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The chance meeting, the cup of coffee... I'm getting a sense of deja vu here. Though it's really more of a remake: the same plot, but different actors. Then again, I could be imagining things.

This story is like a hulking shape hidden in a deep soup of fog. There's a vague outline visible and every now and then, a sudden clearing reveals a few details, but there's not yet enough to piece everything together into a coherent whole - although there are tantalizing hints and suggestions. :)

Mme Eryx continues her meteoric rise from obscurity to power. Not a good thing, not at all.
 

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A nutcase having hallucinations. :)

That's a mean thing to say about Stephan.

The chance meeting, the cup of coffee... I'm getting a sense of deja vu here. Though it's really more of a remake: the same plot, but different actors. Then again, I could be imagining things.

This story is like a hulking shape hidden in a deep soup of fog. There's a vague outline visible and every now and then, a sudden clearing reveals a few details, but there's not yet enough to piece everything together into a coherent whole - although there are tantalizing hints and suggestions. :)

Mme Eryx continues her meteoric rise from obscurity to power. Not a good thing, not at all.

To be fair, Molly introduced herself to Pierre by rugby-tackling him in the middle of a busy street. I think people in Port-au-Prince just really like drinking coffee...
 

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I should point out that these events are not occuring concurrently

36

Pierre woke up to the sound of birdsong. He rolled over, and all he could see was a vast expanse of blue. He gazed at it for a few moments and then got to his feet and stared uncomprehending at his surroundings. The last thing he remembered was being in Toussaint's laboratory, but he wasn't there anymore, that much was clear. He shielded his eyes from the sun with his hand.

“What the...?”

He was on a desert island, and his head hurt.

---​
The Criminal let out a dreadful scream, while the second-in-command watched on nervously. It had been four days since the possession, and it was the longest amount of time the Criminal had occupied Madame Tzarsou’s body to date. The skeletal figure clutched its head, writhing and throwing itself against the floor and the cave wall, screeching out in a voice like fingernails on a chalkboard,

“Fet Gede...approaches! I will make sure...Circe pays!”


These turned out to be parting words, and the Criminal’s bodily vessel slumped to the ground in a heap. The second-in-command limped over, and emitted a big sigh of relief upon gazing into the hopeless eyes of Madame Tzarsou.

“Janus,” she whispered, “you’re hurt.”

“I’m fine,” the second-in-command, who was apparently called Janus, said. “You just stay away from that organ in future, for all our sakes! I'll go get your wig.”

Madame Tzarsou smiled as she watched Janus scuttle away. She looked dreamily upon her lair, with the lava pits and the golden throne and the big screen, and all was good.

---​

“But she doesn’t even look Egyptian!”

I know, that’s the beauty of it. The Haitian people are such utter zombies they won’t even notice something as obvious as that. They'll just lap it up and accept it, like they do with everything else. Consider this my way of pointing and laughing in their faces.”

“Ha, I see what you did there. I like it.”

---​

“Oh yes, I’ve travelled all over the place,” Stephan said. “I’ve been to the great palaces of Europe and dined with Habsburgs and the Hohenzollerns, and fought for the Persian Shah in his war with the Japanese, piloting a Gyroplane over the deserts of Sinkiang and Mongolia. One time, the Sultan of Baluchistan invited me to stay in his palace and meet with the leaders of the Kallisti Liberation Front, little knowing that I was at that time working as a spy for the Chilean government!”

Molly nodded and smiled, entirely disingenuously. It was quite obvious that this guy was completely off his rocker, and she couldn’t help but wonder why Pierre would be friends with someone with such a tenuous grip on reality. “That’s fascinating,” she said, “but I asked you about the UPCA. Guatemala in particular.”

“Oh, are you planning to go?”

“...Yes. As I said a few minutes ago, I’m planning to leave within the next few days, but I’m a bit worried. The Central Americans are quite...hostile to Haitians, are they not? That’s the impression I get from the politicians and the media, anyway.”

“You should be alright. It's not like they're Mexicans or Brits or anything. Why are you going to Guatemala?”

“Oh, to visit some Mayan ruins called Piedras Negras...what? Why are looking like that?”

Stephan’s eyes were wide. “Piedras Negras, the great gateway!” Molly’s face was blank, so he continued, “It is said that there are three great depositories of ancient knowledge, known as the Halls of Records, similar to the one in Port-au-Prince but different. The original is said to lie under the sphinx in Egypt, one is at Bimini and the other is hidden underneath the ruins at Piedras Negras.”

Molly took a sip of coffee. “Hmm, ‘Enter the black stones’...maybe I’m supposed to find the Hall of Records there or something?”

Stephan waved his finger. “Ah. But it’s not that easy. It is said that the Halls are guarded by an ancient, enlightened race of immortals, and only grant entrance to those who can pass three deadly trials. I read about it in...”

...Secret Worlds,” they said in unison.

“Yeah, right. I’m beginning to see a pattern here,” said Molly, rolling her eyes.

---​
Anney clambered aboard the HMS Impossible, and as the ship sailed away she stared at the island, which became ever smaller. It was getting dark, and she was suddenly overcome with a great tiredness, and so lay down on the hard floor and closed her eyes. It wasn’t comfortable, but she had experienced worse in her time.

Just as she was drifting off to sleep, there was a great flash of light and the wind began to howl and blow ferociously around the ship. She opened her eyes but found she was blinded by the light. She could just about make out a shape, standing over her threateningly and...waggling a finger. A great voice rang out,

“I said I’d be keeping watch, and I meant it, Anne Bonny! I meant every word!”

“Oh,” Anney said with a grimace of recognition as the light disappeared, and the interloper came into full view. “It’s you.”
 
Last edited:

Enewald

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Perso-Japanese war?
Hmm... :confused:

Haiti, how did they actually come to dominate the Caribbean?
 

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...It is said that the Halls are guarded by an ancient, enlightened race of immortals, and only grant entrance to those who can pass three deadly trials
"Only the penitent man will pass... Only the penitent man will pass..." Channeling Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade again? I see now where Pierre gets the inspiration for his stories - what was it again, 'Ohio Smith'? ;)

So far, Anney's behavior does not show real adverse effects for Marissa - I concede that when you said 'wait till you see what happens next', it doesn't require that 'next' be the next update. :)

At least the Criminal is gone. Or has he merely relocated to another host? Anyway, the Criminal is bad, so I'm glad he's gone. Although he has a beef with Circe, who's also bad, so maybe bad vs. bad is good? I don't expect so.

And then there's the mysterious Selena Eryx, who is up to no good. The reference to Luna in the parsol.hti story, who could be another lunar-related character and therefore probably no good news. And then there's Mme Tzarsou, who is merely crazy. And then there is one or more entities (to wit, the finger-wagging appartition scolding Anney and the earlier Voodoo lady in Haiti who was visited by the old man) who may also not be well-disposed towards mankind.

Things sure don't look promising, which such a lineup of baddies baying for blood.

By the way, is Pierre now on Navissa island? Or are there other deserted islands in this universe? :p
 

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Perso-Japanese war?
Hmm... :confused:

Haiti, how did they actually come to dominate the Caribbean?

Basically, Japan and (a civilised) Persia both beat the crap out of China in the early 20th century, and inevitably met in the middle. There have been various on-and-off conflicts between them ever since.

As for the second question...it's a secret. ;)

"Only the penitent man will pass... Only the penitent man will pass..." Channeling Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade again? I see now where Pierre gets the inspiration for his stories - what was it again, 'Ohio Smith'? ;)

So far, Anney's behavior does not show real adverse effects for Marissa - I concede that when you said 'wait till you see what happens next', it doesn't require that 'next' be the next update. :)

At least the Criminal is gone. Or has he merely relocated to another host? Anyway, the Criminal is bad, so I'm glad he's gone. Although he has a beef with Circe, who's also bad, so maybe bad vs. bad is good? I don't expect so.

And then there's the mysterious Selena Eryx, who is up to no good. The reference to Luna in the parsol.hti story, who could be another lunar-related character and therefore probably no good news. And then there's Mme Tzarsou, who is merely crazy. And then there is one or more entities (to wit, the finger-wagging appartition scolding Anney and the earlier Voodoo lady in Haiti who was visited by the old man) who may also not be well-disposed towards mankind.

Things sure don't look promising, which such a lineup of baddies baying for blood.

By the way, is Pierre now on Navissa island? Or are there other deserted islands in this universe? :p

Pierre's character was Minnesota Johnson.:D

Marissa's fate has been hinted at, but it is coming up soon in full.

The Criminal has relocated to another plane. Luna Ricce doesn't actually exist, she's a character in a work of online fiction called "The Divided Man", which has some startling similarities with another story called "The Lost Century" (so in a sense, this AAR is also being written in the universe of this AAR, except in that instance it is based on a true story). The finger-wagging entity has appeared before, and is entirely benevolent.

And no, Pierre is not on Navassa Island.
 

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Persuasion

37

“Miss Charlotte,” Anney said. “I would say it’s good to see ya, but...well honestly, it's not.”

“Oh please, don’t stand on ceremony with me. I must say, I have been watching your actions, and have been less than impressed. To just abandon your friend like that is one of the most despicable acts I’ve seen in a long time, and to think you’re supposed to be one of the good guys!”

Anney’s head was still hurting from the burst of light, and a lecture was the last thing she wanted to hear. She got to her feet, and brushed her tangled hair out of her face. “I din’t realise I was subject to your approval. An’ anyway, what’s the problem? Marissa’s a parrot! She can just fly away.”

Miss Charlotte shook her head sombrely. “You don’t really think that Circe would allow that, do you?”

Anney shrugged. “I dunno, she seemed kinda stupid to me.” She glared at Miss Charlotte accusingly. “And you know, you’re one to talk!”

Miss Charlotte took a step back. “What do you mean?”

“Well you know, it’s all very well you appearin’ here and trying to lay a guilt-trip on me, but where the hell were you before? Why din’t you stop us from landing at this damned island in the first place, huh? You coulda prevented this whole mess!”

“I, uh, well...I was listening to some poetry that my friend wrote, and got a bit distracted during that part. It’s really good! He does it by cutting up newspapers and-“

“-blah blah blah. Guess what, missy, I don’t care! So you only kept watch when it suited you, and your negligence allowed this whole situation to occur at all! Damn hypocrite.”

Miss Charlotte stomped her foot and frowned at Anney. “Hmph, you don’t have to be so rude! I did give you this boat, you know, out of the goodness of my heart! You could be a bit more grateful.”

“Oh yeah, outta the goodness of your heart. Oh come on, you know as well as I do what happened to this ship! There's no need to rub it in my face.”

Miss Charlotte smiled smugly. “Oh, so you are capable of feeling guilty about some things. Well that’s a start, at least.”

Anney let out a growl, and shook her head. “Damn, that was completely different and you know it. What are you, anyway? Has my conscience somehow come alive to torment me in the most annoyin’ way imaginable?” Anney let out a sigh. “You know, Marissa believed you were her guardian angel. I’m beginning to think she may have had a point.”

Miss Charlotte didn't laugh. “She's not in the past tense just yet, Anne Bonny. And no, I’m not an angel. I’ve never like angels, they’re so stuck up. But I have committed myself to this cause, and intend to see it through to the end. And that means,” she said calmly, “ensuring that both you and Marissa remain safe.”

“Well that’s great, but I care about one thing; me. Oh don’t look so surprised, I’m a lovable rogue bordering on anti-hero, it’s what’s expected of me. Marissa’s a nice lady, but there’s worse things than being turned into a parrot; I should know, I’ve been personally responsible for inflicting a few myself.”

“But you have to listen-“

“No. Nuh-huh, no way. This lecture is over. I’ve already got enough guilt and regrets for several lifetimes, so addin’ a few more ain’t gonna make a little bit of difference. If you’re so bothered, why don’t you go rescue her yourself?”

Miss Charlotte closed her eyes, and the voice that came out was somehow different, yet familiar, “But I've never broken the law. Well, one time I downloaded some music off the Grid without paying, but that doesn't really count."

Anney blinked. “Oh.”

“You would have gone back for Jack or Mary, wouldn’t you?”

“Well...yeah, I guess, but they...oh come on, you can’t seriously be suggesting...”

Miss Charlotte smiled. “Just do the right thing. Even pirates have a kind of honour.” She plucked a leaf from her garland, and ascended, leaving Anney alone on the HMS Impossible. She looked over the side, and realised that as they had been talking, the ship had been drifting back towards Aiaia. She swore, annoyed at herself for not noticing such an obvious trick, and glared at the island. She walked to the prow, with the wind in her hair.

“Not anymore they don’t," Anney muttered to herself. "There ain't no honour left in this dirty rotten world. The golden age of piracy is over. There’s just no comparison between a little bit of digital piracy and what I’ve done. No comparison at all.” She stood at the front of the ship, and looked deep into the night, revelling in the feeling of the air rush past her. “I’m sorry Marissa, I truly am, you’re a sweet gal, but I’m just not cut out to be some big damn hero. This ship sails tonight.”
 

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So far, so sensible. :) I'm liking Anney more and more. Of course, I like her in a 'Thank goodness she's not my last, best hope of salvation' kind of way.

Her arguments continue to make sense and it was fun to see her take on (and beat, to some extent) Miss Charlotte. Seems the gods (or supernatural beings), even the goody-two-shoes, aren't so perfect themselves. :D
 

Enewald

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The golden age of piracy is right here!
It's called 'downloading'. :D
 

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So far, so sensible. :) I'm liking Anney more and more. Of course, I like her in a 'Thank goodness she's not my last, best hope of salvation' kind of way.

Her arguments continue to make sense and it was fun to see her take on (and beat, to some extent) Miss Charlotte. Seems the gods (or supernatural beings), even the goody-two-shoes, aren't so perfect themselves. :D

No, the last, best hope for salvation is Molly. :p

The golden age of piracy is right here!
It's called 'downloading'. :D

Anney not agree with you entirely about that. ;)
 

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Molly goes meta

38

When Molly had got home, she had decided to explore the strange and as-of-yet incomplete online story “The Divided Man” some more, in the comfort of her own home. She decided to go through it, and try and work out what on earth was going on, hoping to take her mind off the little right aligned number thirty eight that had begun following her around like some kind of creepy stalker. She typed the address into the browser, and began:

dividedman5.png


38

Molly shuddered and shook her head. She skipped to the very last update posted, in which one of the characters, called Dolly, has stumbled across an online story called “The Lost Century,” narrated by someone called Pebble. The update was a bit tedious, in Molly’s opinion, as it just featured Dolly reading the story and quoting sections of it, and then packing for a trip to The Bahamas followed by a shocking realisation. Molly couldn't help but hope that the author would go back to the stuff with witches and pirates with the next update, as they tended to be at least semi-legible.
Paranoia is ſun​
Instead, Molly decided to look at what else was on parasol.hti. There were a few other ASRs (After Simulation Reports), most of which were much more conventional descriptions of what had occurred in the Simulation. There was one called “lolspain”, where the student had played as Spain, and entirely consisted of screenshots with “lolcat” style comments ('Im in ur country, occupyin ur provincez'), which greatly amused Molly for a good fifteen minutes. There was also a thread in the Off-Topic forum warning about prolonged contact with direct sunlight, and a detailed and, in Molly’s opinion, highly paranoid rant about the government-backed cloudbusting program and the dangers of orgone manipulation and depletion. According to the person who had posted the thread, Wilhelm Reich had originally intended his device to be used to stimulate clouds and rainfall, but the government had adjusted it to do precisely the opposite. All together now:
In Haitian ſun, paranoia is watching you! Para Sol, Los Paranoias. Such useless maize shorts roman Janus of the two heads, both guard and guardiand what do you propose we do aspects, dual everything, nothing special so disregard-gardisred-dedragsir-ariddregs-gridasred-gasdiderr-​
Molly was beginning to feel slightly overwhelmed by all the sudden changes of font, so she got up to make herself a coffee and turned her attention towards the empty suitcase on her bed. She had flight to Guatemala booked for the day after tomorrow, and she still hadn’t packed. The clock on her wall flashed 10:44 PM, and so once she had made her coffee she shut down the computer and started to fill up the suitcase with a lot more clothes and other irrelevant things than were strictly necessary, like beach towels, twenty six pairs of shoes and a bowler hat.

Oh, and she was supposed to have an amazing realisation with major implications for the entire story, but the update abruptly

38
 

Juan_de_Marco

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XD ha-haaaa

thanks mate, for the chuckles... With your crazy Droste-effect and abrupt
 

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Molly couldn't help but hope that the author would go back to the stuff with witches and pirates with the next update, as they tended to be at least semi-legible.
No comment. :D

Impressive job mocking up that grid crawler. I see they have Yahoo in your alternate universe... Oh, I also misread the address that's stuck between the 'Back' button and that 'AVG' thingy on the left top hand of the screen. I read a non-existent 't' between the 'giant' and 'itp'... Shows my level of sophistication, eh? ;)
 

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XD ha-haaaa

thanks mate, for the chuckles... With your crazy Droste-effect and abrupt

Yes, Droste effect! I knew it had a name. Thanks for commenting. ;)
No comment. :D

Impressive job mocking up that grid crawler. I see they have Yahoo in your alternate universe... Oh, I also misread the address that's stuck between the 'Back' button and that 'AVG' thingy on the left top hand of the screen. I read a non-existent 't' between the 'giant' and 'itp'... Shows my level of sophistication, eh? ;)

It's just my own browser with a few changes. They also have google, apparently, and the Order of the Stick.

The warning of headaches came too late.

Sorry. :(
 

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Snakes...why'd it have to be snakes?

38

finished. “Aargh make it go away!!”

Fine.

39

Night had fallen, and the seas around Aiaia were quiet. In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the goat slept and the boar watched with dull expressionless eyes. There is no lion. The fire roared, and Circe took a deep breath.

“It is time.”

---​

The HMS Impossible was making good speed, in the darkest of night. Anney had tried to go to sleep, but found herself restless. Instead she sat at the prow of the ship, gazing at the stars.

“Next stop; Charleston. There’s a map that I buried, and...”

She looked around at the uncaring night, and frowned.

“Never mind.”

---​

The flames licked the air.

“He won’t come without an offering,” Anton said nervously, holding the parrot Marissa tightly in his hand, fighting the temptation to crush her to death. He glanced at the goat, and then at the boar. “Which one shall serve as our sacrifice?”

Circe scowled. “Neither. They are to serve as payment for services rendered, and must not be harmed.”

“Payment?” Anton said, scrunching his face. “Soon you’ll have the whole world at your command! I’m sure there are other ways of settling any debts, ones that don’t involve livestock,” he added, with a smirk.

“Maybe, but it pays to be cautious. I wouldn’t want my benefactor getting the wrong idea, and getting the impression that I don’t intend to pay. That could have some unpleasant consequences. And,” she said insistently, “they are not just livestock! Right now, these are the two most important animals in the entire universe. And they’re all mine!”

Anton shrugged. “Whatever. We still need an offering. The leash might have been loosened by that fool Legba, but Simbi Makaya still needs blood.”

Circe smiled. “Of course, and I have just the thing.”

She strode off in the direction of the ruin, and a couple of moments later emerged holding a chicken. Its feathers were entirely white, and it was so docile that it barely even seemed notice it was being carried. There was certainly no struggle.

“Is that...?”

Circe nodded. “Claus, the albino chicken." She held out the chicken in front of her, and gazed into it's upside down eyes. "Tonight, Claus, I am going to be your executioner!”

Anton crossed his arms. “Whatever happened to ‘I don’t harm my creatures’, then?”

“I don’t deal in absolutes,” Circe said, with a serene smile, before bursting into laughter. “At least, not yet. It’s time to begin the ceremony. Prepare the potion.”

---​

Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum...damn, I sure could do with some rum.” Anney glanced around the ship, and at the calm seas, and her shoulders sagged. “Meh, I’m going to sleep.”

She lay down on the hard surface and closed her eyes.

---​

The chicken’s blood had been spilt and scattered on the fire, and the potion was ready. The fire spat snaking flames, and the night grew ever darker. Circe took the vial, and sniffed it, savouring the aroma.

“I love the smell of potion in the evening. Smells like...aniseed? Eww! And look, it's green! Seriously, what is with that?"

"Er, I don't know, my lady."

"Whatever. Pass the bird.”

Circe took the unresisting Marissa, and prised open her beak. It was awkward, but she was just about able to get the potion down the bird’s throat. Marissa squawked and hiccupped, and Circe released her. She flapped around ineffectually as the potion took hold, and then made a clumsy landing and let out a shriek of terror. The bird began to grow, a reverse of the transformation of earlier. The feathers receded and the wings stretched and became hairless arms. Marissa was human again, lying on the ground naked and helpless. Her terrified eyes flicked from Circe to Anton and to the fire.

“Oh Simbi Makaya, hear my plea!” Anton boomed. “Oh we implore you, come, come!” The fire sputtered, and the flames twisted themselves into the shape of a serpent. Anton stared directly into the fire, and the spirit in the flames entered his mind. He clutched his head, eyes closed, and let out a terrible scream. Circe clapped her hands and giggled. Eventually, Anton raised his head and when he opened his eyes his pupils were reptilian slits.

“I have come.” Anton’s voice was different, deeper and terrible; the voice of Simbi Makaya. He glanced down at Marissa, who was still huddled on the ground, as vulnerable and pathetic as a newborn baby, seemingly paralysed with a combination of fear and the effects of the potion. “What must I do?”

“My sister needs a vessel,” Circe said excitedly, her eyes aflame. “My sister needs flesh and bone and blood, so she can be like me; so she can serve me. I command you, Simbi Makaya, destroy all trace of Marissa Yaroslavich, send her soul into the eternal darkness so that my sister may see the light...so she may have the gift of life!”

Simbi Makaya flicked out his tongue. “It shall be done.”

simbimakaya.jpg
 
Last edited:

Enewald

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Rum rum rum.
Circe is a vegan? :D
Although a bit insane also.
 

Fiftypence

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Rum rum rum.
Circe is a vegan? :D
Although a bit insane also.

She and Anton will no doubt eat the chicken (poor Claus), so I doubt she's a vegan. By 'not harming her creatures', she's specifically referring to humans she's transformed into animals. It should indicate though that she hasn't just kidnapped and transformed the boar and the goat (whose identity shouldn't be too difficult to work out) on a whim.

Insane? Quite possibly, though certainly not stupid, despite what Anney might think.
 

Stuyvesant

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Snakes...why'd it have to be snakes?
Nice.

Now I see what you meant about Anney abandoning Marissa to her fate and how my view of her rational actions might change. It's true that this is fairly high up the cruelty standard, but I prefer to blame either Marissa (for allowing herself to be pressured into eating the poison fruit) or Circe (for being a bat-sh*t crazy lady with poorly developed morals), rather than Anney. Knowing that Circe is crazy and supernatural, it still seems like a pretty good idea to run away from her. :)

I wonder: is your story developing in clear chronological order, or are there flashbacks and flash forwards? I'm wondering if Selena Eryx is really Circe's sister, reincarnated in the shell-formerly-known-as-Marissa.