Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The House of the Lost: Part One

“…but antibodies are powerful - no one should forget that. Every antibody therapy has a small but real risk of setting off something terrible, and if you're targeting the immune response itself, well, the risk just goes up. The immune system is a bit like demonology: don't call anything up that you don't know how to send back down.”

A lesson I should have kept in mind before trying my own hand at it; I could have saved myself a lot of pain.

I'm alive. I've been awake for five days. I should have made this post earlier, and I have no real reason for not doing so other than I've been recovering from feeling like I'd been doused in gasoline and set on fire, and the shakes, and the vicious migraine and that it just didn't seem important, somehow. None of this did.

Now I think of it, it's a little worrying.

Black is doing well. I found him asleep in the hot water cupboard, probably in order to avoid Fracture and Veigar. I think he was the one that pulled me out of the freezer and put me on the couch, but I can't be sure since memory gets hazy about that point. I don't remember ever asking Veigar for help for example, even though it clearly and oddly happened, so you can imagine my surprise at seeing him upon waking.

He left shortly afterwards, since wherever he was in the house I got that prickly feeling of invaded personal space. I was unable to repay him. Thank you for reminding me of the significantly larger amount of funding Proxies get. I'm still not entirely sure how you knew where my house was. Don't just say 'files': the information in them comes from somewhere. Fracture, maybe? The Librarians? Strider?

It doesn't matter, I suppose. I still owe you for, if not saving my life than at least not letting me choke on my own vomit.

I died. I met the Contessa, and well, she did say that was a prerequisite.

The last thing I remember was lying on the floor, in a pool of blood and azoth and saliva, staring at nothing in particular with burning bones and absolute blinding pain everywhere, and the only thought in my head, going around and around, being I want to die I want to die I want to die. It was the only one there was space for, in that condition.

And then suddenly, I was in a chair. It's incredibly jarring, going from being as sick as a dog to absolutely fine in the space of less than a second, so you can understand I was a bit disoriented. The room I was in was unfamiliar, filled with chairs and drawers and a wardrobe. Mirrors, cracked and uncracked. A clear plastic ceiling, grapevines running up and over it and blocking all light but green. Sundry bric a brac, including in its number painted plates both license and ceramic, mismatched electronics, a Remington typewriter and a disturbing gnome. There was a thick layer of dust over everything. Nothing metal within reach.

More notable were the stuffed animals. Various species, extant and extinct, they were perched everywhere, positioned so as to see everything in the room. Out of the corner of my eye I swear they moved. Three were on the table I was sitting at, a spider, rat and koala. They were wearing bibs.

"Hi!" said the girl in front of me, and she looked perfectly like a young girl pouring tea. There was a scent about her, of dust and the smell of antiques, which made sense considering the surroundings, and nostalgia, which did not. Multiple times I'd catch myself thinking of the past more than should be usual, and would have to manually snap back into focus. Her eyes and hair were mine, giving her a slight air of 'little sister you never had' and she wore an elaborately frilly white dress which had its effect somewhat ruined by differently colored belts and loops of string and chain strung around her like tinsel, hung with things ranging from paperclips to an actual gemstone. I kept looking at a certain familiar flash drive hanging from the belt around her waist like a carabina.

"...hi? Who are you," I said. I'd guessed, but I wasn't sure.

"I'm the Contessa, silly! Can't you tell?" Does it say something that my first thought at this revelation was something along the lines of 'Oh, hell.'?

"Sorry, it can be hard to tell what someone looks like through text." 

"That's okay. Used to be lots of people didn't know who I was when they got here. How do you like your tea, by the way?"

I looked down at the cup in front of me, which I honestly hadn't noticed. I picked it up, twisted it this way and that, and then set it aside. "It's, uh, a little too hot. I'll just let it cool down."

If she was bothered by my demurral, she didn't show it. "That's okay! So... sorry, it's been a while. Do you have any questions? People usually did."

"First off, why am I here? Last thing I remember is an extreme close up of the living room carpet."

"Well, it's because... I'm never quite sure how to say this... but, you're dead." She took a sip of her own tea. "It's not quite official just yet, though." I leaned forward, elbows on the table because to hell with etiquette. "I would have thought I would have ended up at the Archangel's place," I said carefully.

"Oh, him." The word was full of unhappy petulant venom. "He takes people I find away, and now I can't find people anymore! I think he did something..." she shook her head. "Anyway, I kinda grabbed you because you looked interesting from your blog."

"...thanks?" I said, because just what are you supposed to say to that? "Where is this, anyway?" My gaze met that of the black beady eyes of a stuffed tiger lounging on a grandfather clock. "Can I leave?"

She bit her lip. "Um... well, it's kinda complicated. You're not officially dead yet, so I suppose you could. You'd go back into your body. Dunno if it would work." She gestured at my cup. "I think your tea's cooler now."

I dabbled a finger in it, and then wiped it on the tablecloth. "A little too cool, in fact. Sorry." I swirled it a little. "So I can leave anytime? Good to know. First, though... where is this?" I repeated.

"It's my house! It's got all sorts of things in it, and you can stay as long as you like!" She spread her arms out, clearly proud. I was... less enthused. But she was the host, and it paid to be on her good side. "It's a nice place," I offered. "Very... eclectic." Go on, was my unspoken tone.

"Wellll..." she stretched the syllable out. "Remember when you were asking me about that data and how I got it? It's because it was dead! When a thing dies, it comes here and there's a place for it in my house!" She performed another expansive gesture. The sheer randomidity of the item type and placement began to make a little more sense.

She tickled the bibbed table spider, and it silently curled around her fingers as if asking for more. I eyed it. "Get a lot of destroyed stuffed animals?" This seemed to shock her and she placed a hand to her mouth.

"They weren't stuffed when they were alive, silly!" She giggled, before noticing my neglected cup. "Oh, sorry!" She poured another one and slid it across to me. There was a little bit of fridge horror on my part, which she assuaded. I'll leave you to guess what it was.

"So why stuffed, then?" I asked once I'd calmed down. She cocked her head to one side thoughtfully.

"I dunno, I never really thought about it. Maybe it's only the 'essence' of the animal comes here?" She drew the koala into a hug. "Maybe it's so I can name them all! This is Marbles..." She put it down and  pointed at the spider and tiger. "These are Bumpy and Gerald. And this," she proclaimed, one hand resting on a stuffed elephant almost as high as the table, "is Xiomara!"

I blinked. "You name every single animal that dies?" Because seriously, who even has that much time. That much boredom. That many letter combinations. She nodded emphatically. "Mmhm! Say hi, Gerald!" The stuffed tiger gave something that sounded like a cough, before looking away and shifting to a more comfortable position. I looked from it to her. "So," I said. "This means you have my data somewhere as well."

"Your... oh, yeah!" She unclipped the flash drive I'd noticed earlier from her belt. "This is it, right?" I nodded. It was either it or a similar model. She tossed it up and down. "Well, it's mine now!~"

"What would you accept for it? I'm afraid I can't give you the other eye." I smiled.

"Well, um... I know!" She held up a finger. "You can have it if you beat me at riddles!"

I wasn't sure how good at riddles I was. I'd never really practiced. But this was the only chance to get this data or let it be lost forever.

"Deal!" I said.

This is a bit long. I'll post the second part later.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

It's okay guys, I've got her. I'll take care of her for now.


Friday, 9 August 2013

Experiment #4: Vaccine Part Two

So, I drop off the radar for a while. Try and live normally for a bit. Do some study, try to get my tanking grades up to par. Look after Black, keep trying to write his story. Continue trying to get Rinforzando to cooperate.

And then I check my P.O. Box, and find a certain package. With a certain name on it, and a handwritten note with condolences of Jack. Which can only mean one thing: I've won the bet, and Carter is dead.

I have his notes here in front of me. Meticulously organized. Engineer's handwriting. His i's look like j's. Diagrams done in neat pencil. I pore through them, and I see both similarities to my own work, and things I'd never even have thought of in a million years, and I wonder what would have happened if we could have worked together, trading notes instead of hoarding them in this game. But then, he always was secretive. There is a very obvious gap where my file should be.

He was one of the two I considered candidates for the Sage title, you know. But then bad things historically have happened when a Sage gives titles to people other than their successor. He was also the first person I really met here.

I find I still can't think of him as truly dead. Can't help but catch myself thinking this is a deliberate ruse, or an accidental mistake. That'll pass, probably.

Kendra's gone too, but there's still a little hope for her, if Chaos can be taken off the pills. Rose has offered to send me a sample of some, and I've taken her up on it. Lily's past the point of no return. Morningstar and Redlight are, as we all know, still out and about, with Redling sightings in my territory.


I'm accelerating my program, and will be starting on human trials shortly. Thanks to the rats I now have rat antibodies to azoth. I also still have some human antibodies to same from Carter left, but I'm reluctant to use those as they cannot be replaced. I also have some secondary rat antibodies; that is rat antibodies with human azoth antibodies as their target. These will be fluorescently tagged and used for identification purposes later.

For now, I will be injecting the primary rat antibodies into myself to determine their effect. Black does not have any azoth left in him and so is not a suitable candidate, and I've learnt the drawbacks of having a catch and release program; the local proxies involved tend to learn from their mistakes, those mistakes being springing one of my traps. They have started to leave disparaging notes. I have not been able to obtain any for this experiment.

But maybe that's for the best. This is uncharted territory, and I don't want any incorrect production or unforeseen side effects on my part to result in any death or injury other than possibly my own. It's why I've yet to use the Cortexiphan I've stockpiled.

Wish me luck. I'll periodically update this post throughout the process.

EDIT: Roughly two hours after the injection, and the area around my inner arm is red and inflamed. Starting to not feel well, like my head's been stuffed with cotton wool. Very thirsty all of a sudden.

EDIT: tried to get some things. Stood up too fast. Didn't manage to get the bucket. there's black everywhere. It's too hot. Head's killing me.

i am in the vreezer. it won't stop. it won't stop

i wonder what would happen if the lid shut and stuck me here forvere and I suffocatedc 

the floor is nice. red and black isn’t. It wont go away nomatter how I shout my throat hurts

h e lp

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Recent Results

So, the blog takeover was rather obvious. I’d expected to track down Totara; I didn’t think he’d track down me.

The first thing he did was cut the power while I was out. This took out about half the traps right away. He also removed any batteries he could find, ensuring I came home to a dark house and that it stayed that way, and also that the cameras were disabled the entire time. Black didn’t stop him.

Speaking of, I fell asleep after making tea for him and myself on the camping stove; when I woke up it was a day and a half later with dry throat and pounding headache and a bad taste in my mouth to find the house had been overturned. I’ve tested the tea since and discovered traces of sodium thiopental I found had been taken from the supply left over after I sent some to Phil, as well as fospropofol, a combined concoction that scares me. I then threw out anything remotely edible inside the house in case that had been tampered with too.

The sedatives did not seem to agree with Black, and he threw up on the carpet almost immediately after waking. He slept abnormally long in the days afterward, although he seems to be fine now apart from having a newfound aversion to tea.

My lab was somehow in even more disarray than the rest of the house. It had been methodically searched, although very little was taken. The floppy disk and CD I acquired from the mountain lab are gone, the electromagnetic field generator 2.0 and the backup fuel generator have several small but important components missing, and my computer’s hard drive has been magnetically wiped.

Totara has a sense of humor I don’t like. When I find him, I might just return the favour.

Outside of all this, I’ve been working on a way to sculpt azoth, preferably into weapons. Azoth is very malleable, capable of taking a variety of shapes and hardnesses, and I want to take advantage of this property. So far, though, it’s been... difficult.

Making a sealed experimental container was easier than I thought it would be because it required only a few modifications to a vapor cage similar to the ones holding rats. I added gloves to the final structure, as well as a glass ‘airlock’ to move items into the main chamber without any escape of contaminated air. Instead of a vacuum, fire is used to clean the air of azoth vapor after items have been removed.

I tested it out by attempting to find out if specifically living azoth could be accurately shaped. My hypothesis was that since it communicates with itself via electromagnetic signals, mimicry of these signals could cause it to perform desired actions. To this end I made a miniature solenoid with adjustable voltage and current to see if there was a ‘sweet spot’.

It did not go well as hoped. The solenoid could cause the areas of azoth it was run over to become solid, but not for any useful length of time. In addition, the behavior it caused was erratic; often the azoth would twitch or twist into odd shapes or for one worrying moment, coil around the electromagnet even when the current was cut. Fortunately said magnet was within a plastic bag from which it was easily removed.

I also tried seeing if dead azoth could be fired like clay in a kiln. In retrospect this was a terrible idea. I constructed the kiln underground and with plenty of coal in order to create a layer of carbon dioxide over the azoth to counter it’s oxygenated properties. I thought this would be sufficient but clearly it wasn’t as the entire thing detonated with enthusiasm   c. As far as I can tell, the azoth ignited inside the kiln and then caused a massive pressure buildup.

I was very nearly bludgeoned by a brick, and got some very awkward questions from the neighbours. I told them it was a car backfiring.
That said, azoth can be safely cooked in an oven at temperatures below its flashpoint as long as it’s distributed evenly: it’s in fact part of the process I used to make azoth fireworks. The heat causes it to harden, shrink and become brittle, so it’s not really useful as a method of making objects. Messing around with variable temperatures and lengths of heating to see if more useful results are yielded will have to wait until said oven is fixed from the aftermath of an unfortunate paper related incident. (It’s a long story involving amateur surgery, a spectrometer, and a fire extinguisher. Also chess.)

I’m using the remains of the kiln to construct incubators, since I don’t want to leave Dying Man water samples in the one in the university.

I’ve also been making more of the active substance contained in the mysterious pills, which I’m going to call Cortexiphan just for the hell of it, so as to build up a decent stock in case it’s ever needed. Currently only have roughly thirteen grams of product, kept dry with dessicants in an anti UV jar in the freezer. Hopefully it doesn’t degrade over time.

Something I forgot to mention earlier: None of the dead or disappeared rats were from the vaccinated group. It’s a good sign but not absolute proof that it works yet.

I know I’m a bit late to this news, but Last and his team killed the Rake, or a Rake at least. In any case, a precedent has been set. I’ve been busy making the promised medals. They are almost complete, and just need to be electroplated. If you can email me an address to send them to, that’d be great.

In other news, I need a Proxy volunteer for my next experiment. Someone who can Path. It’s nothing particularly harmful or even strenuous, although it does require a lack of dickishness and an ability to remember instructions. And if you encounter a Denizen on the Path and kill it, I’d quite like it’s corpse for study.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

White Weather

It’s snowing! IT’S SNOWING! Here! Now! Big fat fluffy flakes piling up a meter high. The schools are closed. It’s beautiful.

Yes, I’m suddenly six years old. No, I don’t care.

I’m going to grab Black and head outdoors. Guy could use some exercise.

EDIT:  While snowballs, marshmallows in milo and a roaring fire are not to be sneezed at, you probably want some actual news.

Roy! Your leg is complete and being shipped your way as we speak. Instructions for assembly are included, as are the controllers and their batteries as well as a charging cord. It may take a little getting used to.

As for what occured after the solstice, there was a lot of faffing around while I told the police I ran over a deer and wrote to my parents for money to pay back the rental company for their car as well as the cost of the tow. Then I went and got food, Singstar, and incredibly drunk, since I'd missed Matariki and thought I might as well catch up. Two words:



While there’s something slightly sad about a celebration with only two people, I woke up with a massive hangover and Black was somehow on the roof so something approaching fun must have happened. Rose’s advice about cold water was both painful and invaluable.

Before the party, but after I’d gotten home, I did a quick check to make sure everything was as I’d left it. It was, save for the rats. I found five little rodentine corpses in the vapor and injection cages dead from bites, and a further four had completely disappeared unaccounted for. Interestingly, two of those four had not been part of the experiment at all; they were two of the three least bitey ones I’d picked out to be Black’s pets on Spyre’s advice. Clearly, some miniature drama must have played out while I was gone. I’m not sure what this means for the experiment, but I’ve cleaned the cages up and returned things to as they were.

Something odd that I’ve noticed about Rinforzando. Azoth is viscous and tends to hold together when tugged on.  I was withdrawing mass for the experiment when the similarity to nylon and other manmade textiles struck me. Not that I was going to act on this little bit of whimsy as azoth clothing strikes me as a singularly bad idea. However, the triangular area I was pulling up on split, forming thin strands between the main mass and the tongs. That’s not something that’s happened before, and the implications disturb me.

Since there are accounts of making azoth into physical weapons, I’m going to test methods of doing so. Also, you may have noticed Last’s plan to kill the Rake over here. I’m planning on making each participant a medal. There’s not much else I can do from here, but they'd deserve it.

Otherwise, things here have been quiet lately. Always a worry when that happens.