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In memory of Flyin' Black Jackson
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912319 No. 912319 ID: c5bc22

Your broken spirit and body rests on a roof of a decrepit building in a city just as ruined. The sky is red and filled with black clouds, the sun not rising or setting, nowhere in sight. You have fallen here, the crater of your impact shocking both in its size and in the fact that you haven't broken through into the building. Pieces of what you were, what you could have been, land around the roof and into the street below. Laughter rings out, and the building starts to shake. You have failed, you know that much. More information is evasive - only that you are dying, and that dying here means not death, but something much worse. Some sort of wager, some sort of bet.

But you are not dead yet. Yes, most everything that falls near you, within reach, is broken and useless. But here and there are pristine, beautiful things, more ideas than objects. It was you, you know, that gave them shape once. You built them from the nothing, the void that rests between consciousness and Dream, from nothing but ideas and wonder. They have lost most of their luster - whatever struk you stripped them of most of their glory. But here they are. Relics. Artifacts. Things that once were, and could be again. And if you want to live, you'll need one. You don't know why you know you could take only the one, but it's a reality that is apparent.

The enemy is monstrous. A beast with swords for fur, and guns for claws. It laughs as it destroys another building, just nearby. You are sure that it is looking for you. It is only a matter of time, and there is no escape.

What shall you take, DREAMER?

No. 912321 ID: afdebc

No. 912326 ID: 4d6f6d

No. 912327 ID: 97b4a9

No. 912328 ID: e0ca8d

No. 912333 ID: 094652

No. 912353 ID: 080aaf

No. 912354 ID: 470289

No. 912355 ID: cde9e1

[spoiler] +2 Range
+2 Shield[spoiler]
A sword to cut down your foes. A weapon of division, seperation, and skill. Noble and straightforward. Fingers close around a hilt as if they were always meant to be there, tearing it from the stone floor of the roof with shocking ease. Things return to you, as you lift yourself first to your knees, then to your feet. The weapon is simple. A hilt widens into a long, uncurved blade that has a single edge. Unadorned. Unfinished. Incomplete. And yet, without question, it is yours. A thing of your own making that has your own power.

/|GAINED: $%^&^&'S SWORD|\

You feel your power rising, lifting inside you, but you know yourself to still be fragile. The monster below has you outgunned in so many ways it is difficult to count them. But the building has begun to shake and tremble with his power, your other artifacts gone. Whether it was due to not taking them, or if they've been spirited away, it's impossible to tell. Something tells you they are not destroyed, though: simply misplaced. Moved. Moved, just as you should move now. The building begins to list to one side. Looking over the edge, you can see your foe at the base of one of the corners. Its main mode of attack seems to be blasting things with the firearms on its... arms. The bristling sword-fur seems almost entirely unused, even though it must stand on two legs - baring a belly bare of steel - to do so. Not to mention its bald, mole-like head and face. You have options, once more.

No. 912357 ID: 5f3f48

Building hopping time. Whatever this thing is, it bested you when you were whole, and now you are lessened. Time to withdraw, regain strength, and gather intelligence before facing it again.
No. 912393 ID: 2202fb

are we a warframe?
No. 912424 ID: f0fb6b

As much as I wanna attack it right away, we were nearly killed while at full strength. We're much weaker now, so we must regroup. Leap away to another building.
No. 912520 ID: f0b3fe

You need to ESCAPE. After all, did nott this beast strike you down in your prime? It's a running leap to the next building, a heart-stopping moment in the air. Silence stretches on,

and on,

and on,

And then you land, a rolling, stumbling thing, before fire erupts from the ledge. More explosions follow you as you keep on running, lobbed explosives, and only barely do you evade spikes that slam into the concrete and crack it. Chips of concrete clatter against your face, and one arm is raised to shield you. And then you are pulled by instinct to a stop at the edge, because there is no third building to leap to. No, it can't end here.

"What a troubling thing to see. &%*#^*$, of all people, reduced to this. What a shame." The voice is odd, pitched strange, without gender or age. "But I suppose that was her plan all along. Good and noble &^*%&$&#, I have been asked to assist you. The price has been paid." the source is just as strange: A man in some sort of business suit of many colors. One sleeve is red, another blue, one lapel bright yellow, another an eye-searing orange. They shift from one to another, only the tie at its neck retains a solid black color. The rest of the sharp outfit is a wildly scintillating mess of colors and hurts to look at. Even the mask - or is it a helmet - shifts not color but textures, looking at one moment smooth, another rough, yet another bumpy. The thing raises one hand across its chest and bows.

The explosions have stopped. In fact, everything has stopped - the explosions, chips in the air, a sword-spike frozen in time beside the masked thing. "I can help you in a few ways. Or I can leave you here, probably, to die as proudly and nobly as you ever lived. Fitting, I suppose, but hardly worth the price paid. Do you like to make young girls cry, *^&%*&# ? ...Because dying here would certainly do that. Now then:"

>"I can tell you how this happened. Not all of it. A curse prevents it."
>"I can defeat your foe. But I will also, of course, take the prize you'd otherwise gain."
>"Or I can give you an escape in truth."
>"...But if you pay me, in addition to what she did, I can give you a new Name. Yes. A new Name might be just what you need. I won't even charge much..."
No. 912532 ID: b15da4

>"I can defeat your foe. But I will also, of course, take the prize you'd otherwise gain."
To the victor go the spoils! Our life is a nice consolation prize today.
No. 912536 ID: 2202fb

No deals with the devil, lets find our own way out.
No. 912540 ID: f0b3fe


I heard that.

I'm no devil, little dreamers. I'm not one to twist deals, or rely on semantics. Letter and spirit. That is how I run things.
A young lady asked me to save you. I gently ask you to reconsider your motion to rebuff me. I'm not about to suggest the how of the matter. That's not my purview. But I made a deal, and part of that is convincing you to go along.

Rest assured, unless you ask for a Name, I won't charge you.

No. 912551 ID: afdebc

Tell us what happened. Information is a weapon, and we will require it to make decisions going forward.
No. 912553 ID: e0ca8d

Information, then.
No. 912610 ID: d18b05

Let him kill it. That's revealing in of itself.
No. 912644 ID: 094652

Pay the guy, get a Name. Whatever that is, it seems to give you augmentations. Might be what you need to kill this beast.
No. 912699 ID: 7409d2

rolled 1 = 1

No. 912700 ID: 7409d2

"Destroy him." It feels strange to speak. Your voice is stripped of anything that might serve as identification: Genderless, ageless, blank of expression or intent. Simple and to the point. A transaction of sound and information, without expression. The sheer lack of anything human in it is almost distracting until the masked being nods.

"A deal is a deal. The lady knave will be happy to know you are safe. Do wait here - or watch. I'll make certain you are safe." he walks to the edge of the building, where you follow in the frozen time, and watch him simply step off the edge. He falls, perfectly calm, in a standing pose. You notice that the projectiles around you are now facing away - deflected. When the masked one lands, time resumes like a thunderclap, and the projectiles clatter around you, harmless. Even an unexploded shell of those massive guns clonks beside you, rolling away. You can only watch as the masked one stands before the sword-furred thing - you think it looks like some bizarre union of porcupine and armory - and the moment stretches on. Until the masked one bows.

For his trouble, the creature levels his weapon and fires instantly. The smoke clears to reveal not a gory scene of jigsawed red paste, but a crater. The masked one stands on the long barrel of the gun. He tilts his head to one side.
"Bristleburr." he states evenly. "The witch has no use for you now. It is over. Your chance is over, and her plan has failed."
There is shock in... apparently Bristleburr's face, or what passes for a face, as its Name is spoken. "Yes, yes. I know your Name. Such power in such an unassuming Name. But I bet you had help." he raises his hands before him, gloved in white, and something stretches between them. Shimmering lines of light. Something is said. You catch the Name again in it, but the rest is nonsense, and when the masked one is finished, he claps his hands together and says but a single thing:

"Choke on your stolen power, gerbil." and snaps his fingers. The sound rings through the buildings, echoing back over and over, and suddenly blades are sticking from Bristleburr's belly, chest, and jaw. Eyes go wide before he explodes from within, and you have to duck to avoid the shrapnel. A single glowing mote floats down after the mess, resting between the masked one's hands. With a clap, it vanishes into his grasp, and he bows.

Vanishing as well.

You sit back, safe. Relieved. It's over.

You wish you'd used a different alarm clock - the beeping sound that penetrates you dreams feels like a chain reeling you in with a horrible meat hook. Eyes open to an empty room - unadorned and mostly unused. You don't spend much time here. Eyes stare at the far wall. Right.

A dream. Ugh, you've got just enough time before your morning ritual to...

>Write in your dream journal. After all, you've got that assignment going.
>Check your social media. There's probably some new thing going on and you'd hate to be out of step with the gossip at school.
>Read the news. It's important to stay informed.
>Prepare a bigger breakfast than usual.
No. 912701 ID: afdebc

Write it down, it's probably significant.
No. 912880 ID: 7b17f1

The morning fog dissipates as you write in the dream journal. You keep it brief and simple, keeping to the details, and sigh as you finish the page, flexing your hand to work out the ache from writing. A thought strikes you, and you look through the other pages - only to be greeted with a load of gibberish. Well, not entirely - the dates are legible, and the shape of the writing - not paragraphs, but lists - is intact. But the words mean nothing, even when you squint. For example:

%&^$*$^$ BET %%$^#*&@^ -> &%*$&$^#$^ LOSS
%&%&*#$* BET *%%&$*& -> ^&%&$*&%&* WIN
GAINED &%^%$^#$^
%%^$%&%& BET *(%*%*%** -> &%*&%&&%$ WIN
GAINED %*%*%($$($
$%*$*$&# BET (%R%*%*($ -> %$*%&$&*#$ LOSS

And every page is like that, over and over, all the way to the very first page, which is a bulleted list. RULES is at the center top, so clearly it's a list of, well, rules. For what? You don't remember any of this. Will the teacher accept it at the end of the month? Who knows. Clearly you thought so earlier, but you can't remember writing in it. Only that you had the assignment. The handwriting - what you can parse - is yours as well. Besides. You've more important things to worry about - there's a test today, you think, in your mathematics class.

You are Nanashi Clarke - a half-Japanese transfer student to an American school. As your name implies, you were born in Japan, to a Japanese wife of an American military officer. You're aware of some sort of scandal surrounding the matter, but it was resolved, mostly, before your birth. You take after your mother far more than your father, but you liked the idea of the transfer program. It would be interesting to learn more about your father through his culture, as often as he is away. Indeed, you're often left to your devices, thanks to earning the trust of your parents at an early age. You never really minded - Isolation never bothered you all that much, and habit left you jogging to school. It isn't far - barely a few miles - and the run wakes you up.

It's a beautiful day, even in mid-November. Almost no traffic, making the run relatively quiet. It isn't long before you approach the school - a big, blocky, old building that has seen many renovations, none of which did anything for its appearance. You don't even really recall the name, it's just The School. And as you approach, you find yourself smiling, because Jennifer is there. You were surprised to find her the first time you ran to school, and the two of you hit it off as fans of various 'occult' rumors. Things like Ouija Boards, stuff like that (Though she would be hasty to state that one should never use one of those boards, as it is dangerous in so many ways...) and tabletop games. She'd always struck you as the mousey sort. Big sweaters, heavy cargo pants, thick glasses and a scarf. Though she always bundles up, according to your other friends - as if she's trying to hide in her own clothes. You don't blame her. She's not exactly a socialite princess.

"Clarke!" she jumps up, green eyes wide. "You're okay."

>"What, did you hear I was hurt or something?"
>"Yeah, I'm fine. Hey, do you know anything about this?" [Show her the dream journal]
>"So do you remember what's on our math test?"
>"[Something Else]" Not all writeins will be accepted even on majority.
No. 912882 ID: 5f3f48

Um, yes, I am. Why would I be? Did something happen?
No. 912968 ID: 336f21

"Why would I not be? Did something happen?" you ask, concerned. Jennifer tilts her head to one side, then her eyes widened. "She did it. The bitch actually..." she sighed, rubbing her face heavily with both hands. "Oh, god, how do I even start." she looks through her phone, and shows you a Facebook thread: Apparently a classmate...

Killed himself.

"Wh-what?!" you can't help but stare, this is sudden news. Sure, the kid wasn't all that popular."That's... Brandon? Brandon Burne?" You find yourself searching your memory. Always the sort to exist in the background. "Didn't he try to start that Kaiju Club, or whatever?" you're puzzled as to his relevance. It's sad, but...

"Look, we both have a dream journal, right?"
"Yeah, for class."
"Not just for class, for record-keeping. Because we're both... How to say this... Special. And so was Brandon. We can do something not many can. You just have to remember what." she frowns. "I can't tell you."
"Why not?"
"Because you're cursed." she groans. "That's the worst part! All your memories of the %&^%*%^#$* are scrubbed out and trying to tell you about ^*%&%* won't work either! Because you won't understand me when I try. Even though you were %&*%$$*%." she rubs her forehead. "Look, maybe you remember this. Or maybe you can understand it." she digs in her bag, rummaging. The bell rings for classes. "Oh, for... Look. Come to my place after class! It's important! And stay away from Beatrice!"

Class is boring. The test passes without incident - you feel confident you passed. Lunch comes, and goes - it's a quiet affair, today, even as heavily populated as our school is. No one wants to talk. A death in the student body always does that, on reflection, and this year has been terrible - three at least this year, a ring of accidents and now a suicide. The first two were even really popular kids, if you remember right, but being a transfer you don't remember. They even brought in more counselors to help matters... For that matter, you're not sure what Jennifer meant by staying away from Beatrice. Some sort of rivalry? They'd always been decent friends before...

Your head aches.

School is over.

>Go to Jennifer's.
>Go home.
>Call Beatrice to see what happened.
>[Something Else?]
No. 912970 ID: 5f3f48

So, if Jennifer can be believed, something important happens in your dreams, which is why you record them. Only something has corrupted your memories of this, _and_ your journal. Apparently whatever caused this led to Brandon's death- which is why she was surprised to see you.

Now, either she's right, and you're mixed up in something strange and dangerous you no longer understand. Or this is bullshit and she's having you own, and you end up looking foolish.

Risk reward says you should follow up. The consequences of ignoring this if she's right are worse than the consequences of being pranked.

Go to Jennifer's, see what else she has to say.
No. 913231 ID: 978ff6

Go to Jennifer's, heed her advice. There's clearly something wrong with our perceptions.
No. 913274 ID: fb8a1f

The area is sort of dense - everyone lives less than twenty miles from The School, sort of. Jennifer lives in a an apartment nearer to the school than you, but on the opposite side from your place. You barely reach the doorbell before the door opens and you're pulled inside with a little cry of surprise - both at the suddenness and at Jennifer's strength.

"You're here. And Dad's not, so we can talk openly." she's still all bundled up, even adding a robe wrapped around her like a robe. That, and the various pendants, amulets, and other items hung up around her room give her a distinct feel as she sits opposite me, on her toy chest. She's lived in this apartment, as far as you know, since she was a child. "I was trying to show you something of Brandon's. His favourite figure. I was borrowing it." she reaches over to her desk and pulls out a foot-tall figurine.

A hunched pose with stubby arms and legs, like a gerbil standing up. Two big cannons on either arm. And a back covered in spikes. "Remember this?" she asks, meeting your eyes. "We were all played, Clarke. You more than anyone, but me, you, Brandon, and the other ^%$&$&%. We were all played by Beatrice." she sighs, rubbing her forehead, "Thankfully, I bet you haven't made a proper Wager today. So you're safe tonight, at least for now... But I don't know if someone from her camp will challenge you at school tomorrow. And I don't know if you can win."

>"What in the world are you talking about?"
>"...Are you telling me that my dream last night had something to do with Brandon's death?"
>>"Did I kill someone?!"
>"Did you catch the chuuni, or what?"
No. 913277 ID: afdebc

>"Remember this?"
In my dream, it was trying to kill me. I was wounded, so I tried to escape. Bristleburr. A masked man said someone had paid for his service... and he killed it, when I asked him to.

That wasn't Brandon, was it? Did I get him killed?

>Wagers and stuff
You want to start at the beginning here? I'm missing a lot, and if you want me to win a capital-w Wager, whatever that is, it would probably help if I had more information.
No. 913363 ID: d18b05

>"...Are you telling me that my dream last night had something to do with Brandon's death?"
She clearly knows more than you about this and is expecting you to know some more.
No. 913532 ID: a83826


"Are you telling me my dream last night had to do with Brandon's death?" you ask, voice wavering. This is too much. If you caused him to...
"Yes, and no." Jennifer says. Listen, I have to start from the top, because of this curse. But when I say curse I more mean... lost bet." she meets your raised eyebrow, and sighs. "I'm not sure how it works either. But some people, let's call them... I guess we can't use the original term, so we'll have to go with, uh, Dream Warriors?"
"What, like the horror movie?"
"No! ...Mmmostly no!" she rubs her eyes then adjusts her glasses back into place. "Look, some people are capable of lucid dreaming. You know what that is. It's where you're consciously aware of being in a dream, but in control of that dream."
"Dream Warriors are capable of going a step further. I guess you'd call us espers." she says, "But only in the realm of dreams, and only even more specifically in wagers, bets, and gambles within those dreams. The first step is to approach another Warrior and demand something of theirs, or a specific task. Or even for them to change, in some way. The other warrior makes a counterbet. And then when you sleep, you fight along those terms."
"And anything can be on the table?"
"Anything. You could make someone a slave, if you wanted. There's something about the dream and the fight that makes it happen, changes the mind. And that's basically how your curse works, I... think. You can't remember the name of your dreamself. So you have to start fresh. And until you reach that level of power you had before, you'll be vulnerable. Any fight among your peers here will be a struggle." she rubs her arm. "And the higher the Wager, the higher the stakes, the more likely someone is to just... break when they lose." she says. "That's what happened to Brandon. Beatrice probably tricked him into challenging you. Gave him some sort of upper hand by fighting you first, I think - that's how you lost those memories - and then you just couldn't fight at the same level you could before. You had all your resources, but no knowledge of them. It was easy."

"So what should we do?"
"...I'm not sure." she says with a sigh.

>We should confront Beatrice here, in the real waking world.
>We should fight normal battles until I'm strong enough to challenge Beatrice for my memories back.
>Wait, so you're a Dream Warrior too?
>[Write in]
No. 913536 ID: afdebc

So... what's the upside? Being able to lose everything, and have a target on your back doesn't seem worth being able to take what you can get other people to bet. At the end of the day, it's a zero sum game.

>Wait, so you're a Dream Warrior too?
Well duh. That or she's a badass normal who's been read in on what's going on.
No. 913622 ID: 22ffca

How strong is Beatrice compared to the rest? I'm not sure if a confrontation right now is a good idea.
No. 913720 ID: f0fb6b

Can't we just, like, slip cyanide into her lunch or something? If she's killing members of our group in the dream realm, and that's having fatal consequences IRL, I don't see why we can't take the fight to the waking world.
No. 913916 ID: 354155

"...Shouldn't we just do something about her here?" you ask. "Something that she couldn't possibly forsee that has some finality."
"Are you saying..."
"I'm saying that she's murdering people without any way of coming to justice of the law. So we take things into our own hands."
"I can't advocate that." Jennifer states, her voice rough. "I know why it makes sense. If I look at the matter from afar it even seems to be the right solution. But... No matter what it seems wrong. Besides that, she's surrounded herself with allies and friends. I'm not an assassin. Are you?" she asks frankly.
You wouldn't know the first thing about it, honestly. "And even if you did manage it, how would you get away with it? Neither of us can even drive."
"Right, right. Sorry."
"It's fine. Trust me when I've had daydreams about it."

"...Tell you what. Let's meet in the Dream. Not a fight. A simple spar. Sound good?"
"...Uh, sure."
"You'll see what it's all about then." she says with confidence.
"So I'm assuming even confronting Beatrice in the Dream is a bad idea."
"Considering she was strong enough to either directly or indirectly set up your fall? We need to be sure that we can beat her before we try again."

>Then I guess we should just wait until night, then.
>>Want to go and get something to eat? There's a lot of day left.
>>Maybe we should see a movie, or something.
>Alright. I'll see you later, then.
>..Are you gonna be okay? With everything that's happened, I mean...
>[Write In]
No. 913929 ID: 094652

Killing her might be extreme, but poisoning and subverting her in the real world? That might work. Steal her homework, put arsenic in her food, make null dreamers tease her at school, kidnap her cat and have it playdate with a mutt...

I'd feel bad about bullying her if she wasn't trying to kill you. Maximum Pain Times Three.

... Of course, if you drive her crazy while she's still powerful in a way that the police and government can't track, she might take others down with her. You'll need to fracture her power structure so when she does go down, her own party will realize she's a threat and neutralize any wagers that will have mass consequences in the real world. Get some turncoats on her team - they don't need to backstab her, just make sure they agree to take action if she goes insane, instead of going along with a crazy school plot.
No. 913954 ID: afdebc

>meet me in a dream
If this is one of those times where "show" is a lot easier than "tell", sure.

Do I need to do anything to make sure we connect in a dream?

>..Are you gonna be okay? With everything that's happened, I mean...
Probably a good thing to ask. She's lost one or two friends, depending on how you count things. (One dead, one... mind wiped). She was a close friend, apparently, even if you don't remember a lot of that.

You're getting off comparably easier here. For you, it's like this is all new, not like you've lost something.
No. 914014 ID: f0fb6b

Both really good ideas.

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