Online RP Thread - For those still on Skye

The morning is cold and grey. #74’s boots squelch on the muddy road; it’s the first clear day they’ve had in weeks, but the feeble sun has not managed to dry anything out. Hanover Camp, a small huddle of buildings and tents, sits quietly. No one appears to be about, although it must be about 10 o’clock at least. Someone has hung out washing. #74 considers it a sign of spirit of hope and as a testament of the human spirit. Perhaps things will not be so bad after all. Of course, given the choice…but this is a ridiculous and dangerous thought. There is no choice. Paperwork must be signed. She stares up at the sky, willing some ancient god of bureaucracy to help her through this trial. But that wouldn’t be appropriate. Perhaps Saint Jude?

She’s distracted from this train of thought by the clamour of her companions, who are starting to peel off and head into the camp, citing relatives to visit and friends to find. She calculates the bounties in her head as she approaches the taverna. Adair will want 3 blankets. Hewe asked for half a pound of sugar, but will have to settle for less, because the airship was late again. Iona bought back two heads so she gets six lemons, four bars of soap, half a gallon of vinegar and as many mothballs as she wants.

The tavern is quiet; no one lounging on the porch at this time of morning. No one must be up yet. #74 sits down in the chair, and lights up a cigarette.

Inside the Taverna, Esther North sits against a pile of cushions focusing on a pair of tiny slippers dangling off the end of her knitting needles, her hands moving methodically as she counts stitches. She pauses and places a hand on her stomach, smiling as her child moves inside her and murmuring something, either to herself or the baby.

She knows that there are those who are unhappy that a cultist should be allowed to move so freely amongst the occupants of the camp or who think it indecent that someone who’s professed ideas so contrary to the stubborn faith of the little band of fighters who carefully guard her should sit here like this, unbothered and, for the moment, at peace. Her apparent contentment and love for her child are so simple that anyone uninformed of her situation would assume her to be just another one of a number of women in the camps expecting babies: Hopeful, yes, nervous, yes, but ultimately unremarkable, just another human allowing herself to perpetuate her species’s survival rather than the traitor she’s shown herself to be.

Still smiling, Esther picks up her knitting and resumes her work.

some distance away in a forest clearing, #23 steps carefully though the gore surrounding what’s left of the cow and wishes dearly for more cult activity to investigate, anything at all to occupy him but this hunt for what’s thusfar looking like some wild predator or maybe a demon (not a particularly nasty or bright one, and separated from whatever Prince it serves if sporadic cattle mutilation is the worst it’s done). He’ll be cleared to return to his soldiers in Calcutta soon, the chemostabilisers and cold weather have done wonders for his newly-regrown limbs, but for now his standing command to assist Skye’s authorities in whichever capacity they deem appropriate has taken first priority in the absence of cultist attempts to rescue their captured agent. Well, relieving the locals’ paranoia about their herds is at least a better use of his skillset and abilities than tilling a field somewhere…

A local predator is looking less likely by the second, actually, the previous three victims were killed and partially consumed in their paddocks, but the bent gate, two ripped-up fences and extended drag-trail of blood and gore that led him to this fourth one make a decent argument that the killer he hunts is no natural beast. The level of dismemberment would also point to a demon, though he’s seen plenty of mutilation back in India that needed no demon or animal to perpetuate it, just disturbingly sane humans. He bends to examine the steaming neck wounds that killed the poor creature. The smell of blood and animal terror that hangs in the air stirs some echo of a revulsion response, but the ghost of a man who died long ago is an insubstantial thing and easily enough ignored.

Demons usually have more impressive teeth and claws than the ones that inflicted the damage here, but there is a prickly buzz of aetheric energy on the edges of the wounds, a residue as perceptible to a homunculus as the blood is to anyone. No human he knows of could have punched through a steel gate, grabbed a cow and dragged it a significant distance through rough terrain and solid fences while simultaneously ripping it apart, and zombies don’t do anything so purposeful on their own, but those bites are the size and shape of a human…ish mouth. This raises questions and questions need answers and for those he’ll need to speak with someone more familiar with recent events on Skye than him.

#23 finds a nice tall oak to climb in order to survey the land and find the quickest route to the Hanover camp, they don’t trust the Differently Alive on this island, but young #74 won’t have been scared off, she’s a tough lass and if she’s not at the camp she’ll be nearby.

This day may just have gotten interesting after all…


#74 can hear movement from inside the taverna. She finishes her cigarette, then peers through the window. It’s Miss. North, looking whatever the suitable positive adjective is for a pregnant woman. Radiant? Glowing? Large? Larger, perhaps. Miss. North must be at least about halfway through her pregnancy now. Mrs. Chisholm said that childbirth required a lot of hot water. And that you should put whiskey in the baby’s mouth to ward off the evil eye. #74 considers this. Miss. North probably knew that already, being a trained demonologist. Therefore, she had no obligation to draw this to Miss North’s attention. Also, being a cultist, Miss North’s own eyes were presumably evil, so what she would be against would be good eyes, or…something. Anyway, it was all safely in the hands of Mrs. Blake. #74 decides that when she hears that the baby’s coming, she’s going to go on an extended perimeter check of the entire island. But she has standing orders, so she takes a breath and stands in the doorway.

“Ms. North, you haven’t seen Captain Blake or Mitislav around, have you?”

Zek pulled his collar higher as he stood at the foot of the zeppelin tower. It was meant to be summer, but today clouds were rolling in off the hills and the wind was picking up fiercely. Zek looked up at the zeppelin tugging at its moorings. He couldn’t imagine how bad the wind would feel once he got up onto the gangplank, into the teeth of it. He shivered.

He didn’t particularly want to be getting onto this deathtrap, putting all his faith into a metal box propelled by a flimsy bag of… well, air, he supposed. His previous experiences with zeppelins had only come about because he was either off his face the entire time, or had Amadeus there, giving him that ‘you can’t be serious; stop worrying’ look. Well, Amadeus wasn’t there this time. Zek reflected that he really should have had more to drink that afternoon. He’d left Amadeus to it; didn’t want to crowd a family reunion, just gave a curt nod to Atticus and a “Well, be seeing yeh” to Amadeus. He’d write him later on; no sense in getting mushy. Besides, he had bigger things to check in on.
He did some quick sums in his head, figured it’d take about eleven hours to get to France, depending on where precisely he was being met. The sun was starting to set now, so it’d be just after dawn when he arrived. If he arrived. That was one possibility. Or the ship could crash into the Channel. That was another. Or he could stand here for the next eleven hours, staring up at the dirigible that looked for all the world like it was made of tissue paper, not get on the thing, stay in Ireland, and not die in some sort of fiery explosion. Yes. That would be most sensible.

But he had a job to do, all the same. So he showed his papers to the flight conductor, took the rather rickety elevator to the top of the tower, and tried not to let anyone see that the hand that took the papers back was shaking like a leaf in a highlands storm.

“Ms. North, you haven’t seen Captain Blake or Mitislav around, have you?”[/quote]

Esther takes her time finishing the row she’s working on- Suddenly, her well-practiced stitches seem to require utmost concentration. “Hmmm,” she muses. “Captain Blake. Captain Blake. And Mitislav. Let me think.” Stitch. Stitch. She frowns. “There are so many of them, you see. And they all rather blend together in my mind. So boring. So noble. So bent on never letting me have any peace.”

(The memory of Uncle Dennis’s housekeeper springs to mind. “Evil little thing, that one is,” Louise would complain. “All this spendin’ time in the Church ain’t done nothin’ to stamp that out of ‘er, an’ all this effort tryin’ to civilise ‘er is wasted. Somethin’ ain’t right with that girl. You’re blinded by love, that’s why you can’t see it, but no one 'at gets close to 'er’ll ever come to a good end, you mark my words. You can’t even talk to 'er but she takes it as a challenge to see how she can aggrevate yer.”)

Looking up at #74 with wide-eyed, innocent dismay, Esther exclaims: “Oh, those two! Yes, I know who you’re talking about. I’m afraid you’ve just missed them. I’ve bitten their heads off and thrown their bodies into a ravine. I do hope that doesn’t inconvenience you too much.”

Moved to own thread to make more sense

#74 blinks at her, politely. Shakespeare ruined me for ordinary evil people, she thinks. That or the age of great rhetoric has passed.

“Thank you, Miss. North,” she pauses. “And I must say you’re looking a lot larger than the last time I saw you.”

A local who’s slumped over the table lifts his head, chortles, and puts it back down with a thump.

“I take it as a sign that you and the child are healthy,” she continues. There’s a definite look on Miss North’s face, and she’s not quite sure what it means. “But I’m sure either or both will return shortly.”

She sits down in what she hopes is a firm but very polite manner. She should go and check on Gadget at some point. Make sure she’s eaten. Still, it’s nice to look after people who will not and will never build demon cages, get people addicted to mysterious substances or refer to her as “it.”


For a while, the letters keep arriving, two or three every day the Royal Mail comes in. They’re addressed to all sorts of people in the camp: Moss, Gadget, Jasper. Leo gets one practically every day. A handful of them await the mercenaries’ return. There are only two people who don’t seem to get any mail at all: the absence of letters for Amadeus is matched by the absence of Amadeus, and Esther’s name doesn’t appear on any of the envelopes.

They’re almost identical, these letters. Neat, typewritten envelopes. A single thin sheet of typewritten paper inside each one. Nothing effusive or outwardly alarming. The message in each letter is the same; only the dates change. The first group arrives on the 9th of July.

[i]Information Office
The City of Albi
9th July 34AR

Receipt of Attempted Mailing

To whom it may concern,

This letter is to inform you that Visitor IRE-291-D attempted to contact you by mail. The letter sent contained information that was deemed to be sensitive by Albi protocol, and as a result, we were unable to transfer it.

Paolo Fontana,
Information Office[/i]

Then, without warning or fanfare on the 17th of July, the letters stop arriving.

[size=30]No, you don’t recognise this person.[/size]

Argh, I want to say something I’ve just noticed, but I’m not on the island, so I bloody well can’t. Grr. This is what I get for reading the fine print.


[size=20]No, you don’t know these people either. Gosh, maybe you’d better do something about all these people you don’t know wandering through your fields, picking your crops.[/size]

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING. I did not put all this effort into researching this to have it stolen from under our noses.

Don’t blame me. I’ve noticed the fine print, but I’m playing a character who’s probably not even allowed near your precious crops lest they wither and die under her gaze. :smiley:

On my way back to Skye from one of my many errands, the sight of people I have never seen before in our crop fields sends shivers up my spine, but I head back to the camp to make my report and let everyone know that something bad may be happening

The missing crops are the topic of conversation in almost every settlement #74 goes into. No one thought to tell her, or perhaps they forgot; she’s been stuck almost continually out doing something; quarantine zones, cyborgs, cleaning up after cultist or demon attacks . She saw people gathering crops but trusted that they were meant to be there; after all, she has trusted thus far that the people here are good and kind with the best of intentions. It’s acting outside her orders, but she tells them: this is how the HEITC deals with thieves. Double the patrols, double the punishment for those caught. She tells them about the man-traps; hidden iron contraptions that break and sometimes entirely sever limbs. She talks also of the razor wires and the electric fields that spark randomly over a pattern of hours, which shock anyone who gets caught in them. Where I’m from, the only people who have permission to touch crops are those with passes. Yes, I know, more paperwork. And have random spot checks. Corruption is inevitable (that’s what Lord Kain told her, once) and often impossible to stop, but those who have obeyed the rules and suffered love nothing more than to watch those who have broken those rules and benefited to be punished. In some places, she says, watching their horrified faces, they cut off a thief’s hand and then replace it with a mechanical one, then send him or her out to pay back not only the cost of what they stole but the price of the doctor, the resulting medical care and then the price of the new hand. Or they’re branded with hot irons, or…

This is not East India, they say. This is Skye. There must be some middle way between what we have now and…what you just described. #74 shrugs. It’s not her place. She recently read something somewhere; “Civilisation today is not measured in terms of libraries or wine; rather, it is the lengths a community will go in order to privilege trading over theft.”* She tells them this. They all nod and agree. But security has its price (Lord Kain, again) and it is often paid more for by the innocent, rather than the guilty. She hands over the necessary paperwork, states her reservations (On her first patrol in India, she’d found a would-be thief exsanguinating in a cotton field. The unlucky soul had managed to make it half way across before being discovered; upon seeing them, he cried out “I am saved!” and promptly expired.)

If you behave like an animal, you will get treated like one. Never forget that. Animals steal from each other, but humans must not; humans must think about the whole, rather than the one. She tells herself that it is out of her hands now; she has made no decisions, she has no real influence here. She builds walls and burns corpses and fixes roads and finds lost sheep. She is one small gear in a machine.

But they build a new gallows in Edinbane, which she cannot pass without feeling the stab of guilt.

*-Mr. N. Kelly, ‘An Economic Plea for Civilisation’, 34 A.R (Courtesy of Russ K)

Sarah stared blankly at the wall of the Royal Bodyguards outpost on Skye. She could see why her peers had abandoned this place in order to spentdmost of their time in the tavern instead. It was tempting, but she was on probation and getting drunk would not convince the higher ups to give her back her guns.

Sarah yawned and idly carved meaningless symbols into the table top. She should probably wander around talking to people. It wasn’t like there weren’t plenty of things she could be investigating. The most popular demon prince of the age had been killed here, under very strange circumstances. The reports made it sound like a bunch of locals had killed him by accident while fighting off some cultists. Also the birthday-assassin was still wandering around not dead, though that was less confusing as the queen tended to be merciful about that sort of thing. Sarah smiled at the thought, possession - the new insanity plea. It was that kind of mercy that made The Queens Bodyguard’s lives so much harder. What was to stop this Jasper fellow from being possessed again after all? Nothing. Also there was a cultist in the camp, it might be a good idea to have a chat with that one, at least learn which demon she worshiped.

Sarah yawned again and continued to stare at the wall. No need to act really, none of that stuff was Sarah’s business.


There are two types of people, Esther learns, at least when it comes to their reaction to a cultist in their midst.

There are those who are content to outright despise her. Fair enough, really. She’s been around those who directly oppose her ideal vision of humanity’s future enough to know that despising them is an absolutely reasonable response. She’d feel the same, in their position.

The ones she hates are the ones who revel in the scandal. Every so often someone will start throwing insults in an attempt to get a rise out of her or even attempt a conversation (mostly consisting of unsuccessful attempts to induce shame in her). It’s fodder for the camp’s gossip mill, nothing more. Not home-brewed justice or an attempt to bring a lost lamb back to the fold, no matter what they tell themselves.

The worst are the ones who claim noble intentions. “No, no, dear, I’m not here to pry, I just want to help, if I can.” In her opinion, she’s being more civil than they deserve in the responses they receive. (“Of course I’m not posessed, you stupid busybody. Now unless you’ve got anything useful to ask me, run along and take your vexing little do-gooder attitude elsewhere.”)

Meanwhile, gossip continues to circulate.

She’s absolutely, barking mad, you know. Snaps and hisses at people if they gawk. Laughs manically if they ask if she’s ashamed of herself for leading on the good people who’re just trying to keep the refugee camps functional, convincing them that she was on their side, that they were her friends, even. Not one speck of remorse. Disgusting.

After a while, though, a second kind of gossip emerges.

You don’t think she’s exhibiting a bit of a rapport with her captors, do you? Sometimes it seems like the way she bickers with some of them is some sort of game they’re playing. I don’t think she’s even the least bit afraid of them, nor them of her. And Henry said he heard her laughing from the other side of the wall of the back room in that sinful Taverna those gypsies run. Honest-to-God laughing, like someone’d said something that delighted her, not maniacal like she gets when someone tries talking reason to her.

Of course, people will latch onto anything to keep themselves occupied under such bleak circumstances. Gossip’s the easiest form of entertainment, free and easy to come by. People will talk. And rumour is only rumour, and can’t be trusted.