The people. People with me at the time. Like you."

Carpen Tyr erghs at the ear, then looks at her, puzzled. "Huh?"

Spandex slides her marker pen out of her pocket and draws the three lines: broken, broken, solid from ground up. "We'll get to you in a sec. First. The place. Why here?"

Carpen Tyr hms."This is where the tree was. The tree is here because of the invasion. The invasion was so bad because no-one comes here. No one comes because there's no food, and it's uphill all the way."

Spandex is tapping her nose with the end of her pen, "Okay. So, let's just jot down Mountain, which.. Large and can't move? That work?"

Carpen Tyr blinks."Huh. Yeah. It's uphill cause it's a damn mountain, and it is really quiet here." He glances at the wall."Except when the lamps are flashing."

Spandex is writing down notes, "I meant the stillness of the mountain itself, too. So I think that's something alright. Hrmm, Quiet, you say? Should I put that down? What else about the place?"

Carpen Tyr snorts. "It's cold? Cause we're high up. And north. North-east, really. But mostly because of the elevation."

Spandex points the pencil at him. "Every idea could be something. No snorting!" She grins at him, happy he's here and helping. "Okay. Your story. It's not a coincidence. What are the themes?"

Carpen Tyr rubs his neck. "Control. Practice. Learning." He looks up at the tree. "The unexpected. Stubbornness."

Spandex jots down stubborn and puts a big circle around it. Tyr, the tree, the place, herself. It's gotta be it. "Control wasn't the lesson, I think, since I rail against it so." She stares at him. Him.

Carpen Tyr shakes his head. "Control doesn't have to be stifling. And it doesn't mean getting things right 100% of the time. Can you use the power when you need it?"

Spandex sets her gaze on him. She casts a line to to how they met, what he means to her. "Solid. Grounded. Calm. Your gift.. . the hands that made Horse."

Spandex blinks, "Huh? Need it? What are you thinking, Tyr?"

Carpen Tyr says, "Isn't that a type of control? Not necessarily getting a specific result, but being able to use it at all. Has it ever not worked when you asked? Not malfunctioned - just plain not worked?"

Spandex breaks into a smile, "You're right. Okay! Okay. Yes. I'll put it down. It's definitely a lesson for me. Maybe for you too?"

Carpen Tyr laughs. "Yes. It was a lesson for me." He rests a hand on the tree.

Spandex watches his gesture with a chuckle, and writes HAND in big letters on the page too. "They're nice." She points her pen to his hand. "And I'm.. . exhausted."

Carpen Tyr watches her, concerned. "Do you have a one shot to get home?"

Spandex closes the notebook and gathers and packs her things. She puts her thumb and forefinger in her mouth and whistles three notes: A-Bm-E, calling Horse over.

Spandex shoulders her pack and nods. "Yep. You?"

Carpen Tyr nods. "Take care of yourself. And Horse."

Spandex feels her eyes well again-which she chalks up to tiredness-as she wraps him into a tired hug. "So glad we met. See you soon."

Carpen Tyr hugs her back. "Me too." And then they're gone.

next day

Inked Ada is sitting, and she is painting. One side of her mouth curls, slightly, recalling another painting she painted here, some time ago. It's in the warehouse now, finished, dried, glazed.

Inked Ada 's painting is not, however, displayed; she hasn't yet decided where to put it, and so it is orphaned in the warehouse.

Inked Ada now is painting a certain tree. It is tall; it is broad; and it is, truth to tell, a wall. Or, rather, part of a one.

Inked Ada intended to fix up a few of the cracked and broken branches, for the sake of her composition, but is struck by a sudden awareness, and leaves them be.

The tree, you see, is proudof those branches.

Inked Ada likes to see herself as a Recorder: preserving things, detailing things, noting their essence - their shadowplay, their lights and darks, those qualities that make one thing unlike another.

Inked Ada , however, has recently been having.. difficulties, of sorts.

Inked Ada 's troubles began with a monster, of sorts, and a drawing that lacked that spark, that - well.

Inked Ada examines her painting critically. No, there is something wrong with this painting as well. She cannot put her finger on it, but. There is something there, something she did not paint.

Inked Ada glares at it. She could not explain what, or how, or even where. But she has an uneasy feeling that this is somehow not her painting. After a moment's deliberation, she packs up her kit.

A breeze blows through the outpost, rustling the leaves of the walltree. There is something different here, you are sure of it, but you can't put your finger on it, either.

KEN: Mountain, Keeping Still, Immovable, Perverse, Late Winter, Calm, Stubborn, Hand.

Sicpuess' Symbol


Something is waiting here. Or maybe it just lives here, and loves mosquitoes, and just loves waiting for their buzz.. to then snatch them out of mid-air. Its leaves look like sloppily created - somewhat twisted, riddled with holes and long, grey and pointy hair. Every so often, these thin leaves move. Sicpuess would call it a scrawlily - and a rather small and sickly one at that too, even if the bright skin-pink blossom seems filled with life. It has to be.

Matryoshka Sicpuess has, in fact, called it a scrawlily - after all, she planted it here by the riverside. She becomes audible - and something else, visible. Ticks, ticks over ticks.. millions of them.. A drama is about to happen here, as some of the nearby trees drop their bark - long, thin leaves, actually, sloppily created. Rat-sized ticks try to scale them - just to be impaled, held off.

Matryoshka Sicpuess will not take note of this when she - and the trailing Dex - appear, eventually - because it will be over already. As always, symbiotic fungus will suck up the blood, supply the lilies with it.. Such is nature. But - the wave of pests barely fended off - now something appears that is not. Not as it is generally meant - Improbability. Is it a part of it, or is it parasitic?

Matryoshka Sicpuess certainly will not like the twenty-something Vegan Zombies beginning to hack down one of the biggest scrawlilies - with a stem more than three yards in diameter.

Matryoshka Sicpuess chatters, is unaware yet. "He certainly is a crafty fellow, isn't he? Nice to have those around the house, or hall, or.. well, barn, you haven't seen the DICE barn yet haveyou?" She waits up.

Matryoshka Sicpuess has gotten a little ahead, moving through the trees - it is easier than hacking through the underbrush, for her. "Here! C'mon! .. but don't hurry, there's blue moss here. .. it may sing ifyoudo."

Matryoshka Sicpuess doesn't know exactly what gets the Blue Moss to sing, but it is altogether not an all too pleasant thing.

Matryoshka Sicpuess headtilts, listening for noises. Of course she knows where Spandex is - but nonetheless, she calls once more, "HERE. LAZYPANTS."

Spandex arrives, body-front, head looking over shoulders left-right. "Why the yelling. And no pants."

Matryoshka Sicpuess headtilts some more. "Caaareful, missus. Might expose your sweet sweet back to the ticks otherwise." Not entirely serious. She clamps a hand around Dex' left arm, then tugs her along.

Spandex tells her she hasn't been to the DICE barn while she is tugged further along. "Ticks? Is that the sound?"

Matryoshka Sicpuess grins. "Cute deaf missus-mouse, we're going to pick flowers by the river.." CRASH."..side."

Matryoshka Sicpuess stops dead in her tracks for a second, then speeds up. "Ticks are ticks and they are annoying and something Just Broke MY FLOWERS."

Spandex 's arm-socket twangs with the hasted pulling. "Shiii-what flowers?"

Matryoshka Sicpuess doesn't answer, and ups the tempo a little more. Careful, Dex, there are thorns in the underbrush.. .. oooh, that one's going to hurt, poking holes into Dex' foot like that. "GRAA-AA-AINS."

Matryoshka Sicpuess breaks into the little scrawlily clearing, takes in the Zombie Horde feasting upon the lifeless stem-corpse of one of the biggest ones. ".. oh. .. OH YOU FUCKERS."

Spandex struggles with Squirrel-speed, literally tearing through underbrush. "OWWAIT a sec." She tries to pull her to a stop, hop hop, to tug at a thorn. "Zombies?" She tenses.

Matryoshka Sicpuess stops, and freezes, all still-four eyes narrowing into slits - just like her lips, a thin line. Apart from that, her expression is blank. "Yeeees.." , she hisses through her teeth. "Mylilies."

Spandex's thorns and rips are forgotten. All-adrenaline, she rips weapon out of pack, ducks through into clearing."Tag team?" She smiles, old days of happy-violence coming back. Rumble!

Matryoshka Sicpuess nods.. and is gone.

Spandex imagines the show's cameras in a 360 degree pan: Dex, alone in centre of clearing, gripping stick-with-nail in baseball-pose. 20 zombies closing in. "Umm. Sic?" Gone. "Guess that's a no."

Spandex and the cameras click into fast-action. 20 zombies. One: in her face. She hits him between the legs with a checked swing. He drops to his knees and she delivers his final sermon. KRAKd skull splits.

Matryoshka Sicpuess is thinking quick, waiting hidden behind one of the other big scrawlilies. So.. many of them..

Matryoshka Sicpuess is careful not to show herself. .. oh, of course.

Spandex lights a cig while eyeing Two. On her left, arms-extended in zombie-cliche. She pockets her lighter, swings one-handed towards his knees while she grabs his hand and pulls. He falls flat face-first.

Spandex closes her eyes and bootSTOMPs his head. She backs a step and wipes heel to grass to get the zombie-unbrains off her beloveds. Heart-zooming she looks up. Zombies're slow, but many.



Matryoshka Sicpuess appears quite amidst one of the burliest rottybrains, splattering half-decayed bits of flesh and fragments of bone with enough force to impale one or two of the neighboring Zombies.

Matryoshka Sicpuess shifts into said neighbor before he can wipe that slack-jawed expression off the greenish bones.

Matryoshka Sicpuess wears him like a rotten SUIT this time, and clobbers another's head in. "TAG TEAM GO."

Spandex pulls her goggles down and smiles. Work to do. Three. Three's directly behind her. She waits til she feels hands brush, swings her bat overhead - PAAAMMM then "damn. the nail's stuck." She spins.

Matryoshka Sicpuess ponders only briefly the ramifications of being in a male, corpse or not. .. . Technically he shouldn't hit girls.. . her arm plus a rib burst out to SNCK the little girl-zombie through the soft skull.

Spandex digs heels in, leans back and pulls. Nail gashes forward. "Oh, sorry. I ripped your HEAD a little there." She straightens and swings her bat a little while bouncing on her toes.

Matryoshka Sicpuess peeks out through the hole in the chest, still all-narrowed, then tears out another rib and slashes her way free. Two guardian zombies of the twenty close in now, they have just now noticed them.

Matryoshka Sicpuess ignores them, and vanishes once more - an arm with half the flesh missing bores into the ground where she just crouched a moment before.

Matryoshka Sicpuess is pissed. And splats apart another before charging on the second guardian stay next to Dex, Sic! No straying off anymore!)

Spandex runs for back of Four, swings the bat around him at neck-height, catches the other end. Wide grip on his new-necklace as she kicks his foot out and pulls. His head comes off, a bit too easily. "These are soft cheese."

Matryoshka Sicpuess kicks guardian-lady's legs out from under her, then stompstomps. "And so wonderfully silent too." , she adds quite snidely. Fungus quickly grows over the dead-for-real-corpses.

Matryoshka Sicpuess says, "Stop, then. Easy cheesy."

Spandex wipes her nose with the back of her hand, "Still can't get used to the smell." She scouts for her next play-mate. Correction: playmates. She spots a two-fer. Five and Six.

Matryoshka Sicpuess steps a little to the side as another scrawlily tears through one of the remaining eight.

Matryoshka Sicpuess fascinatedly stares at the speedyfungus for a moment, then patiently strides over to the fallen scrawlily. .. The stump'll live. But they won't. SPLAT.

Matryoshka Sicpuess stands with her feet in the chest of one veritable orb of a woman, rises her hands, then brings them down. There is a quite audible snap as the remaining spines are throughoutly powdered by impact.

Matryoshka Sicpuess then silently watches - the victims continue to stand, but frozen, motionless, nothing more but puppets of meat now, held upright only so long as there is no disturbance. Shifts her gaze to Dex.

Spandex heard 'stop' but can't. Five looks like someone she knew back in the day. She poses batter-style while they lumber forward instinctively. She sighs and swings. An inside-the-park homerun.

Spandex frontkicks FIVE in the chest and plays trampoline on his belly. WeeOOO. Now Six: "You poor stupid beast." She lifts her bat - stops. "What, Sic?"

Matryoshka Sicpuess watches, blank-faced with eyes and lips like lines. Her stool finally falls, she swiftly shifts onto real, more trustworthy ground. Dull voice: "You can do that."

Matryoshka Sicpuess tilts her head a little, with the same speed Six falls over, just like that.

Spandex leans on her bat and unstiffens her neck left-right, krikkrak. "Can do what?"

Matryoshka Sicpuess ' eyes round again, lips shifting into something slightly more curved. "Be explosive like that."

Spandex scans 'round. Some facts make themselves clear: 20 Foes all down. She: Only Five. Sic has no weapon. She un-grits her teeth and skips towards her. "Holyshithow? I can?" Sic is now different.

Matryoshka Sicpuess cants her head, all bird-like. "Yes, yousee. .." She thumbpoints at her forehead, then lets both arms slump. "Can't get carried away. Can't allow it."

Matryoshka Sicpuess jerks once, then moves towards the fallen scrawlily, and inspects the damage. Sigh. She watches fungus grow over it.

Spandex smile slumps with her. She watches quietly for a moment, then says, "please explain, Sic. Carried away?"

Matryoshka Sicpuess shakes her head slowly, holds up a hand with the palm up. The scene replays there.. it seems. There is a little difference as she reappears the first time - noticeably, the angry expression.

Matryoshka Sicpuess ' little miniature of herself flickers, changes - claws, fangs, a single big red flashing sign of danger. And then, there is death.

Matryoshka Sicpuess closes her hand over a completely empty scenery. "Can apply changes to myself.. not only physical. Without a focus.. . there are chain reactions."

Matryoshka Sicpuess shakes it all off. "Runaway discharges - like lightning comes to be." Her face is all lines again, for a moment, and then there are only two eyes anymore - as if she had forgotten them.

Matryoshka Sicpuess turns a little to the side - towards Dex, but also towards the thick of the battlefield - corpses vanishing away into the ground, two dozen of now-adult scrawlilies now bloom.

Spandex re-watches the scene and stares, puzzled. As Sic finishes, one thing dawns causing her to stumble back a step. "Sic. Your face. Lines. Your face was one of my fucking symbols!"

Spandex moves towards her, grabs her arm, "Explain. Focus on what? Is it something to do with your plants?"

Matryoshka Sicpuess ' face is now all confused-little-furry-critter. "Mn?"

Matryoshka Sicpuess pauses for a moment. "Focus. A focus - so that it-" she taps a finger against her temple, then traces down her neck. "doesn't fall apart. Can't allow that to happen.. ."

Spandex holds her tight as if she'll disappear again. "Sic. Teach me. Focus on what?"

Matryoshka Sicpuess grins. "It's not a good thing to happen when control slips, if emotions fuel emotions, if it goes well past the scale.. too much is possible. But you, you can. Most can." Headshake. "Cannot."

Matryoshka Sicpuess leans into Dex. "The focus, the focus, it's what you are. The more focused, the more stable. Most people don't have a choice on the matter.. but, if you want.. it might be teached. If you want."

Spandex realises she's white-knuckle gripped Sic's arm and frees her. "How did you know I was working on this? Yes! But where.. . if not emotions then what?"

Matryoshka Sicpuess sighs. "It's pretty much hardwired in this case. There's a piece of scrap there" - she taps her neck - "and it sure does a good job of keeping a watch. But one could recreate that. Somewhat."

Spandex says, "Okay. Your face. The lines. The difference between that" She thumbs over her shoulder to the clearing. "And the death in your hand. What is it?"

Spandex's fight-mania finally winds itself down and her mind starts to clear. "Fuck. I don't fight so much now. I was crazy. But that junked-up-buzz still's here. Sic, do you get off on this?"

Matryoshka Sicpuess glances at her hand. "As said, cannot. It's the difference between letting go, off-limits, or keeping in control.. . the difference between having an enemy, or everything being the enemy in fights."

Matryoshka Sicpuess looks her in the eyes, then makes a gesture of throwing something away. "Am the choices made and being made. And that includes not evolving, devolving into a bloodthirsty maniac every encounter."

Matryoshka Sicpuess adds, sliiightly wryly, "Or all to literally dying from a happiness overload, too."

Matryoshka Sicpuess thumbpoints a wide circles. "Choices have consequences, and here the consequence is life." As opposed to a massacre, and not counting in the Zombies.

Spandex chuckles. "I just mostly stay out of the jungle, now. But one can't, always. Perhaps I can evolve. Control for me is difficult."

Matryoshka Sicpuess ahs - and grins at the quote. "Who are you?", she says all light-heartedly.

Spandex puzzles, "You first. Who are you?" She imagines many many cameras and viewers are likewise curious.

Matryoshka Sicpuess grins. "Sicpuess, at your service. And that won't change as long as there a knowledge of how it should be.. not entirely precise, but.. well. Who are you, Spandex? Are you yourself if you get excited? Yes. Yes you are. Sicpuess wouldn't be."

Spandex says, "That seems a shame, to me. I mean, the island offers us three options: hide, fight or run. First and last are the same: we exist as animals. Fight or flight. If STATS are good, I kill."

Spandex says,"Killing is despicable. Killing for Entertainment.. I can't even speak for how it makes me feel. And yet, when I'm in it. It's my body and mind, growing stronger, becoming more powerful.It is the same when I swim: pull this World towards me with my hands, to kick it away. That's how I move forwards. It is exciting. It's drive. The arousal is harder to admit, but what else? Scene says: 20 Zombies. Am I going to moan about it, like they do? Hell, it was the biggest fight I've had yet and with you, who is well known for fight-skills. IT WAS EXCELLENT."

Matryoshka Sicpuess nods. "Hmn.. but it does help you, no? It's hide, fight, run - also no choice. Be glad that you can get into that, because, if you couldn't - option four is always too close then."

Matryoshka Sicpuess shakes her hand. "Even if it gets out of hand. You can step back and look at it. You don't need to, and still stay who you are. Who are you? Spandex, Dex, you'll change, but you'll stay Spandex."

Matryoshka Sicpuess grins. "Don't worry. Just don't worry. It could be over in a week, and you'll go as Dex - certainly not as a bloodthirsty maniac."

Spandex doesn't release her hand. "Sic. I'm not bloodthirsty. The violence is here, but I do want to learn and know I can change and yet still be me. If you think it is control, okay.. I'm listening."

Matryoshka Sicpuess headtilts sharply. "Control? Do you need control?"

Spandex answers, "I think now the answer is both yes and no. The angerviolence energy works for me here. Where it is me or them. But control means to know when that reaction is inappropriate or useless."

Spandex just wants to know how Sic crushed all those spines with no weapon, to be honest.

Matryoshka Sicpuess hmns thoughtfully. "Would say control is knowing,.. and acting on it. .. Knowledge is power? What false a thing. Knowledge is nothing, Skill is king."

Matryoshka Sicpuess leans onto Dex some more. "But that's nitpicking, pro'ly. Lighning runs in channels, you see? Control helps with directing the impulsivity, the energy. The better the focus, the less energy you need.. . breaking calcium bonds in bones needs more precision, but less energy than dropping a boulder. Go on. How would you obliterate a rock? Tell."

Spandex recalls what Lo called her once: a drifter. No energy required, but has no focus. Sometimes this is needed, but othertimes: pin-sharp focus, narrowed to specifics, from understanding the task and goal. "Put a grenade under it? But that obliterates much more. Crush it with a bigger rock, or use a hammer and chisel?"

Matryoshka Sicpuess grins. "No, you call it a pebble." She laughs! "Seriously though? What makes a rock? Minerals bonding. It's actually easy to convince those bonds to.. . unravel."

Matryoshka Sicpuess does seem quite amused now. "Once you know that, you can use whatever's on hand, whatever energy you have access to, to cause discord in the rock. Then, all it needs is an impulse."

Spandex changes Suit and switches her thinking, "Heat? Energy."

Matryoshka Sicpuess continues, "The decision to act - that's lightning. It's that last bit that brings the glass to overflow, that one gram of plutonium more."

Matryoshka Sicpuess looks over at the scrawlilies. "The one last drop needed to let the flowers germinate, or bloom. Everything is energy, and what is important to know, is that you can influence it."

Spandex nods, "The impulse is the lightning. The excitement breaks the bonds. Loss of control in the rock. It's gone. Like you'd be!"

Matryoshka Sicpuess grins broadly, and pauses. "You can be that last bit of electricity needed.." , she edges a bit away. "to unleash the lightning. But it's a decision. Yours." She pokes Dex' shoulder.

Matryoshka Sicpuess shocks Dex with the truth! Or a little bit of static.

Matryoshka Sicpuess gets up. "Come on. Let's go somewhere else?"

Spandex bounces on her toes again, energy returned. "Easy choice. Harder to practice. But I will."

Matryoshka Sicpuess throws herself at Dex and hugs her. "YES. SOFAAA!"

Matryoshka Sicpuess tugs Dex along into the Halls. Strange feeling, that. Gone, the both of them.


Matryoshka Sicpuess drags Dex in here with her, hugging her tightly - whether necessary or not. "We're BAAACK heere where we started today. Sciuriphageous cushions."

Matryoshka Sicpuess digs into the lint for a nap.

Spandex grins wildly and finishes with a kiss -- blinks a second from the static shock before it knocks her asleep.

CHEN: Thunder, Arousing, Active, Exciting, Expansive, Foot

Teh Dave: which end up

Castle Hendrix: Butterfly Garden

Dex has just been in a joker duel with G-rock where her temper got out of hand. He ended up with a big gash wound in his leg, and she thrown with force, against a ship mast. Dave's whisked her to his butterfly room in his house.

Accomplice Teh Dave appears amidst a swarm of butterflies, and releases Dex's hand, which he'd grabbed reflexively before tipping out the butterflies from Teh. "Ah, here we are."

Spandex closes her eyes, then opens them, then closes, then rubs them. "Dave? I'm concussed."

Accomplice Teh Dave laughs, and steps over to the rock garden, shedding his hat and lab coat to place in a corner, then sits cross-legged on a smooth stone. "I beg to differ."

Spandex turns around herself in a full circle. "No. I am. Butterflies." She thought it was meant to be birds normally but such is their island.

Accomplice Teh Dave chuckles, and indicates a similar stone just nearby him. "Welcome to my meditation room."

Spandex is cross-eyed, staring at a butterfly hanging from her ribbon. She smiles at it, and slowly moves to sit on the stone next to Dave, crosslegged like him.

Accomplice Teh Dave smiles, and shifts so he's facing Dex. "So, you lost your temper? Your center?" He tilts his head, displacing several butterflies in the process. Yes, they tend to land on people. Everywhere.

Spandex nods. "I think my center is way out in left field, too."

Accomplice Teh Dave nods, chuckling. "Mine's somewhere in the stands. Which is why I think this helps" he gestures to the Butterflies "learn to deal with your distractions."

Spandex has been having trouble concentrating, what with all the activity! "But.. . they're everywhere and you can't focus on one, and they all want my attention!"

Accomplice Teh Dave smiles. "So focus on one. But not the butterflies." He closes his eyes, and takes a deep breath.

Spandex reaches over and pokes him in the arm, "One what?"

Accomplice Teh Dave doesn't respond. He just smiles. Ahh, he's been learning from those Zen Masters in the Jungle.

Spandex wants to tell him she's been trying to focus on one, but the another came back from sleeping and now there's two and one was distraction enough and she's confused and forgetting her Lessons.

Spandex looks at his smile and figures he knows something, so she pokes him in the arm again."Which one?"

Accomplice Teh Dave opens his eyes, and sees her expression. His smile turns down slightly, and he leans over to put a hand on her shoulder, waiting for the butterflies to move first. "You." His arms fold again.

Spandex is about to argue and ask questions again but decides to just copy him, and try. She folds her arms and take a deep breath. She thinks about you.

Spandex thinks about how she sucks and why did she hurt G and how come she's so mad and hope he's okay and how come sink's back and what does those cards mean and she can hear butterflies and she wonders what dave's doing now.

She peeks.

Spandex reaches over and pokes his arm, "Wanna go have some funtroublemischief with rooks like before?"

Accomplice Teh Dave is sitting still, smiling slightly, eyes closed, covered in butterflies. He half-opens one eye, and the smile quirks upwards a bit. "A lot going on in there? Why?"

Spandex leans back and looks at him like he's insane, "eh? You want me brain-dead?"

Accomplice Teh Dave shakes his head. "Nope. Just wondering why you're distracted."

Spandex says, "I'm not distracted now, I was just thinking about you. And one thing lead to the other."


Accomplice Teh Dave laughs, and shifts slightly. "Want to try that again?"

Spandex thinks no, but says "okay then." She closes her eyes. "Can I think about not you, I'm not so keen on that at the moment."

Accomplice Teh Dave shakes his head. "Then think about nothing. Think about.. ." he ponders, trying to remember how he started this himself. "Concentrate on your breathing, to start."

Spandex hrmmms, "I can get a hold of that, Dave. Lemme try." She closes her eyes and and starts with an exhalation that starts to shoo away all her worries. She breathes air into her leftthenright lungs

Accomplice Teh Dave smiles, and stretches slightly, watching and listening.

Spandex's next exhalation chases out desiresneedswants and sillysomethings. She inhales into deeper lungs.

Accomplice Teh Dave watches the butterflies flit about with the trivialities, and grins. He closes his own eyes, and listens.

Spandex is her breath. She manages this for just a few moments.

Accomplice Teh Dave feels a strange tingle, and opens his eyes, blinking as he notices the stripes on Dex's socks shifting.. .he tilts his head, curious.

Spandex inhales deeply and sits for a moment, all soft and yet solid-on-ground. She opens her eyes to see Dave staring at her.. . "ahem. Dave?"

Accomplice Teh Dave points at Dex's stockings. "Your socks.. ."

Spandex looks down. "They changed!" She gets the notebook out of her back, and draws the lines. "Okay. I still don't understand this totally, but.. ." She looks down at her legs.

Spandex turns to face Dave, ".. . which way is up?"

Spandex is thinking if she starts from her knees the lines are 2 symbols, but if she starts from her thighs, they're completely opposite.

Accomplice Teh Dave says "Up?" He tilts his head, pondering how to answer.

Spandex stands, "My stripes are two three-line symbols. Different if I read from your angle or mine. Thigh to knee or knee to thigh. I donno which!" She leans over to look at them again.

Accomplice Teh Dave blinks. "Up is up, unless it's down. And in here, Up isn't down." He points at the stockings. "Way I see it, up is that way." He points from knee to thigh.

Spandex says, "How I look to others, and am in the World, maybe? Okay. Let's try." She flips through her notebook.

Accomplice Teh Dave tilts his head, then shrugs. Makes sense. He attempts to peer over her shoulder to see the notebook.

Spandex sits down and shares her notes with him, "Okay, bottom three are this symbol. That was Tyr's lesson. Keeping still, being calm. See?"

Accomplice Teh Dave nods, following.

Spandex flips through the pages until she finds the matching next symbol. She points to the page, "Here! Callia's! Remember at the lake? Joy! Full pleasure! Being open!" She grins at the reading.

Accomplice Teh Dave tilts his head. "The beer bottles.. .the caps.. ." He laughs, and thinks. "So calm joy?"

Accomplice Teh Dave thinks. He knows what that makes him think of.. .

Accomplice Teh Dave smiles, and pats Dex on the shoulder. "Know what I think it means?"

Spandex says, "Funny, Dave, it's just like we just experienced, in here ..go on" as she thinks of the series of coincidences that brought her here in the butterflies with him.

Accomplice Teh Dave nods, and reaches out his hand. "How do you catch a butterfly? Not by chasing it.. ." He grins, and lets his hand stay still, while a small swarm land on his palm.

Spandex understands. "And not to catch, just to enjoy it being with you for awhile."

Accomplice Teh Dave smiles, and wiggles his fingers to let the butterflies go. He gives Dex a quick hug, then shuffles back to his prior position.

Spandex kisses his forehead and heads home, smiling.

Her reading: 31 Attraction (unchanged). Be receptive and open to all that comes into your life. A tranquil openness allows you to influence and be influenced. This spontaneous mutual influence, perhaps a love affair, must be experienced before there is change.

Ebenezer: One missing symbol

Ace High

Spandex is a bit late for her meeting with Eben."Solidsolidsolid solidstripesolid stripesolidstripe solidsolitstripe- oh I did that one I think?" She exhales sharply, and looks about.

Ebenezer stumbles out of the Common Grounds, looking rather exhausted. He takes deep breaths and straightens his spectacles. "Oh. Dex. There you are."

Spandex is here, right beside Eben. "Eben, you okay we can do this another time?" She hates being polite but she needs his brain working.

Ebenezer fidgets. "What? Oh. Oh, I'm fine. Thank you, I'm fine." He smiles just a bit, only for a moment. Ahrrm hrrm "What is it you wanted to-to talk about?"

Spandex hasn't thought of a succinct way to ask. She hrrms. "MY STRIPES! But really, combinations of numbers. Lines. How many, if they're in threes? I think I count 8 but I only have 7 so I need an audit."

Ebenezer repeats, "Stripes! Stripes?" He looks around before noticing the striped stockings. He points!"Stripes!" Touching his spectacles, he glances at these stripes. "Patterns," he mumbles.

Spandex beams! "Exactly! Ok. Look closely at the stripes. Some are all the way around," she lifts her right knee and hops-turns right around. "And some are broken, like this one" she adds, pointing.

Spandex lowers her leg and leans over and points to each black stripe in succession, "And. see. there. are. six. stripes." She straightens and says sternly, "Are you writing this down, Eben?"

Ebenezer straightens his back and fumbles for a pen from his shirt pocket. "Erm, yes!" he answers, digging for a bit of paper from the back pocket of his trousers. "Six stripes. Some broken. Yes."

Spandex frowns, "Nonono. Eben. They change. Each stripe can be either solid or broken. They just happen to be like this now cuz Dave told me to think of not-me and my breath."

Ebenezer quickly scratches out a line in his notes and re-writes it. "They change. Yes. What's broken now might-might not be broken later, then." He seems to accept this as a fact.

Ebenezer does not ask about Dave, not-Dex, and breath. He figures he probably doesn't want to know.

Spandex nods sharply. 'First part done', she thinks. She pulls her deck of cards out of her bandolier and fans them out, so Eben can see the various patterns on the backs. "Notice anything?"

Ebenezer leans in and adjusts his spectacles. He answers, "Three lines. On all. Each-each card. Set of three. Erm. Different patterns. Broken, solid, broken."

Spandex nods excitedly, "G-rock and I won them from this game in the fair where I had to throw but I hadn't learned Yielding yet. It's 3 brokens, you know, like this here" she says pointing to the card.

Ebenezer touches his glasses again and nods his head. "Oh. Erm. That's what your card means? Like-like a symbol?" It's like a mini-language of numbers! He is interested.

Spandex rocks on her toes and heels, "Yes! I- well, I remember them from the people that showed me? Like Tyr was stubborn stillness, and Callia is joy and excess. And from the situation! But I have a problem."

Spandex adds quickly, "Don't tell Tyr I called him stubborn, k."

Ebenezer raises his eyebrows. "Oh! Oh, I won't tell him." He manages to fight down a smirk. "But what's the prob-the problem, Dex?"

Spandex pulls at her lip for a moment. "I counted the different symbols on these cards. There are 7. Thing is they change, too. And I need to know I'm not missing any symbols. That's where you come in."

Ebenezer looks up from his notes. "Right. What-what-what do I do? I make sure you're not-not missing any?"

Spandex says, "Yeh. The cards show 7. I don't think that's right. I've been trying to work the combinations myself, but thought of you immediately, for help." She peeks at his notes and adds, "please."

Ebenezer has already flipped his note paper over. He nods once and shhs. In a moment, he's jotted out hash-marks on his page. "Eight," he says, looking up. "Not seven. Eight."

Spandex is stockstill for a moment, before slumping, "Hell. I mean, thanks. But.. ." She narrows her eyes and leans into his nose, "You're hiding it. Sicpuess had it in her face. Where is it?"

Ebenezer mumbles half of a "you're welcome" before he cuts himself off with an "angh!" He jerks back, away from her immediately. "What-what? What? What? Personal space, Dex! Bubble!"

Spandex jerks back too, as if they static-shocked each other. "EBS! GEEZ!" She eyeballs his black and white clothing. "Your clothes? Are they a symbol?" She bends and tilts to look sideways at him.

Ebenezer hugs his arms around himself, as if he thinks that Dex is about to try and rob him of his shirt."No! What? I don't know what you're talking about, but no!"

Spandex thinks that would mean he was the stubborn symbol and then what about Tyr's.

Ebenezer suddenly thrusts out his note page at her. "Here! Here's all-all the symbols I've got." His hash marks are, on closer inspection, all the possible eight combinations of solid and broken lines.

Spandex flips her cards, comparing them to his sketches. "Got it! Solidsolidstripe. Thanks!" She does notlean into him when she asks, "What's it mean?"

Ebenezer snorts! "What-what do you mean what's it mean? How should I know?" He shrugs!

Spandex calms herself and talks to him quietly, like he's a wild animal or small child, "It's, Okay. No problem, Ebs. We work it out together. First, it'll be about you. Tell me what an Ebenezer is."

Ebenezer frowns and folds his arms tightly across his chest. "Well, I-I'm getting a bit irritated, that's what."

Spandex has gotten her notebook, has drawn the symbol and written 'space' and 'bubble' and 'actually sweet'. She nods at him and adds, 'cranky' and 'impatient' and- "I don't think this is my SymbolLesson."

Ebenezer leans forward, trying to read Dex's handwriting upside-down. He squints and adjusts his spectacles. "What's not your lesson? What're you writing?"

Spandex quickly scratches out some of the words out and adds aloud, "Helping others. Logic. Tidiness. Being Thorough." She grins at him. "You were the first person to talk to me ever."

Ebenezer sits up straight. "I-I was? Oh. Erm. NewHome?" His ears go red. "Organiz-organization? Numbers. Erm. Tea?" He is making suggestions.

Spandex looks between him and the page as she jots them down. "And this, our meeting? What's it about? Umm.. . more numbers and logic. And helping!" She's underlining some and has added 'Flattery.'

Ebenezer is thinking as hard as he can. "Pa-paper. Paperwork. Pens? Ink? Erm. Writing? Mathematics."He frowns, knowing that he's repeating things. "Any of those what you're looking for maybe?"

Spandex pretends to add 'pens' down but she draws a little stickman of Eben with a bubble around his head. She closes her book. "Yes! Hopefully? I'll know for sure next time I throw the cards."

Ebenezer nods once. "Well, erm. Good-good luck then, Dex. Glad I could, erm." He waves at her notebook instead of finishing the sentence.

Spandex, for once doesn't smooch or hug him. She nods as well, just as he seems to like. "You've been a huge help, Eben. Thanksomuch." She dashes off home.

Ebenezer nods after her again. "Goodnight." He checks his pocketwatch, then the clockwork readout. He grimaces. Time to head out himself. He adjusts his watch, then slips out.

Zolotisty's Symbol

Wall North of AceHigh

Zolotisty rotates her foot slowly. She grimaces as her ankle makes a few gristly noises before the joint finally pops. "Rhuh," she says to it, then resumes tuning her viola. Zolotisty is seated on a stretch of Outpost wall, facing out toward the Jungle. The wall guards on duty have preemptively decided that she's responsible for the entire eastern quadrant. Whether that's 'cos Zolotisty is eminently capable or they just don't want to be near her today is up for debate. Too many sharp looks, too much sharp fang.

Spandex krikraks her neck leftright as she mentally maps a path up the wall. S'not so easy today, STATs as they are. 'just steps dex' she reminds herself. Boot toes are twisted into the dirt and

Spandex runs, steps, steps, scrambles, flails, "fuck!s" and is hanging by her forearms, legs trying to get purchase. "unnghhk" as she finally hauls her ass over, most ungracefully.

Spandex pushes herself up to sit herself next to Z. "I'm here" she says, in a manner leading one to believe there was something pre-arranged.

Zolotisty 's ear flicks. She turns to look toward Dex, swinging one leg over the wall to straddle it. Easier to keep looking that way than twist for long. She tests another chord. It whines. Too sharp.

Zolotisty nods faintly at the announcement. "You are," she agrees in a manner leading one to believe there was nothing at all pre-arranged. She twists a peg, tries again. Then, Zolotisty says, sharper than she's wont, "Fucked it up right at the end there. Pulled back where you should've kept through. Were most of the way up, why'd you hesitate."

Spandex reaches over and runs her finger briefly along the edge of the instrument. She wants to continue, tracing up its curves and around but she pulls her hand back. "Hesitate?"

Spandex looks up at her, finally. "Don't trust myself on bad STATdays." This admission of weakness makes her cringe.

Zolotisty holds very still until Dex has pulled her hand back. Her gaze slides up. "Bad whats." A pause, narrow-eyed consideration, then Z jabs Dex's tummy with her bow. "S'your gut?"

Spandex drops her head to consider her diagnosis. "Weak days." She navel-gazes for another moment. "Gut. Heart. Head? Hrmm. Where's Courage stored, Z?"

Zolotisty 's tail loses some of its dangerous bottle-brush puff. She breathes out through her nose and considers. "..Don't know." A short pause before she adds, trying to be helpful, "Soul's in y'r foot."

Spandex chuckles and swings her legs, lightly kicking the wall with her boot heels. "Then guts are in your gut. In my mind anyway." She pauses her boot-swinging. "Sorry for touching your instrument."

Zolotisty wets her lips and takes another slow breath -- in, deep, feel it through the diaphragm, hold, release. She didn't decide to make death and aging so fucking unimaginative.

Zolotisty nods at the apology, then says, "Can it be bowed on strings?"

Spandex placates her hands with the jaggedy rough stone of the wall. A grin emerges as she taps a spot with her finger. A puzzle? "Can what be bowed, Z?" Her mind, though is working ahead. Bowstrings.

Zolotisty says, "The weakness." She twists another peg then tucks the viola between shoulder and jaw to saw off a short melody -- frantic and upward-driving, punctuated by broken expectation. Frustration.

Zolotisty says, "Like that, but fit to suit." She watches, lowering the bow.

Spandex finds herself gritting her teeth and stiffening her back. "What you played? All jerky-like?" Her finger taps harder on stone."But, I can't play."She looks up at her again. "Something wrong, Z?"

Zolotisty smiles faintly. "You don't have to play. But.. if you can't put an emotion to song, I don't know it's worth being guilty over. So I'm asking, is the courage you're looking for.. mn."

Zolotisty says, "Can you put its absence to strings. Could it be played."

Spandex stares at her fingers, now still. "Guilt isn't the same as frustration.. and" She holds up her hand, her forefinger and thumb curved into a circle."Absences are needed to create edges."

Spandex says, "So yes, absence can be played." She's still unsure why, though.

Spandex looks up at her again. Something's wrong. "Why you asking, Z? Something's on your mind."

Zolotisty draws her feet up onto the wall and stands. "'Cos you asked where courage is, and 'Ionno' is not a very good answer. If it can be played, then it can be felt." She pauses.

Zolotisty says, "You still didn't say why you hesitated at the end." She gestures toward the bit of wall where Dex came scrabbling up.

Spandex looks up at her and shakes her head slowly. She bloodywell knows exactly why she hesitated. "Gave up" she says quietly, giving up.

Zolotisty says, "But you were." Z steps off of the wall, down onto a swathe of air. "Right here. S'nearly there." She tilts her head, one ear flopping.

Spandex slumps a little, feeling admonished, "I know. Thinking gets in my way sometimes." She takes a deep breath and replays the successes. "When it works, it's done before it's even started."

Zolotisty wanders along the stretch of air she's put faith in. "Look," she informs the wall, "I do not have knees." The wall remains politely quiet on this matter. Z glances back to Dex and nods.

Zolotisty says, "Broke my arm coming off an easy jump, once. 'Cos I hesitated just before the ground. And it was daft, too. Take that kind of jump all the time. Take higher jumps all the time."

Zolotisty says, "Made everyone panic, couldn't do anything useful for ages. Made me skittish after that, 'cos I'd not jumped or landed or climbed or done anything with myself since then."

Zolotisty smiles. "It happens. It'll keep happening. You don't get over it, but you can cozy up to it. Real cuddle-like."

Spandex exhales. "Fear." She stares at the air beneath Z while her mind works through the puzzle. "Need it to find the edges of not-fear. But.. cuddle? So much attention?" No fear. Know fear.

Zolotisty says, "No more or less than you'd give to any.." She trails off. "..d'you not LIKE cuddling?"

Zolotisty says, "..'cos if you don't like cuddling, dex, that is alright."

Spandex laughs. "Missmodgoggs, you know I like cuddling just fine. You're the one that bristled." Her laughter trails off as she gets back to the matter at hand. "You like fear?"

Zolotisty grins. "No. But I don't dislike it either. It is a flag that says you have to do something. Maybe that is run away. Maybe that is put Bernard's pants back with his other underwears. Maybe.."

Zolotisty says after a moment, "Maybe it's accept that you can't do anything or that you are going to break your arm? But it's not anything other than that."

Spandex leans forward to argue again, but instead, she tests. "So, what? I should have stayed on the ground and asked for a fuckin' ladder?" Her mind chews on this some more. "Or.. huh"

Spandex says, "recognize the fear before I start." She pulls on the back of her neck. "Work it through. Why. Know it."

Spandex nods. "S'either a sign from outside, or me being weak. Gotta sort out which."

Zolotisty shrugs. "No. You should've done what you did." She considers. "Or just let yourself fall, wouldn't've hesitated so much the next time." She wanders closer to Dex, assessing her.

Zolotisty squints. "Weak's not bad. S'just a state, and transitory at that."

Spandex snaps, "T'hell with that. Hate falling." She continues,"stumbling, tripping. Illnesses, injuries." The words are almost spit out. "What?"

Spandex shakes her head, again. No. "Z. Weak doesn't survive. Especially alone." Her eyes narrow. "Why are you telling me this?"

Zolotisty says, "Cos it's true. Weak's not bad, Spandex. It'll be poison for you f'you go'bout thinking about it like that." She lifts the viola, offering it to her. "D'jyou want to touch it?"

Spandex 's face softens, "Yeh. I like to touch everything." It, the bow, her tail, her ears, those sharp teeth that pierced her frisbee, the fabric of her clothes, - a smirk - her lips.

Zolotisty shifts her weight idly to her other hip, tapping the bow against her leg as Dex takes the instrument.

Spandex takes the viola, one hand supporting it while the other runs along its surfaces: the smooth wood to the rounded lip, tight and broad curves. Forefinger follows the string-lines down and back up.

Zolotisty 's viola is in good condition, all things considered. There are a few nicks and scuffs on the top-facing body of it, and three parallel scratches on the back. Two unbroken lines and a broken line.

Spandex fits her curved fingers around its scroll, rubs the turning pegs. "This is beautiful, Z." She turns it over.

Zolotisty nods. "I think so."

Spandex's hand freezes. Tears well up suddenly and unexpectedly. "Thank you." she says quietly, not looking up. Her last symbol.

Zolotisty says, "Why?"

Spandex lightly traces the lines in the wood with her fingers. "Why?..do you know about these lines, Z?" She holds out the instrument for her.

Zolotisty tilts her head. "..they are claw marks." Is it a quiz!

Spandex looks down from Z's face to her hands. "An accident?"

Spandex is pulling her pack of cards out of her pocket. flipflipflipflip "It's here now." She lifts the card with the matching pattern on Z's viola. "I've been looking, Z."

Zolotisty shrugs. She leans closer to inspect the viola, then brushes hair out of her eyes as she straightens. "Maybe? Or fidgeting. I don't know. Why're you.." She gestures vaguely.

Zolotisty pauses, eyeing the symbol. Then her viola. Then the symbol. "What's that."

Spandex fans the other cards out along the top of the wall in front so she can see them. "I donno. I call them Symbols. There are eight, see. I've found seven, and been looking - waiting - for yours."

Spandex grins. Complete now. "Each means something. Wanna know what yours means?

Zolotisty says, leaning over the cards, reaching to touch some, "Aye, I do."

Spandex's grin widens. No. She's a joker now. "I mean. You guess what yours means. I'll give you the rules how it works."

Zolotisty lifts her head, ears pricked. Game!

Spandex takes a breath, and attempts to explain."The meanings of the symbol will contain these things: you, your viola, our meeting today - especially what we talked about. What you were teaching me."

Spandex squints at the lines on her cards. "It's like there are themes. Each card, each symbol contains themes. Just like events in our lives do. Like this one right now."

Zolotisty says, "Like Tarots."

Spandex thinks for a moment before agreeing. "Yeh. But I didn't know what the lines on your viola and my card meant 'til I saw it."

Spandex says. "Z. You created the meaning."

Spandex chuckles, adding quietly "and that's why."

Zolotisty tilts her head. "..but I didn't guess what it means, yet. So it already has the meaning?" She pauses. "I was going to say, auhmn." She gazes again at the lines. "..cleanerbot!"

Spandex arches her eyebrows. "What's a cleanerbot?"

Zolotisty makes a small boxy shape with her hands. "It is a little horrible thing that lives in our clan hall, following me and Skidge and Marly around to get dirt and what-all."

Zolotisty adds, "There are a several, actually."

Zolotisty says, "So, things."

Spandex huhs. "We have creepy men that Bernard gets in to do that. And Merlin leaves notes." She blinks. "Umm. How's it relate to you, your viola, our chat..?"

Zolotisty blinks. "Oh. Right. No, it doesn't. I broke that rule." She flashes a grin. "Sorry, it just looks like a cleanerbot. Other whys, I do not know. They are some lines, Spandex. I can't read them."

Spandex smiles at her. "Yes you can. Huhmm. Try this: if someone said, 'what did you and dex talk about?', how would you describe it in only two or three words?"

Zolotisty shifts her weight again, then steps up onto the wall. She leans to take her viola back, gently. "Mmn.."

Zolotisty counts on her fingers. "Be, aware, of." ..flags. But that's four. She flashes a grin and leaves it unsaid, sketching a loose bow as she disappears.

Spandex blinks, startled. She worries slightly at the space that Z was, hoping she's not unhappy.

Spandex packs up her cards, leaving what now she'll call 'Z's symbol' on top. Tears well again. Why.

Spandex runs her fingers across the lines,and gradually she realises she's been arrogant. It's not quite weakness or fear, as they discussed. Those belong to others. It's these tears. It's Z being tricksy.

Spandex 's tears were borne from tenderness.

Spandex slips her symbol cards into her pocket and lifts her skirt to reveal her striped stockings. "Complete now" she whispers to them.

Sun: wind/wood, gentle, penetrating, gradual, mild movement.

Change: Saber and Ada


Jokerbot g_rock sits on the edge of the fountain, peeling off bandages with only a slight wince once in a while.

Spandex sits beside him, poking lightly at his bruises. "Sea Lion got you good eh? Toldja you should have let me help you." She smirks and poke-pokes a dark bruise on his shoulder.

Lieutenant Saber has suddenly found himself caught in the stocks. He gyrates about, trying to inspect the latch on the foul contraption. His hair puffs about as clouds of soot drift here and there.

Jokerbot g_rock grunts a little "I did have you help me, Dex. That's what the bread was about. But, no, I've had worse." he smirks and smooches her cheek

Kestrel hears the sound of gyrating as she passes through. A rare sound, one that makes her curious. A pause, a hand offered to the unfortunate person in the stocks, and a snap.

Lieutenant Saber has managed to turn about in the stocks so that he faces the sky. He pauses for a moment, unsure about exactly how he managed this. Oh dear, that upside-down child has an overripe tomato.

Spandex leans happily into the kiss. "Hey G? Wanna be a guinea pig?" Not waiting for his response, she's pulling her deck of Symbol cards out of her pocket, and standing to face him.

Jokerbot g_rock shrugs "Wouldn't be the first time." he stands "What do you need me to do?"

Lieutenant Saber blinks. Apparently today was not the child's day for hunting Sabers. He ponders how he can get this other person out. "Ah.. . thank you.. er, for that. That tomato was meant for me."

Kestrel tries in vain to brush tomato juice from her hair and blindfold, but can't quite reach far enough. "Mnng, it's fine. 'm glad to help. The name's Kes."

Inked Ada is chewing on her hair. "Oh um. Hi Kestrel. Um. Hello Saber. Kes you have a tomato on your face do you want a handkerchief."

Spandex glances up to Kes and Ada the other fellow playing Stocks Tag. She grips her cards in her hand and begins stepping back from G. "Just stand still." She counts 15 paces. "Very still."

Lieutenant Saber procures a cloth and helps wipe away the remaining tomato juice. "Name's Saber." He reaches out and gives a shake to one of Kes's hands before turning around to that very familiar voice.

Jokerbot g_rock stands stock still, but unworried "Yass'm."

Kestrel grimaces at the taste of cloth, and shakes the hand as best as she can, before smiling in the vague direction of Ada'a voice. "All sorted, but thank you."

Spandex shuffles her cards. One hand into the other. shfshfshf. She focuses entirely on him while yielding to the will of Improbability, listening for its desire for expression.

Inked Ada has decided that there are too many people here for what she would rather like to do, so she settles for a blackened smile. She tries to gesture discreetly at dex. "What are they doing."

Spandex is a fairground knife-thrower. G, her Lovely Assistant. She sets him spinning. Wheels are put into motion.

Spandex sets herself on the same rotation. And throws. two cards in snap-sharp succession. fwpfwpfwp fwpfwpfwp. They knife the air and stick to it, next to his right ear. THAK THAK

Lieutenant Saber "Hmm" 's and rubs his chin. He hasn't even the trace of a beard, but the action helps him think. Or he thinks it does. Maybe both? He considers Ada's question. "No idea."

Inked Ada whispers to Saber, "Can you do that I do not think I can do that."

Jokerbot g_rock has yet to see her miss a target, and as such, he doesn't flinch. Even when the air splits next to his ear, leaving the cards hanging, still vibrating from the rapid travel

Spandex grins. ItworkedItworked . She skips over and plucks the bottom card from its suspension. "Okay. Lessee what symbol we got."brokenbrokensolid. "Tyr's Symbol-- calm, stubborn and immobile."

Spandex's smile quickly falls, though. She tugs the second card out to read it. solidbrokenbroken. "Sixy's--excitement,activity.. ." A smirk. "arousal.. . but. umng. Shit."

Lieutenant Saber shakes his head slowly. "Ada, if I could do that, I'd never use a knife to cut bread again." He pauses before asking. "You know either of 'em?"

Spandex pulls at her neck as she lifts the cards to look at them more closely. "Arrows on some of the lines. Look." She hands G the cards while fanning the rest of her pack. "No arrows on these still."

Inked Ada nods emphatically. Who needs knives, man. "Um the one with all the neat tricks is dex she is um well I won an eating contest against her once, she owes me." She puffs her chest proudly.

Jokerbot g_rock looks down at the cards. Completely incomprehensible to him, arrows or no."Erm.. .I don't know what to tell you, Dex. I can't read 'em."

Lieutenant Saber diligently notes that Ada has a bottomless pit for a stomach, and should he ever want to take her on a picnic, that he'll be sure to bring a pack mule."Ah. Let's ask them what they're up to."

Spandex hands him the rest of her pack. "Look! No arrows on any of the lines before I threw. It doesn't make sense." She stomps her boot in the dirt a little. "Sucks! I just got all my symbols."

Inked Ada rubs at her hands. "I don't know what if it is something important we shouldn't interrupt um. Also I do not know that other person and um. Actually she looks kindof angry um."

Inked Ada chews on her lip, then: "Um dex are you okay is there something wrong um."

Jokerbot g_rock shrugs and pats her shoulder "We'll figure this one out, too. Just like the rest.. ." he glances up at Ada

Spandex leans her weight heavily onto one hip and mumbles something that sounds like fuckinnofairwhy. "Oh. Hi Ada. What are you doing? And Yes." She tries to smile politely.

Inked Ada tilts her head. "Um I was watching you and um you did something really neat um how did you do that you should teach me also have you met Saber? Also who is this and has he met Saber?"

Inked Ada glances over, "Um this is Saber. Um. Say hi? Also what is wrong you said yes did that mean something was wrong?"

Lieutenant Saber waves and flashes a genuine smile. He's gotten used to Ada's very direct line of questioning, but he slightly regrets not introducing himself. "Hello! Dex was it?" To the other man. "Hi!"

Jokerbot g_rock doubletakes "Erm.. .Hi, I'm G." he extends a hand to each of them "Sorry, Dex just got some bad news."

Spandex's smile turns genuine. "Ada. It's great to see you again. I owe you a thingie for our contest and I have an idea. This is G. He's excellent and I donno, I just throw? And Hi Saber I'm dex."

Spandex thinks Ada and her should have a speed Question Asking contest.

Inked Ada shakes hands. "Um what bad news! That um sounds bad is everything okay. What is your idea."

Inked Ada prefers eating contests, because there is food whether you win or lose. There are no losers! Only less-winners.

Lieutenant Saber shakes hands. "Bad news. Hm. From those card things? Or what?" Saber idly wonders if maybe there is a news post office around, that sends out mailmen to deliver bad news. Maybe it got dex?

Jokerbot g_rock hands Dex back her cards with his other hand.. .wait what? He counts them again.. .Nope, back to two. "Nice to meetcha"

Spandex taps her deck of cards."Well my cards have Gone Wrong. And I just learned what they all meant, so it sucks 'cuz I have been waiting like forever to use them."

Inked Ada tilts her head. "My paintings go wrong all the time are your cards doing that too um. Like not doing what you want I mean. Um. Those are not normal cards what do they do."

Spandex lifts the two cards she threw to look at them closely. Yep. Still arrows. mnrrgh! "Wut? Your paintings go wrong how?" She hands the two to Ada. "Look. See the three lines on the cards?"

Inked Ada says cheerfully, "Well um they don't want to paint the way I want to paint, see, so um things go all weird in the back and um there was one that sent me to Kittania that was neat, also-"

Inked Ada pauses for breath, "also I made one of the failboat and there were people walking around and um well, that is my paintings um yes I see the three lines what do they do."

Lieutenant Saber cranes over Ada's shoulder, peering down intently at the cards and listening to dex. This could be interesting.

Spandex tilts her head towards Ada."Huh? What do you mean they go weird in the back? And.. . lines. Yes, do you know about Tarot?"

Spandex has never really attempted to explain her symbols altogether before. They've just Been.

Inked Ada flails her arms. "Weird! You know, like, um, winds blow and things. Also people paint themselves in and muck up my composition and um well."

Inked Ada considers the second part of dex's question. "And um, Tarot is a big card deck and um it's a game and also um sometimes people look at cards and they say things? I draw Tarot cards sometimes."

Inked Ada scratches at an ear. "And also sometimes bananas."

Jokerbot g_rock chuckles quietly. Dex may have met her match!

Spandex , just like the first time she met Ada, is in full grin and, fascinated. "Oh! I can do a fun joker trick with a banana. Right, G?" she winks up at him. "My cards are sorta like Tarot."

Earth Mage Paul Lo arrives at the same time as PuppetPaul enters the stocks, freeing the former stockie. The puppet, not the mage.

Spandex continues, fanning her deck of cards to Ada can see. "Each one has a Symbol on it, made up of three lines. See? Some broken lines and some solid. There are only 8 different Symbols in total."

Spandex taps the two in Ada's hands. "Each one means something. Just like Tarot, I think? And like, 8 friends taught them to me! Like Z's was in her viola and Lo bit my ear!" She tilts her head to show.

Spandex stretches the lobe of her left ear so Ada can see the Symbol scar on it. "From Little Brother's teeth. He's got fuckin' weird-ass teeth."

Inked Ada blinks. "Um. Does he normally bite people."

Earth Mage Paul Lo leans over miss Ada and waves at Dedex. There he is.

Spandex straightens. "I donno. He bites kittens and puppies and probably Marly. " She waves Lo over. "Ask him."

Jokerbot g_rock waves at Paul "Yes, Ada, fairly often. But usually not fatally."

Earth Mage Paul Lo whispers softly, "Going to need more rope."

Jokerbot g_rock shakes his head at Dex "Yeah, it's quite the trick."

Inked Ada eeps. There is a Lo leading over her. "Um. Why does he bite Marly actually don't answer that um. Hello um. Hi? I am Ada. Um so. What is gone wrong with your cards then."

Earth Mage Paul Lo mutters to himself, then breathes over Ada's neck.

Lieutenant Saber has been bumped quite out of the way. Previously, he was lost in thought over the meaning behind dex's cards, and leaning over Ada's shoulder. He brushes his shoulder off and walks next to her.

Jokerbot g_rock makes the official introductions. "Paul, these morsels are Ada and Saber. Morsels, meet Paul Lo."

Inked Ada swats at the breathing-thing ick. "Don't breathe on me I am trying to fix Dex's problems."

Earth Mage Paul Lo steps back some, waltzes some more, then ends near the Little Princess."A problem in the bed, darling?"

Spandex is temporarily distracted by all the bustling about.. "Oh! Umm. Okay so the two I threw? See? That one with the solid ontop? That's Tyr's Symbol. See those fuckin' arrows on the bottom two lines?"

Spandex elbows Little Brother. "No. In the deck." She continues explaining her problem to Ada. "Those arrows aren't meant to be there! Or. They're not there normally! They showed up for the throw."

Spandex lifts the rest of the cards and fans them out in her hands. "No arrows. See! And that other one in your hand? Sic's Symbol? It's got an arrow on the middle line. Something. It means something."

Spandex 's hands drop to her sides as she slumps slightly. "And I just learned what they all mean, too." She then leans over and lifts her skirt enough to check her striped stockings. "No arrows here"

Inked Ada tilts her head. "Oh um, people show up in my paintings all the time I'm trying to paint and all of a sudden there are people in it and they never want to sit in nice places for composition, see."

Inked Ada tilts her head. "The stockings are like the cards? Oh. Um. I don't have anything like my paintings. I don't think? Maybe? Um. Dex I want a set of these can I draw some so I can make them later."

Spandex straightens and hands her deck of cards to Ada. "I've only got the one deck Ada."

Inked Ada blinks. "Yes that's why I need to draw them so I can make myself a set later, can I?"She smiles hopefully.

Lieutenant Saber closes his eyes and stretches. He thinks to himself, vocalizing nothing. "If the card and the stockings are like each other, then maybe the cards are.." He loses the thought at that point.

Spandex stares at Saber. "Go on, Saber?" She points at the deck for Ada. "Only 8 Symbols, Ada. 8 in total"

Lieutenant Saber shakes his head. "Well. I don't know?" His hands fidget about at his waist, as if they're building something. Constructing. Saber's brow furrows for a moment, and then.. . "Nope. Nothing."

Spandex watches Saber and lifts her skirt again to show the stripes ."Two symbols on each leg, right? Left and right are matching. They appeared my first day of Joker?" She knows anyone can have answers.

Inked Ada scratches at her nose and draws the set with her free hand, grumbling as she works. Even cards don't want to just bloody well be cards, apparently.

Lieutenant Saber shrugs. "It all makes sense, so I'd guess that the answer would also make sense. Unless it's all nonsense. But that wouldn't make any sense at all, would it?"

Spandex peers to watch Ada work. "Wasswrong, Ada?"

Inked Ada tilts her head. Chews on a nail. Looks up at dex. "Dex, your cards are all wrong."

Spandex lifts her gaze to answer Saber. "I'm okay with Nonsense. But what Nonsense is this, then-- Ada WHAT? What?!?"

Spandex turns to find G. "G? That guy gave us Wrong cards?"

Jokerbot g_rock shrugs "It was a prize in a rigged fair game, can't expect too much I suppose."

Inked Ada scowls at the drawing. "Um see. This card wants to um. Um the one that goes one-two-two? And um, arrows on the bottom? It's like um. Well, you know how sometimes you are painting and you want, um,"

Spandex kraks her neck and frowns at G. She's not going to get angry.

Inked Ada continues, "You want it to be one way because it will look better? But um, it doesn't want to be like that, it wants to look different, um, in the painting. That is how it wants to be I think?"

Jokerbot g_rock walks behind Dex and wraps his arms around her shoulders "But, we'll figure it out. There's bound to be a way to fix them."

Spandex turns her attention back to Ada's drawing. "Ada. I don't understand. How do you know they want to be different?"

Inked Ada points at the card. "So um, this one has a line and then a broken line and then another one but um." She shows Dex the drawing. "It wants to draw like this, see. Line-line-line."

Inked Ada wrinkles her nose. "Can't draw it any different or it gets all grumbly. Don't want grumbly things in your drawings, they'll muck 'em up, you know."

Spandex 's forehead creases as she tries to make sense of Ada and her drawing. "Wait. Huh. And the other card I threw?"

Lieutenant Saber mutters. "So. Arrows." His mind starts doing the sort of loops a stunt-plane pilot would be proud of. "Since it all has to make sense, then the arrows make sense. Which makes.." Pause.

Inked Ada scratches at an ear. "Haven't tried it yet but um. Well probably it doesn't want to be like that either let me show you um."

Spandex 's mind is working. It's a Puzzle, surely. The whole thing has been. "And what you mean by grumbly, Ada?"

Inked Ada draws. The card she's copying has a broken line, then another, then a solid line. The first and last go down, but the middle.. . "This one's all wrong too."

Spandex watches closely as Ada draws the second card. "broken broken solid, Ada. Middle had the arrow" she reminds her.

Spandex leans up on her tiptoes. "The middle. The arrowed one? It won't stay broken?" She looks at the first card and Ada's drawing and compares them, too.

Lieutenant Saber continues on, pausing random intervals. "Which makes, which makes, the arrows point to the lines which don't want to be what they aren't, which makes things make sense." He looks over to Ada.

Inked Ada licks her index finger. "Prob'ly going to go change if I do this. Um. Doesn't want to be two lines, see, wants to be one." She paints two short lines between the top and bottom.

Inked Ada wipes her finger in her hair, and watches as the inked line swells to form a single, unbroken one. "Um. See? Didn't want to be, so, um, I let it be what it wanted, and um."

Spandex squeals! "Ada! Arrows. Arrows mean turn. Or go. Or change direction, like you said! Oh my god you fixed it!"

Inked Ada chews her nail. "And um well I think it's happier now. You don't want grumbly cards, they won't do anything right. Always complaining."

Lieutenant Saber considers Ada for a moment before rambling on. His hands working wildly to piece together this thought. "Which makes Ada's drawing right, because they don't want to be what they are on card."

Inked Ada is back to scratching her ear. "Well um, I didn't fix anything I don't think but um. You should watch out for your cards, case they wanna say something else, see. Um. What does it mean now?"

Spandex throws her arms around Ada and hugs her tightly. "You solved it! You did it. Thank you SO much!"

Lieutenant Saber 's eyes clear. "Dex. Your cards are still making sense, just not the sense you wanted them to make at first." He looks over at Ada. "and Ada proved it. Your socks are not broken."

Spandex releases Ada to consider Saber's thoughts. "Yes but why didn't they just be the opposite then? They want to show the change. KnowwhatImean?"

Jokerbot g_rock grins "Looks like they're not wrong after all!" he releases Dex.

Inked Ada eeps and is hugged! "Um. Showing change?"

Lieutenant Saber scratches his head. "The more complex something is, the more things it can express. Maybe this wants to express something different than one pattern or the other?" Saber chews his lip. "Yeah."

Spandex taps the first card she threw. "This is Tyr's Symbol. Means like, holding still. Being calm and stubborn. But when it changes umm.. . 3solids are Bernard! Father, energetic and strong."

Spandex 's mouth drops for a moment. "That's weird."

Inked Ada blinks. "Um. Why is it weird?"

Spandex turns and looks up to G again. The throw was, afterall, with him in mind. She answers over her shoulder. "Calm came up earlier, in my stockings. I'm meant to umm just let things happen."

Earth Mage Paul Lo looks up.

Jokerbot g_rock nods "Weird."

Spandex spins to face Saber and Ada again. "So now I'm not supposed to be still anymore? Is that what they're saying?"

Lieutenant Saber shrugs. "Maybe it's not that simple? Maybe if you weren't supposed to be one thing, then it would be the other? Maybe you should work your way into the other. It's changing, so you could too?"

Inked Ada frowns. "Um. Maybe? Um. The cards don't want to say still. Don't like being drawn still."

Spandex nods. "Yeh. Okay. Or change is going to happen and I have to work with it, like I do with Improbability. Express it?" She starts smiling again. "This is so fucking cool."

Spandex points to Ada's paper and drawings. "Your art isn't broken, Ada. At. all."

Inked Ada blinks at Dex. "What d'you mean, broken."

Spandex grins widely at her. "Ada. Same thing as my cards. Maybe your art wants to show you the change. It's not wrong, it's just not what you want."

Spandex glances up to Saber and shrugs.

Inked Ada scowls. "'S my art. Not gonna be good art if there are all these people lounging around in it where I don't want them."

Accomplice Teh Dave laughs. "Maybe the art wants the people to be there? It may not be perfect, but it's what it's supposed to look like? It's more real?"

Inked Ada startles slightly at Dave's laugh. "It's the people who want to be there, not the art. But if you don't let them, they'll get all annoyed. And um. Then it is um. Um it is not very good."

Earth Mage Paul Lo hums quietly, thinking about paintings of objects, paintings of persons and paintings of paintings.

Spandex thinks having paintings that change by themselves would be awesome. "Why is having the people in not very good, Ada?"

Inked Ada flails. "It ruins the composition! You can't just put people anywhere or dogs or flowerpots or whatever it's got to be everything in the right places."

Inked Ada grumbles, "I can't even paint a still life without something wanting to be different, it's gotta be ants on the grapes or something and I don't want ants you know."

Earth Mage Paul Lo seems to like that powder's taste.. .

Jokerbot g_rock headtilts "What if you tried painting it all wrong-like? Then maybe it'd change to normal.. .?"

Spandex grins. It is nice seeing someone else besides herself get angry for a change! "Wait. You drew actual grapes right? And then ants crawled into the painting? Did ants crawl on the actual grapes too?"

Lieutenant Saber pats Ada on the shoulder. Art shouldn't be so frustrating. Poor Ada.

Inked Ada is confused. "What? No, um, the grapes want ants or um well ants or something, and so you've gotta put it in there. It's um. Like your cards wanting to be the other lines. They don't like it else."

Spandex is thinking. Another puzzle! "Maybe ants are hungry and you fed them. That's nice."

Accomplice Teh Dave scratches his head. "So you paint the ants on the grapes? or the ants just show up?"

Earth Mage Paul Lo waves the small jar of blue powder. "Want to taste?"

Inked Ada looks at Dave. "I paint them, or the grapes get all sullen. Anyway um that was just an example! Like um. Dex's cards didn't want to be drawn like they were, they went and changed when I let 'em."

Inked Ada blinks at Lo. "What is it it looks like blueberry candy can I have some."

Earth Mage Paul Lo licks his non-existent lips and smiles widely.

Spandex has a small jar of powder suddenly waving in front of her. "Lo! Is that what I think it is?! You can't eat that! You'll.. ." Actually. fuckit. Paul eats most things he shouldn't.

Earth Mage Paul Lo 's hand that hold the jar is like a podium for all around to see and spread the Good News. Not that it is.

Accomplice Teh Dave blinks. "Well.. .sounds like it's a better picture with the ants then, if the grapes would be sullen otherwise."

Earth Mage Paul Lo winks at Little Sister. "It is, isn't it. I wanted some cheese monkey with it, but.. ."

Inked Ada shakes her head at Dave. "But then it means something, and sometimes you just want to make a painting with some grapes."

Lieutenant Saber raises an eyebrow. That powder doesn't look like candy. He cautions Ada."Uhm, you might not want to eat that.."

Spandex explains! "Ada. It is cobalt blue you said it was your favourite! I wanted to get you some, cuz Little Brother knows how to find it he's an Earth Mage." She lifts her beads. "See!"

Jokerbot g_rock feels a familiar pattern "Erm.. .Cobalt Aluminate Oxide, Paul? Where'd you get.. ."

Spandex scowls up at nearby cameras and tenses as G speaks.

Accomplice Teh Dave scratches his head. "But the grapes don't want to be just a painting with grapes. Can't go having sullen grapes. It's like having grumpy cards."

Earth Mage Paul Lo tut tuts Little Brother. A mage keep his secrets secret.

Earth Mage Paul Lo puts a lid over the jar and juggles it, along with two rocks.

Jokerbot g_rock grins "Right, I won't finish the question."

Spandex rocks back on her heels and tries to ignore the cameras. "Lo, can I trade you for some, please? For Ada, she's an artist and it is her favourite blue."

Inked Ada pouts at Dave. "But it's my painting. It's supposed to be about what I want." She looks up at Paul. "That is not candy."

Earth Mage Paul Lo stares at Dedex and takes his tophat; one, two, three objects fall in. He shows inside and waits.

Accomplice Teh Dave grins. "Art is always up for interpretation, right? Who's to say the painting can't have a say in it."

Spandex swings back up to her toes, impatient for Little Brother's trick. Or answer. "Please?"

Earth Mage Paul Lo pouts at her. "Pick something in first."

Inked Ada crosses her arms and glares at Dave. He's supposed to be on her side. He isn't a painting.

Spandex reaches her hand in Lo's hat and pull out a jar of blue. "THANKS!" She turns and presses it into Ada's hands. "I owe you. Like for the bet and today. S'least I can do."

Earth Mage Paul Lo sets back his hat of goodies atop his head, firmly placed between those long ears of his.

Inked Ada curls her fingers in excitement. She was almost out of blue and now she can make this into paint and ink and everything.

Accomplice Teh Dave grins cheekily at Ada. "What, It's a valid question, you know. Art has feelings too." He nods emphatically.

Inked Ada curls her toes, too. "Um Dex thankyou I needed some actually was going to ask Marly but um now I have some already, so. Um. Thank you! And um. Good luck with your cards, and um, bye everyone!"

Lieutenant Saber scrutinizes the jar. He doubts Dex would give Ada something dangerous from a bet. "I'm still not sure what this is, Ada, but you're not eating it. End of discussion."

Inked Ada turns to frown at Dave before she leaves. "But I am more important." She sticks her tongue out. So there.

Spandex adds very quietly. "Don't eat it. My mom ate it and ummm.. . She died. I never met her. Very important. Don't eat it."

Inked Ada grabs Saber's hand. "No of course not it is cobalt it's a colour and I can use it for everything um let's go."

Accomplice Teh Dave laughs at Ada's comment, then waves. "Take it easy. Good luck with your paintings."

Lieutenant Saber gives a nod. "Okay, let's go." Saber gives a small wave to everyone and then departs the outpost. "A colour? Grape and Orange are colours and people eat those. You're not eating that."

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i-ching.txt · Last modified: 2017/05/28 03:34 (external edit)