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    Roadtrip

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    elanya
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    Roadtrip

    Post by elanya on 08/10/10, 11:45 pm

    Simon cracked open the can of Mountain Dew he'd grabbed from the hotel vending machine. He'd been planning to sleep, and get an early start on the next day's driving, but he never followed that plan, no matter how many times he'd tried it. Tonight's distraction was the e-mail he'd received earlier that day from Child of Denial. Hearing from his mysterious contact was a huge weight off his mind - the silence had been bothering him for weeks. He'd been half tempted to answer then and there, but that would have robbed him of the thrill of hunting up just the right quote.

    That's what his plans were now - he was already considering where to start looking as he slid the key-card through the lock of the Limon, Colorado Knights Inn. It was a dive, but it was the last hotel in town.


    Last edited by elanya on 09/10/10, 12:20 am; edited 1 time in total
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    Re: Roadtrip

    Post by Josh on 09/10/10, 12:16 am

    "Hi, Simon, nice to meet you finally," came the unfamiliar voice from small table next to the room's large window. Simon could see a black woman about his age sitting in one of the two chairs, lit by the soft glow of a laptop's screen. She reached over to turn on the table-side lamp as she slowly rose from the chair, then turned to offer her hand somewhat sheepishly.

    "Sorry for the start. And the cliched entrance." She smiled apologetically.

    "I'm Melanie. Or Childofdenial, as you're more familiar with me."
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    Re: Roadtrip

    Post by elanya on 09/10/10, 12:23 am

    "Ahhh..." He paused, completely caught off guard. "Hi?" He glanced around the room once before stepping inside a little carefully, wishing Nàm wasn't stuck away uselessly in his shoulder bag. With his glove - but that was a secondary thought. Fairly sure there was no one else lying in wait in the room, he closed the door behind him.
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    Re: Roadtrip

    Post by Josh on 09/10/10, 12:38 am

    "Mental note, next time have a code phrase prepared. I'll do whatever it is you need for me to prove that I am who I say I am, but I realize there's actually not that much I can do."

    She sat back down, gesturing for Simon to do the same. With a few moments to calm down and take in details, he noticed she was shorter than he, with long black hair pulled into a ponytail. She was dressed in grey slacks and a button-down cream shirt, a pair of what looked like reading glasses perched precariously on the end of her nose. She hit a few keys on the laptop, turning it around to face Simon. The screen showed what looked like a flowchart, or a diagram of some kind. The title "Project Asterion" was emblazoned at the top.

    "This is what I e-mailed you about. I'm looking for some friends, more people like us, and I need some help. It requires a level of...skill I'm not sure I can find anywhere else on short notice."
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    Re: Roadtrip

    Post by elanya on 09/10/10, 12:56 am

    "No... it's fine." There was a spark of recognition that he couldn't quite put his finger on, but he was willing to trust his instincts. He could even imagine just how she knew he'd be here, though he'd never tried to cast a net that wide.

    He'd not had any really clear preconceptions about who his contact was, but he was almost embarrassed to be a little surprised that she was a woman. Of course, that might just be a reflection of the fact that he wasn't the type who generally found strange women waiting for him in his room. Or familiar ones, for that matter. And of course, he had been driving all day, and was hardly company presentable. He was pretty sure he could use a shower, and his threadbare 'Goon for life' t-shirt was probably something he should have tossed out by now... What an impression.

    He unslung his bag as he sat, debating whether he should bring out his computer as well, and deciding against it for now. He peered instead at the screen she'd set in front of him, absorbing the information quickly.

    "Well.... nice to meet you? And what do you need?"
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    Re: Roadtrip

    Post by Josh on 09/10/10, 01:09 am

    "Well, to fall into a habit we're both fond of, there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. Though, to be fair, this really is about neither. These...associates, are stuck in between, as it were, and I need help navigating that. Its complicated, but I think I can teach you the basics, and that should be enough to get us where we need to go."

    She slumped in her chair, studying Simon's response. Her posture and manner were those of a very tired, or very beaten, person.

    "I'm sorry to bring this to you, and I wouldn't if I thought I had another choice. But time is of the essence, and I really don't have much choice. I'm going to be cutting it short as it is. And, to be fair, you're here and you're now, and that makes me a bit more confident that you can help with this. Coincidences are spiritual puns.
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    Re: Roadtrip

    Post by elanya on 09/10/10, 07:42 am

    "It's okay." he knew he wasn't the best at being reassuring, but he did understand. It wasn't as though he hadn't had his share of strange and harrowing experiences. Something about the way she said 'stuck in between' made him think of the host of......whatever they were - spirits of some kind, he supposed - They'd helped free in New Orleans. And of Chrys. "I'm here, lets do it." he set his can of Dew down on the table. 'well okay first - do you have any idea how long it will take? I should probably let someone know if I'm going to be late. And do you want, like... I don't know... A drink? Something to eat?"

    He realized he was definitely going to want Nàm, and pulled the computer of of his bag, settlling her on his lap.
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    Re: Roadtrip

    Post by Josh on 09/10/10, 08:29 am

    Thanks, I'm fine. I've had three power bars and two Monsters. In retrospect, the second one might have been a good idea, but nothing doing. If you need to take a shower, or use the restroom, or whatever, we've got," she stopped speaking, but her lips kept moving and her fingers seemed to trace an equation or some sort of calculation before she continued, "fifty-three minutes. Not a long time, but, figure the drive time in, you've got about twenty-five minutes to change or what have you."

    "As to how long it will take, that's a little more vague. I wouldn't think more than a few hours, but it can get...weird." She chuckled, weariness and bitterness heavy in the tone. "I guess that's an understatement."
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    Re: Roadtrip

    Post by elanya on 09/10/10, 09:50 am

    Drive in? This was going to be interesting...

    "Okay. give me.... Fifteen." He stood again, taking his overnight bag with him and sidling towards the bathroom. A quick shower seemed in order, and he should text Connie just in case. As to what he would send her - that was was less sure of. That decided, he just had to convince himself that taking said quick shower in this dingy motel with a woman he barely knew waiting for him in the other room wasn't *too* weird. He was sure, at least, it wasn't going to the the strangest part of his evening.

    He finally settled on a quick note to Connie: 'I may be late getting home - something's come up.' Because he didn't want her to worry too much, he tacked on a 'See you soon!' Telling her that everything was fine seemed too much like dissembling.

    He cleaned up as quickly as he could, feeling a bit more refreshed as he stepped back out into the room.

    "Okay now - where are we going?"
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    Re: Roadtrip

    Post by Josh on 09/10/10, 10:16 am

    "Not to continue with the weird, but a field east of here. It has, or will have in the next thirty-eight minutes, a way into the place we're really going." Her brow furrowed as her head turned to the side.

    "Place may not be the right word, but its the closest I've got. I call it the Labyrinth, for lack of a better term. Whether it actually is related to Daedalus' great work, I really don't know, though I think there's a thematic connection there. Honestly, that may be more important."

    She took one last glance at her laptop, nodding decisively. Closing it, she picked up a satchel and stowed the computer within.

    "You want to drive, or should I?"
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    Re: Roadtrip

    Post by elanya on 09/10/10, 05:10 pm

    Simon stretched his shoulders, which were tense from the day's 7 and a half hour drive, so far. What was another forty minutes?

    "I think weird is sort of inevitable at this point. I can drive, if you don't mind my truck, and can tell me more about what we are doing en-route."

    He scooped up his bag, his keys, and his laptop, ushering Melanie out the door. B y the time he was closing the door behind them, his raven was settling herself on his shoulder, ruffling her feathers and cocking her head at both humans.
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    Re: Roadtrip

    Post by Josh on 09/10/10, 11:52 pm

    "Wow, interesting metamorphosis," Melanie commented, eying Nam appreciatively. "And probably a lot more useful than mine," she said, tapping the bag slung over her shoulder.

    She followed Simon to his car, eyes scanning the mostly empty parking lot furtively. She spoke again after they had both settled into the truck.

    "We're headed east, alongside the train tracks. I've got a good idea where we're headed, but I'll need to concentrate as we get a little further out to pinpoint the spot." Once again her lips continued to move after she spoke, her eyes distant. She gave an almost imperceptible nod and turned back to Simon.

    "What do you know about Limon?"
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    Re: Roadtrip

    Post by elanya on 10/10/10, 12:38 am

    "Honestly, not much other than it makes a decent stopping place."

    Hooray for phone GPS - he called up a map of the town as they set out. The truck, a grey 2007 Silverado, was still new to him, but after 7 hours on the road he was fairly well used to it. Nàm scrabbled her way onto the back of center seat, focusing her gaze on Melanie.

    "Um....She's just really curious." It occurred to him to wonder if she always saw things the way he did when he looked through her, and supposed he wouldn't be surprised.
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    Re: Roadtrip

    Post by Josh on 10/10/10, 12:59 am

    "Fair enough. No particular reason you would know about it, I was just curious." Mel stared silently out the side window for a few seconds.

    "A boy was killed here over a hundred years ago. His name was Preston Porter, Jr. They accused him of murder, pulled him off a train on his way to trial, and burned him at the stake. And its actually worse than it sounds."

    Her voice was even, but Simon could hear a deep sense of pain and anger as she spoke.

    "I think it was related to, well, to what we do. Regardless, it left its mark. The site where they...where he died, it provides a link to a place adjacent to where we need to go."
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    Re: Roadtrip

    Post by elanya on 10/10/10, 10:08 am

    "Oh." He felt vaguely uneasy - like somehow he should have known something important, and failed. He'd really never given the town much thought, but that sort of atrocity was generally of the type that made the history books. He would have to look it up later - this didn't seem like the time to ask for details. "Okay."

    He glanced over at her after a moment of silence. "Um.... there isn't really a road that follows the tracks, from here until the highway, and that's still kind of off. We could offroad - would that be better?"
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    Re: Roadtrip

    Post by Josh on 10/10/10, 10:36 am

    "Let me check," Mel replied, tapping her glasses. Simon thought he saw the afterimage of a symbol of some sort before a soft golden glow seemed to emanate from the glasses, casting a warm light on the truck cab. Mel leaned forward, hands on the dashboard as she stared out the windshield.

    "Yes. We need to head vaguely south of our current direction...maybe thirty degrees?" Her voice had an odd quality to it now, an even, ethereal but precise tone which seemed to block out other noise despite its low volume.

    "If you concentrate, I'm sure you can feel it too."
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    Re: Roadtrip

    Post by elanya on 10/10/10, 11:13 am

    "Right". Ahh, the vagueries of Fate. He wasn't sure his old truck would have been up to the task, but the new-to-him vehicle seemed to have no issues as he switched to all-wheel drive and, with a glance in the mirrors, pulled off the road. He was sure he'd be able to see their destination more clearly through his familiar, but it seemed imprudent while he was still behind the wheel. Instead he tried to concentrate, as she'd suggested, to see if he could feel anything on his own. Nàm herself hopped over onto the dashboard, cawing softly. Simon shooed her aside, out of his line of vision, and she climbed up on his shoulder instead.
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    Re: Roadtrip

    Post by Josh on 16/10/10, 09:02 am

    Concentrating, Simon could feel a pull at the edge of his awareness, something he'd never felt before which nevertheless felt oddly familiar. He couldn't quite describe, like a current or tide, but not an outside force.

    "We're getting close," Mel said, still searching the darkness in front of them. She seemed agitated, scared or excited, Simon couldn't tell.
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    Re: Roadtrip

    Post by elanya on 16/10/10, 11:48 am

    "Yeah, that's really.... hmmm." The weird pull was getting stronger, and he tried to focus for the moment on his driving. The familiarity was a little disconcerting, though, and he sought another distraction, thinking it might be good for them both.

    "So, um.... who are we looking for?"
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    Re: Roadtrip

    Post by Josh on 19/10/10, 12:27 pm

    "The, ah, scene of the crime, as it were. It has a kind of resonance. Like with radio waves on the same band. They start bleeding over into one another. This spot does that with...other places, and those places will lead where I'm trying to go."

    After another couple of minutes bouncing through the field, Mel gestured for Simon to stop the car, unbuckling as he did so. Opening her door, she stood up on the floorboard of the truck with most of her body outside of it, scanning the area in all directions. Nodding, she ducked back down to speak to Simon.

    "Looks like we're in the clear. It should be right over here."
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    Re: Roadtrip

    Post by elanya on 19/10/10, 01:05 pm

    Simon nodded, assuming that she just hadn't heard him properly since she was concentrating - or at least hoping so. He climbed out as she gave the all-clear, settling Nàm on his shoulder as he did, and looked towards the direction of the strange pull. As he was no longer driving, he chose to look through the raven's eyes, causing his to turn a golden yellow while her's darkened to a bloody red.*

    "So.... if this is some kind of metaphorical labyrinth, do we need some kind of, um, metaphorical string? And who are we going after?"



    *(You know I don't think anyone has ever mentioned that to Simon, but I can't remember, heh)

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    Re: Roadtrip

    Post by Josh on 27/10/10, 01:03 pm

    "Oh, ah, sorry. Kind of distracted. We're trying to locate a friend of mine. His name is Jebediah Stone. He's...he's like us." Mel's voice got quieter the longer she spoke. "He was...trapped, the last time we were there. I've been working on finding ways back in since then. My trips have been successful, in that I've found my way back out. Finding my, um, compatriots has proven more difficult, but I think I've puzzled out the trick."

    She began walking away from the truck, towards what Simon could see was a confluence of some kind. It didn't look like the bindings he'd seen before through Nam's eyes; rather, it looked like a hole which bleached the area around it. Not of color or light, but something Simon couldn't place, something which put him on edge. Mel stopped in front of it, mumbling under her breath and extending a hand. Her fingers worked at a ring on the same hand for a moment before Simon could clearly make out three drops of blood as they fell. He shouldn't have been able to see them from the distance he observed, but they stood out as they fell, impossibly red and heavy with significance. The absence, or whatever it was, seemed to lower into the ground, even as a post of some dark wood rose out of it, a pair of shackles clinking as it moved.

    "Well," Mel finally spoke aloud, "I'd say this is the right place."
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    Re: Roadtrip

    Post by elanya on 27/10/10, 06:10 pm

    Simon nodded slowly. The atmosphere was somber - sobering - and he felt keenly aware of the danger of the place. It was something worth understanding.

    "What did you just do? What do you need me to do?"
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    Re: Roadtrip

    Post by Josh on 29/10/10, 12:00 pm

    Mel walked back to the truck, retrieving her bag. She took a book, large and bound in wood or metal, out of the bag and laid it on the seat slowly, almost reverently. She began to speak as she turned to face Simon again.

    "I just brought a little of somewhere else in closer...alignment with here. With any luck, we'll only have to spend a few minutes there, then get to the Labyrinth."

    She fished a second object out of her satchel, a gardening trowel, which she handed to Simon.

    "This belongs to Jeb, in the way that these glasses belong to me and that raven belongs to you. I need you to follow it to him."

    She took a few steps back towards the post, talking as she went.

    "The Labyrinth, as best I can figure, is forgotten. Or, rather, the things in it are. And it wants to keep them that way. So, since I remember Jeb, and where he was, its like it actively keeps me from getting there. You, on the other hand, have no concept of him, so I think it will let you pass with only token difficulty."

    She picked up one of the shackles as she spoke, looking up when she fixed it around her arm.

    "I hope."
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    Re: Roadtrip

    Post by elanya on 29/10/10, 12:42 pm

    "Okay." He looked at the trowel, thinking of his ill-conceived experiment using Bea's visor, and giving himself a moment to process. It wasn't that the things she was talking about didn't make sense, or were hard to follow, but rather the opposite. "I can do that." The item should be fate-tied to its owner: metaphorical string, after all. He'd just have to trust that Mel could, in fact, get them back out. Nodding again, he stepped beside her, picking up the other shackle.

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