December 11, 2019, 02:06:10 PM

Author Topic: Member birthday calendar  (Read 219454 times)

Offline J.R. Darewood

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Re: Member birthday calendar
« Reply #1530 on: May 06, 2019, 08:08:00 PM »
Happy bday @Saraband !!! I'd send cake but I didn't sleep all weekend and I'm rushing to the airport late to my flight to Sudamérica

Offline Lady Ty

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Re: Member birthday calendar
« Reply #1531 on: May 07, 2019, 02:48:22 AM »
Happy Birthday @Saraband keep on marching for Scotland with pride.
Hope you got an amazing cake at home, as well as the beauty @ScarletBea found. ;D




@xiagan somehow I lost your Birthday among all those amazing cake posts. Many many belated good wishes and hope you are having a great time with your family. 8)
« Last Edit: May 07, 2019, 02:55:22 AM by Lady Ty »
“This is the problem with even lesser demons. They come to your doorstep in velvet coats and polished shoes. They tip their hats and smile and demonstrate good table manners. They never show you their tails.” 
Leigh Bardugo, The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic

Offline xiagan

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Re: Member birthday calendar
« Reply #1532 on: May 21, 2019, 09:32:22 AM »
Happy belated birthday, Saraband! It's cool you're (semi-)active again. :)
"Sire, I had no need of that hypothesis." (Laplace)


Offline Rostum

Re: Member birthday calendar
« Reply #1534 on: May 25, 2019, 06:55:59 AM »
Wishing you a happy Towel day @Eclipse

Online ScarletBea

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Re: Member birthday calendar
« Reply #1535 on: May 25, 2019, 08:20:52 AM »
Happy birthday @Eclipse :D



x
At home in the Fantasy Faction forum!

I'm "She Who Reigns Over Us All In Crimson Cheer", according to Peat!

Offline J.R. Darewood

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Re: Member birthday calendar
« Reply #1536 on: May 25, 2019, 04:13:03 PM »
Happy birthday @Eclipse


Offline xiagan

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Re: Member birthday calendar
« Reply #1537 on: May 25, 2019, 04:15:58 PM »
I think I'm every year positively surprised that your birthday is towel day, @Eclipse! Happy birthday and see you soon back in the forums. ;)
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Re: Member birthday calendar
« Reply #1538 on: May 26, 2019, 04:29:31 AM »
Happy a jolly birthday again @Eclipse! Hope you'll retuen to the forums again soon! ( I miss you necro-ing threads, hahah)  :D

Offline Eclipse

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Re: Member birthday calendar
« Reply #1539 on: May 26, 2019, 10:13:13 PM »
Thanks everyone  :D
According to some,* heroic deaths are admirable things

* Generally those who don't have to do it.Politicians and writers spring to mind

Jonathan Stroud:Ptolmy's Gate

Offline Eclipse

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Jmack greatest story
« Reply #1540 on: June 08, 2019, 11:18:48 AM »
A Birthday Gift for @xiagan. 972 words, excluding title.

Spoiler for Hiden:
Christian opened the laptop and navigated to Fantasy-Faction for the thirteenth time today. He felt a little bad doing it again, but the schnitzel was eaten, cake was gone, and the kleiner Junge had fallen asleep at last. In a chair by the little fellow's crib, the woman known to Christian only as "Liebling" or sometimes as "das Barracuda" had closed her eyes and was dreaming, he presumed, of days when she could get eight hours of sleep without interruption. He could spare the time. He could visit the forum, even if just for a few minutes.

The familiar website opened, but something was different. Why had it signed him out? Well, that was simple to fix. @xiagan, password "wr1tingConte5tGOD." Thank goodness he didn't have to put that in every time. Huh. Now the thing wanted him to enter one of those masked letters security things. God, he hated that shit. You could never quite make out the B from the E, and when you asked for another code, you really just got the same one, maybe rearranged  slightly.

Oh, and then there were the questions: "What is your favorite color?" Well, that was easy. He typed "I don't know."

And the second question: "Complete the title of the worst Fantasy movie ever: ---------." Wait, that wasn't fair. It was a one-word title, how could he complete anything? And besides, there were "Labyrinth" and "Willow" and "Kull" and, oh hell, way too many.  Screw it, he thought, and  typed in "The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies". Pressed enter.

"Sign on accepted" scrolled across the screen. As Xiagan, Christian was going to have to have a very long PM session with @Arry, his fellow forum God, over this. There was protection against spam, and there was protection against spam. You could take a thing just a bit too far.

He expected to see the usual red, black and white forum home screen, but instead, a video window opened with a big white triangle set in the center on its side. He pressed play. An image opened and a man simply reeking of bureaucrat looked out at him from his laptop.

"Name?" asked the man.

"Xiagan. Um, can you tell me what's going on? Where's the forum?"

"The forum known as," the bureaucrat checked his notes, 'Fantastic fiction', is undergoing significant review and refinement by special order."

"That's 'fantasy faction'."

"What is?"

"This website."

"Have you come to the wrong address, young man? Because if you have, please move along, as I have no time to spend listening to you puzzle your way to a conclusion."

"No, you don't understand, this forum, it's called "fantasy faction."

"Some kind of porn site, is it. You sick bastard. There are children whose use the Internest, you know."

"Internet. Oh, never mind. Did Arry set this security up?"

The man looked down at his notes again, moved a few papers aside and found something of interest. He tapped a paper with one ink-smudged finger. "The personage you refer to as Arry has been arrested."

"What?! Where?"

"Here. She's in cell 8, on suspicion of Gross Competence and General Niceness."

"That doesn't make any sense. Is @Overlord about somewhere?"

"Hmmm. Overlord, Overlord. Ah, yes. Arrested."

"On what charge!"

"Entrepreneurial Genius combined with Criminal Procrastination. A very dicey combination. Can't have that wandering about the Internest, now can we?"

"Then who's in charge?"

"Thought you might get around to that." The bureaucrat scratched behind an ear, and when he did, his carefully combed coif shifted and a tiny horn peeked out among the slicked back hair. "Atku Great God of Goats has blessed this forum with his guidance and protection."

"Oh, for Pete's sake," complained Christian. "Atku is just a joke." And as soon as the words were out of his mouth, Christian thought: well that was probably the wrong thing to say.

It was. The bureaucrat looked at Xiagan closely now, up and down from his cute cartoon dragon avatar to his yellow forum light and his oh so clever custom title. "Xiagan, you said? I think we may have something for you. Ah yes, this paper here is an arrest warrant for you on charges of High Helpfulness and Withholding Vote Insight Powers from People Loved by Atku."

"This is ridiculous. Where are @Saraband, @ScarletBea, @Elfy, @Idlewilder, @Henry Dale, @Eclipse, @Nighteyes, @Doctor Chill, I mean Chilli con Carne, I mean, oh fuck it. Where is @everybody!?"

"Well, this ScareltBea you mention is now in charge of all forum celebrations."

"She always was."

 "Shut it. Along with someone named @Lady Ty. Which sounds like some handle for a bondage site if you know what I mean. Then there's someone called @Nora, who seems to have been dropped in from another planet, but that's another story. The rest of those names," and here the bureaucrat looked quite pleased," are members of the resistance who will be spammed into powder on sight."

"Look," sighed Christian, "I really just wanted to go in and check on the voting for "Story of the Year. Only three people have voted, and it's getting a little embarrassing."

"Thought you told people it was 12."

"Well, It looks like Jmack set up a whole string of fake personas and they all voted for random shite. I have to fix things."

"Sorry, but you're either coming in,min which case I have to arrest you, or you're leaving."

"But it's my birthday."

"Another fucking whiner. Next!"

Christian watched in bafflement as the prettiest kitty cat in creation walked up to the bureaucrat's desk.

"Name?"

"@Raptori."

The bureaucrat sighed and rubbed one of his horns absent mindedly. "That's a weird name for a cat. What is it with this place?"

Christian closed his laptop. Das Barracuda looked at him from the doorway to the bedroom. She was dressed in... well, not much. Screw the forum, he thought. I'm for the real world.





 

Prepare yourselves...


Episode 2: Saraband and the Dark Howard - May 6,2015
Spoiler for Hiden:
Miguel woke in the dark, and remembered the terror. It wasn't fair. It was his birthday, and here he was, hiding behind the shoe rack. Amazing that he could even fall asleep. He seemed to remember a dream. He'd been talking to the great Saladin at Jay Gatsby's house on Long Island when suddenly his cell phone had rung, it's green light flashing on and off, on and off ... Yes, that's what woke him. The damn cell phone was ringing and ringing and ringing. If he'd dared, he would have turned it off neatly when he'd realized it was their way in. Instead, it sat on the rug on the other side of the closed door, thrown away in haste, in the wrong place. Miguel hated messes. But he hated the Forum even more.

It hadn't always been this way. Once upon a time, the Forum had been a place of peace (mostly), intelligent conversation (sometimes) and acceptance (usually, unless people we're discussing book 25 of WoT). Until He came. No. Not He. It.

Atku.

The phone rang again, and Miguel tried to cover his ears with something he pulled down from a hanger. Oh, that was kind of nice. But damn it, the ringing!

He heard footsteps in the building hallway and keys in the apartment door. Thank Fitzgerald! Roger was home.

"Roger!" He called. "Roger!"

"Miguel?"

"I'm in the closet."

The door opened and the bright room lights hurt his eyes. "I can see that." Roger stood looking down at Miguel wrapped in his pajamas. "Miss me? Hey, did you know your cell phone is ringing?"

"Don't answer it!"

But Roger didn't understand, and before Miguel could cry out, it was too late. Roger picked up the phone, pressed answer - and @Eurog was summoned and gone. His empty clothes fell to the rug.

Miguel stumbled forward and picked up the phone, cradling it in his hands. "No," he sobbed. It should have been him. If only he'd been faster. If only he'd been braver. Why couldn't it have been him?

And then it was. The phone rang again. @Saraband disappeared from every plain of real existence, into Fiction.



He apparated into a red room.  It held one chair, an ugly lamp, and a wooden bucket. Red walls, red floor, red ceiling.

A voice sounded from somewhere in the room, but Miguel couldn't locate the source. "Welcome, Saraband. Your punishment will begin shortly."

"What have I done? What's my crime?" Miguel pulled himself up to his full height, whatever that was. "Is this justice?!"

The voice paused. "Think of this crime and punishment. Just without the crime part."

"This is not right," Saraband complained. "The forum is supposed to be a place of enlightenment and sharing. And you've made it into a place of torture, argument and tedium. Like the rest of the Internet.

"And," he continued, now slowing down for emphasis, "what have you done with Eurog?"

"Wait a second," said the voice. "I've been dying to know. Is that pronounced like 'euro,' plus 'gee' or like 'your' plus 'og'?"

"What does that matter! It’s Portuguese, sort of, so it’s weird. What have you done with him?"

"He's awaiting punishment."

"What punishment?"

"We were sort of hoping you could tell us. We don't have many records about him, you see. We know he's a dentist, so we thought that all through. You know, make him do a root canal on himself with no anesthesia, that sort of thing. But it's not very clever, right? So then we thought, well, what does every dentist fear most?"

Miguel waited. But when the voice said nothing more, he lost patience and said, "Are you asking me?"

"Not really. But you're supposed to say 'yes?' or 'go on' or something like that. It's polite." The voice paused again.

"Go on," said Saraband, through gritted teeth.

"Oh, good. Yes, well, I think what dentists fear the most is still being a dentist twenty years from now."

"That's actually... true, I think."

"So that's his punishment. He has to stay a dentist."

"Yes, but that's sort of boring."

"Hail, Captain Obvious!" bleated the voice.

"So who else are you punishing?" asked Miguel, curious now in spite of himself.

A screen unfolded from one of the red walls, and the image of a godlike Goat with massive twisting horns and a blazing blue sky behind him appeared. The eyes of the God peered out at Miguel with intense interest. "You really want to know? Excellent."

The screen shifted and Miguel saw into a blue room. @Elfy was chained to a blue chair, and his head was immobilized by brackets connected to the seat back. Whip thin wires were attached to his eyelids forcing his eyes to stay open, unblinking. A book hovered in front of his face. Elfy couldn't look away for a single moment.

"What's the book?" whispered Miguel in horror.

"We rotate between Sanderson and Lawrence. After too much exposure to either one, he starts to rave, so we switch to the other. Soon he's screaming about that one too, and we switch back."

"You're a fiend.  Um, what about @Arry, is she here?"

The screen dissolved to a yellow room, where Arry stood over a whack-a-mole console. As Miguel watched, cans of spam popped up from the holes and Arry tried desperately to hammer them back down. But they were so quick and she couldn't quite keep the game from getting out of control.

Miguel found himself giggling slightly. "OK, who else?"

"Want to see @xiagan?" said the Goat.

"I thought he stayed in the real world? He sort of had something to do?"

"Well, some things don't take as long as you'd think. We got him back before too long."

"What's his punishment?" asked Miguel, tapping his fingertips together unconsciously.

The Goat looked at him keenly. "Do you want to try setting one?"

"Oh," said Miguel. "Oh." Miguel thought about how he was always such a nice guy, always the thoughtful fellow, the gentleman, the scholar. He thought about all his Forum friends, trapped in this upside down goat rodeo of a world.

"Fuck yeah!" he said.

The two got down to business and it didn't take long. They set @D_Bates to writing critiques of every monthly contest entry since the beginning of time - and gave him a word limit. They made @Lady Ty write "Dragons are naughty banana benders" 10,000 times on her prison wall, in baby dragon blood. For @Raptori and @Saurus, they thought of forcing them to memorize every book of Realm of the Elderlings, backwards; but decided it would be better to require them to forget every book of Realm of the Elderlings. From @wakarimasen to @Rukaio Alter to @Giddler and everyone in between, they dreamt up the vilest, most disgusting tortures ever devised.

After hours of this, Miguel pushed himself back from the monitor completely spent.  His pulse was pounding, and he'd bitten so hard through his cheek that he tasted the coppery tang of his own blood. "I'm Grimdark!" he exclaimed, spitting out a bolus of bitter spit.  "At last! No more Mr. Nice Guy. I'm as bad as Jorg! And I love it!"

The Goat looked at him, smugly satisfied, and said, "Ah. Mission accomplished." The screen went dark and folded back into the wall.

"Wait!" said Miguel. "Wait. We were just getting started. There's so much more to do!" The voice didn't answer. "No! Come back! I can help you! We haven't punished @Brighteyes or Dr. Chill Chilli con Carne or, or @Overlord! I want to punish Overlord!" But the voice was gone, and Miguel was alone. The horror of his punishment crashed in upon him, and he descended into madness.

*****

In a chamber hidden deep in the Forum, a small, innocent-looking goat pushed back from his desk, setting the @Jmack mask down.  @ScarletBea stepped into the room carrying cake, but Atku barely acknowledged her. She thought she'd escaped punishment, but the God of Goats knew it was just a matter of time before she fully understood the depth of her predicament.

All was as it should be, he thought. Except that he knew it wasn't. He didn't have all of the Forum's regulars yet. It was just a matter of time, of course. There was nothing to worry about.

*****

"An idiot he is!" screamed @Yora, striking his gnarled staff against a rock jutting up from the sodden swampy ground. "Do or do not! There is no try!"

@Henry Dale tried once again to raise his x-wing from the muck. "But my friends need me!" he moaned. "And I'm stuck here with a short, green, German puppet trying to do the impossible!"

"Oh, get out of the way," said Yora. "Disappointing. Impatient. Foolish is this padawan learner." He raised one bony arm and crooked his fingers just so. In fact, he peeked at them to be sure they were just so and adjusted the middle pinky. With a deep look of concentration, he pressed a button on the floor and a hidden lever lifted the model x-wing from the clutch of the swamp. "This is the power of the Howard," he said. "You must master genre, and world building, and the precise taxonomy of monsters - but only really cool ones - before you can hope to use the power of the Howard for good. If not, seduced by the dark Howard will you be."

Henry shuffled his feet and tried to ease the pain in his neck. And why exactly, he berated himself, hadn't he just stopped off in Japan like he'd planned to?

*****

In his cell, Miguel lay and dreamed. He was still plagued by visions of Grimdark. But somehow this was mixed in with other things. It was, after all just one day after May the Fourth. He dreamt he was standing in front of a figure encased in black goo. "I love you, Han Solo," he whispered. "Baaaa" the figure answered.

*******

Meanwhile, in the state of Texas, Caleb fell off his chair and woke, blinking, his law texts scattered around him, scrabbling for his pistol. "I think I know," he said blearily. Then with more confidence: "I think I know!" But he didn't dare say it out loud again. In a private place in his mind, Dr. Chill Chilli con Carne, whispered to himself: I know how to defeat the Goat."

END OF EPISODE 2




According to some,* heroic deaths are admirable things

* Generally those who don't have to do it.Politicians and writers spring to mind

Jonathan Stroud:Ptolmy's Gate

Offline Eclipse

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Re: Member birthday calendar
« Reply #1541 on: June 08, 2019, 11:19:52 AM »
Happy Birthday, Eclipse!
Here you are: Interlude One.

Spoiler for Hiden:
The man known online only as Eclipse came out of the pharmacy in Birmingham Street clutching a box of extra strength aspirin and trying to keep from dropping the miscellany of bags and boxes he'd picked up in just a few minutes of frenzied shopping. He'd thought this was the last stop, but his feet turned right of their own will. Firkin's bakery. He'd get a baguette, a bottle of pop and a doughnut for the road. You never knew when you'd have a chance to eat again when you're a fugitive.

Who said something about that in Malazan? The usual "army marches on its stomach" thing, but much cleverer. Even so, after 815,000 pages, he couldn't remember the quote exactly. But, he guessed it was true, and £2.99 later he was finally ready to hit the road, stomach dealt with.

As he walked past the cars, shops, Sikhs, kids, occasional bits of green and the odd pub or two, he ran a list in his head. Send a note to the medieval fencing club. Check. Note to the chess club. Check. Note to the Latin dance club.  Check. Note to... where? Ah. The badminton club. Damn, he'd miss them, and there was a match on Friday night, too. His mates would have to make do without his smashing forehand. Too bad about the after-party, though. Those could get really rowdy when you had a roomful of shuttlecock-yampy hooligans lifting an elbow.

Well, he'd miss and be missed, but there was nothing for it. If he didn't get into the open country, away from technology of any kind, he was done for. Atku and his minions were out for blood, and he wasn't going to give them the satisfaction, no sir, not he.

Up ahead, a lad was sitting on a bike talking on his phone. Eclipse hurried by, just catching the squelch as the phone's connection was pirated and the summons for @Eclipse started broadcasting. He managed to get out of earshot fast enough, but it had been close. He cut through a parking lot and made it onto Simpson Street. An old woman leaned out of a doorway, and called to him. "Hello! There's a call on the telly for you!" His scalp prickled and he broke into a shambling run. Turning at Pinfold, his eyes slid past the Catholic primary school, and he nearly screamed. Every child on the playground was standing at the green metal fence, staring at him and whispering: "Pick up the phone. Pick up the phone." He'd been 'goin' round the Wrekin' and Atku could still find him. The damn goat god was everywhere.

Well, everywhere anyone had an Internet connection.

Puffing and out of breath, Eclipse made it to the end of Flash Road and into the sudden green lawn and tall trees of Broadwell Park. He didn't stop until he'd pushed through the undergrowth and collapsed by the side of the little trickle of water that was the source of the Tame River.

Sanctuary.

He twisted the top on the bottle of pop, and it sprayed all over him in a shower of warm, sticky caramel fizz. "Crap!" he yelled. And "crap" again, when he realized he'd brought no napkins.

He stepped over to the stream to give himself a catlick and stared at his reflection in the shallow water. "It's all your fault," he said aloud. "All your fault."

And it was. Once there had been an Internet forum that had been a cozy and friendly retreat from the hassles of the work-a-day world. He'd gotten tons of great book recommendations and actually read many of them. He'd joined the "Malazan Crew" with @xiagan and @Idlewilder, and devoured the 8,435,789 pages of The Malazan Book of the Fallen plus that lesser series in just a few short years. (43 books and still counting.) He'd played the part of a brighter-than-a-brick ogre in a role-playing game run amok. It had all been such crack stuff.

But a few months ago, a newbie had joined the forum. He'd seemed like a nice bloke at first, but now Eclipse suspected it had been just an act. @jmacyk or @Jmack or whatever. He posted a ton - faster than maybe anyone in the forum's history - and moved up the rankings like a rat up a drain pipe.

Then came the Title War. @Nighteyes was counting coup and laughing about it, changing names, messing with folks. Eclipse figured, hey, someone ought to balance this out. It wasn't his cup of tea, but he could arm the Indians, so to speak. He gifted some monies to Jmack, told some secrets, and watched the newbie go. It was all a hoot. But it was all a smoke screen for the introduction of @Atku Great God of Goats.

Eclipse pulled out his lunch, already hungry. How will I ever get back to normal, he thought? How will I ever visit my sister and niece. And damn! The trip to Little Owl Farm Park was coming up fast. Not to mention how will I pay my bills, buy food, go to work and keep up with East Bromwell.

Something caught his eye in the stream. A glimmer of light from a bit of trash bobbing on the water. A can. Of Bock beer. With a goat shaking its ass.

What the hell! How did that get here. And not even British beer!

Voices came from the park behind him. They sounded strange, like some unfocused babble from inside an empty oil drum. He got down on his stomach and crawled up the muddy bank. Three figures were shambling across the grass, tracing a drunken path from the entrance and getting slowly closer to where Eclipse peered up the slope. There was something wrong with their heads, he thought. Something very wrong. He blinked.

Their heads had been replaced with flat plasma screens. Each head squawked a mixture of static, 80s-era modem sounds and computer text.

"Subject is 165 degrees from Meridian and 25 meters from this unit," squawked one.

"Subject vertical rise is negligible from landform," answered another.

"Exterminate!" screamed a third, but it was answered quickly by the others: "Apprehend. Do not exterminate. The subject must be submitted for punishment."

But the third grew incensed. "Exterminate! Exterminate! Doctor! Exterminate!"

Eclipse rose to his feet, hunched over. He turned to run, heart in mouth. Standing immediately behind him were three more of the horrors, each holding out a cell phone, and each showing the website for fantasy-faction on their face screens. "Answer the phone!" called one. "Sign on!" called another.

Eclipse screamed and dove into the water, but it was barely deep enough for wading. There was a culvert some meters to the right where the river passed under the streets. He ran through the stream, knees going high and water splashing to all sides. Heedless of anything, he ducked into the culvert and ran, bent completely over at the waist. Soon the daylight was just a pinprick of yellow behind, and the darkness swallowed him.

Then his feet went out from under him and he fell into water too deep to stand. The current pulled him and went under, knocking his head on what must have been a concrete ledge. Air, oh gods, air. When would he get back to air? His head spun. His ears rang, and stars began to pop in front of his eyes. At long last, he saw light ahead again. Keeping a grip on himself, fighting the urge to breath, he kicked for the surface and emerged gasping into cold night air.

Night? That made no sense. And it was hot and humid. Eclipse dragged himself to the bank of a stinking rainwater overflow pond. Someone was standing on the slope holding a flash light.

The man put out a hand. "Welcome to Texas," he said. "Wasn't sure that would work, but hey, all the laws of nature are in a bit of a mess, so I thought I'd give it a shot."

"Who are you?" stuttered Eclipse, though he thought he might know.

"Just your friendly neighborhood gunschwinger," answered the man. "@DrChill, at your service. Care to take down a goat?"
 
According to some,* heroic deaths are admirable things

* Generally those who don't have to do it.Politicians and writers spring to mind

Jonathan Stroud:Ptolmy's Gate

Offline Eclipse

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Re: Member birthday calendar
« Reply #1542 on: June 08, 2019, 11:20:46 AM »
Episode 3 (the last and final): Revenge of the Gunschwinger

Happy Birthday, Caleb!

Spoiler for Hiden:

The digital hallways of Fantasy-Forum were still as a grave. A dust mote floated past an iron bound door marked with hastily chalked letters spelling out the name “Overlord.” Anyone who might have listened at that door would have heard nothing but absence. The mote continued on its Brownian way, passing iron door after iron door, until a puff of wind knocked it into the dingy wall where it stuck. @ScarletBea bustled past.

She drew a heavy key from her skirt pocket and slipped it into the eighteenth lock on the right. Bea disliked how quietly the door swung open; she'd have much preferred creaking hinges. Somehow less creepy than silence.  @Arry looked up with a sour smile.

“More cake?”

“No,” said Bea. “Just... more spam. Sorry.”

“No rest for the wicked, hey?” Arry smoothed her grey drabs as she stood. She picked up a cartoonish rubber mallet and headed out the door, barely looking at her one-time friend as she brushed past.

Bea sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose. The whole thing had gone from fun to nightmare. At least she wasn’t behind one of those doors. Maybe she could still help. She just had to keep the Goat thinking she was on his side until there was an opportunity.

Please, oh gods, please. An opportunity.

*****

“Drink up, dude!” @Caleb slapped @Eclipse on the back, and the young Brit’s beer slopped onto the wooden bar.

“You call this beer? It’s pisswater.”

“Hey, it’s the night before my birthday. If I say this is the best beer on the planet, it’s the best damn beer on the planet.”

“In your dreams!”

The hopes of the world, partying in the Texas night.

*****

The next morning, Eclipse peeled one eyelid open and closed it quickly. A few minutes later, he peeled the other one. By an alternating process, he finally managed to get them both open simultaneously. Which was good, since he’d been about to miss the porcelain rim of the commode completely.

Caleb poked his head in. “You ready, mate?” he asked with far more life in his voice than he deserved to have.

“Do you mind?” protested Eclipse, turning his back to the door.

“Nothing I ain’t seen before, mate.” Caleb pulled out and headed down the hall. “Mate. I love that word. Don’t you just love that word?”

“I’m not Australian!”  Eclipse tidied up and stumbled after the Texan.

“Hi, Mrs. Chill,” he said to Caleb’s mom.

“Hello dear,” she said, waving a coffee cup at him. “Can I interest you in some nice rattler for breakfast? Mr. Chill found it on the road last night. It’ll be ready in just a jiffy.”

“You don’t have to eat the snake,” Caleb whispered in his ear. “No time, Ma! Captain Britain and me are outta here. We’ll pick up some crispy crèmes on the way.”

“Where are ya’ll going?” she called, but the two were out the door and headed to the Chill Mobile. “Don’t forget your suntan lotion, dear!” Caleb had a country-western station turned to full roar before Eclipse had even made it out the front door of the house. They peeled rubber and blew that popsicle stand.

“How many hours?” yelled Eclipse over the music.

“Well, if we can average 80, I figure we’ll be there in about 16.”

“80 what?”

“This is America, bub! We’re talking miles per hour. About 130 kph right? Hang on, we’re going for light speed!”

It turned out to be closer to 24 hours later when the two reached the high desert in a fug of fast food wrappers, spilled beer, crushed Cheetos and b.o. They stood with their backs against the car, and the rising sun in their faces. Area 51 spread below them, a vast unmapped plain, nothing of interest in sight beyond the line of razor wire cyclone fencing that stretched from horizon to horizon.

“Here we are, mate. The center of all weirdness. Well, except maybe for that tiki bar I walked into in downtown Wichita. That place was freaky.”

“I don’t know about this, Chill.”

“Come on.” He pulled out his six shooter and spun the chamber. “Grab the wire cutters, and let's get walking. World ain’t gonna save itself, now is it?”

*****

Scarlet had managed to start a sort of mail service between the cells. @Elfy kept writing that she needed to find the Gleems, whatever they were. @Raptori gave her love letters to deliver to @Saurus, and @Nighteyes gave her love letters for @Charlemagne - all signed “Your Captain of the Seas.” She’d sort of hoped that between them all they might, you know, hatch a plan. But they seemed to treat it as a sort of substitute for the Forum itself, the way it used to be.

She leaned back on the cot in her own cell - unlocked, but still a cell really. Cake tomorrow. She could almost muster some enthusiasm. @Lady Ty at least understood. “Its all right, dear,” she would say. “You’re doing your best.”

The blanked computer screen on her desk blinked. That was strange, she thought. No one needed them, now that everyone'd been absorbed by the matrix. It blinked again. Bea sat up and slid to the end of the cot near the desk. She was expecting another blink, but it still startled her when it came. Then light bloomed across the plasma, and a wobbly picture formed.

“Caleb?” breathed Bea.

“Hey, li’l gal.” The gunschwinger seemed to be crouched over a camera on his end. Everything was at a strange angle and in night-goggle green and black. “I can’t talk long. The Goat’s spiders will start to detect my signal any second. Well, and then there’s the U.S. Army. They might show up any second too.”

“The Army? What?”

“Well, yeah. We kind of broke into a super-secret facility. You should see the shit they have here! Remember how we wondered about if Cthulhu was real or not? You wouldn’t f’ing believe, Bea. Total psych.”

Bea looked around her room and over her shoulder. She moved quickly to the open door and closed it softly. “What are you doing? You’ll get caught!”

“Naw. Eclipse is running around the army base stark naked. You know, as a distraction. That guy’s got balls, let me tell you.”

“No, I mean, you’ll get caught by the Goat. Everyone else has. Wait, Eclipse is with you?” Bea shook her head. Maybe she’d fallen asleep and was dreaming.

“Long story, sweetheart. But hey, I needed to get through and this was the only way. Can you reach into the screen and help?” She just stared at him. “Don’t worry. Reality is totally fucked. Just put your hand on the screen and push.”

Thinking things couldn’t be any weirder than they’d been for weeks, Bea reached one finger tentatively toward the screen. “It won’t bite,” Chill laughed. So she pressed her flat hand onto the surface of the monitor and suddenly felt it grabbed from the other side. She almost pulled away in shock, but Chill held on and flowed out of the real world into the Forum like the dude in Terminator 2. His liquid form gathered in a puddle by her cot, then started to reform into something resembling a man. The form flickered, sharpened, and there was the Doctor, gun in his holster, medical bag in one hand, and a shit-eating grin from ear to ear.

“Gods, am I glad to see you!” Bea almost sobbed as she threw herself onto him in a bear hug. Chill returned the hug for a moment, then broke off.

“Sorry, Ms. Scarlet, but I gotta’ help my mate out on the other side.” The Texan turned to the screen and plunged his arm through it. Curiously, Bea peeked around to see the back of the monitor. Yup, the arm went in and nothing came out the back. It was actually pretty funny.  “I think,” said Chill through gritted teeth as he pushed all the way in up to his shoulder, “I think... yes, there, got him.” He pulled his arm out again, pinching a silver thread between his thumb and forefinger. Substance flowed along the thread, thickened and became, after some reassembly, the Forum’s favorite badminton champion, Eclipse.

Now Scarlet really laughed. “Clothes, please!” she said, and threw her Japanese silk bathrobe across the room at her naked friend.

*****

“So it hit me.” The three were sitting cross-legged on the floor of Bea’s little room amidst crumpled boxes of cold pizza crusts. Virtual pizza might not taste quite as good as the real thing, but it was still brain fuel for F-F types.

“It hit me,” Chill continued, “that it all started with the Title War. Well, really, before that. It started with @Jmack.”

“What do you mean? The Goat Who Must Not Be Named didn’t arrive for months after Jmack did.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know. Jmack’s a nice dude and all that. Send him some flowers. But that’s the problem, you see. He’s been so f’ing nice that he’s been accumulating Likes like there’s no tomorrow. It's kind of sickening, right?”

Scarlet winced. “You know, there really is no tomorrow here anymore, right?”

“Really?” asked Eclipse. “How does that work? Because I could totally use that after one of those nights we tie one on after the Latin dance competition”

“Would you guys pay attention? We’re trying to save the world here.” Chill licked a bit of mozzarella from one finger. “So along comes the Goat, and we’ve left the whole Karma system behind. Jmack is racking up Likes, and the Goat - he’s like a vampire, or a parasite, right? He just sucks and sucks all that lovely Like into himself, and shazam!”

“Shazam?” asked Bea.

“I’ve heard this part,” said Eclipse. “It does get better.”

“Yeah, Shazam!” said Chill. “It’s the source of the Goat’s power.”

Bea sat back. It made a sort of sense. The Forum had been fine before the Likes - well, maybe not perfect - in fact everyone liked the Likes - but it had been okay.

“Law of Unintended Consequences,” said Eclipse.

“And I’m studying the law,” said Chill.

“So,” said Bea slowly, trying to work it out. “What do we do?”

*****

“Do I really have to be the distraction again?” Eclipse pulled the silk robe pulled tight around his clammy skin.

“Here’s the key,” said Bea quietly, holding up the heavy thing. “Now go distract.”

“But I’m cold.”

“Go.” Bea slipped back into her room, and Eclipse made his reluctant way down the hall toward The Office.

The door was old-fashioned, with frosted glass and wire hatching. It stood like a promise of efficiency run amok. Eclipse rapped twice tentatively, twisted the knob and pushed.  The Bureaucrat looked up. “Yes?” he said. The man had some dried drool in the corner of his mouth. Sleeping on the job, hey. It boosted Eclipse’s confidence that little bit.

“Eclipse, hey? That’s me. Turning myself in.”

It caught the man off guard. “You’re what?”

“Turning myself in.” The stupid git was slow on the uptake, wasn’t he?

“Well,” the man finally got on track. “Well, I live to serve his Goatness. Eclipse. Let's see.” He spun a rolodex and flipped to the correct card.  “Ah, yes. Eclipse. Forum member. Criminal.” He smiled a thin smile, and looked Eclipse in the eyes. “You are to be punished.”

“The fuck I am!” yelled Eclipse, ripping off his robe and hurling it in the face of the Goat’s minion. Eclipse skipped back out of the Office and into the Hall. Before the Bureaucrat could react, Eclipse had the first door open. @Saraband looked up in surprise from the notebook here he’d been planning a delightfully elaborate punishment for @Eurog, if they ever caught him. On to the next door, Eclipse flung it open and found @Henry Dale hanging by his fingertips from a belfry, with bats flying in and out and flapping in the poor Belgian’s hair.
On and on went Eclipse. And the further down the hall he got, and the more locks he opened,  the more manic he became. It felt wonderful! Fantastic! He might be naked as a jaybird, but he was a freaking hero. His friends were filtering into the hall behind him, and Eclipse was the one freeing them.  Heady stuff.

A hoof crashed into his head and he dropped to the floor as though his strings had been cut. A huge goat stood over him. “Come on, get up,” it said. “Let's do this.”

Meanwhile, Chill and Scarlet had quietly moved through the throng of escaping avatars and pulled Overlord and Arry off to the side.

“You have to do it,” Chill insisted. “You have to revoke every one of Jmack’s Likes.”

“Of course,” said Overlord. "Absolutely."

“Can’t,” said Arry. “Even a Mod can’t change a Like. Every user would have to sign on and open every post where they’d flipped the Like button. And unflip it.”

“Too long!” groaned the Texan. “We don’t have that long. I don’t think even Eclipse can keep the Goat distracted that long, and he’s got balls!”

“Did you say distraction?” asked Nighteyes and Elfy, who’d both been standing at the edge of the discussion. “I think we can cover that.”

*****

It was the raccoons and the Gleems that finally did it. The Nords were a good start. Then the Japanese cat bar maids. Cthulhu. The shaking hips. The works. None of it seemed to make a dent in the Goat’s forces. But when @wakarimasen rode a giant rabid raccoon into the fray, laying about him on all sides with a plush cushion - the Gleems chanting from their perch on his head - the Goats broke.

Creating just enough time for a new legend to be written.  For heroes to emerge.

Arry opened a portal into the Forum Code. It formed in mid-air in the middle of the melee, a wavering, fluid thing of deep magic and digita. Overlord stepped through, and Chill joined him.

“You have to turn the wheel back to the Karma setting,” called Arry from the other side. “Before the Goat notices.”

“You ready?” said the gunswchinger.

“Is the Pope Jewish?” replied the forum’s founder. And he advises the Government, thought Chill. Well, there’s no explanation for some things.

“Now push!” The two set their hands to the capstan bar and pushed with all their strength.

At the last moment, Atku came screaming at the portal, but it was too late. In the vast deeps of the Forum, a wheel turned, a cog meshed, and the Like system disappeared as though it had never been. And every user showed a fresh new Karma score of absolute zero.

“Noooooooooo!” cried the Great God of Goats, as all his power was stripped from him in one great outpouring of guts, blood and more guts. His minions disappeared in a gout of vile gas, and silence reigned.

The portal into the Forum code  closed with a sickening thud leaving Chill and Overlord on the other side. Scarlet wept, and Arry patted her shoulder. “Are they alive in there?” asked Bea.

“If anyone can make it back from in there, they can,” replied Arry with more confidence than she felt.

“There’s no stopping either of them,” added Eclipse.

“Clothes,  please,” replied Bea.

From under the crumpled body of the Goat God, a figure started to emerge. JayMack looked around in a daze. “Is this the Grim Gathering?”





And in the fictitious land of Fantasia, Atku awoke. They thought they were rid of him. But, he was a god, wasn’t he?

Fixed all the typos.  ;D
According to some,* heroic deaths are admirable things

* Generally those who don't have to do it.Politicians and writers spring to mind

Jonathan Stroud:Ptolmy's Gate

Offline Eclipse

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Re: Member birthday calendar
« Reply #1543 on: June 08, 2019, 11:23:07 AM »
Time for a new story @JMack? maybe add to the SCARLET AND THE HOODED MAN  ;D
« Last Edit: June 08, 2019, 11:30:35 AM by Eclipse »
According to some,* heroic deaths are admirable things

* Generally those who don't have to do it.Politicians and writers spring to mind

Jonathan Stroud:Ptolmy's Gate

Online ScarletBea

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Re: Member birthday calendar
« Reply #1544 on: June 08, 2019, 12:13:37 PM »
Ohmygawd Eclipse, thanks so much for bringing those stories back!
I can't believe it was already 4 years ago!
Jmack needs to hang around the forum a bit more and write another story with the latest members ;D

And a big belated happy birthday, sweet @Doctor_Chill  :D I can't believe you're already 23 :o


« Last Edit: June 08, 2019, 01:17:03 PM by ScarletBea »
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