Lost and Found

Steal Head: Chapter 4 – Sharper Than Steel, Deeper Than Forever…

I’d told Beck some of my dreams but I couldn’t tell him all of them. Mostly they were memories and not all mine. Memories of other worlds. Some were of Shade, others were of the world that was here before. Others were of ‘his’ world and I liked those the least. They were of a life not mine. Things and people and places and events, none of them I had experienced yet I remembered them all as if I had. Tennyson should had tried having someone else’s happy memories swimming about his head for a week, especially after a fire reduced him to a walking freak show, and then see how he felt about loving and losing. No, Beck wouldn’t understand those dreams so I kept them to myself. But this dream, well this dream was different. Maybe I should tell Beck about this one.

It was night, the full moon sending silver light tumbling trough my cabin window. Something had woken me, some noise outside I think. I rose, the room swaying and bending as if made of jelly as I found I was unsteady on my feet. I looked down and gasped as I saw my legs: they were naked and covered in fur! In place of my burnt flesh and twisted limbs I was once more a strange mix of gazelle and human. Elated, I flung open the front door and leapt outside to the rocky overhang that jutted out into the river. On my knees, almost too nervous to see what the moonlit reflection would reveal, I stretched my head out over the still water. The breath caught in my throat and tears welled up in my eyes. My face was once more whole and unburnt, my ears and nose back from the stumps the fire had left me with, even my horns had returned, glinting darkly in the moonlight.

And then I saw it. As I gazed into the dark water like a dreaming Narcissus, the reflection of a quicksilver movement on the roof above and behind me caught my eye. I had a brief second in which the image of a monstrous toad came to mind before the air itself screamed as something sharper than steel sliced through it towards me. And then I was tumbling, rolling over and over into the water and down. And as I dropped to the depths of the river I saw my body, now headless on the rock above me, collapse onto its side before the darkness of the water closed the world above from my horrified eyes. With a gentle bump, my still concious head came to rest on the silty riverbed and silence began to envelop me.

There I lay. Alone, scared, undying, ever-concious until I felt I would go mad with the horror of it. And then I felt the movement. The water and silt shifting around me. I couldn’t move, only my eyes could flick back and forth, desperately searching for what I knew was coming until, with a cruel slow deliberateness, a huge clawed hand curled over my face and my head, silently screaming in terror, was dragged off into the dark.

Thankfully it was at this point I awoke, panting heavily and swearing like a navvy.

God alone knows what Beck would make of this one. Hopefully he won’t think I’ve gone totally loopy as, to be honest, I don’t fancy another stay at Caledon’s Sanitorium, not after the last time.

Headless HBA_001

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To be continued…

Links to other blogs and stories:
1) All my “Steal Head” posts can be read on my blog here and on the Steelhead Ning here.
2) A “Steal Head” Story So Far recap can be found here.
3) All my “Mutations” posts can be read on my blog here
4) Details of how HBA came to be burnt are in the “Lost and Found” posts on my blog here
5) Details of how HBA came to be in the dubious care of Caledon’s Sanatorium are in the “Far From Home” posts on my blog here
6) Details of how HBA came to be a half-gazelle are in the “Backpacking Burro” posts on my blog here

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Far From Home: Amarantis Belfire’s Blog

Although the telling of my “Far From Home” tale has now ended, you can still read Amarantis Belfire’s wonderfully written posts connected to it (and my previous tale, “Lost & Found“) on her blog, YAFJ. I’d like to say a HUGE thank you to Ama’s typist for helping me with these tales and allowing me to drag her into my RP 🙂

Here is Ama’s latest post in which she tackles Dr Roundtree about Nurse Rain and is cleared of any involvement in Sister Grace’s death by a mysterious man with a strange, bookish lapel pin…

Roleplaying in SL: Lessons Learnt from Lost & Found

If you’ve been following my blog for the last few months you’ll know I’ve been musing on the nature and mechanics of roleplaying in SL. Indeed, it was those conversations that led me directly to leave HBA Island and join Steelhead. Once in that fair city I immediately set about embroiling myself in a complex storyline of lost memories, assumed identities and exploding laboratories and is this experience I’d like to talk about here.

To start with the “Lost & Found” tale was just collaborative writing RP with a few photos thrown in which, bar the collaborative stuff, is meat & potatoes to me as that’s how I’ve always done all my RP, simple tales told by a simple bugger on a simple blog with some pictures sprinkled hither and yon for good measure.

Apart from plot ideas from Darien, the collaborative bit wasn’t, at first, really all that collaborative. I merely approached the other folks involved with IMed or emailed requests to involve their characters and then asked them to OK the draft results to ensure I captured them correctly and that I hadn’t dropped a ruddy huge clanger. I was bowled over by people’s enthusiasm to read through a post and agree or amend & agree it – this meant not only was the turn around time for posts really quick, but I knew that they were all happy with their ‘parts’.

Collaboration really began by accident. I was out taking pictures of Steelhead just near the lab when TotalLunar Elipse, the estate manager, turned up. We got to chatting and IMing about OOC issues. I asked him about the pentacle in the Labs and bang! we fell into IC RPing – it was my first time and he was very gentle 😉

I gained a lot from this – in fact it altered the direction of the tale as Lunar downloaded a lot of history and information in that one encounter and I began to plot immediately how I could work it all into a post.

From there I had some very fruitful email conversations with Annechen Lowey and Amarantis Belfire – both were kind enough to read my draft offerings and help flesh them out until I could see the finished post before me.

So far so good – writing and photographing on my own, emailing to & fro with others and even an in-world, in-character exchange. This was, using my earlier definitions, Written and Character RP in action and was obviously producing some small measure of Community RP as a small handful of other Steelheadians had linked to my tale in their own, a big result for me I should add 🙂 But what of Event RP?

Well, dear reader, let me enlighten you as to my plans right from the start – the destruction of Mason Labs and cruel injury of our hero, HBA. And to do this I wanted to burn down the lab in an act of community supported Event RP (in the end I opted for an explosion, but the plan was the same). I talked to Darien, Lunar, Anechen & Amarantis right from the start and then nearer the time IMed & emailed my neighbours to explain my plans and to ask if they’d be willing to help out by allowing wreckage to be strewn across their plots and even damaging their buildings. To my amazement all but one replied and all those said yes! The only problem was I had no idea how to do it* 😀

In the end it proved easier than I had imagined – I deleted the lab on the land (I couldn’t edit the pieces as they weren’t mine and the person they belonged to is no longer in SL) and used my PrimFinder tool to make some simple jagged shapes which I them textured as metal and scattered about. I also bought some smoke scripts and bunged them into transparent prims to make the wreckage look hot.

Destroying the lab

Destroying Mason Lab

Destroying Mason Lab

One Bloody Big Cog

I then tested out some explosives I’d bought for the end of <a href=”https://headburroantfarm.wordpress.com/category/the-lost-journal/”>The Lost Journal</a> and I found some excellent free sculptie fire that grows, smokes and dies all on its own.

Firefighting in Steelhead

Firefighting in Steelhead

Lost and Found - Explosion 1

It was as I was testing this lot that I ballsed up. I was showing my friend Warren Daines and, in the spirit of goofing about, we announced FIRE! in the group chat. Within 30 seconds we were involved in the roleplay I had planned, except it had all been arranged with my neighbours to take place three days later! They then had to rush about placing wreckage and damaging buildings – I felt a right berk!

Lost & Found Chapter 11

Lost & Found Chapter 12 - Epilogue

Lost & Found Chapter 12 - Epilogue

Anyhoo, as it turned out it went well and people enjoyed it – it even got a mention in dispatches:

** RANDOM ACTS OF RP IN STEELHEAD **

Mason Labs in Steelhead Harborside was accidentally blown up. Several pieces of debris landed on homes, the bridge, and underwater. We ask that you not try to move the objects as they’re being tested to make sure they don’t have any sort of contaminant and we don’t want someone accidentally squishing themselves.

The Steelhead Sentinel

So what lessons have I learnt?

Communication is vital and planning is a must. But don’t pop your cork earlier than you promised 😀

Now… Let’s get one with another, shall we?

* Lunar had a good tip for destroying a building which I would never have thought of – turn the pieces of the building (or in my case, the wreckage) physical and watch it fall, then turn them all non-physical… et voila! One destroyed building. I recently saw a good example of this here.

Lost & Found: Chapter 12 – Epilogue

The sun rose over a city much changed to the one it has set on only a few hours earlier. Its light danced off waters now clam again after the night’s tempest. It sparkled off golden pagodas and from windows in buildings that had seemingly risen from the sea’s stygian depths in the wild ferocity of the storm, its arrival marked with a swath of destruction across the city. Yet the felled trees and damaged houses were not the reason a very tired looking Lunar, once more a tall elf now that his wife had made whole the moon she had fractured, found himself stood in the morning chill and cursing softly in his native tongue.

“You are sure she is unharmed, Elle?” he asked, turning to his equally tired looking friend.

Eladrienne sighed as she looked up at the elf, soot and grime smeared her face and clothes and she was soul-tired, “Yes, Tensai has checked her over. Annechen has checked her over. I’ve seen her and she is fine, I promise.”

Lunar nodded and glanced over at Shanghai, the dream made real that should have heralded a joyous day, but even though Ama was unhurt how could he celebrate the birth of new life when this had happened? He looked down at the scorched ground, smoke curling up in patches here and there and sharp blades of twisted metal jutting up like broken teeth, and shook his head.
Destroying Mason Lab

Destroying Mason Lab

Destroying Mason Lab

JB Hancroft’s house had borne the brunt of it when a giant bolt the size of a horse had torn through the wall and now offered itself to the sky in a mocking gesture of defiance. Past that his eye could clearly see the damage done to Polymath by the cog Darien had installed as a door and his ears could quite clearly hear what Hotspur had to say on the matter in a series of curses that would make the sailors of Shanghai blush for shame.

Destroying Mason Lab

Behind him, on the other side of the road, two more mammoth cogs (a window? Another door? He didn’t know) was buried deep into the earth of Tanarian’s kennels.
Destroying Mason Lab

Thankfully no pooch had been hurt, although most had been scared half out of their minds judging by the howling and yelping, but Tanarian was livid and would take some serious placating. He looked up at Elle who, as if reading his mind, said “Leave her to me, hm?” and moved to intercept the angry woman.

How had so many casualties been avoided? How could so much damage been wrought and only… his train of thought was interrupted by a sharp prod to his right calf. And another. And a third.

“Ow!” he said hopped round.

“Elf!”

Lunar, rubbing his tender calf, looked down into the iron-clad death stare of a very seriously annoyed knee-high cat. “Dr Alter…”

Her green eyes flashed as she looked up at him, waving her paw dismissively. “Never mind all of the greetings and such,” she said with a hiss. “Look at my warehouse! Just look at it!”

Lunar looked up and across the water to where she pointed. Another of Darien’s massive bolts had smashed into her buildings and jammed itself into the side of her smoking chimney. “Ah… Yes… Well…”
Destroying Mason Labs

She breathed in deep and slow, determined to stay calm, “That is all, is it? Hmph, I see. Well, thank you Elf, thank you very much! This will not be forgotten…oh no, don’t think it will!” She poked him in the calf with her claw again before striding away, shouting orders at her minion Cato Quan.

“Such anger for such a sweet little puss cat,” Lunar sighed. Dr Alter stopped dead, the tips of her whiskers vibrating with fury, and without turning to face him hissed “Elf. I will, for the sake of your good lady wife, pretend I did not hear that and bid you good day, Sir. Good day!” She marched off with war in her heart as Lunar allowed the corner of his mouth to curl upwards in a sly smile.

“Lunar, you shouldn’t tease her so,” Elle was at back his shoulder watching the cat stride back to her damaged warehouse.

“I suppose…” was all Lunar said before turning back to the ruins of the once feared Mason Laboratory. Smoke rose from piles of melted and twisted metal which, even now hours after the explosion had ripped the building apart, were still hot to the touch. “How is he?”

Elle looked at her friend’s face, so much worry for others made him look sad, “Not good. Tensai did what she could and I’ve sent someone out to find Dr Beck, but he’s going to have to go to Caledon. There isn’t an inch of him that isn’t burnt. Even his horns are gone. I don’t know how he’s survived this long.”

“And any idea who the poor devil actually is?” Lunar asked.

“No one knows. Ama has confirmed he is not Jeremiah though, and if anyone should know it’s her.”

“I hate to think of him dying without his name, alone here with no one to mourn him.”

Elle reached out and touched the tall Elf’s arm, “Hey, he’s not dead yet. If anyone can help him it’s Tensai and the Caledon doctors. Don’t give up on him yet,” she said quietly.

Lunar looked down at her and smiled, “You’re right as usual, Elle. Ignore me, I’m just… well, look at this…” he looked at the wreckage strewn about them. “He’s alive and that’s all that matters. Tell me again what happened, will you?”

“Well,” she replied “According to Mother Superior and a host of other witnesses across town, Jeremiah, or rather the man claiming to be Jeremiah, spent the day travelling all over town on Genie’s horse. He’d been to see Annechen over at the Consulate in the afternoon and was seen after that meeting riding about in a seemingly upset state…”

“Upset? Why? What happened?”

“Annechen says he came to ask about his past and she told him he wasn’t Jeremiah. That was about the length of the meeting as she was late getting ready to leave with Fuzz.”

“Mmmm, I wish Fuzz were here now, that’s for sure. So how did our Jeremiah man take it?”

“Not well. He rode through the town talking to himself. Gia saw him on the bridge near Dragon’s Leap that night and he was out in the storm. She says he was heading back into town and he came back here. All of this is confirmed by Mother Superior and Ama.”

“Ama?” asked Lunar, surprised.

“She had spent the day following him.”

“Gods! How many people were watching and following this poor man? No wonder he was acting so oddly!”

“To be fair Lunar,” Elle said, “he was claiming to be Jeremiah Mason and came here to find his son. Both you and I know what happened last time they met, not that long ago and on this very spot. Fuzz had to keep an eye on him and no power in the world could have stopped Ama from helping her grandpa if it had have been him.”

“Yes… yes, you’re right of course. Carry on, Elle”, Lunar said softly, rubbing his eyes with his finger and thumb.

“Well,” continued Elle “Once here, well something must have snapped inside him because Ama says he went crazy.”

“Crazy? Crazy how?”

“Smashed the place up, she said. Smashed everything and was ranting about being Jeremiah. Ama tried to calm him down, but she says he was terrified and grabbed a bottle of stored lightning, presumably to defend himself, and then…” she looked at the smouldering crater and sighed.

“And how did he get out? Surely he didn’t manage to walk out in that state?” Lunar asked.

“No, Warren was passing by and ran in to save him…”

“Warren,” he interrupted, “you mean Velvel from Shanghai? What was he doing all the way over here?”

“Just taking a stroll, he says. Maxim was nearby too, JB was in his house and Maev was over at the kennels. They all got here just in time to see Warr… Velvel pull the body from the flames.”

“And Ama?”

“The blast blew her out of the door and into JB’s new shop. She was unhurt but out cold for a while and when she came too went to fetch Tensai, which is where you come in,” Elle finished.

“Hmmm,” was all Lunar said in reply. He wandered over to where the huge cog door of the lab, until a few hours ago, had been. Now it was buried deep in the walls of Hotspur’s tower.

“What’s wrong, Lunar?” Elle said, “I know that ‘Hmmm’ too well. You think there is more to it than a simple accident?”

“The explosion, no. Darien had enough dangerous things in there and Ama saw our poor would-be-Jeremiah smash the lab and grab the lightning bottle. But Velvel… no one saw him go in? And you said they saw him pulling the man out?”

“Yes,” replied Elle, “and Gia said something about him watching Jeremiah-man in the rain.”

“Who was in the rain? Jeremiah?” Lunar asked.

“No, well yes he was, but Gia said that Velvel was stood on the balcony in the rain and she is sure he was watching Jeremiah-man ride off. Lunar, you don’t think…”

“I don’t know what to think right now, Elle. Maybe our Jeremiah can tell us if he pulls through.”

“When he pulls through, you mean,” Elle reminded him.

As the sun rose higher into the sky, Lunar looked around at the rubble and ruins about him and sighed heavily, “I rather fear it’s much more of an ‘if’ Elle. Now, let’s see about this wreckage shall we?”

****

In a nearby house, Ama and Tensai bent over the horribly burnt figure laid out on a spare bed. They had both done what they could, applying aloe extracts, wrapping him in gauze and keeping his blackened flesh damp, but his burns were the most severe either of them had ever seen. Tensai whispered reassurances to him like a mother to a child, telling him it would all be alright and he would be well again, but in her heart she knew it wouldn’t be alright and he would more than likely die very soon. “Try to rest,” she said as she listened to his ruined lungs wetly gurgling for air. “We’ll get you to Caledon soon, Jeremiah,” she added with a glance to Amarantis who gave a small nod of understanding.

The man on the bed, the man who had claimed to be Jeremiah Mason, jerked and went rigid for a second. Here it comes Tensai thought, and began to prepare a prayer. His lips, or where his lips used to be, opened a little and a wheeze of air escaped. She bowed her head at his dying breath and mourned as his soul moved to pass.

Except it didn’t. The wheeze continued. She looked back up and saw he was trying to lift his head from the pillow, his mouth trying to form words. Shocked she quickly moved closer until her ear was directly over his exposed teeth and she listened with all her being.

“nohhht jhere mhh iiia”

Her eyes grew wide! Not Jeremiah he had said!

“iiihhhhmmm hhhhedd hhrrrroo hhaannnt hhhaarrrmmmm” he sighed and fell back to the bed, his wheezing lungs refusing to give up…

The End?
All the “Lost & Found” posts can be read here.

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Links to other blogs and stories:
1) Tanarian alerted the Steelhead Ning here.
2) Dr Malegato alter reports on the damage to her warehouse here.
3) The cruelly exiled Dr Darien Mason detected the loss of his old lab here.
4) The hero of the hour, Velvel Danielovich explains how he pulled the burnt man out of the fire here.
5) Rhianon Jameson reports on the damage here.

Lost & Found: Chapter 11 – The All-Consuming Flames

Lost and Found - Explosion 1

Postcard from Second Life.

Postcard from Second Life.

Postcard from Second Life.

Postcard from Second Life.

Postcard from Second Life.

Postcard from Second Life.

Postcard from Second Life.

To Be Continued…
All the “Lost & Found” posts can be read here

Lost & Found: Chapter 10 – The Truth At Last

Jeremiah had stumbled through the dark doorway and down the stone steps looking like a man possessed. His clothes were soaked and dirty whilst his fur streamed water around him. He repeatedly swiped at his face, trying the claw the rain from his eyes so he could see. His face was terrible to behold, locked in a state of terrified panic with eyes wide and wild. In here, he thought, there must be something to prove I am me, there must be something that leads back to my family! His mind whirled in circles, demons inside him, murder in his heart, cruelty pumping through his veins. He was Jeremiah Mason! Jeremiah Sawyer Mason! Jeremiah Darien Mason!

Outside a storm raged, flinging itself at the city as though it were trying to tear it apart. Inside Jeremiah began to do the same to his son’s laboratory.

He tore open drawers, ripped off cupboard doors and upturned every box, crate and table he could find. Papers and books were trodden into the rain-soaked floor, glass syringes and medical instruments shattered and clattered beneath his boots. A lifetime of research and study was being torn apart in seconds. Blood seeped from his hands where sharp metal or broken glass had sliced into them, but still he continued. He began to shout, barking out demands that wherever it was hiding it had better come out now. Did it not know he was Jeremiah Darien! Mason! He was Jeremiah Mason! He was Mason Darien Demon Mason!

He tore at pipes, the room began to fill with steam and smoke. He kicked and smashed at flashing control panels. He lifted the operating table high above his head and flung it across the room into shelves of glass bottles. The air became thick with the acrid scent of chemicals, sparks crackling and jumping from exposed wires. He bellowed into them, he was Jeremiah Mason! He would not be denied! He was Jeremiah Killer! He would have answers. He spat that the glowing pentacle in the floor, He did not fear it. He did not fear it. He controlled it. He was Jeremiah Darien Demon Killer Mason!

“No, you are not.”

Her voice stopped him dead. Her tone firm, but gentle and with an odd harmony behind it, almost as though she spoke in several voices at once. He turned to face her and gasped. Her wings of translucent skin and clawed bone slowly folded behind her, their magnificence framing her extraordinary beauty. Her red skin and horns, the colour of cooling magma and texture of silk, almost glowed in the gloomy darkness. Beneath hair of pure white, eyes that seemed capable of boring through steel fixed upon him. She wiped the rain from her brow with the back of hand, rivulets of water ran from her dark leather clothing and folded wings. “I’ve been following you,” she said, “I saw you here with Lunar. I saw you with mama. I saw you with the poor horse. I saw you come in here, my home, and I saw you do this,” she gestured at the broken chaos scattered around them.

“I… I…” was all he could manage.

“You think you are my zaide, but you are not.”

“Zaide? Who… who is zaide?” he asked.

“My grandpapa, my zaide. You are not him. I can feel your bloodline and it is not his.”

“My bloodline? You can feel…?”

The girl took a step towards him, a petri dish cracked beneath her boot and Jeremiah took a step back away from her. “Please,” she said, ”I do not know who you are but I am willing to help you.”

He couldn’t stop looking at her eyes, her terrible, beautiful eyes. Her gaze sliced in to him. He could feel it stripping him away layer by layer, peeling him away to expose his core, to reduce him, to render him to nothing.

“NO! STAY BACK! I’M DANGEROUS! A KILL…” he was ranting as he reached out for nearest thing he could defend himself with. His hand, wet from the rain and soaked with a cocktail of chemicals, closed around the top of the large bottle of stored lightning.

A strange lucidity settled across his mind and a single second expanded into a lifetime as he watched his own death unfold. The bottle released its precious charge in one almighty arcing streak of white fire. The air screamed as a ball of plasma hotter than the sun roared into every corner of the small, enclosed room. For a brief moment he hung in the centre of a star before, with pain beyond measure, the world around him exploded into all-consuming fire and Jeremiah Mason, genius, father of geniuses, killer of Demons, repentant soul and unforgiven sinner died for the final time.

To Be Continued…
All the “Lost & Found” posts can be read here

One bloody big cog…

I managed to find some scupltie cogs and bolts – let the wild rumpus begin! and by wild rumpus, I mean lab blowy upy time! Yay!

One Bloody Big Cog

Owww! My horns!