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File 142334629661.png - (135.74KB , 501x600 , 4title.png )
623905 No. 623905 ID: 557bac

Chapter 1: http://tgchan.org/kusaba/questarch/res/573652.html
Chapter 2: http://tgchan.org/kusaba/questarch/res/584397.html
Chapter 3: http://tgchan.org/kusaba/questarch/res/595692.html

Wiki: http://tgchan.org/wiki/A_Conspiracy_of_Wasps
Discussion: http://tgchan.org/kusaba/questdis/res/81536.html
Expand all images
No. 623907 ID: 557bac
File 142334645740.png - (87.77KB , 600x365 , 4-1.png )

"Stop it! Come on!... Nathan, please stop!"
No. 623909 ID: 557bac
File 142334654591.png - (180.47KB , 600x502 , 4-2.png )

"Nate, no! What's wrong with you?"
No. 623911 ID: 557bac
File 142334662507.png - (235.72KB , 600x559 , 4-3.png )

Your name is Diego Ruiz. You are in the woods trying to prevent your co-worker from clawing his own face off. Moments ago Nathan seemed fine, if a bit shaky from an electrical shock. As soon as he put his glasses on, he tore them off and flipped out. Before you could restrain him, he managed to leave a nasty scratch down his cheek. Now you're just trying to get him to calm down before he hurts himself anymore.
For someone so scrawny he is managing to put up quite a fight.
No. 623914 ID: f77f01

Arm lock you fool.
No. 623916 ID: d958ad

Tell him to find a safe place in his mind and go there, to calm down.
No. 623928 ID: 9b9ee7

Desperation is a powerful drug.

Talk to him calmly.
No. 623935 ID: 69d482

Tell him that youre right here with him, and everything is okay.
No. 623936 ID: 2f2fc2

bear hug till he stops
No. 623937 ID: f5baae

He is going to need some first aid after that. Go tell your boss to fetch some of it if he can within a short while.

Or you could KISS DA GIR.. EH, BOY
No. 623959 ID: a141b0

First thing Mister Ruiz, no bear hugs. He's having some sort of panic attack and he has teeth. Put the arm lock in the maybe column.

Second, don't rely on the power of love to save the situation. Nathan has opened up to you today, true, but he's also been as timid as a school boy about it. Flexing any potential relationship in that regard right here and now will be worse for the relations rather than better.

Overall best suggestion keeping doing what you're doing and talk to him. Try to keep calm yourself, while you're at it... for reasons.
No. 623961 ID: c6ec0b

(Some instinct tells you not to call Doug over)
Use preventive restraint but try to reach him verbally
No. 623967 ID: 350a50

Tell Nate that whatever he's scratching at isn't real. There's nothing on him.
No. 624392 ID: 557bac
File 142354312236.png - (164.97KB , 600x521 , 4-4.png )

You Force Nate to the ground and pin his forearms to his sides.
"Nate! Nate, its okay... its okay! Calm down."

He struggles and hyperventilates but after a moment lays still.
His eyes dart in every direction and he speaks in a trembling voice.

>"Ple ase... tell me, a re the y're go ne...?"

You look around and you spot an anthill where his glasses had fallen. Its surface seethes with a boil of ants, blindly searching for things to sting the living shit out of.

"Yeah... yeah they're gone Nate. You're okay now."

He starts shaking, sobbing, pleading.
>"I ca n sti ll f eel the m, Di ego... I c an al ways fe el th em."
No. 624394 ID: 321d85

Double check his face, make sure there aren't any ants actually still there. Gently brush them off if there are. Reassure him.
No. 624395 ID: d958ad

Ask him if there's anything you can do to help. What does he normally do to calm down? If he's not gonna claw at himself anymore then it's about time you wrapped up here so he can go back and get some medical attention. Does he have any spare glasses at home?
No. 624399 ID: 321d85

BTW, that's a nice effect with the spaces in the words. I can hear the breaking in his voice.
No. 624407 ID: e607cd

Actually, maybe brush them off even if they are imaginary.
No. 624409 ID: 350a50

Yeah, just to make him feel better.
No. 624415 ID: 9f2c71

tell him they were real this time.
also now's the time to notice crotch to crotch contact.
No. 624417 ID: 6c7fce

You have a handkerchief on you? Might want to dab the blood off his face while you're at it.

Also, where the hell is Doug? Tell him to make himself useful and grab that case mod that Nate was examining earlier. It's probably important.
No. 624756 ID: 557bac
File 142370889034.png - (142.56KB , 600x337 , 4-5.png )

You look around for Doug's help but the lanky creep seems to have disappeared. You do a double take and realize that the computer is gone as well.

"Doug?! Hey! Where'd you go? The fuck, man?"

The forest is silent.

Nate sniffles.
>"Wha t's wron g? Wher e's Doug?"

"I don't know, he ran off. Let me see if I can clean you up, okay?"

You tentatively let go of his arms and fish around in your pocket for a pack of tissues: thank God you've been having allergy problems lately. You mop up most of the blood and give him the pack to help staunch the flow.

"I don't see any more ants, Nate. I think you're clean."
He nods and gives you a "thank you" in a tiny voice.

Working together you pull him shakily to his feet.
>"What about my glasses? Are they okay?"

"Broken. You stepped on them, remember?"

Nate looks mortified.
>"Oh... right. Shit...."

"Do you have an emergency pair?"

>"Yeah, back at my apartment. Shit, why'd I have to go and... I'm sorry. Thank you Diego, that's the second time you've saved me."
No. 624759 ID: d958ad

I think we'd better grab that transponder(or all of them, even) and get back to the complex.
No. 624767 ID: d90668

Tell him that you would have thrown your glasses just as fast that close to a red ant hill. No need to be embarrassed.

Doug is definitely a creep for leaving you guys here like that. Got enough to worry about without him abandoning people in the woods.
No. 624769 ID: f5baae


Yeah, Nate needs somebody to relate to right about now.
No. 624781 ID: 350a50

Forget going back to work, bring him home. The guy's had enough danger today to give most men PTSD.

Bring one of the transponders with you. You can drop it off at work after you make sure Nate is okay.
No. 624813 ID: 321d85

...Hug? Seems like at least a friendly arm around the shoulder is pretty well merited at this point.
No. 624826 ID: c6ec0b

Grab anything you need at the scene.
Then text/email work giving them the location their missing stuff.
Then take Nate back to his apartment.
Finally, ask him if he has anyone he (should)/(needs to) call.
No. 624942 ID: 8f01e8

Defuse tension with a joke at the absent creepy boss's expense. "Computer's gone too. Hey, maybe Doug used it to teleport back to his home planet, haha"
No. 624943 ID: 7413f4

Yeah, get in on his side, then go in for the kill.
No. 625079 ID: 557bac
File 142394790245.png - (189.81KB , 600x532 , 4-6.png )

"You're not going to be able to get any more work done without your glasses. Let me give you a ride home."

He looks back at the satellite anxiously.
>"What about all this?"

"We'll take what we need and tell someone about it; have them post a guard or something."

Nate hesitates, clearly still anxious about...something. He walks over to the wreckage.
>"Where's the PC?"

"Doug must have taken it... chickenshit bastard. Listen, don't worry about it; we'll get it from him later."

He nods, though clearly still worrying about it, but relents. He picks up one of the transponders he removed and hugs it to his chest protectively.

"Listen, is there anyone you need to call before we go?"

>"Uh.. yeah actually... I should probably call my therapist."

You hand him your phone and he makes a quick call.
>"Hello, Dr. Cooper? Yeah, yeah.... I had a bit of an episode just now, no, I'm going to head home for the day.... you sure? You don't have to.... Okay, I'll see you then."
He hands you back the phone and thanks you.

>"She said she'd meet me back at the apartment; to make sure I'm okay."

He hangs on to the transponder and you pack the two pistol grip tools into their cases before hefting them up.
No. 625084 ID: f5baae

Diego, feel like maybe arranging to do something with Nathan on the weekend? I don't know if now would be a good time to ask as Nate just had a panic attack and is bleeding. But it might be good to make a note of it so we can ask him later.
No. 625091 ID: 350a50

They already had plans to hang out after work. Ask if he'd mind if you chill at his place for a bit and play some video games, to help him calm down and make sure he's alright.
No. 625118 ID: 8f01e8

If Nate's spare glasses are now the primary set, logical response is to restock a new spare. After he's safely home, of course.

Additionally, leaving his own vehicle in the parking lot at work means he'll need another ride tomorrow morning. How far apart are your respective places of residence? If they're in opposite directions, and you're tired from a long day of too much excitement, it might make sense to just stay overnight...
No. 626071 ID: 557bac
File 142457524038.png - (126.12KB , 600x375 , 4-7.png )

You make your way back onto the Apex facility grounds, the guard at the gate waving you through. You make a brief detour to drop off the pistol grip tools in the hangar building, leaving Nate outside for a moment. Inside, a man in a police uniform is questioning a security guard.

>"I'm telling you, I have no idea! I was checking the fourth floor and thought I saw someone. Next thing I know, I'm standing on the roof and there's a fire alarm going off."

The officer doesn't show any sign that he's noticed you.
No. 626074 ID: d958ad

Oh hey, tell Nate that Morgan showed up and is being interrogated by an officer.

I'm not sure if you should mention how Doug ran off with the computer.
No. 626112 ID: bb78f2

Diego, do you think it's normal for a therapist to make housecalls?
That's weird. I mean, all due respect to Nate and therapists, it's a service people should admit they need more often. But, well, a housecall? I'm not knockin' here. Just an observation over something I've never heard of before.

Ask the police officer if he's seen Officer Hunter anytime recently. And maybe ask if Morgan's okay. Lotta people worried here about him. People be acting weird and possessed all day. Comfort Morgan to let him know he's not the only case. If you know he's not the only case, that is. I think you know he's not the only case.
No. 626121 ID: f5baae

We could probably clear this up easy if we ask Nate if he's ever gotten much of the therapist coming for a house call. Should we make a note to ask for this later?
No. 626126 ID: ea0ad9

Wait... Nate mentioned blacking out and waking up in the Forest. Is this somehow related?
No. 626601 ID: 557bac
File 142491613421.png - (109.95KB , 600x541 , 4-8.png )

You sneak back outside to tell Nathan about what you saw. You find him seated by himself near the rock garden. He shakes his head and looks like he's talking to someone.

>"... out of my hands. I have no idea but you just have to trust him. "

He stops and squints in your direction and you wave helpfully.
"Hey, Nate! It sounds like they found that missing guard. The police are talking to him now."

>"Oh, what happened to him?"

"He said he woke up on the roof, sounded like he didn't know how he got there."

He's conspicuously quiet, chewing his bottom lip a little.

"What's up?"

>"Nothing, just... sounds familiar."

"Oh, you ready to go?"

>"Yeah, I shouldn't keep Dr. Cooper waiting. She should have a spare key I can use too."

Together you head towards the parking lot. You honestly aren't sure what to make of Nate. You worry that you were imposing on him by asking him out earlier and he seems like he's dealing with a lot right now. But he seemed so interested in you earlier and after several years its nice to feel wanted again. Part of you is also worried about what you might be getting yourself into by helping him out. He's cute, sure, but there's no telling how deep the rabbit hole goes here.

"I didn't realize that therapists made house calls. Is she good?"

>"Yeah... There were times where I.... wasn't able to see her when I needed to. She arranged for me to live at my apartment and has done sessions with me there. I owe a lot to her."

He sighs.

>"I was telling the truth out in the woods: I see bugs everywhere. Pretty much everyone has them, even you. Its so bad that sometimes I can't tell if they're even real or not, and when I get them on me I just... freak out."
No. 626602 ID: d958ad

"everyone has them"? What does he mean, like, everyone's covered in bugs? What kind? Are they all ants? What do they do, just crawl around?
No. 626616 ID: 69d482

a little surprising to hear that, but try to to comfort him about that, and also thank him for confiding with you about that, its probably hard to talk about that.
No. 626630 ID: 6c7fce

It sounds like he's trusting you with really sensitive personal information. Best not to pry too much or you'll hurt his feelings. Whatever history he has with his mental health, it's obvious that he has it under enough control that it doesn't interfere with his job or his life most of the time.

More importantly, it doesn't have any connection to the blank spot in his memory if another coworker had an almost identical episode (not to mention on the same day that the building was broken into). Maybe someone slipped him drugs in his food/coffee?
No. 626647 ID: ea0ad9

>I see bugs everywhere. Pretty much everyone has them, even you.
That's... A bit worrying. What kind of bugs does he see on you? You certainly can't see them yourself, but, he's already talking to a therapist about it, and if he continues to feel it's worth mentioning, maybe it will be helpful for him to talk about it.
No. 626658 ID: 8f01e8

Alright, Nate, you believe in science, right? Let's do an experiment. Tomorrow, I'll get one of those really sensitive scales we use for checking the mass on small components. You try to make one of the bugs crawl onto it, and record when you succeed, and I'll have the scale set up to record automatically when the reading changes. If it lines up, then we know there's some real phenomenon there. If not, then we know the bugs either aren't real, or don't interact with gravity the usual way, or... I guess they could be aerostats, so maybe we should check with a centrifuge somehow too.
No. 626789 ID: 557bac
File 142501393333.png - (186.58KB , 600x505 , 4-9.png )

"Have you considered doing some kind of experiment? Weighing them or trying to take photos or-"

>"I'm not insane, Diego."

He climbs into the car and stares out the window, moodily.
>"They aren't real."

You sit down in the driver's seat a little awkwardly.
"Okay... Sorry."

He doesn't say anything as you pull out of the parking lot and out to the street.
"Uh, actually ... where do you live?"

Nate gives you a quick rundown of his commute and tells you what exit to look for on the highway. You take a left.

"So... what kind of bugs?"

Nate looks at his hands then, ashamed of the blood on his fingers, tucks them in his armpits.
>"I dunno, its weird..."

"I'm sorry, I know you must not like talking about it much. I'm just curious."

>"Its different with each person: like with you, its beetles."


>"Yeah. Huge ones, orange and black. With pincers."

"Huh.... Cool."


"Yeah, beetles are cool. Way more of them than there are of us. So everyone is different? How about _________?"
No. 626790 ID: 311774

No. 626791 ID: d958ad

Doug, Morgan, Hiro, the coffee shop workers? His therapist?
No. 626793 ID: d958ad

Or heck, ask what bugs he has.
No. 626801 ID: e607cd

your therapist?
No. 626851 ID: 8f01e8

Heather at the coffee shop?
No. 626869 ID: 350a50

The president?
No. 626882 ID: b03ddc

that janitor Anthony (blush)
No. 626933 ID: c6ec0b

No. 626934 ID: d90668

Ask about famous people he has seen on tv. Do they have bugs? And if so what kind.
No. 627510 ID: 557bac
File 142535122744.png - (143.64KB , 600x473 , 4-10.png )


>"Ants... red ants."

"Ooohhh, jeeze. Sorry."

>"Its okay; his are at least hard to see."

"Well, how about the baristas at the coffee shop? I see you in there almost every day."

>"I'm actually not sure? Whatever is on Heather moves too fast to see clearly and the other guy has some kind of... squid... thing?"

"Did you say a squid? That sounds... odd."

Nate shrugs
>"I don't make the rules with these things. I just see them."
No. 627511 ID: 557bac
File 142535123671.png - (110.52KB , 600x355 , 4-11.png )

"Okay, for real, can you see them on TV or photos?"

>"What? No, why?"

You shift gears as you pull onto the freeway.
"Damn, I wanted to know what kind of bugs are on celebrities."

>"Oh, um... I sat behind Nicolas Cage in an airplane once, he was covered in scorpions."

"No shit? What was he like?"

Nate shrugs.
>"I didn't talk to him, but my boyfriend at the time talked to him a little. He seemed nice but he kept drinking those tiny whiskeys they give you in first class."

"You know, I bet you anything he would have loved to hear that he was covered in scorpions, Nate."

He gives you a little smile, but doesn't say anything.

"Well, what about you? Do you have insects?"

Nate sighs
>"... Wasps."
No. 627513 ID: d958ad

Um what. Might want to pull over or just stop the car if you're still in the parking lot. Describe that wasp to Nate.
No. 627515 ID: bd8b82

"... like that one behind your head?"
No. 627516 ID: d90668

Um are they purple with gold stripes?
No. 627517 ID: 350a50

Don't crash the car.
No. 627518 ID: bb78f2

Use your damage resistant scales to impress Nate with a show of force and manliness against the deadly waspinator threat.

Summon your inner honey badger, and become the honey croc.

Also, hey, he had a boyfriend. So, compatible? Well, at least you don't have to wonder how it might go now. Or have you always known, Diego?
No. 627560 ID: d958ad

Ah, hang on, I thought of a possible worst-case scenario. What if Nate thinks that's not one of his wasps? He'll freak out because he doesn't want to be stung. I think Diego should roll down the window and try to shoo it away. If it's one of Nate's wasps then it won't leave, and in fact if Diego touches it he might go into Nate's mind. If it's "real" then it will just be fine.
No. 627561 ID: 8f01e8

>Um are they purple with gold stripes?

This, but ask "are they purple with gold stripes or gold with purple stripes" like the thing about zebras. Pull over to the shoulder before telling him one is visible on his headrest, to reduce the risk of crash if he freaks out and flails around.
No. 627630 ID: 557bac
File 142543379164.png - (183.02KB , 564x600 , 4-12.png )

"You mean like the one behind you?"

Nate half rolls his eyes and gives you a glare of tested patience.
>"Come on man, don't even."

"Purple, with gold stripes?"

Nate glances back and swats at the creature in surprise.
The wasp bounces off of the rear seat cushion with a "thap!" before taking flight in a little blur of vespid fury.
No. 627631 ID: 557bac
File 142543379713.png - (134.72KB , 600x415 , 4-13.png )

With a backseat full pissed off wasp, you set your hands on the wheel and stare straight ahead.
"Ooookay. What now?"

Nate sinks as low as he can in his seat, his eyes screwed shut.
>"I don't know! Can you pull over?"

You turn on your signal and look for an opening but traffic is pretty heavy and some asshole in a white van is in your way.
No. 627636 ID: d958ad

Put on your panic lights. Slow down, roll down all the windows, stop if you are able to, even if it's in the middle of the highway. If it doesn't leave on its own you're gonna have to hit it fairly hard to stun it so you can throw it out.
No. 627638 ID: 2f2fc2


That's not a big creepy white van is it? You should probably free the wasp
No. 627640 ID: bd8b82

"well you said you have wasps too, maybe you can have your wasps talk to it?"
No. 627642 ID: d958ad

I don't think saying this would go over well.
No. 627662 ID: b03ddc

roll your back windows down,
thank nate for not panicking,
look at the driver of the white van what species is he

a small question if criminals can be identified buy species how do masks work in your world?
No. 627665 ID: ea0ad9

Nate said he knows that his wasps aren't real... So that would be a bad idea. But... wasps can sense emotions, right? Just focus on being calm, maybe that will work? Can he do that?
No. 627670 ID: c6ec0b

Aay hello to the goat in the purple trench coat with a shot gun in the white van next to you
No. 627716 ID: eb959a

Wait can we see it? I thought Nate said it was only in HIS head, how can we see it?
No. 627726 ID: 311774

Oh hey
You might wanna watch out for that white van Diego. Maybe ease up and let it go by...
No. 627731 ID: 350a50

Because it's a real wasp.
No. 627792 ID: 8f01e8

Diego, think of every story you've ever heard involving the phrase "unmarked white van." Were any of them happy things you'd want to be part of? No? Drop below the speed limit until at least two other vehicles are between yourself and the asshole.

Also, try turning the AC on full blast. Bugs are weak to hypothermia because of their surface-to-volume ratio.
No. 627963 ID: 557bac
File 142569399503.png - (197.86KB , 600x511 , 4-14.png )

You roll down your windows, hoping to suck the wasp out in the slipstream. Unable to look to see if it worked, you put on your emergency blinkers and start to slow down. Traffic almost immediately starts to back up, and a chorus of disgruntled horns sing an anthem of road rage.
Nathan groans and covers his ears as the noise assaults him.

"Nate, Is that thing even real or am I seeing things?"

>"I don't know! I'm like the last person on earth that would be qualified to tell you!"

"Well, if it isn't, is there anything you can do? Can you calm it down?"

>"I'm trying! Maybe if I talk to it..."

"You talk to them?"

"Sometimes! Listen, maybe now isn't the best time to judge!'

"Who's judging? I'm not judging! I just want to know if imaginary bugs are going to start talking to me!"

You turn around to see if the wasp is still there and you notice that the asshole in the van has slowed down too. The tinted windows block any clue as to the identity of the driver as well as add to the creep factor of the vehicle.
No. 627965 ID: bb78f2

Listen man, I told you.

Summon your inner honey badger, and use your increased defense from your scales to squash the wasp. Tell Nate to keep the wheel steady.

I know that sounds dangerous, but you fuck that wasp right up, Diego. Become the honey croc.
No. 627966 ID: d958ad

Shit. That's trouble. Wait. I bet that's the guy who was parked out in front of the place, with the shotgun. (Diego should know about that, right? It's not like it was a secret) He was in a white van, too. So he's following you. Well, there's no escaping him in heavy traffic and he's not getting off your side. So just speed up to a more reasonable speed again. If you see any opening to change lanes in the other direction do so. Then try to merge again either behind or in front of the truck so you can merge into his lane then get off to the side of the road, or at least exit the highway.
No. 627980 ID: d90668

Whatever happens it is your job to drive so pay less attention to the wasp and more to the road.

Calmly try to walk him through the situation. Might help him calm down.
No. 627982 ID: 350a50

That white van is stalking you, man. Whatever you do don't lead it to Nate's place.

Drive to the police station if you can.
No. 628001 ID: 0b2f0c

ok, so you're being followed, probably by a guy with a shotgun. do not stop, for any reason. call the cops if you can. otherwise drive to the nearest police station. what's he gonna do, chase you in?
No. 628003 ID: f73c29

Roll up the windows. The noise isn't helping Nate.
No. 628096 ID: 694283

Ok, drive on and pull over at the next oppertunity.
In the mean time, wind down the window a little.
This means less car horns, less suspicious white vans and hopefully less wasps.
No. 628168 ID: bfa142

Roll up windows, speed up (or slow down and give bird to all drivers that go by), as Nate if he recognizes the van.
No. 628257 ID: 8f01e8

How far to the nearest gas station?
No. 628333 ID: d958ad

I say not to roll up the windows if we start driving faster again. The honks will die down in that case and the windows being open would let the wasp just leave on its own, slipstream or not.
No. 628340 ID: d958ad

...also was that a second wasp just now?
No. 628472 ID: 557bac
File 142595033271.png - (133.90KB , 600x475 , 4-15.png )

You find your attention increasingly divided between:
What is van-guy's problem?
How to deal with the wasp situation?
Oh God, Nate is freaking out.
Do. Not. Crash. The. Car.

There's a buzz and suddenly you're concentrating on one problem: the one on the end of your nose. The little bastard marches around, wings erect in imperious rage. Clearly this is one hymenoptera who is not about to take any more shit.
No. 628473 ID: 557bac
File 142595033901.png - (174.99KB , 432x600 , 4-16.png )

With your eyes crossed, you barely have time to react as the van suddenly becomes a white blur and cuts in front of you....
No. 628474 ID: d958ad

If he's in front, is anyone to your right anymore? You may be able to swap lanes before he manages to slam on the brakes or... does anything else.

Otherwise you're just gonna have to slow down if he slows down further. You already have your panic lights on and are going slower than normal so you shoouuuld be able to minimize the impact.
No. 628480 ID: 3274e0

A wasp sting on the nose will hurt like a bitch, but not nearly as much as a car wreck. That van is all but confirmed to be up to no good in your life, time to mirror check, blind spot check (which may throw the wasp), and get AWAY from that thing
No. 628485 ID: bb78f2

Merge now!
Merge NOW!
You're on a three-lane highway you doofus, there was always your left! Look behind the semi!
No. 628558 ID: 8f01e8

Veer into the space the van just vacated, and keep going, off onto the shoulder. Cops getting involved would be preferable at this point.
No. 628563 ID: b3ff00

move lanes, but do not forget to look in the mirror, having an accident now will guarantee both of you will die.
do it fast, they might open fire.
No. 628739 ID: 557bac
File 142611428169.png - (173.31KB , 544x600 , 4-17.png )

The van looms in your windshield and you slam on the brakes to avoid a collision. The two of you are thrown forward suddenly and Nate, not expecting the stop, bashes his head into the dashboard.

>"Fuck! What the hell, Diego!?!"
No. 628740 ID: 557bac
File 142611428768.png - (193.04KB , 600x514 , 4-18.png )

A blinding pain flares through your face as the wasp reacts to the sudden movement. You gnash your teeth and ignore the sting for the moment.


A quick head check to your right and you swerve into the recently vacated lane before anyone can overtake you. You redline it, pushing a ton of Detroit-made steel into triple digit velocity, passing the asshole before his underpowered van can catch up.

Seeing an off-ramp, you pull off the freeway. Your breaks squealing as you negotiate the grade, you watch as the vehicle becomes a white speck in the rear view mirror.

You look over to check on Nate, he's staring at you like you just grew a second head.
No. 628750 ID: 7656df

try to find somewhere to park, like a gas station or something. check to see if nates head is bleeding, he hit the dashboard pretty hard.
No. 628752 ID: e607cd

Make a mental note to get you seat-belts fixed. That is EXACTLY the sort of shit they are supposed to prevent.
No. 628753 ID: a19cd5

"Sorry nate. You remember that guy with the shotgun and van who was camped outside the workplace? That was his van. Same van. Are you gonna be ok? Do you need first aid?"
No. 628759 ID: 350a50

Poor boy's gonna need to be checked for a concussion now.
No. 628769 ID: 8f01e8

Emergency blinkers off, find a gas station but NOT the obvious first gas station by the offramp.

Before attempting to interact socially with Nate, take a deep breath and make sure you're calmed down. Ask if he's got a first aid kit in the car.

Proceed toward Nate's apartment along side streets. Won't be any slower than a clogged highway, and it's easy to spot a pursuer with no crowd to blend into.
No. 628797 ID: b3ff00

no stopping. if we're bugged hehe he can find us while we're not moving. with a shotgun. that's a bad thing.
keep driving, tell nate what happened and devise a plan. call the cops and call doug.
No. 629095 ID: 557bac
File 142636395521.png - (123.91KB , 535x600 , 4-19.png )

You stop the car on the shoulder for a moment and let the adrenaline subside.
"Sorry about that, are you okay?"

>"I think so?"
He checks his forehead: bruised but not bleeding.

"There was a guy in a white van following us, it was like he was trying to kill us or something. I think we lost him, for now."

You cast around to see if he managed to get behind you, as well as to find that bastard wasp. You don't see any sign of either of your antagonists, though your nose hurts like hell. Maybe it flew out one of the windows.

Nates bruised face is a mask of worry.
>"One of the guards told me there was some guy with a van outside the compound this morning carrying a gun. You think its the same person?"

"The way things are going today, I wouldn't be surprised. Is there anything we can do about it?"

>"I don't know, I can't deal with all this crap today. Can we just go home, please? We'll deal with it there."
No. 629096 ID: 557bac
File 142636395859.png - (117.15KB , 600x455 , 4-20.png )

You pull back into traffic and, following Nate's guidance, continue toward his apartment. The event has you eyeing every vehicle with suspicion, but you manage to arrive without any complications. You park a block away from the building on a side street, as out of view as possible.

Together, you head inside and Nate leads you up the stairwell to his apartment. In the hallway you see a woman in a suit talking quietly to a skinny guy as well as a large stack of garbage bags, piled against the wall
No. 629110 ID: 7656df

ask nate if he knows these people
No. 629140 ID: ea0ad9

They Nate's neighbors?
No. 629188 ID: a141b0

Asking Nate if those are people he knows/trust would be a good call under the circumstances.

Nate is a pretty reserved person and the repeated panic attacks is probably making him a bit defensive, so don't ask to go inside.

Yes, your wasp bite does give you an opening to check his medicine cabinet for antihistamine cream, but it would be in bad taste to take that opening now. Go to the drug store if you don't have any at home. Just make sure he is comfortably secure on the other side of his apartment door, and then head out back to the parking lot.

Oh, and make sure to take your phone with you.
No. 629335 ID: 8f01e8

If he invites you in on his own initiative, though, that's a whole other kettle of fish.
No. 629527 ID: 557bac
File 142656482387.png - (165.04KB , 600x453 , 4-21.png )

"Are those your neighbors, Nate?"

>"...Called me earlier about the garbage, what happened?"

>"Yeah, the guy next door left it out here, I just pushed it against the wall for now."

Nate squints...
>"Dr. Cooper?"

The woman makes a "just a minute" motion and and rushes down the hall toward you.

Dr. Cooper
>"Nathan! Oh, God your face! Are you okay? What happened?"
She visibly restrains herself from touching him.

>"I had another panic attack but Diego helped me out and brought me home."

Dr. Cooper
>"What triggered it this time?"

>"Ants, I dropped my glasses in an ant pile."

She grimaces.
>" Oooh Nate, I'm so sorry to hear that. Well, why don't we get you inside and cleaned up?"
She hands him a key that looks fresh from the hardware store.
No. 629528 ID: 557bac
File 142656482825.png - (108.92KB , 600x404 , 4-22.png )

"Listen, I can get going if you need to talk..."

Nate grabs your arm as you half turn to leave.
>"No, wait... I don't know if you should. If that guy is still out there looking for us..."
He looks kind of sheepish.
>"And we were talking about hanging out later anyway..."

You feel your face flush red; the welt on your nose burning like a tiny hot coal.
No. 629529 ID: 557bac
File 142656483389.png - (100.14KB , 600x459 , 4-23.png )

Nate lets you into the apartment while the doctor wraps things up with the neighbor. Even for someone who knows their way around a clean room, its pretty damn immaculate, if small. You suddenly feel a self conscious need to tidy up before ever inviting Nate over.

Nate heads over to a dresser and pulls out some clothes and another pair of glasses.

>"I'll be right back, just... make your self at home I guess."
No. 629530 ID: 557bac
File 142656483850.png - (78.40KB , 397x600 , 4-24.png )

I guess if you want to design an outfit for Nate while Diego is settling in, go nuts. I'm more interested in seeing a nice, simple color palette than anything else though.
No. 629563 ID: fb17e6

Steve edit in text form
No. 629569 ID: 321d85
File 142657302969.png - (76.26KB , 397x600 , l-shirt.png )

Curses! Beaten!
No. 629570 ID: 321d85
File 142657305189.png - (64.02KB , 397x600 , normal-clothes.png )

But no, actually.
No. 629573 ID: f75cf9
File 142657323147.png - (65.09KB , 397x600 , Sketch161225951.png )

Be the bee wasp.

(Actually it looks surprisingly good on him...or at least the turtleneck)
No. 629608 ID: 2f2fc2


I dont have time to draw but how bout something sexy....show off those battle scars
No. 629609 ID: fea7b0

No... I doubt he would wear anything like that... ever.
Or that he has something like that... or that he ever was considering buying that...

Can we have
>>629573 (nice design except colours)
but with the the colours of
>>629570 (nice colours but looks way too saggy)
No. 629649 ID: 4a7ea0
File 142662273188.png - (46.26KB , 391x591 , design.png )

Those glasses look really academic to me, so I gave him a tweed jacket.
Red trousers sort of work, button up shirt matches it, suspenders optional.
Not sure on shoes, any suggestions?
No. 629651 ID: e95f38


You are not sexy
No. 629750 ID: a19cd5
File 142666342745.png - (86.64KB , 397x600 , star warrior.png )

I absolutely refuse to believe that Nate doesn't have a Starship Troopers costume stowed away somewhere. I STALWARTLY refuse.
No. 629784 ID: a141b0
File 142670292274.png - (932.71KB , 397x600 , Wasp God Forgiveness.png )

I have less art skills than a turnip, but this had to be done. Because Zeke is cool, and ferrets are cool, therefor Zeke is doubly cool.

So... yeah. I'll just submit this now and ask forgiveness from our wasp overlords later.
No. 629846 ID: 557bac
File 142672947402.png - (98.75KB , 330x600 , 4-25.png )

You sit down on the couch with the awkward, tucked elbows of a stranger waiting for their host to get out of the bathroom. Its so clean that you're afraid to touch anything. You're betting that even if you lifted up the couch, it would be spotless underneath.

Doctor Cooper enters and folds into the rolling chair.
>"Hey there, nice to meet you. I'm Gail Cooper, Dr. Gail Cooper."

"Diego Ruiz."

You exchange a handshake with her

Dr. Cooper
>"Would you mind telling me a bit about yourself, Diego?"

"Uh, sure I guess. I'm an engineer, working at Apex with Nathan, er with Nate. I moved here three, no I guess its four years ago from Detroit with a friend of mine after the company we were working for folded. Um... I was born in the Dominican Republic, but moved here when I was six: my dad was a boxer and got snapped up by a scout to fight in the heavy-weights. He never made it big but it gave us a chance to get settled here.... Dr. Cooper are we doing a session here, or what?"

Dr. Cooper
>"Not unless you want to. I'd like to know more about Nate's friends, especially if it helps me understand him. I'm sorry if I'm coming across as too clinical, I swear I'm a real person and not a robot."

The both of you smirk. You aren't sure if she's hiding something or its just her professional persona.

>"But if you don't mind, I would like to ask you something personal. Its okay if you don't want to, or can't answer."


>"Are you interested in Nate? Romantically?"

still accepting wardrobe designs
No. 629848 ID: d958ad

Um, well, yeah, but you think you might be making a mess of things. You weren't being very careful with your questions about the insects he sees.
No. 629849 ID: f75cf9

"Uh... This is confidential, right?"

Also, possibly, "Am I that obvious?"
No. 629850 ID: 5db52c

...maybe? It's been kind of a complicated day. And I have no idea if something like that could even work, with him.
No. 629852 ID: 7656df

"I think so, but love can be kinda complicated, yanno?
No. 629855 ID: 6e79d4

Stammer inarticulately.
No. 629861 ID: 8f01e8

Awkward glance at the door Nate is behind, emphatic (but silent) nod of confirmation.
No. 629862 ID: defceb
File 142673775761.png - (85.17KB , 397x600 , DressupNate.png )

>still accepting wardrobe designs
Oh goodie I'm not too late

This is a really nice color scheme, but maybe something a little more casual right now?
No. 629903 ID: 7e15da

Welp she already knows. All that's left to do is be all nervious and embarrased about the question.
No. 629907 ID: b3ff00

i'm really sorry, but that's none of your business.
No. 629912 ID: b03ddc

she doesn't know she is only guessing

"i'm really sorry, but that's none of your business"

don't anser like that she will know say, what no we're only friends no't close friends.
No. 629947 ID: 3af16b

No, I think we should be up front about this. This is Nate's therapist, she's gotta know this stuff.
And right now the thing to know is that this is a resounding "MAYBE?".
No. 629953 ID: 4a7ea0

Try a middle ground.
Glance at the door nate is behind, then
'Uhhh, it's been kind of a complicated day, I'm not sure yet. Maybe.'

Goodness me yes.
No. 630017 ID: 311774

Not only is she Nate's therapist, but he's already told her about us, or at the very least the maybe-date we were originally going to go on later.
No. 630019 ID: bb78f2

I'm going to choose no comment on that one.
No. 630162 ID: 557bac
File 142690359014.png - (77.78KB , 496x600 , 4-26.png )

You stammer for a moment.
"Uh.. um, er..."

Your eyes dart toward the closed bathroom door and you give her a nod.
In a low voice you respond:
"Am I that obvious?"

She shrugs, but smiles.

"I feel like I've been screwing things up though. I don't want to hurt him... but I don't know if it could work out between us."

Dr. Cooper
>"In my experience, its never something you can tell right away. The couples that make it are the ones that put in the work, support each other and work through mistakes. Nate could use someone to respect him and even if you don't end up together, it seems like you mean a lot to him already: I can't remember ever seeing him reach out to touch someone like that."

You're about to respond when you hear the bathroom door open.
Nate sits down on the bed with a wry smile.
>"Hey, guys. Talking about me?"
No. 630164 ID: 321d85

"Maybe." And then put on a conspicuously innocent face.
No. 630177 ID: 8f01e8

Better yet, attempt a nonchalant whistle.
No. 630180 ID: f5baae

Or maybe we can use our common sense and do none of these.
No. 630187 ID: defceb

ORRRR we could do both, then skip to sloppy makeouts.
No. 630188 ID: 8bd2b1

"Just talkin' about that FAT COCK."
No. 630195 ID: df6309

Talkan bout dem hand holds you call horns
No. 630207 ID: 296917

Oh god don't talk about sex.

Tell him you like the outfit. And yeah Dr Cooper was just saying how he's never really reached out to anyone before... what was it that let him overcome his fears in your case?
No. 630210 ID: a7520d

Heyo, how about a topic change. Maybe smile and say "All good things, I promise", and then compliment his outfit. Maybe the room too, just talk about literally anything else.
No. 630225 ID: f461c5

Nate is shy and has deep seated fears about physical contact, he isnt socially blind. Im certain he can detect a joke.

That said, making sexual innuendos is both a horrible idea and also really awkward with his psychiatrist there.

Spilling one's spaghetti about how clean this room is could be a good icebreaker, though.
No. 630239 ID: 5db52c

She can't help it, I think. Isn't that her job?
No. 630372 ID: 557bac
File 142707229214.png - (114.28KB , 600x439 , 4-27.png )

"Just good things, I swear!"

Nate chuckles.

"Um... I like your apartment. Very... clean?"

He shrugs.
>"Its not much but I like to keep it simple. I just wish there was room for a washing machine."

"What? You should come over and use mine, I mean... if you don't mind. Better than getting robbed by the laundromat, right?"

>"I don't want to get in the way..."

"Its no problem, just give me a call and we'll set something up."

>"Well, I guess if you don't mind..."

Its not much, but any excuse to have Nate visit every once in a while for a few hours is pretty exciting. Shit, now you really need to clean up your bachelor pad. Even now the empty pizza box you left on the counter this morning has you feeling a little guilty. You hope he doesn't get too grossed out.

Dr. Cooper watches all of this looking relieved. She stands up to leave.
>"I suppose I won't intrude any longer. Nate, I'd like to talk to you more about today, but I'm glad to see you made it home alright. I want you to give me a call when you get a chance though."

>"I, uh, left my phone at work, so that might be a while."

She waves dismissively.
>"Whenever you can, Nate. Nice to meet you Diego."

Dr. Cooper lets herself out and you hear the door lock.

So... what should you do, then?
No. 630373 ID: 7656df

maybe ask him how hes feeling, or maybe if theres something he wants to do
No. 630374 ID: 9297f4

Play the vidya bro.
No. 630383 ID: 296917

Apologize for being insensitive during the car ride.
No. 630385 ID: defceb

Watch a movie.
Have a drink.
Get relaxed.
Hot sloppy makeouts.
No. 630386 ID: 09b7fb

Perhaps now would be a good time to take care of that wasp sting on your nose, put some kind of ointment on it. That shit can't be feeling too great :<
No. 630405 ID: 350a50

Ointment on wasp sting.
Ask if Nate wants to play some vidya, help him relax.
No. 631415 ID: 557bac
File 142757061081.png - (105.99KB , 600x564 , 4-28.png )

You and Nate share a glance. However, you're distracted by the aching sting on the end of your nose. You nearly go cross eyed trying to inspect it. You poke it and grimace as a scalding sensation flares across your face.

>"Oh, jeeze. I should have something for that in the bathroom, here."

He leads you into the bathroom, there isn't much room for two people but it is, predictably, spotless. He opens up a cabinet and picks through the open first aid kit, knocking over a small stack of adhesive medical tape. He hands you a half used tube of cream.

He steps out of the bathroom.
>"Let me get you some ice..."

Wincing, you apply the topical cream to your face. You hear Nate rooting around in the freezer and he comes back with a hand towel wrapped around some ice.

"Thanks. Hey, Nate, I'm sorry if I was being insensitive on the way over here. I didn't want to hurt your feelings or freak you out."

>"Its okay. I don't really talk about it much, it makes people assume I'm crazy..."

"You aren't crazy Nate, I can tell you're a very rational person and it cant be easy dealing with something so out of your control."

He fidgets, like something is itching his back. However, he doesn't scratch at it.
>"I'm really worried about it though, today was... weird. I still don't know what was up with that wasp in the car: I guess it was real, but it can be hard to tell sometimes."

"It felt pretty real, I'll be okay though. How about you? Are you doing alright?"
No. 631416 ID: 557bac
File 142757061609.png - (75.10KB , 408x600 , 4-29.png )

Nate is about to say something when a low gurgling noise reaches your ears.
>"Er.. actually I'm realizing that I've barely eaten anything all day. I know its still kind of early for dinner, but..."

You gingerly hold the ice to your wound; it aches and soothes at the same time.
"What? And you didn't say anything? Yeah, lets get some food in you. What are our options?"

>"I could put on a movie while I cook something simple. Or if you want we could just order something and play video games while we wait. Or I guess we could go out to eat somewhere, there's a couple good places nearby..."
No. 631417 ID: 2f2fc2

give him a big thick romantic evening
No. 631443 ID: 7656df

the romantic dinner sounds pretty nice, but at the same time, cuddling under a blanket while eating pizza and/or popcorn is also a good idea. im leaning towards the latter
No. 631448 ID: 296917

Yeah I dunno which one to pick here.

Here's a question though: Why does his therapist have a key to his apartment? She also seems to know his neighbor... does she have an agreement with the landlord to be like... the building's psychologist or something?
No. 631449 ID: f75cf9

I think order some pizza actually Chinese takeout should probably be quicker, if there's anyplace that delicers it around here.
No. 631462 ID: a141b0

Actually, the key question raises a thought... the reason his therapist needed to give him a set of keys is because his own are in the clean room airlock with his day cloths. With the way things have been going I wouldn't put it past someone stealing that key and sneaking into the apartment.

So, on some level, the question is do you want to be IN the apartment when that happens, or do you want to surprise the interloper all kung fu style?

I jest of course... kind of... mostly... anyway, I'd suggest eating out. Nate's wallet is likely in the clean room airlock as well, so be ready to pay for the entire meal. You'll want to go someplace clean but also not crowded... best to just let Nate choose a location.
No. 631466 ID: 7f7eb7

Might just wanna go out and grab something to eat, then again it might not be the best place incase more bug stuff happens.
No. 631476 ID: 350a50

Second to ordering some chinese food. Make sure you have your wallet on you first though, as mentioned Nate's is probably in the clean room.
No. 631478 ID: 1a4c53

Today has been kind of rough, I think it may be better to just stay at home, relax, and watch a movie/play video games and order pizza or takeout or something.
No. 631494 ID: 8f01e8

Order Chinese food, cuddle while playing videogames, call up the police department's non-emergency number and ask about getting Nate's pocket contents back from the clean room/evidence locker.

Maybe look into getting one or more cheapo pay-as-you-go phones, kept powered-down as a backup option, in case primary phones keep getting haxxor'd.
No. 631533 ID: 296917

...also if we leave the apartment, we can't lock it.
No. 631535 ID: 734d68

I would suggest just cooking something, if these guy's are good enough to break into a secure facility, posing as a delivery person would be childs play. They just don't know where you are right now, getting delivery will just bring them here.
No. 631594 ID: 8f01e8

So don't order delivery. You've got a working vehicle, just go pick it up at the place.
No. 631602 ID: cdec48

Aqua aire Thai food.
No. 631604 ID: 2f4b71

Nate's had a trying day, comfort zone at home with take-away food seems like a good idea.
No. 632383 ID: 557bac
File 142793049423.png - (110.38KB , 600x407 , 4-30.png )

You decide to order delivery from a Chinese place you know about not far from here. You go with the mouth-numbing agony that is Sichuan beef, Nate orders a plate of veggie lo mein and together you decide to split an order of egg-rolls. Since Nate's wallet and phone are still in a locker somewhere, you phone it in and pay.
Nate is a little disappointing that he can't pay for dinner.
>"I should be treating you with all you've done today."

You wave him off and hold the phone your chest.
"How about next time? We'll go somewhere nice!"
You give him a toothy grin.

He concedes.

While waiting for the delivery guy, Nate opens up a cabinet under the TV and gives you an array of entertainment options.

A) Movie time! Hit up netflix!
C) Co-op retro gaming Bleep bloop.
D) [MLG]Next-gen action shooter multiplayer arena combat.
E) Other ideas
No. 632386 ID: a2212b

Its a miracle, Nate's cheek's healed!
No. 632387 ID: f4d940

Hmmn, C or D.
No. 632388 ID: 7656df

B or C is my vote
No. 632389 ID: cdec48

I'm not a movie guy but I am told that movies are a thing people like to do.

Watch Blue Ruin.
No. 632392 ID: f461c5
File 142793178288.jpg - (23.53KB , 295x300 , slug.jpg )

There is one suitable answer.
No. 632393 ID: 2f2fc2


time to watch the producers!
No. 632434 ID: 8bd2b1

Samurai Gunn.
No. 632460 ID: 350a50

Option C. Teamwork will build bonds!
No. 632480 ID: d16a1b

Get some metal slug goodness going.
No. 632493 ID: fdedbc

Thirding metal slug.
No. 632550 ID: 8d99f5

C. A only when the food arives.
No. 632574 ID: aa0b9b

No. 632623 ID: 18d18f

C, load up contra
No. 632627 ID: 9e1153

Fifth for Metal Slug. Awesome Power!
No. 632924 ID: 557bac
File 142819041540.png - (279.07KB , 600x600 , 4-31.png )

You decide to start off up with some classic metal slug.

>"So, your dad was a boxer? That's cool!"

"Wait you heard that? What the hell?"

>"The walls here are like rice paper, man. Did you do any boxing?"

"Yeah, a little bit. My dad though it would make me more of a man."

Nate picks up a HEAVY MACHINE GUN
>"Did it work?"

You can't help but grin.
"Not the way he intended. He might as well have served up guys on a platter for me."
You smile wistfully, remembering some of your earliest partners.

Your two man army carves its way through swarms of bad guys. Its been a long time since you've played any of the metal slug games, and it takes a bit before you really get used to the attack patterns. Still, you're having fun and working well as a team.
No. 632945 ID: 296917

Ask about his family.
No. 632969 ID: 350a50

Yeah, learn some more about him. What's his dad do for a living?
No. 633088 ID: 5a9e1d


What do his dad/rest of his family think about his preferences?
No. 633307 ID: 557bac
File 142845677230.png - (896.17KB , 2500x1969 , 4-32.png )

"What about you? How did your parents deal with your preferences?"

>"To be honest I'm not sure they really know; the only time I dated a guy was away at college. Until then I wasn't even interested in seeing someone; I didn't even know if I could be interested..."

"Because of the bugs? "

>"Yeah. Meds too. They kind of flattened me out. I mean, I dated a little in high school but I was so detached I hardly even noticed. My parents are both teachers, and really pushed me to do well academically. They had seen too many kids drop out and knew that if I didn't do well, a guy like me wouldn't last long in the real world. I kind of freaked out in college though, nearly lost my scholarship. I think they blame themselves: they thought it was because they pushed me so hard. I never wanted to tell them that it was because of... David..."

Distracted, Nate runs his tank right into a telegraphed beam of death from a boss.
CONTINUE 9....8....7...

Your game is interrupted by a knock at the door.
No. 633308 ID: 311774

Can it be hug time now?
No. 633309 ID: 296917

Alright go check the door, but look through the peephole first to make sure it's the delivery guy. Or if you can't tell, ask who it is.

Then eat, and maybe switch games. Or put a movie on. IDK. (whatever the second most popular vote was?)
No. 633315 ID: bb78f2

Put a hand on his shoulder that he's sure his parents would be supportive, mainly because they're teachers and typically are very progressive.
(I also think this is Seattle or near it, and Washington and Oregon be ALL sorts of progressive. Honestly, both of Nate's parents probably wear turtlenecks and black rimmed glasses. Diego's from Chicago or Detroit, Chicago is Chicago and Michigan is nothing but northern rednecks (hillbillies) even though we seem to vote liberally. Diego, I have just confirmed you're a michigander by looking back and you goddamn know it's made of hillbillies)

Ask Nate if we should answer the door. It's probably a neighbor since there was no buzzer... unless this is a buzzer free apartment building. It's probably buzzer free since Doc got up here before you did, but I don't think a lot of coworkers know where you live.

Then again, I think Nate's being hunted down by lunatics in a white van so... that might be a goat with a shotgun on the other side.
No. 633349 ID: 1f1d59

IF any physical contact is going to arise, ask permission first, last thing you want to do is have one of your "crawlies" to jump on him or freak him out. Also be careful of the door, use the peephole to be sure its not the goat/hitman guy. Its been a crazy day for both of you, last thing you need is more of it.
No. 633543 ID: e93211


You should ask him more about David, I'm sure he'd feel better about it if he talks about him with someone he trusts.
No. 633666 ID: 8f01e8

Pretend to be on a first-name basis with the delivery guy. If he plays along, re-engage full paranoia.
No. 633820 ID: 557bac
File 142872528037.png - (113.61KB , 535x600 , 4-33.png )

"Hold that thought. I'll be right back."

You get up to answer the door, checking through the peephole first.
Standing in the hallway, looking bored and carrying a grocery bag full of takeout boxes is a strangely familiar face.

He checks the receipt and knocks again.
No. 633822 ID: 2f2fc2


how many rats do you know?
No. 633823 ID: d90668

He does look just like a certain someone doesn't he.

Well you did order delivery and you have to get it somehow.

So unless you want to start stuffing bills under the doorway like a ninja turtle go ahead and open the door.
No. 633825 ID: 153bce

It's the guy from the coffeeshop at work, the one with the eldritch 'bug'
No. 633826 ID: 2f2fc2


def coffee shop guy....which is weird and a coincidence or not?
No. 633827 ID: 296917

Whoa, you're right. What the heck, does he work two jobs? Strange coincidence if so.

Well, he's unarmed, and the attacker at work only seemed to snatch up people who were isolated and alone. It's safe, open the door and say hello. Ask him what's up with his working two jobs. You know, have a small chat.
No. 633828 ID: 311774

Is that the guy from the coffee shop at work?

That's kind of suspicious, isn't it? Do you know when the coffee shop changes shifts, and if he could conceivably have left work to go to another job?
No. 633869 ID: 379b7b

that's the single most suspicious thing i've seen all day and you just got car chased by a guy with a shotgun.
do not let him in. do not answer. do not collect 200 dollars.
No. 633872 ID: cf91e4

Shouldn't he have some kind of logo on him for the Chinese place? You've ordered from there before, right? If nothing else you can just say 'hold on a minute, getting some change' while you call the Chinese place and ask about him.
No. 634293 ID: 296917

...you know, maybe we should be a *little* cautious, but if you're going to double check to make sure this isn't an impostor, tell him to wait a minute so he doesn't just walk off with the food. Also tell Nate who it is.
No. 634387 ID: f61b8d

If we're sufficiently suspicious, we could probably slide money under the door and have him leave the food.
No. 634438 ID: c13298

check, check, check, dont tell him to leave the food cause fuck knows whats in it mate
No. 634446 ID: 350a50

He has a low-paying job, is it such a stretch that he works part-time somewhere else for extra money?

Diego has no reason to suspect him because Diego doesn't know there's a shapeshifter. Open the door and make some small talk about what a coincidence it is to meet him here.
No. 634448 ID: ed9797

Diego DOES have cause to be suspicious of people, however, given that an anonymous white van just tried to make them disappear. Not to mention, Diego should recognize this guy from the facility's cafe, and wonder what are the odds that he would also happen to be their Chinese food delivery guy, of all the people it could have been or he could have delivered to instead.

Don't trust him.
No. 634449 ID: d90668

Have Nate check him for bugs. If he sees the same type he always does it cant be someone in disguise right?
No. 634454 ID: 8f01e8

Blue squid.
No. 634466 ID: 9ca12b

Even if he's the same guy, what good does that do? Nate doesn't even know his name and he barely said anything at all.
If anything, that'd just confirm a reason to be suspicious. He broke the pattern of insects and his animal straight up glared at Nate when he caught eye of him.
No. 634473 ID: 557bac
File 142906352250.png - (96.07KB , 600x443 , 4-34.png )

You cautiously unlock the door and open it.

"Heyyy, sorry about that. You work at the coffee shop right? "

He cocks his head and shrugs, indicating he may or may not be familiar with you and this "coffee shop" you speak of.

"Just weird coincidence running into you. Didn't realize you had a second job."

The sound he makes is more of a "Heh" than a real laugh: a singular, cynical unit of laff. Never one for small talk.

He hands you the receipt and the pen and you sign, tipping him a few bucks: he may not be much for conversation but he's always done a decent job at the cafe.

He hands you the bag with a smirk and as you close the door you hear him say "later." Man, this has been one fucking weird day.
No. 634474 ID: 557bac
File 142906352704.png - (117.20KB , 600x546 , 4-35.png )

Aw man...
No. 634477 ID: 296917

Oh dammit, that's hella suspicious. Makes me think one of those boxes does not contain food. Or maybe he's just really awkward.

Poor guy. Must've been a messy breakup. Sit next to him and ask if he needs to borrow your shoulder. Maybe hold his hand?
No. 634495 ID: 375872

Marvel at sudden lack of pupils. Boy do i hope that's a stylistic choice and not aliens.
No. 634498 ID: 350a50

Sit beside him and hold out your hand.
No. 634502 ID: a141b0

This. Though you may want to put the food on a table first.
No. 634547 ID: 2f2fc2

No. 634667 ID: 311774


Hug that poor guy!
No. 634679 ID: 296917

Can I caution against sudden hugs? He has an issue with being touched, doesn't he?
No. 634701 ID: 1a4c53

yeah, I would ask first if he's alright, and then maybe ask if he would like a hug?
No. 635032 ID: 557bac
File 142932182193.png - (81.98KB , 586x600 , 4-36.png )

"Hey... what's wrong Nate?"
No. 635033 ID: 557bac
File 142932182760.png - (163.13KB , 600x895 , 4-37.png )

>...thought you loved me...

I do! You don't understand...

>What? The "bugs"? I thought you said I was clean?

I... I...

>What? What do you want from me?

I don't know, I just-

>Am I that disgusting? Is it because I'm a guy?

What? Why would you say that? I told you-

>Then why won't you fucking touch me?

No. 635034 ID: 557bac
File 142932183826.png - (352.55KB , 600x854 , 4-38.png )

..crawling all over me, God, why won't they come off?

>Honey, we got a call from your councilor: he said you haven't been going to class? Its there something wrong?

...its not real, its not real, its not real, its not real...
No. 635035 ID: 557bac
File 142932185127.png - (189.80KB , 600x795 , 4-39.png )

>....wouldn't have happened if he had gone away. If he had stayed home we could have been there for him.

>So he can just be co-dependent his whole life? This was supposed to be a big step for him, he can't just live at home forever!

>Face it. We pushed too hard.

>I heard about this doctor who's been...

No. 635036 ID: 557bac
File 142932186033.png - (70.42KB , 600x996 , 4-40.png )

>...Want you to relax and go back to your safe place. Take a deep breath, and go ahead and tell me about it.

I'm alone, Its quiet, no bugs, no people.

>Where are you?



No. 635037 ID: 557bac
File 142932186603.png - (182.28KB , 600x689 , 4-41.png )

>"Everything. Everything is wrong, Diego. I... I think the world is going to end..."
No. 635038 ID: 296917

Tell him what you just saw. Then ask him why he thinks the world is going to end. Does it have something to do with what happened at work? With the intruder, and the weird cut-up satellite? Is it aliens? It's aliens isn't it.
No. 635053 ID: 696535

hugs are, like, mandatory at this point!
No. 635060 ID: d90668

Just hug him and tell him its all going to be ok.

Say that if this is about the crazy stuff at work that you will help him figure things out. If aliens are going to steal Cobalt or whatever we can discover whats going on and stop it.
No. 635071 ID: 350a50

Consider for a moment: if we were in Nate right now, how would we react to Diego suddenly talking about the aliens he knows nothing about? We'd flip shit and think he's a shapeshifter.
No. 635078 ID: 57d76a

"What - what was that, what just happened?"

And then, of course, explain what you saw.
No. 635097 ID: 3087b3

Nate knows about the touch thing, I don't think he'll be too mindblown to find out it works both ways.

Diego needs to be seriously honest here.
Also hugs.
No. 635098 ID: 350a50

The psychic read, sure, but Diego doesn't know shit about aliens.
No. 635148 ID: 172df1

You've all completely forgot about diego's beetles havent you, nate would probably flip his shit and pass out if we did so much as touch him.
No. 635165 ID: 3087b3

I wonder what would happen if we quickly grabbed a blanket/duvet cover/towel or the suit from a minute ago and hugged him through that.
No. 635476 ID: ea0ad9

Yeah, okay, he just somehow... shared his past with you. I think it's time to figure out more about what he knows and believes. Can't exactly doubt things when you see their past like that.
No. 635775 ID: 557bac
File 142967416345.png - (234.31KB , 572x600 , 4-42.png )

You aren't sure what you just saw, but you're more concerned about the guy in front of you. You drop down and wrap your arms around him to try and comfort him. Nate tenses up, writhing in your embrace, and forcing himself free.
No. 635776 ID: 557bac
File 142967417061.png - (116.71KB , 393x600 , 4-43.png )

He scrambles into a corner and just stares, panting.

Your throat suddenly feels dry.
"I...I'm... sorry..."

Slowly he backs down out of fight or flight mode and his breathing steadies itself.
>"Its okay... You didn't know."

"Are you okay?"

>"Yeah. Just.. ask first, okay?

"What did I just see? Were those your memories?"

Nate jumps as if he's been stung
>"Wait, what? What did you see?"

"Just glimpses of things.. blood, bandages... space?"

Nate buries his head in his hands and groans.
>"Ohhh god, I don't know. Today's been very weird, Diego. I don't understand how this crap in my head works."

"Shh... its okay. Why didn't you say anything?"

>"I just.. I just...just wanted to pretend things are normal, if only for a little while. I can't handle this, Diego. Its insane, even to me."

"What is? What's happening?"

Nate takes a breath and holds it for a second
>"Its about the break in at work: whoever is doing it is able to mimic people and is trying to do something to COBALT. But I might be able to stop them, because I can see the insects."

"Okay, but how is that the end of the world? Its just a computer."

He looks you dead in the eye
>"Because, Its an alien. Like, an actual alien organism. It wants to use COBALT to swap its planet with Earth before it explodes."
No. 635781 ID: ea0ad9

>"Because, Its an alien. Like, an actual alien organism. It wants to use COBALT to swap its planet with Earth before it explodes."
That's a little out there, but being able to see his memories is too... Can't really be sure what to believe anymore.
No. 635793 ID: 296917

Well hopefully that will be lesson learned.

That sounds... like some kind of sci-fi horror novel. How does he know it's an alien? Is he sure it's not like, some killer robot sent from another country to steal our secrets?
Assuming that's all true, how do we stop it? Can you help? Can we tell the police about this, somehow get proof that something is going on? The more people we have working to save the world the better our chances are. If there's no proof then we won't be able to get many people on our side. Also, it's a moot point if that explanation doesn't change how we approach the problem.

...what are the chances that Hiro will trust Diego if he tells him some weird story? It doesn't have to be "aliens". If we can come up with a believable story that accomplishes the same goals, then that's the story we should use... at least until we have proof.
No. 635797 ID: bb78f2

Does he know how the van dude is related?
He's got to be related.
No. 635803 ID: 1f1d59

Even if this sounds far fetched, you need to keep a level head Diego. He needs reassurance and comfort (mental, not physical). What you need to do is have him explain the situation and see what you can do to help him achieve his goal (as long as it dosent hurt anyone). I would suggest having him eat and give him some breathing room to calm down and compile his thoughts.
No. 635815 ID: d90668

Listen I know this stuff is strange but I bet we can figure it out if we work together.

Do you feel up to having some food? We can eat and talk over what you have seen. If you can tell me some more details of whats been actually going on today maybe we can figure something out.
No. 635830 ID: 8f01e8

Okay, so you've got reason to believe COBALT is being stolen by aliens with teleportation technology? At this point, Nate, that's not actually insane. It's the best, maybe the only, theory anybody has for how that satelite could have gotten out of the hangar and into a random spot in the woods with no alarms going off and no tire tracks, and cut cleanly in half, without involving so many epicycles that the theory fails to make any further meaningful predictions.

So, what else do you know about these aliens, Nate? Can we make friends with them and save both planets, or are you going to have to do something like Isaac Clarke or Gordon Freeman or Jeff Goldblum's character in Independence Day? Regardless, what can I do to help?
No. 635831 ID: 3fe4d8

fuckin told you all
No. 635835 ID: 1f1d59

Well, it was going to happen. Should of at least asked first.
No. 635847 ID: 350a50

It should not have happened. There are times for hugs and this is not one of them, you moved too fast.
No. 636379 ID: 557bac
File 143001590239.png - (139.41KB , 600x440 , 4-44.png )

"That... That's pretty hard to believe, Nate. But then again, its been a pretty unbelievable day. How about we sit down and eat while we talk?"

You sit together on the couch and dig into your Szechuan beef. The peppers go to work, laying waste to your taste-buds until you are reduced to a kind of delicious pain-haze. You offer some to Nate but he declines; probably for the best.

"So this thing, it somehow teleported the Midas sat out into the woods?"

>"Yeah, I think so."

"At least that kind of makes sense. Plus there's the bizarre way its cut in half. Still, how do you know there are aliens involved?"

>"You know that stuff you saw when you touched me? I'm able to do that somehow and when I touched that weird computer it allowed me to talk to an alien consciousness. It claimed that they have an agent here that is planning on swapping their dying planet with ours. I'm not sure why, but it needs access to COBALT in order to do it."

"Well, how can I help?"

>"Wait, seriously? You believe me?"

"I'm not sure what I believe, but I trust you and I want to help. Soooo?"

>"I guess the best thing to do would be to get to COBALT before the alien does. But Hiro said that he has the lab locked down until the facility is secure. However, he might let me in if I can get him a Midas-COBALT transponder."
No. 636380 ID: e114bc

Well didn't we just do that today?
No. 636393 ID: d90668

Wait the thing Doug ran off with? Um do we need to check and see if he is a alien?
No. 636403 ID: e114bc

Nate managed to retrieve one though, and apparently took it with him when we left, instead of delivering it. ...did he leave it in the car?
No. 636765 ID: ea0ad9

>You offer some to Nate but he declines; probably for the best.
That stuff looks like charcoal and ignites your throat like it's a barbeque... Yeah, the uninitiated should stay away from it.
Nate retrieved it, but Doug took it when Nate was... Talking with the alien.

Sounds like the way to help Nate out is to carve some new metal sheets for the transponder... Are we going to need the clean rooms for that, though?
No. 636778 ID: f61b8d

You've become a fire-breathing dragon!
No. 636808 ID: e114bc

from >>625079
>He nods, though clearly still worrying about it, but relents. He picks up one of the transponders he removed and hugs it to his chest protectively.

Nope, Doug took the weird computer. Nate retrieved a transponder. Last time we saw it was here: >>626601
No. 637008 ID: 557bac
File 143035800910.png - (83.76KB , 425x600 , 4-45.png )

"Is that why you took that transponder off of the satellite?"

>"More or less: I didn't know aliens were involved until I touched the computer."

"Where is it by the way?"

>"Oh I left it over by the computer..."

You take a look.
"This isn't a COBALT transponder, is it?"

>"I know. I think its for Apex commands to the satellite itself, but I was hoping that we could adapt it"

You try to remember everything you know about the system.
"Maybe, but we'd need the schematics as well as parts from the lab."

Nate sighs
>"That means going back..."

"And either breaking into a crime scene, or waiting until the police are done."

>"Ah, Jeeze, I'm sorry Diego. I didn't mean to wrap you up in all this bullshit."
No. 637011 ID: f61b8d

"Not your fault," unless we want to just deny that it's a problem at all.
No. 637012 ID: bb78f2

Nate, if you're right about the aliens, you failing means I probably die, and everyone I care about ever probably dies. And now with me, your odds just improved, which means my odds for surviving improved.

SO, you know, you did the responsible thing, not that I'm telling you to tell everyone that aliens are going to destroy the earth because rarely will anyone actually believe that unless they too have experienced a crazy day.

I'm very happy I know that if I die, I know why. Just so you know, Nate, it's very possible we have no chance to prevent this within our means, so don't let that weight be on your shoulders, because I'm not putting that weight on my shoulder's either. We might be very screwed and helpless. But, let's try our best not to die.
No. 637019 ID: e114bc

I think we'd better eat quick then get back to work. Maybe the police officer Nate was working with will let us back in?
No. 637117 ID: 8f01e8

The situation seems pretty bad, but there's nothing you know specifically is going to explode in the next eight hours. I'd say, get some sleep, go back to work and start on refitting that transponder in the morning. Don't cut corners on routine maintenance during a week when you'll surely need your brain performing at or above rated spec.

Also in the morning buy three or more of those cheap pay-as-you-go phones and conceal them, powered off but with contacts already programmed, in various spots on your person. Ankle holster, up the sleeve, that sort of thing. Reasonable precaution against further comm hijinx and/or dissociative fugues.
No. 637646 ID: 557bac
File 143061056297.png - (121.73KB , 448x600 , 4-46.png )

"Its okay. Sounds like you've been trying to do this all alone, its too much for one person."

Nate fidgets nervously
>"Yeeahhh, about that... Doug might be involved at this point. He says he has a similar condition to mine, and I confided in him about some of what I've learned. But.... I don't know what his deal is, or why he disappeared with the PC."

"Fuuck, man. I have a hard time just standing the guy some times. I don't know if I trust him with saving the world."

>"Well, he did help me out with the police a little bit. But I just don't know what his angle is here. I'm guessing that he at least knows what I know, now that he has the computer. Maybe he'll be more willing to work together?"

"Lets hope so... Speaking of police, I don't see us being able to get into the lab anytime soon, and knowing Hiro he's locked up tight in his bunker. Fixing the transponder can wait until tomorrow, can't it?"

>"I guess...what should we do then?"

You shrug
"Food first, then whatever you think we should do."
No. 637653 ID: e114bc

Maybe he can like, explain in greater detail how his head stuff works. He mentioned talking to his wasps- does that have something to do with it?
No. 637842 ID: 09b7fb

Maybe ask about that one wasp that stung your nose earlier. It did have odd colors for a wasp, didn't it?
No. 637852 ID: 350a50

What kind of bugs does Doug have?
No. 637860 ID: e114bc

He told us already. There are still a few people who he hasn't told us the bugs of though. Like his neighbors.
No. 638011 ID: 350a50

Oh right, I forgot.

Does Diego know the deal with the garbage hoarder guy yet?
No. 638757 ID: 557bac
File 143096472189.png - (184.42KB , 513x600 , 4-47.png )

"So how does this insect stuff work? You said you talk to them?"

He looks as though hes about to protest but you cut him off.

"No, really! If you really want me to believe you about this end of the world business, I should know more about this. Have they said anything recently?"

>"Actually, no not since you saved me, although I'm still not sure about that one in the car. They've been bugging me all day about this... this thing I've been seeing in my head that they call the Axle. The alien I spoke to told me that its a device capable of swapping the Earth and their planet, Maar. The wasps claim that we might be able to control it, but it requires taking something from other people's minds to make a kind of machine."

"Is that what I did just now? Go into your mind? How does that even work?"

>"I'm not sure. It seems like it happens whenever I touch someone without them being aware of it. That sounds like what happened to you too."

He suddenly looks anxious again.
>" I wonder if everyone can do that... who else might have messed around in there?"
No. 638758 ID: e114bc

Tell him not to worry, you'll tell him if he starts acting weird.
No. 638773 ID: d90668

Hey now that you have a friend that knows about this stuff we can watch each others backs.

Can you ask the bugs if there is a way to protect your mind from that sort of thing? Heck ask them if there is a way for me to talk to my bugs.

Wait a minute if that sort of thing happens when you get touched while unaware has it happened before? Or does it only work with people you know? If it has happened before you think your parents would have noticed at some point. I mean if anyone would have gotten into your head on accident it would have been one of your folks.
No. 638792 ID: 57d76a

...Can he talk to your bugs, or only his own?
No. 638839 ID: 8f01e8

Maybe you should get some of those glasses with the mirrored edges, to make it harder for people to sneak up behind you.
No. 638840 ID: 2a7417

Maybe he can ask his wasp friends for some big ol' compound eyes.
Anyway, Diego should probably calm his friend down, take his mind off his... mind.
No. 638843 ID: facf2f

i'm going to bet ms. counselor.
No. 638875 ID: e114bc

Well that's true even if she doesn't have any psychic ability. Therapy is like surgery of the mental state.
No. 639055 ID: ea0ad9

>" I wonder if everyone can do that... who else might have messed around in there?"
Well, it never actually happened before--you've placed a hand upon lots of unaware shoulders in your time. It probably requires you to be aware of the bugs, and to believe it. Or, like, offer it a chance at maybe being real. Wasn't sure what to believe before, but after that you definitely believe it.
No. 639240 ID: 557bac
File 143121136752.png - (76.58KB , 465x600 , 4-48.png )

"I don't know, maybe-"

There's a knock at the door, derailing your train of thought.
Since you're already up, you check through the peephole. Its that guy you saw talking to the doctor earlier.

"Oh, Nate, I think its one of your neighbors."
No. 639261 ID: defceb

It might be best to have Nate answer? Although he doesn't seem to be in the best state of mind for it. Scratch that.

Answer, and if he asks about Nate just say he's feeling a little under the weather.
No. 639367 ID: bfa142

See what he wants, invite him in for threesome.
No. 639368 ID: d90668

Describe him to Nate and ask what he wants you to do.
No. 639917 ID: 557bac
File 143146310326.png - (114.26KB , 600x407 , 4-49.png )

You open the door for the stranger. He looks kind of taken aback by your presence, but not intimidated. He looks at you for a second and you can't tell if he's sizing you up or checking you out. He's younger than Nate, early 20s you'd guess. You idly wonder if this is where all the cute guys in town have been hiding.

>"Oh, hey. Is Nate there? I wanted to see how he's doing..."

Nate peeks out from behind you.
>"Hi Zeke! Um, this is Diego, from work. Diego, this is my neighbor Zeke."

"Ahh, that was you in the hall earlier? Nice to meet you! "

You offer him your hand, he smiles and shakes it. He may not look like much but there's muscle in his grip.

>"Diego gave me a ride home today, I had kind of an episode at work and... well."

>"Ah damn, sorry to hear that man. You okay now?"

>"Yeah, I guess. Um.. actually, I saw you talking to Dr. Cooper, do you know her too?"

>"Oh yeah, she's great. I didn't realize you were seeing her too. When I ran into her I thought she was here to talk to me."
He glances down the hall.
>"Actually, I know its a pain, but is it alright if I come in for a second?"
No. 639918 ID: 7656df

dont see any reason why not. is something up?
No. 639929 ID: 350a50

Well, it's Nate's place. No reason to object if Nate doesn't.
No. 639941 ID: d90668

Make sure he is not a alien wearing Nates neighbor as a suit. No idea you would go about checking this though.
No. 639984 ID: ea0ad9

The only aliens that even might exist are the ones that wouldn't have a problem with meeting Nate in person. There's really no reason to get all paranoid, here.
Kind of wondering if the Doctor asked him to ask, since he all but said she was here for Nate's benefit.
No. 640030 ID: 50cce1

Unusual strength? The drone is unusually strong as well... Is there any way we can verify he is who he says he is? Maybe you can ask him to turn around, then touch him?
No. 640101 ID: f4d940

Um. Except for the alien that impersonated Anthony earlier, after heavily injuring him and stuffing him in a vent?
No. 640113 ID: 27c0e0


I mean SHIT! Why does he want to come in, WHAT'S HISS GAME?!
No. 640176 ID: c6ec0b

Can Nate see the Bees?
No. 640210 ID: 100d4e

DING DING DING. Decent way to check, right?
No. 640253 ID: 57d76a

If he couldn't, wouldn't he have noted that?
No. 640322 ID: 8f01e8

An evil alien infiltrator could mangle you just as well out here. You're not taking much additional risk by letting him in, so go ahead.
No. 640398 ID: 8a445b

Well, at the least, it's Nate's house, so look to him for an answer.
No. 640674 ID: a141b0

This. As much as we intrusive voices want to control the situation, we're talking to Diego now. It's not Diego's choice, though. It's Nate's. Diego under these circumstances should be supportive, not protective.
No. 640729 ID: 557bac
File 143174227857.png - (110.99KB , 499x600 , 4-50.png )

Nate shrugs and you let Zeke inside.

>"Its about Lester. He's been acting really weird today. Like, weird even for Lester. He's been up and down the hall all day taking photos with one of those old instant cameras. He knocked on my door, but when I answered it he was gone. And just now, after Dr. Cooper left, I could hear him talking through the wall, saying something about how he's been right all along."

>"Right about what?"

Zeke shrugs and makes an "I dunno" noise.
>"Did he say anything to you this morning?"

>"Something about people not being what they seem? Agents or something? I was running late, so I wasn't really paying attention."

>"Well, yeah. I dunno if we should do anything, but he's being really squirrely. I'm pretty sure he doesn't trust me any more, after I touched his pile of shit out there."
No. 640762 ID: 350a50

That sounds kind of like what Nate was talking about. Maybe Lester knows something?

Ask about it once Zeke leaves.
No. 640784 ID: ea0ad9

>Agents or something?
Wait, isn't that what Nate mentioned about... "Work"? Does Lester know what Nate and Doug know?
No. 641102 ID: a141b0

The way this day has been going you are probably going to be all but assaulted by this Lester person on your way out tonight. Best to get his description so you know who NOT to give a black eye.

As for if everything concerning Lester could be connected with what Nate has been talking about... don't jump to any conclusions. You have multiple unexplained oddities giving some credibility to Nate's words. Lester could just be insane... or dealing with completely unrelated SciFi involving the britches horror taking over the doughnut shop two blocks down.

Actually, speaking of food, maybe it's the delivery man who set Lester off. Or Doctor Cooper, given that just now we've seen that Zeke does see her as well maybe everyone on this floor if not the entire apparent building is her client. Don't know how you should react to these thoughts. I'm just an intrusive voice jabbering on.
No. 641905 ID: 557bac
File 143225295771.png - (105.64KB , 477x600 , 4-51.png )

"This Lester guy, is he one of your neighbors?"

Zeke nods
>"Yeah. Older guy, kinda chubby, always wears shorts and sandals, talks about aliens and the government all all that."

"Huh, Do you think he sees Dr. Cooper too? I mean, if you two know her?"

>"I... I don't know. I mean, he definitely needs help. Somehow I don't think he's getting it though. Kind of a hoarder, lives alone."

"Is he, like, dangerous?"

Zeke and Nate look at each other and then back at you before shrugging.

>"He's never seemed dangerous. He'll gets mad if you mess with his stuff, or try to throw it away, but he's never done anything. It was kind of weird for Lester to even talk to me this morning: most of the time he just avoids me."

>"I'm telling you, something's up with him."
Zeke turns to go, giving you a knowing smile.
>"Well, I can see you guys have a fun night planned; I should get out of your hair. -Just wanted to give you a heads up about him. Let me know if you want to do some co-op or borrow a movie or something, Nate."
Zeke waves goodbye and heads back to his apartment.

"Huh...do you think he knows anything about all this?" You scratch at the sting on your nose absentmindedly: that ointment really seemed to do the trick, it hardly even hurts."

>"I doubt it. He's been talking about alien conspiracies for as long as I've known him. You know its like that whole stopped clock phrase: sooner or later they're right about some-thing. I just hope he leaves us out of it, I can't deal with his bullshit on top of all this."

"So, um, what were we talking about? You were saying something about building a machine out of bits of people's minds?"

>"Oh, yeah. The wasps told me I can make it by taking things from people's minds. It seems like the alien, or whatever it is, is doing the same thing, and might be a little further along than me. I managed to get it started though."

"Well, can I help? You can take something from me if you need to..."

>"Err.... I kind of already did....accidentally though." He scratches at the back of his head nervously before abruptly stopping himself.

"Wait, you went inside my head?" you're suddenly caught up with a mix of emotions unsure how to feel.
No. 641908 ID: e114bc

Accidentally? How do you do that on- oh right because it just requires a touch.
Why didn't he tell you earlier- oh right because it sounds crazy.

What did he see? Nothing embarrassing, I hope! He didn't mess with anything in there did he? How does "taking pieces" even work?
No. 641909 ID: e2a92b

Well dude, the power *does* only work if you're unaware of his contact.
Have you felt anything... missing from your mind?
No. 641920 ID: 7656df

well i mean, i suppose its kind of fair, considering that you went into nates mind on accident.

ask about what he saw, simply out of curiosity.
No. 641949 ID: d90668

Yeah if accidental contact sets it off it was probably something like what you saw earlier. So not like he was lurking around your head being creepy. Probably saw some random junk from your past and then you noticed him. So nothing to worry about.

Ask him what sort of machine. Did he at least make a cool part out of whatever it was in your head? Also how do you even make a machine out of part from peoples minds. This whole psychic thing is confusing.
No. 641964 ID: 350a50

Well, you did feel like a huge weight was lifted off of you today.

I guess that must be what he took.
No. 642092 ID: 6abeb1

Ahh no threesome:( maybe later.

anyway calm down we don't know what he did, he may have just ended up in our head by accident and then left, hes too nice a guy to have spied around or messed with our mind.
No. 642502 ID: 561b41

OK, take it easy. You don't know what happened. Based on the small glimpse you just had of Nate's mind, Nate really doesn't have perfect control of his powers.

How about asking him to stop with the quick summaries and start walking you through step by step. At what point did he get the different pieces of information throughout the day? You're both engineers after all, you work better with all the parts on the table.

Who knows, maybe you can help him figure out how to ethically use his powers to collect the pieces rather than the more brutal ransacking methods of the probe?
No. 643770 ID: 557bac
File 143286080054.png - (105.81KB , 587x600 , 4-52.png )

Amid the confusion of emotion you feel your face getting warm.
"You... didn't see anything too embarrassing I hope? I mean, I don't know how comfortable you are with what I saw... You said it was an accident, right..?"

Nate's hands wring themselves together
>"No, no! It was! I had no idea I could do that! I didn't see much, no; just glimpses of things. I saw that you were, kind of, struggling with something and I thought you were in danger. There was this huge... stone block-thing and it was dragging you down so I just retreated into my own head and took it with me when I went."

"Huh... so that's part of this machine-thing now? What is it? How's it work?"

>"Fuck if I know, dude. I only have two pieces and they formed some kind of network together automatically. I figure, whatever is doing this knows what its doing."

"You don't know how it works?"

>"The only person who might know, besides my wasps, would be Doug..."

You make a face.
"You better fill me in on everything then, Nate. Why don't you start with... this morning."
No. 643771 ID: 557bac
File 143286081691.png - (118.58KB , 425x600 , 4-53.png )

Nate proceeds to tell you as much as he can remember about today in all its surreal glory. The two of you work your way through most of the take-out while the sun slides into a shallow angle between the blinds. You learn about Doug's unreal breakdown, the bizarre assault of the intruder and Nate's otherworldly meeting with the alien in the PC.

Nate gets up to turn on the light.
>"...and well, then you kept me from scratching my face off..."

"Fuck'n hell...."
You lean back in your chair.
"So...according to the wasps, the way to stop this guy is to put together this... machine. Annnnnd that means we need to go into more people's heads then? "

>"Preferably without breaking anything, yeah. But, I don't even know where to start."
No. 643774 ID: e114bc

Why don't we start with Zeke? Tell him what's up and that you're not trying to trick him into doing anything.
No. 643778 ID: 350a50

What about the therapist lady? She'd probably listen, at least.

Lester might listen too if he thinks we're finally catching onto his conspiracy, but who knows what might be in that guy's noggin'.
No. 643782 ID: a141b0

Honestly, targeting more of Nathan's neighbors, even cute Zeke, might be a bad idea. It will probably happen anyway, but getting any of the good doctor's patients involved might drag her in... and that could be bad. Additionally, we don't know what type of mechanism Zeke or Lester might harbor.

We need to look for people with different personalities. As the wasp said, different people cultivate different mechanisms within their mind. Diego is a tether, while Anthony should be inspiration.

Trick is, people often hide their true selves. Diego was pretty good at hiding his pain of being disconnected from all his old friends, and one would have never suspected Anthony of being a composer. Nate the shut in and Diego the new kid in town just don't know too many people.

If we want to cover just people we suspect the probe has already targeted, then the security guard and Sharon should be on the short list. Those too would at least provide mechanisms that don't overlap. And overlapping is the big danger here: you need to get ahead of the probe fast, collecting quality parts without doing harm to the donor's mind... that's a tall order.
No. 644379 ID: 557bac
File 143311971970.png - (103.87KB , 600x560 , 4-54.png )

"Hmm, do you maybe want to try your neighbor, Zeke?"

Nate looks apprehensive.
>"I'm not sure if that's a good idea. I mean, if he's seeing Dr. Cooper, then who knows what's going on inside his head? I'm sure she wouldn't appreciate messing around in there, either."

"Well, we should be upfront about what we're doing. Obviously we don't want to just invade his mind."

Nate itches himself nervously.
>"You mean... tell him? Do you think he'd even believe us?"

You're forced to admit you aren't sure.
"I suppose I could ask for you..."

You step out into the empty hall. You hear a door latch a few doors down. You knock on the door to Zeke's apartment.
>"Just a second!"

After a moment he opens the door and looks around the hall, a little confused.
>"Hey, Diego right? What's up? You guys want to play some smash or something?"

"Er, I was actually wondering if you could help us with something..."
No. 644381 ID: d90668

You know what smash sounds fun. Tell him that you two have recently run into a big mess at work and need someone to talk with about it.

So maybe some video games while we discuss things?
No. 644382 ID: defceb

Play smash, discuss topic at hand, Nate poke him in the back of the head while he's distracted.
No. 644384 ID: 350a50

No. 644385 ID: bb78f2

Hey, Zeke, would you mind if you could be a control group for an at-home experiment? It has something to do with the mind, we can give you more details after it's failed or succeeded, but for an experiment to be successful, minimal data must be presented to the subjects to accurately portray data.

You're technically the control group because we're telling you the most we think you can know and have this work.
No. 644399 ID: e114bc

Ask him if he believes in psychic phenomena.
No. 644477 ID: f4d940

That sounds reasonable, actually, except I think you have to tell him what's up before actually taking a mind-object. In which case, I think you may as well just tell him what's up. (Maybe you could ask generally in the hall, and explain more once you get back to the room?) It should help quite a bit that both of you have seen stuff, not just Nate. As for the basic plan, perhaps you tell him the basic mechanism (contact while unaware) and then you and Zeke play smash bros until he's not paying attention to Nate, who then touches Zeke's shoulder or something.
No. 645496 ID: 557bac
File 143347269336.png - (276.10KB , 600x600 , 4-55.png )

"Actually, you know what? Some Smash would be pretty fun right now. I'm kind of rusty but... yeah, sounds good!"

Zeke locks up his apartment and you head back to Nate's.
Nate is chewing on his lip when you return and stares at you curiously.

"Zeke wanted to play some Smash, I thought we could talk while we play."

Nate looks at the two of you and nods wordlessly. He scuttles over to the collection of consoles, firing up a gamecube and plugging in a couple of controllers. You've barely touched the game since Melee, so seeing a gamecube is encouraging.

Zeke picks up his controller and scrolls over to Marth.
>"So what did you need my help with?"

You drag your token over to Ness while Nate decides to open up with Fox.
"Well, this is going to sound weird, but do you believe in psychic activity?"

The match begins and Zeke simply says
Its a statement of absolute conviction.

You quickly realize you're going to be outclassed here as Nate juggles you up into the stratosphere with a vicious chain followed by an up-smash. Fortunately you were always good at surviving with Ness, and could usually PK thunder yourself back onto any reasonably sized stage. You manage to get a small chain of PK fire's in to even things up a bit. Its not that it matters whether you win or lose, but you might as well enjoy yourself.

"Really? Just like that?"

Zeke's Marth swoops in and meteor smashes your Ness off the stage.
>"Yeah, I've always thought there was something else, some kind of level where we could be more than just bodies, you know?"
No. 645497 ID: d90668

Well that's good to hear because we recently have discovered something we would like a outside opinion on.

So how do you feel about insects?

Lets start out small and work our way towards the point instead of just blurting out that everyone has symbiotic psychic bugs in there heads and we need him to help us make a giant mind machine to save the sun.

And make sure to not spill Nate's secret. If he is going to reveal things let him do it on his own terms.
No. 645523 ID: bb78f2

Well, we'd like to perform a little experiment. Some weird stuff has been going down around our workplace, and us in particular. We need to establish what exactly is going on, and believe it or not, we think psychic activity is going on. We think we know how to read or enter a mind, but we don't have any solid proof yet, or even a solid technique for doing.

We'd like to try entering yours. It's not dangerous, supposedly it was done with me and I'm okay, and there's just enough evidence from it that I actually believe my mind was accidentally entered by Nate. We'd like to replicate the result and try it again, but on a willing person. I don't know how weird it will be for you, Zeke, but some shit might come up that you don't want to come up and so we're asking your permission to try.
No. 645590 ID: 696535

Try PK Thundering Zeke and see if that gets you anywhere.
Oh, and what
these guys said.
No. 645634 ID: ea0ad9

"So, like, I've had a pal mentioning some incidents that happened to him. Apparently, he saw some sort of, uh, "Guardian" around people. Small but many. He figured it was just, you know, in his mind, but...

He touched one of mine, and saw my mind. Then I got the power, and saw Nate's mind. No guardians, so I don't know how, but apparently you don't have to see them to do it? Anyways, we're seeing how far the chain can go. You wanna try it out after a few rounds?"
Try and hint to Nate to go for it after one round, not a few. Since it apparently only works when he's not expecting it.
No. 645785 ID: f4d940

"Oh. Well that makes things easier, then." I think you can probably just explain things any which way from there, probably. He seems like he'll at least be open to it, rather than dismissing it outright.
No. 645810 ID: e114bc

Well tell him he's right. Both you and Nate here have experienced that sort of thing today, and uh, long story short Nate needs to go inside his head and take some nebulous piece of his psyche so he can help save the world.
No. 646325 ID: 0fc976

"How crazy would it be if I said Nate could give you a sort of psychic reading, right now?"
No. 646460 ID: d4a543

"Cool! I thought this was going to be some whole awkward dance of suspended disbelief. Anyway, Nate's caught up in some stuff with aliens, and they aren't exactly hostile but they're probably going to destroy the Earth unless he builds a psychic machine to teleport somebody to their homeworld and ask them not to. One of the parts he needs, an anchor, was in my subconscious, but there are a bunch more. Is it cool if we check to see whether your mind has any?"
No. 646676 ID: 557bac
File 143362765327.png - (174.31KB , 600x595 , 4-56.png )

You re-spawn, fortunately you aren't playing for stock or you'd be completely screwed. Still, you're glad to talk about this while Zeke is somewhat distracted.
"Really? Well, what about insects? How do you feel about insects?"

Zeke and Nate trade attacks for a bit, neither one with a clear advantage. It looks like they have a lot of experience fighting one another.
>"What, like Nate's bug thing? Its cool, I guess? Why?"

You fire out a PK thunder and rocket yourself into the pair while they are fighting. Zeke sees it coming a mile away though and you fly right into Marth's parry, knocking you on your ass.
"Er, yeah... Nate's bug-thing. Something's been going on with his bug-thing and we think he can look into peoples minds. He went into mine earlier and I accidentally went into his."

He's momentarily taken aback and looks at you and Nate incredulously
>"Whaaaat? You're messing with me."

Nate takes the opportunity to hit him with a barrage of lasers and throw him off of the stage.
>"No its true, I'm not sure how or why it works though."

Zeke manages to make the long trip back to the edge, but just barely.
>"So what do you need me for?"

You slide in past his sword and let loose with a smash with your bat, knocking him into the sky.
"Well, honestly, we were wondering if we could go into your mind."

Suddenly the action pauses. Zeke has his hands in front of him defensively.
>"Woooahhhh, now. You guys don't know me, and certainly don't know what's going on in my head. Even if I [i]do[i] believe in that shit, which is cool don't get me wrong, I don't think I'm really comfortable with that. You don't know where I've been, you get me?"
No. 646703 ID: f4d940

"Well...that's true. And we respect that. But here's the thing, though (and it gets super weird, here): the earth is in danger. Aliens are trying to swap it for their doomed homeworld. To stop them we need to build a machine out of, like, mental objects. Different people have different ones. For instance, Nate - kinda accidentally - took a stone block out of my head."

If necessary, explain the events of the day as mild evidence.

Perhaps if there were some kind of symbol of trust we could do, like if it were possible to let Zeke see one of our minds first - maybe the reason Diego saw into Nate's head was because of a property of Nate, rather than some of the other theories proposed.
No. 646719 ID: bb78f2

Well okay, we just wanted to be honest with you.
Nate, did you tell Zeke about the bug stuff before, or did Dr. Cooper tell Zeke?
No. 646743 ID: 350a50

"This is the part where we tell you we need to make a psionic metaconcert to keep aliens from stealing the sun."
No. 646790 ID: 0fc976

We know it's a very personal space, but there's a lot riding on it. As in, the whole planet is in danger because some other party is going into people's minds, and stealing from them. There could be something in your mind that helps stop them.
No. 646880 ID: 202c27

Maybe dont explain the whole aliens thing just yet in case you freak him out.

Just let him see inside yours, and see what he does next.
No. 647464 ID: 557bac
File 143390325192.png - (106.77KB , 600x509 , 4-57.png )

You aren't sure how to begin explaining the situation to Zeke, and look over to Nate for help; he shrugs.
"Well, we understand that, but here's the thing: we need to in order to save the world."

His jaw hangs open and he blinks at you, squinting.
>"Save the world...?"

"From aliens. Well, an alien.... we think."

Zeke nods.
>"Hang on..."
He digs around in his pocket, pulling out a plastic baggie containing a lighter, a lurid multicolored glass pipe and a small amount of shredded, resinous leaves. He gives the bag a little jiggle, you and Nate slowly shake your heads: no thanks.
>"No problem, be right back-"

You and Nate avoid each others eyes as he lets himself out.
"How long have you two been neighbors?"

>"Like, two years."

"... He seems nice."
No. 647465 ID: 557bac
File 143390325955.png - (118.70KB , 600x458 , 4-58.png )

You spend a minute or two of polite silence before Zeke comes back, trailing an acrid scent. He reaches the couch and flops down in a lanky, boneless mess.
>"All right, let's hear this shit."

Nate haltingly recants his story about today, giving Zeke a cliff notes version of the attacks at work and the discovery of his abilities. For a full minute Zeke doesn't say anything, and you find yourself leaning forward in anticipation.

Suddenly he breaks the silence-
>"Are you sure you don't smoke?"
There's another awkward no.
>"Shit, I need to get some of whatever Cooper has you on then."

You and Nate share another nervous look. He shrugs.

Zeke coughs.
>"Okay, so how do we do this? Do I, like, lie down or something?"

>"Wait, you believe me? About the aliens, and mind control and everything?"

He shrugs and lays back, shading his eyes from the overhead light.
>"Nate, you're a cool guy. I mean, you're crazy, but you already knew that. But you're cool. Soooo, you know what? Fuck it. I'll try anything once."

He sits up suddenly and points.
>"But... Don't say I didn't warn you. You have no idea what you're gonna find in there."
No. 647466 ID: e114bc

Tell Nate to be careful.
No. 647467 ID: d90668

Don't bother explaining how it works. If he knows that he has to not be paying attention he will just tense up and make it harder.

I wonder if both of you can go in at once? Might need someone out here to distract him. But you could have him play video games for awhile while you both "prepare" in another room. Once he is into it you can sneak out and touch him.
No. 647478 ID: bb78f2

Now we have to distract you while Nate touches your bug. You have to forget about Nate, he has to surprise you. Soooo, I guess watch Harold and Kumar go to White Castle or something?
No. 647482 ID: 13ba33

watch butterfly affect
No. 647502 ID: 0fc976

Concentrate on a spot on the wall. Imagine a beach. Now imagine a tropical island with palm trees at sunset. Now imagine flying away from this island in a private jet. You sip from a martini as the island becomes smaller out your window. You go for another sip, but the martini is now a squirrel. You look out the window, the island is squirrels. Your pilot is a giant squirrel. He urgently directs your attention to your right. The fasten your squirrels sign is blinking.
Are you distracted yet? Now hold on tight.
No. 648258 ID: 557bac
File 143423601927.png - (143.67KB , 596x600 , 4-59.png )

Nate beckons you closer so that he can whisper to you.
>"We need to distract him somehow; I can only get in if he isn't aware of it..."

"What? Like how?"

>"Hey, what're you guys talking about over there? Are you talking about me? About how cute I am, eh? Ehhhhhh?"

"Hey, how about a movie?"

Zeke looks baffled.
>"Wait, I thought you were going to read my mind or something?"

"We are, but this is part of it."

>"Oh... okay? Umm, what're we going to watch?"

Nate pulls up his netflix account and is already scrolling through it. His recommended videos indicate a lot of documentaries about space as well as plenty of B grade sci-fi.
>"See anything you like, Zeke?"

He tries to concentrate on the movies rolling past and something catches his eye.
>"Oh! Robocop. Haven't seen that one in a while!"

Nate loads it up while Zeke starts to expound upon Paul Verhoeven's vision of a rust belt dystopia ruled by gang warfare and corrupt industrialists, saved by the Christ-figure returning from the dead-
>"Even when they kill him, he's totally posed like Jesus on the cross! And then when the rebuild him, what comes out of his hand? A fuck'n nail, son!"

Having grown up in Detroit you want to say that the city isn't really like that...as much...any more... okay for a movie over 25 years old its still pretty accurate.

Nevertheless, Zeke's diatribe on the satire that everyone misses and how under appreciated Starship Troopers was has him pretty distracted.
No. 648262 ID: e114bc

Well Nate should go for it then. What's he waiting for? Or are you gonna do it too?
No. 648265 ID: a599c3

Lets keep distracting him, dont even think about nate, let nate worry about nate
No. 648292 ID: bb78f2

Diego, you're a Michigander, Michigander's LOVE complaining about Michigan. Do your home state proud and complain about it with Zeke.
No. 648393 ID: 0851b9

>Are you talking about me? About how cute I am, eh? Ehhhhhh?"
Dammit he's on to us.

do this it will help
No. 648420 ID: 4f5d1d

Get nate to go and get snacks or something outof the room, then sneak up ok zeke?
Depends on how doped up and easy to distract he is.
No. 648425 ID: 8a4240

maybe you could follow up on the comment about cuteness and say you were talking about how cute he is. it would definitely be a distraction.
No. 648709 ID: a141b0

That could be a dangerous road. Dwelling on how cute Zeke is will not only distract we intrusive thoughts, but could possibly lead to Diego having to kiss Zeke... possibly to the point of making out with him. While it's for the cause, part of not hurting anyone with this includes not hurting Diego and Nate's budding relationship.

This should be the game plan. Nate needs to be all but unobserved, with you and/or the movie all of Zeke's attention. I'm only an intrusive voice... but good luck.
No. 649129 ID: 557bac
File 143459106209.png - (174.16KB , 563x600 , 4-60.png )

"You know, grew up in Detroit...."

>"Woah, really? What's it like?"

"Fewer toxic mutants but more burning trash barrels. I never saw anyone act like that though-"

Onscreen, mayhem is occurring, but its the very 80's type of mayhem that involves a lot of capering and laughing while invading people's personal space. At least Kurtwood Smith manages to cut a fairly intimidating figure compared to his giggling henchmen.
"Anyone prancing around like that would get his ass beat in a second...."

You can't remember the last time you enjoyed watching a movie this much.
Nate opens up a bag of chips and sits between you and Zeke and you force yourself to not to pay attention when Zeke grabs a handful of chips. The next time he reaches for the bag, Nate is ready for him, "accidentally" bumping his hand against his wrist. The moment he makes contact the both of them kind of space out, more so than usual in Zeke's case.
No. 649132 ID: defceb

You should probably get Nate a pillow or something to flop back on to when he snaps out of it.
No. 649134 ID: bb78f2

So... yeah, Nate CAN read minds. It's real.
No. 649135 ID: e114bc

Ah, so it does look different from the outside. Observe. Maybe take notes. Ask if they can still hear you.
No. 649136 ID: a141b0

Whatever you do, be careful not to come into direct contact with either of them. Nate is for obvious reasons, but in Zeke's case it's a precaution.

A part of you is in Nate's head at the moment, and we can infer that is part of the reason touching him in the same way he needs to touch other people has an effect. Nate, at the moment though, is inside Zeke's head and we have no idea what touching either of them will do.

Of course, touching the bugs also has a similar effect, but you can't see the bugs so hopefully the invisible wasps or bees don't start getting all exploratory and land on you.
No. 649146 ID: 0fc976

Too bad we can't come along for the ride. Gotta wonder what's going on in there. Just make sure nothing disturbs these two for now.
No. 649210 ID: c352f6

Go touch Zeke as well! Get in on the mind shenanigans.
No. 649214 ID: 791ae5

No. You know what we must do. You must draw on their faces. Well, maybe not. Kinda a small violation of trust. Pretty funny, though.
No. 649232 ID: a599c3

Well shit, its real.
Might be a good time to either poke Zeke, or grab a marker and apply crudely drawn dicks to their faces.
No. 649243 ID: e114bc

You don't know Zeke as well as Nate does. I don't think you should go looking in his head.
No. 649367 ID: d4a543

Pull one of the cushions Zeke's not using off the couch and lay it out behind Nate, so he'll land safely if he slumps backward.

While you wait, get two pieces of paper, pens (not pencils), and some sort of portable hard surface to write on. Books or CD cases might work. Assemble one in each hand, board underneath, pen on top, paper in the middle, like a clipboard with your thumb for the clip.

Soon as they snap out of it, hand over the prepared note-taking kits. Zeke gets the one in your left hand, Nate gets the right. Tell the junior psychonauts not to say anything out loud, but instead to write down everything they just saw and did in as much detail as possible. Organic short-term memory is volatile on a scale of twenty minutes or less, and the system's write transaction to long-term has the shittiest lossy compression known to Man baked right in, so it's external backup time.

Maybe have Nate do his transcription in the bathroom so they can't contaminate the process by looking at each other while writing. If the notes match as closely as two peoples' description of the same event reasonably could, that's approaching the sort of evidence which could convince a professional skeptic.
No. 649371 ID: c2fb88

If you are not joining them you are on guard duty. Make sure the door is locked and that they are safe while they do the thing. Have had enough people get hurt over this mess already.
No. 649721 ID: 557bac
File 143485287664.png - (146.49KB , 600x475 , 4-61.png )

You suppose Nate must have successfully entered Zeke's mind.
Unsure of what to do, you decide to leave them be while Nate looks around. You tug at the bag of chips and Nate dreamily lets go, so you help yourself and continue to watch the movie. You don't find it nearly as fun without them.

As the movie starts to wind into the third act you start to wonder how long this is supposed to take. Honestly, this is starting to creep you out.
No. 649724 ID: d90668

Hmm I am pretty sure it was near instant before. Maybe you have to be in there with them for it to start up. They could be stuck waiting for you.

Or could just take awhile.

Fuck it. Go double check that all the doors and windows are securely locked and grab one of there shoulders.
No. 649745 ID: 0fc976

Resist the urge to interfere! You can have all the snacks to yourself while they're off in wonderland.
No. 649750 ID: e114bc

Well, you did phrase it as "we" would go into his mind. He said okay, so go on, touch Zeke. From an angle at which he would be unawares, I guess.
No. 649762 ID: ea0ad9

If you enter his mind (or even just TRY to do so), make sure the door is shut and locked. Don't want somebody barging in while the entire gang is out.
No. 649775 ID: a599c3

When Nate tapped you, it only took mere seconds to complete right? Something MAY have gone wrong, you might wanna try to do something.
No. 649870 ID: 04ed7a

Well... He DID Say the not even himself was sure about what We might find in there... So We MIGHT have to worry a bit.

But First, let's make sure no intruders can get in.
No. 649879 ID: 4f5d1d


we fucked up.
either nate's been trapped there for days in his perspective or this is gonna take days to finish.
in either case, it could be a good idea to join in, or atleast part their hands maybe.
No. 649880 ID: 561b41

This intrusive voice will join the crowd in shouting "Make sure all the doors and windows are locked!" Aside from that...

Plot logic basically says that if you try to interfere it will be at the worse moment possible. No getting around that. Besides, this has happened maybe three times... there is no basis for how long this should actually take.

With that said... you are Nate's tether. No matter where you and him go as a romantic couple, in this situation right here and now YOU are the person he can depend on in this weird and crazy part of his own self he has only just discovered. If you feel he's in trouble, you need to act, but only if YOU feel he's in trouble... not if a million intrusive voices are bugging you to do so.

If you need a suggestion on how to decide... think back to the feeling you had when you just KNEW Nate was in trouble during the fire alarm. Are you feeling that feeling right now? If so, act. If not, wait a bit longer.
No. 650007 ID: 350a50

This sounds reasonable.
No. 650211 ID: 557bac
File 143502683723.png - (182.33KB , 800x526 , 4-62.png )

Worried, you see to it that the door is locked and decide to check on them. You reach out and touch Nate's hand, unsure if it will accomplish anything at all.

You feel dizzy for a moment and find yourself suddenly dazzled by sunlight.
No. 650215 ID: e114bc

Oh, this is a nice place. I don't see anyone... head further in along the bridge I guess.
No. 650230 ID: 0fc976

Oh snap, it's that stone island from that puzzle game, Fog or something! Look for a pump system, or a generator... or your friends. Right.
No. 650242 ID: bb78f2

Reminds me of a Myst level.
Huh, Zeke must have been an adventure game fan when he was little.

Well, okay go up the path.
No. 650257 ID: a19cd5

Oh god, now we have to solve MOON LOGIC PUZZLES
No. 650262 ID: 350a50

Don't look at your reflection.
Reflections in lucid dreams are supposed to be terrifying. This is probably similar.
No. 650274 ID: 712677

Did we just enter a TLoZ level?
No. 650314 ID: ea0ad9

It's hard to tell from a distance, but it looks like there might be huts along the scaffolding connecting those rocks. Check there.
No. 650612 ID: cdec48

See if there's anyone in the rock shelters.
No. 650686 ID: a599c3

No wonder they got stuck, that compass puzzle is really confusing ya know.
No. 650712 ID: f61b8d

It may be of note that he touched Nate's hand, rather than Zeke. Perhaps he ended up in Nate's head, while the other two are in Zeke's?
No. 650752 ID: 557bac
File 143528254887.png - (220.79KB , 600x600 , 4-65.png )

The only sounds are a gentle lapping of water against the pier and the snapping of strange red flags in the wind.
"So this is what its like in someone else's mind? Weird..."

Treading cautiously, you cross the crudely made walkway to the stone island. You climb the wooden ramp/stairs to a deck assembled at the top and take in the surreal landscape. It looks like these pinnacles are the only land in sight. Small shacks are perched on the larger stones, and connected by bridges and catwalks.
No. 650753 ID: 557bac
File 143528255409.png - (195.50KB , 600x600 , 4-66.png )

You check out the hut occupying one corner of the wooden deck: its scarcely larger than a phone booth and shut with a simple wooden latch. The door opens with a creak and you peek inside. The simple room is filled with a cloying, sweet smell and you hear something move in the darkness.
No. 650756 ID: 0fc976

Welp. Next hut.
No. 650758 ID: bd8b82

keep it that open and say hello, you must be one of those mind wasps
No. 650766 ID: a599c3

hah nope, mind wasps arent cool
No. 650768 ID: 33c711

...Is it a wasp or a Bee?
No. 650770 ID: 0d5aae

That's definitely a bee.
No. 650799 ID: e114bc

It's one of his bees. You know that the guardians of the mind are hostile if you attempt to approach anything vaguely important. This looks important so don't go inside. You don't even have your own guardian to protect you!

Or maybe you do but you can't see it.
No. 650812 ID: 350a50

No. 651192 ID: 557bac
File 143543875493.png - (274.36KB , 600x600 , 4-67.png )

Quickly you back away from the shack. There's a rustling inside and the bee, standing on its hind legs, steps into the sunlight. An easy 7 feet tall, suddenly the adorable, bumbly, fuzzy little bug looks more like a bristly, vicious, stinger-wielding nightmare.

"Sorry! Sorry! -Didn't mean to, er... intrude. I was j- just looking for someone."

It stands in the doorway impassively, one of its appendages glistening with honey.
No. 651193 ID: d10392

No. 651196 ID: defceb

t-take the honey? It looks like it's offering it to you.
No. 651197 ID: e114bc

Um... hang on... I wonder if the bees are docile because he's high.

Ask if it's seen anyone else in here. Keep a respectful distance, and don't take any honey if it's offering. It'll probably make you high too.
No. 651280 ID: 39e1e7

Well... It doesn't seem to be trying to sting you. Maybe is trying to communicate with us in someway?
No. 651326 ID: d3daa8

back away, head low, don't make eye contact

or alternatively take the honey. see what happens.

Oh I get it, like smoking out a hive.
No. 651339 ID: 0fc976

"Oh, uh, sorry, I didn't know you were... bzzzy."
No. 651465 ID: cdec48

Consume mind honey, gain superpowers.
No. 651475 ID: 7a1b80

seconding this, beeman clearly high as fuck
No. 651501 ID: 557bac
File 143553689042.png - (131.33KB , 398x600 , 4-68.png )

The bee motions with its honey-covered appendage.

"For me?"
You cup your hands and hold them out, still not wanting to get too close to the bug. It slowly upends the golden blob into your outstretched hands.
"Er.... thanks?"
No. 651502 ID: 557bac
File 143553690214.png - (96.81KB , 600x393 , 4-69.png )

Its compound eyes continue to stare through you and its antenna twitch with expectation. Not wanting to offend the creature, you hesitantly taste the ooze. It has an overwhelming sweetness that nearly masks a slight acrid taste.
No. 651503 ID: 557bac
File 143553691216.png - (252.22KB , 600x600 , 4-70.png )

Satisfied, the Bee turns on its chitinous heel and strides back into the shack.

"Wait! Have you seen anyone else like me? There should be two of them...."
No. 651504 ID: e114bc

I think you're about to see some Cool Shit now, Diego. Look around.
No. 651507 ID: d90668

Did he just give you lcd laced honey? Well this should be fun.
No. 651530 ID: 0fc976

Buzz off, dude, I think you're about to feel a buzz. You don't wanna make it go buzzerk. Help I can't stop making bee puns
No. 651604 ID: 57d76a

You should probabee see someone about that.

i'm sorry it's so terrible
No. 651623 ID: f4d940

No. 652005 ID: a599c3

Diego, i think we now know why Nate and Zeke haven't come to yet, they got super mind-high and are rolling around in lsd land.
No. 652104 ID: 557bac
File 143571544552.png - (197.56KB , 600x600 , 4-71.png )

You try to follow him but your head is spinning and your fingers are tingling. An overwhelming floral scent fills your senses and makes it hard to concentrate. You aren't sure why you didn't notice it before, but its positively entrancing.

It seems to be coming from one of the rock islands in the distance.
No. 652105 ID: 9297f4

No Diego, you are the bee. Just follow your nose.
No. 652107 ID: defceb

Flap your bee wings and fly over there
No. 652119 ID: 540fa6

Keep on the path, and look at the waters below, rocks and seas are a dangerous combination.
No. 652128 ID: 0fc976

You're a crocodile. Or maybe an alligator? Stalk your prey from the water.
No. 652129 ID: a599c3

Fly Diego, let loose the beautiful bee that you are.
No. 652175 ID: 57d76a

Um. You should probably not go there. It screams bad end.
No. 652176 ID: 350a50

Go right down the path.
No. 652230 ID: ea0ad9

Chances are, the honey allowed you to notice that scent. Maybe it connected you to one of the others somehow.
No. 652231 ID: ea0ad9

Alligator. Crocodiles have a bulb on their snout.
No. 652690 ID: 557bac
File 143588671358.png - (156.86KB , 600x516 , 4-72.png )

You absolutely must investigate this smell.
You don't have any way over there, but for some reason that doesn't bother you. You step off the boardwalk and bobbing through the air unsteadily, you seek out the source of the odor. See? Nothing to worry about. Rising into the air, you leave the rocks and ocean bee-hind.
Someone suppresses a giggle, and it takes you a moment to register that it was you...
No. 652691 ID: 557bac
File 143588672117.png - (170.44KB , 600x600 , 4-73.png )

The scent seems to be taking you to the largest island in the archipelago. As you bumble your way around to the far side of the stone, a massive, gnarled tree comes into view. Its boughs hang heavy with richly scented blossoms and bustle with hard working bees.
No. 652694 ID: 0fc976

Remember, you're looking for your friends.
What if friends were bees?
No. 652696 ID: 849b2b


Forget friends, get honey.
No. 652706 ID: b27a55

Ask the bees politely for more honey. You don't want to get stung or anything, so better be careful!
No. 652710 ID: 742b4a

Why would we need more honey? There's still more uneaten, on Diego's hands.

Go sniff the flower a little closer. Go check out where they're bringing the nectar! Blend in. Don't draw attention to yourself.
No. 652715 ID: f4d940

Uhh...try not to totally lose yourself in beeing a bee.
No. 652735 ID: 57d76a

Aren't you thirsty? You should fly down to drink some water and have a big wave crash all over your head and sober you up.
No. 652846 ID: d3daa8

disguise yourself as a bee, go and follow the scent

also >>652715
No. 653088 ID: 557bac
File 143606271042.png - (222.59KB , 600x600 , 4-74.png )

You bring yourself closer to the tree, the scent of pollen is everywhere and bees fly from blossom to blossom paying little attention to you. The tree creaks in the wind, and its roots grapple desperately with the thin soil and hard stone. A massive tether holds it in place, anchored somewhere inside a large structure hanging from the cliff face.

You try to remember that you are looking for someone and suppress the urge to bury yourself in the flowers. For the time bee-ing, you manage to keep it together, although you are still feeling kind of giggly.

Something however is bothering you; there's another scent in the wind that has a strange sobering effect. Alert and worried, you cast your eyes around for the source, noticing a jumble of bees wrestling with something outside of their hive.
No. 653089 ID: 742b4a

Go check out the disturbance. It might be Nate.
No. 653090 ID: 0fc976

Try to float like a butterfly, instead barrel into the hairball like a bumble-bee.
No. 653128 ID: 350a50

Take out the Rotator Saw from your back pocket in case you need it.
No. 653565 ID: 557bac
File 143623203509.png - (265.25KB , 600x505 , 4-75.png )

You cautiously buzz closer to the hive. The writhing pile of bees is too tightly packed to see what is under it, but it appears to be... steaming?

As you watch, a hand pushes its way out of the melee. Its fingers wrapped in tape, the hand paws weakly at the air but the insects ignore its struggles.

You feel dizzy, taking you a moment to find your voice again.
No. 653569 ID: bd8b82

pull hand.
No. 653570 ID: e114bc

Why didn't he just wake up? Go shove honey in the bees' mouths to pacify them and then pull Nate out.
No. 653572 ID: d90668

Don't bees pile over big invaders and heat up to try and cook them?

Anyways get him out of there quick!
No. 653576 ID: bb78f2

That doesn't look like a melee, that looks like a snuggle pile.
No. 653587 ID: f61b8d

Oh. At first I was like, "what the heck are you talking about", but then I looked it up, and apparently that's a thing they do to WASPS in particular. Ooops. Yeah, try to retrieve him.
No. 653589 ID: f61b8d

Also, side bit: all the articles I see specify Japanese honey bees as being the ones to use this tactic. Dunno if that means they're the only ones who can, or what.
No. 653600 ID: a599c3

Hahaha oh god
Pull hand and then ask Nate how the hell to wake up
No. 653704 ID: 24aae8

You still got some goop on your hands - use it on the bees to mellow them out!
No. 653760 ID: 2a7417

Yelll at bees until they stop. WHY CAN'T WE BEE FRIENDS?
No. 653845 ID: 557bac
File 143632437838.png - (169.87KB , 596x600 , 4-76.png )

You dash forward,grabbing Nate's hand you try to pull him out of the pile. There's a tearing noise and it comes off at the wrist. You stare at it for a moment: inside is a Papier-mâché like substance, something in there wriggles around and you drop it with a small yelp.
No. 653846 ID: 557bac
File 143632438848.png - (218.75KB , 600x600 , 4-77.png )

Holding your palms out, you try pacifying the bees with some of the honey still dripping from them. Some of their antennae perk up at the scent, but Nate is still trapped at the bottom of the bee-pile. With them calmed down, you try shifting some of them off of him. The insects are lighter than you thought they'd be, but latch onto the ground with a surprising amount of strength, resisting your attempts to move them.

Just as you are struggling with them, a massive shadow engulfs you. A blur bowls you aside and scatters the bees with a powerful swipe.
No. 653847 ID: e114bc

Holy shit, it's your Custodian! I wonder if it will have the same attitude as Nate.

Thank it for the assist, then see if you can help Nate. Hose him down with a conjured water hose maybe? Seltzer bottle? Then offer him his hand back with "Looked like you needed a hand there".
No. 653849 ID: 0fc976

OOH YEAAAAH! Pound it, beetle-bro.

Wait, where'd Nate go?!
No. 653860 ID: ea0ad9

Is that your custodian? Nate said it was a beetle, but that's... quite a bit more than just a beetle.
No. 653861 ID: 350a50

It's not just a beetle. It's a Hercules Beetle!
No. 653878 ID: a599c3

No. 653904 ID: 27c0e0

Fuck off bees it's dancing time!
Better hope he can tell you're not one of them.
No. 653912 ID: e0af58

lucha beetle slamdown!
No. 655395 ID: 557bac
File 143672684818.png - (95.50KB , 600x301 , 4-78.png )

The massive hulk stops in front of you as the dazed bees pick themselves up like a pack of clumsy puppies. You stare up at the huge, armored face; this must be your beetle, just like Nate said.

Finally free from the bee pile, Nate groans and rolls over on the ground covered in sweat. He reaches for you weakly with the papery stump of his missing hand.
No. 655396 ID: 557bac
File 143672685299.png - (176.52KB , 600x469 , 4-79.png )

You put on a friendly smile and lean over him.
"Its me, Nate. Are you okay?"

As soon as he sees you, Nate's lips peel back in a horrified scream.
No. 655398 ID: e114bc

You might wanna doff your disguise now that you have beetle protection.

Also hand him his hand back. Ask what's with that, is he some kind of living hive?
No. 655404 ID: 696535

"Why are you screaming?"
Back away just to be safe?
No. 655413 ID: defceb

Nonononono, get closer.

Nothing can go wrong.
No. 655446 ID: 0fc976

You're a crocodile, you git! What did you expect? Exchange your bee guise for a beetle-themed one.
No. 655461 ID: c8770e

give him back his hand
No. 655563 ID: 350a50

Don't bee afraid, Nate! I may be buzzling to understand, but I'm here too now.
No. 655703 ID: 825af6

What the-? Oh, crap, did something sneak up behind you?! Spin around and check. If it's clear back there then something else has terrified Nate. Ask him what it is while you quickly retrieve his hand and give it back to him. Then ask him what happened after he entered Zeke's mind and let him know it's been almost an hour outside since he did. Did he see Zeke at all in here?

You better get on the move. You don't know if or how soon the bees will react to this. Nate looks to be in no state to move on his own, so would be okay being carried by your beetle? Heck, he might be light enough for you to carry, leaving your free to fight if things get hairy.
No. 656157 ID: 557bac
File 143700683562.png - (93.36KB , 318x600 , 4-80.png )

Nate shudders, his face twisted up in disgust like a gargoyle.
>"Diego, what the hell happened?"

Your eyes are drawn down your hands and the honey still clinging the palms.
"I tasted their honey, and then I ended up here, I think... What happened to you? Are you alright?"

Nate shakes his head as if something were rattling loose inside.
>"I wanted to check out that rope: the wasps mentioned that we need a tether and I thought it might work. As soon as I touched down, though, they dogpiled me."
He looks at his arm.
>"Where's my hand?"

You give it back to him, getting honey on it in the process.
"Sorry about that..."

Nate turns it this way and that, unsure of what to do with it. He sighs.
>"Its okay. Not the first time."
No. 656158 ID: 557bac
File 143700684407.png - (205.55KB , 600x494 , 4-81.png )

If I may interject...

The beetle's voice is the whisper of something incredible massive trying to be polite, like a professional wrestler in a library.

We are still surrounded.

The bees, having shaken off the attack, move in to surround you. They eye your group suspiciously, and the beetle postures threateningly.
No. 656159 ID: d90668

Pass Nate a glob of honey. If it worked for you it should work for him.
No. 656160 ID: ea0ad9

He wasn't so comfortable with bugs usually, but it may be the best choice.
No. 656161 ID: 334db2

looks like it's time for us to buzz off.
No. 656162 ID: e114bc

Well they kindof need that rope, don't they? It's holding the tree in place. I don't think we should take it. What about the streamers between the rocks? Those are similar, so they might work, and they're not needed here for the honey collection operation.

Then again, considering the honey is a drug, maybe it would be better if the bees stopped producing it. Might not be healthy for Zeke. Choices, choices... We need more information.

Ask where Zeke is.
...waaaaait a minute. Was that first bee Zeke? If eating the honey makes you more bee-like... if Zeke's parallel ate a lot of it then he might have fully turned into one. Do these bees look different from that first bee?
No. 656165 ID: 0fc976

Questions can be asked while you are flying away with your papier mache pal and burly beetle bodyguard. To the skies!
No. 656172 ID: bb78f2

Beetleman, why would Nate's protectors just hugpile him to death? Would you hugpile me or perform a beetle equivalent action under a circumstance, Beetle?

We must FLY beetle. Nate, what's Zeke's bugtype? We need to find it as quick as possible.
No. 656174 ID: e114bc

Those were Zeke's protectors. Bees, not wasps. They were trying to kill/drive out Nate by overheating him.
No. 656177 ID: d90668

Nate made the mistake of trying to look at a possible tether before asking Zeke if it was ok to do so.

Need to find Zeke before riling up his guardians.
No. 656178 ID: bb78f2

Yeah, but Nate didn't make the distinction at first because he called them his wasps, and I don't think Diego knows, so I'm trying to make Nate go "Oh FUCK me I forgot, I'm such an idiot" by asking a reasonable question for Diego to ask.

I just want it to be clear to the both of them that Nate needs to summon his actual wasps now, since I think he thought his own were attacking him so he didn't really fight and was mostly confused.
No. 656179 ID: e114bc

He didn't call the bees his wasps though?
No. 656181 ID: bb78f2

I thought he did. He wasps aren't nearby, so I thought he thought his wasps were attacking him and confused the bees for wasps. Weird reading comprehension on my part I guess.

Still, Diego should probably ask the question to Nate because I don't think Diego would have fully differentiated the wasp and bees since he doesn't know Zeke's bug. Maybe he figured it out, I don't know. So many types of bees, how can a man tell the difference without a guide at hand?
No. 656183 ID: a141b0

" the wasps mentioned that we need a tether and I thought it might work. As soon as I touched down, though, they dogpiled me." Grammatically, the use of they is questionable. We have no indication at the moment that the wasps are even present.

Custodians can be VERY protective of their hives. Remember how the beetle reacted at first to Nate even touching Diego?

At the moment we should probably focus on getting away from this perilous location. I doubt Nate eating the honey would be a good idea until we figure more things out. As for running away... ask if we can carry him. It's an honest question if we even can with his fragile body, but we've already seen that just holding onto him is a bad idea so cradling him might be the only option.
No. 656235 ID: 937a79

lucha beetle > rude wasps

do we fight the bees? where the fuck is zeke? are the bees zeke's? what's with the honey? why did it take you guys so long?
No. 656749 ID: 557bac
File 143725450067.png - (149.67KB , 600x552 , 4-82.png )

You hold your oozing palms out for him,
"Quick, Nate, try the honey!"

He waivers.
>"Are you sure?"

"They think you're an intruder, I think the honey will make you one of them."

You can tell the thought nauseates him, but Nate takes a blob of the strange honey in his trembling fingers and tastes it. He shudders and rubs his eyes, swaying slightly.
No. 656750 ID: 557bac
File 143725454323.png - (108.67KB , 600x498 , 4-83.png )

Your attention is drawn back to the bees which stop their advance and antennae waving, start to lose interest. Your massive guardian puts its fists down and rests on its knuckles.

Nate's eyes glitter like jewels.
>"Diego? Oh, man.. this is weird..."

"You get used to it. But yeah, its pretty weird. So about this tether? It looks like it might be kind of important... It seems to be holding up the tree. Are you sure you want to take it?"

>"I don't know yet. That's why I wanted to check out what's in that hive...."
No. 656752 ID: e114bc

Well we should be able to do that now. Let's go see if we can just walk in.
No. 656754 ID: 0fc976

I'd bee careful about heading towards the queen bee when you're both under the influence (of honey). One of you should stay back, preferably Diego since he has no idea what he would be looking for and has a big beefy beetle to back him up.
No. 656755 ID: bd8b82

try to stick that hand back on.
No. 656786 ID: bb78f2

Well, we gotta find Zeke.
No. 657226 ID: 557bac
File 143744238515.png - (142.20KB , 700x344 , 4-84.png )

Your group cautiously approaches the entrance to the hive. You can feel yourself being eyed by wary guards, but no one moves to stop you.
The inside of the hive is a vast and strange landscape of organic and geometric shapes. You follow the crimson tethers between the honeycombs until you find yourself in the center of the structure.
No. 657232 ID: 9297f4

Ready fists to punch a bee.
No. 657233 ID: 0fc976

Must have been one helluva party last night, huh Zeke?
No. 657262 ID: a599c3

Alright, cutting down those rope-things should free Zeke, although we need to actually catch him, both of which Diego's custodian can do, but then we'd be swarmed by giant wasps.

Diego, fly up to the ropes and try to chew through them, while Nate holds on to Zeke, hopefully the wasps wont care.
No. 657268 ID: ea0ad9

Those are bees, not wasps. Wasps are Nate's custodian.

>Zeke is tied up at the center
Ummm if this is supposed to represent a person's state of mind, then perhaps holding his mind together is taxing him?
No. 657269 ID: 350a50

Or he's tethered to something he can't let go of, and it keeps him trapped. Like Diego was anchored to his past and what he left behind.

Might be something Zeke regrets, or addiction (he could be fighting an addiction to something worse than weed, and seeing the Doc about it).
No. 657273 ID: e114bc

Hmm. Taking the symbolism further... he's here in the middle of the beehive, tied to a rock which a tree is using for support. The tree is the source of the drug-honey...

I dunno, this feels backwards. If the tree represents his drug habit, that he uses to cope with something, shouldn't it be supporting him, rather than the other way around? Why is he tied to the anchor for the tether?
Or am I looking at this wrong? Do the tethers not support the tree's weight, and they just symbolize a link? The link being his drug habit? Or is the link the REASON for the drug habit?

Whatever the case, I'm sure the right thing to do is to free Zeke and get permission to take the tether, but we have to remember that getting close to him will provoke the bee guardians. We should talk to him about what this all means before doubling down and interfering. Diego would want to summon his beetle when the fighting is about to stat, too.
No. 657379 ID: 584678

Attempt communication before attempting rescue.
No. 657484 ID: d4a543

Why would it need to be something worse than weed?

Don't need to approach, just shout from a distance to ask whether he's willing to donate his drug habit to save the world. Then, assuming a yes, Nate grabs the tether somewhere in the middle and 'ports to his space-dream.
No. 657513 ID: a141b0

As humorous as this might be in action, I think Nate might have a weight and/or volume limit to how much he can port over. Largest object so far has been the huge memory brick from Diego's mind, but that was in free fall when it happened.

Yeah. Talk it out without getting too close and find out what is really going on. If the tree really is symbolism for an addictive substance, than cutting him away from it cold turkey would be a bad idea. Theoretically you would need to replace it with something... but I'm a little afraid of the implications of with what?
No. 657518 ID: 7cb2ad

What do you mean? What could Nate or Diego possibly use to replace Zeke's addiction?

our dick
No. 657525 ID: 350a50

He would need to deal with withdrawal, yeah, but aren't there places he can go for that? We'd just be removing the mental compulsion.
No. 657537 ID: f61b8d

Hmm. Maybe it's, like - the tree needs supporting. Assuming the rope is drugs I'm not saying it's drugs...but it's drugs (or even if it's something else he's using to cope), maybe it's working for the purpose of supporting the tree (coping with something, maybe), but also keeping him bound.

Also, while the honey seems kinda drug-like, it may not actually bee. Zeke's mind-bugs are bees, which both make and require honey. The honey may very well be an inherently integral part of the functioning of his mind.

In any case, I'd like to add my weight to the party advocating that we collect enough information before tampering with someone's mind (though it could be argued that such an amount of information is unreachable).
No. 657539 ID: f61b8d

So I guess...
No. 657576 ID: a141b0

That is an interesting look at things. If we assume that the honey is an essential part of Zeke's mind, then maybe the tree is something essential too... like love/joy/happiness. The drugs might then be one of the things holding him together, even if it's in an superficial potentially self destructive way.

...more or less. Getting involved in an increasingly larger love dodecahedron is something we should probably avoid, and the first step to doing that is avoiding love triangles no matter how harmless (or appealing) it might appear to be. It's part of what Doctor Cooper warned Nate concerning responsibility.
No. 657578 ID: 557bac
File 143761052075.png - (181.65KB , 600x600 , 4-85.png )

Zeke lies with his back strapped to the stone. The rope snakes its way around his body, pinning his arms to his sides and coiling between his legs and there's even a loop that runs through his mouth. Suddenly his body shudders and his back arches violently. His limbs spasm wildly against their bonds and veins stand out in his neck as his jaw clamps down on the rope.
No. 657579 ID: 557bac
File 143761053172.png - (167.83KB , 457x600 , 4-86.png )

A bee scurries up to Zeke's heaving body and gently takes his head between its pincers. It carefully lifts his head and dribbles a dollop of honey between his straining teeth. After a moment the episode subsides, leaving him coughing and groaning.
No. 657581 ID: e114bc

...was that a seizure? It looks like the tether is keeping him from hurting himself. Yeah we're not going to fuck with this situation. It could be very dangerous for him if he was not tended to by the bees.

Ask him if he can talk.
No. 657582 ID: d90668

Ok I am guessing that he started self medicating because of depression or something and now his bees are doing there best to help him stay drugged up.

Every time his unconscious mind starts thinking about his problems it hurts him so the bees drug him because they think its the best way to stop the pain. Of course its only dealing with the symptoms and not the root of the issue.

I would very slowly try and climb up there and get his mouth loose. Worst case you might have to fight off his bees and kidnap him so you can get to the root of his issues.
No. 657608 ID: a141b0

Seizure or self medication... yeah. Hard to judge here.

As a voice of reason, though, I will say that whatever you do should not involve wrecking the place. That is what the enemy has been doing; we can be better than that.

With that said... we need more information and I don't think we'll get it from Zeke in his current condition. Nate mentioned talking to his wasps before... maybe you should talk to your beetle about what's going on?
No. 657630 ID: ea0ad9

Whoa, being bound up during body spasms is harmful. The involuntary movements pull the muscles harder than voluntary movements would against restraints, potentially dislocating, if not breaking the limbs.

Probably better to leave him somewhere with more space, like one of the honeycomb chambers they use for larva. Locate a series of empty, gooey, or webby combs and it should be safe to place him within an empty one there, as that's a Brood segment.
No. 657719 ID: f61b8d

Well, at the very least, he's been like that a while, so it's probably not doing significantly more damage. Still best not to mess with anything just yet. See if you can talk to Zeke, the bees, the beetle, or the wasps (if they're around). Might be hard to talk to Zeke with that cord in his mouth - see if he's conscious first.
No. 657752 ID: 39ba99

Are those... prayer flags hanging from the ropes?

The way Zeke's being bound to that stone reminds me of Shinto marking of a sacred space or object with rope. That the bees here have a defense like the Apis cerana japonica seems to correlate to this theory

Oh the term is Shimenawa for the ropes and Yorishiro for objects such as the tree and stone. Disturbing them without proper rites is thought to cause grave misfortune. I think we should tread very carefully here.

In any case, we need to understand the context of why Zeke's mentalscape takes this form. Ask Nate if he has any ideas during his interaction with Zeke.

(also anybody think having Dr. Cooper along these trips would actually help? Or at least this one specifically? )
No. 657774 ID: 350a50

I think having an actual psychologist along on psychic mindscape adventures would probably help, yes.
No. 657783 ID: db48ef

It seems our ferret friend is the victim of an addictive mentality.
No. 657895 ID: 557bac
File 143779269997.png - (114.04KB , 538x600 , 4-87.png )

>"What do we do? Is he okay?"

"I don't know, was that a seizure? I'm worried that taking him down will dislodge the tree: with no tree, there's no honey, and it looks like the honey stops the attacks. Does he have epilepsy or something?"

Nate shrugs.
>"If he does, he's never mentioned anything about it."

You hiss at Zeke in a stage whisper, and he stirs.
"Psst! Zeke! You okay?"

Zeke grumbles and raises his head vaguely in your direction. The bees thrum a warning at you with their wings but stay put. Your mouth twists up in a frustrated scowl.
"I think we'll just end up doing more harm than good if we yank him out of there. I think we should probably hold off until we get more info."

Nate sighs and nods.
>"So what now? Should we keep looking around in here? Or should we back out?"
No. 657896 ID: d90668

Keep looking around a bit. You might find something that will give you a hint.
No. 657897 ID: 39ba99

Consider do either one of you two play music or sing? Music might be a better way to communicate. That and you're surrounded by bees.

And hey music has been reported to help ease some conditions.
No. 657900 ID: e114bc

The bees don't want you interacting with Zeke in any way. Obey the warning. Just explore for now.
No. 657924 ID: 8003be

It's a metaphor, just like with your dreams. In your dreams, the heavy block represented memories, or past experiences that you couldn't let go of - by physically altering that dream, Nate helped you past that, somehow. This must be the same thing - The bindings could represent how Zeke's 'trapped' in a cycle of addiction, and the honey could represent the drugs themselves - but this is all just speculation on my part, of course.
No. 657925 ID: 8003be

The 'attacks' he's having probably is reminiscent of withdrawl, from a lack of the honey, as well.
No. 657926 ID: bd8b82

sometimes people need drastic measures. internal intervention. he needs to learn he is in charge of the bees, not the other way around.
No. 657932 ID: 39ba99


Yet if he is under the grip of an addiction, perhaps it would be better to try and redirect his addiction?

Or wait... doesn't Zeke seem to be taking on the role of the queen bee in the hive? He's being taken care of and reliant entirely on his bee guardians.
No. 657933 ID: e114bc

Well that's similar but it's not like he's breeding more bees.

...maybe we can find the queen? I expect it would be more talkative than all the drones we've met so far.
No. 658187 ID: a141b0

Seconded. Finding the queen would be the smartest thing... just don't get too close.
No. 658681 ID: 557bac
File 143805039957.png - (206.62KB , 600x494 , 4-88.png )

You decide to keep searching the hive, keeping your distance from the wary insects. You wander for what seems like hours through the maze of combs. You're unsure of what you are looking for but after a while you notice something unusual amid the waxy labyrinth. There's an open cell mostly filled with a thick white substance. A bee pushes past the pair of you and drools into the ooze.
No. 658686 ID: 0fc976

Do your part for the hive! Spit into the mixture yourselves.
No. 658698 ID: 19291b

Seconded, contribute.
No. 658705 ID: 9297f4

Is it me, or are you becoming less bee-like?
No. 658706 ID: e114bc

Oh my god don't spit in it. That's royal jelly! All larvae are fed by it, but if it's not meant to be a queen they stop feeding the larvae after three days.

...I wonder what would happen if you ate some? Or if you fed some to Zeke? Trying to do the latter would likely aggro the bees. I guess Diego can experiment by eating a little.
No. 658717 ID: e607cd

yeah, bee traits are wearing off. Could be interesting soon.
No. 658726 ID: 350a50

If eating honey makes them into bees, will royal jelly make them into queens?
No. 658729 ID: defceb

Will it make them into drag queens?
No. 658747 ID: 19291b

So Zeke is the drone that's only tolerated until the beginning of winter?
No. 658768 ID: f4d940

Yeah, don't spit in it.
Mmmmaybe consider dipping a finger in for a small taste. Possibly a bad idea.
Other options: try to figure out where it comes from, and/or where it goes.
No. 658830 ID: a141b0

This. Tracing it back to it's source would be the most sane option for figuring out what it really is. Certainly saner than trying to taste it. If it is Royal Jelly, feeding it to Zeke might be a solution to restoring order.

Oh, and yes. You do appear to be a lot less bee at the moment, Diego.
No. 658873 ID: ea0ad9

Looks like a Brood cell. Larva are placed in those for about three days to consume the royal jelly, which allows them to grow into a full fledged bee--Princess larva are kept in longer, as it takes more than three days to get the bee's ovaries working. ...Of course, this being a dream representation, I doubt it goes by the same rules, but it'd still be a good place to put Zeke if you did release him. Allow him to go from "Pacified into his role" to "Matured into his role." I'm sure that would help a lot more.
No. 659045 ID: 350a50

This does sound logical.
No. 659443 ID: 557bac
File 143830630305.png - (101.50KB , 600x470 , 4-89.png )

"Maybe we should put Zeke in this we can stop the seizures. I'm not sure what this goo will do to him, though. What do you think?"

>"Er, I don't want to worry you."
Nate says, looking pretty anxious himself.
>"But you're not a bee anymore..."

You realize that you're feeling much more lucid, and exposed. You also realize that a number of bees have taken note of your presence and don't look happy.
No. 659445 ID: d90668

Sip some of the royal jelly. You know you want to.
No. 659448 ID: e114bc

Got any honey left? Second dose would work.
No. 659463 ID: 0441ec

Agree, become the queens.
No. 659472 ID: 350a50

Guzzle down that white stuff.
No. 659518 ID: 0fc976

Start a food fight!
No. 659680 ID: a141b0

If you have any honey left on your hands, snacking on some would be a good idea. Eating the royal jelly WOULD NOT be a good idea. I would suggest a cautious retreat over eating one of the most precious substances in the hive... particularly if we need it for Zeke.
No. 659723 ID: 6898b5

Dear god, please, if you have more honey eat some.
No. 659752 ID: 557bac
File 143848238644.png - (128.86KB , 600x491 , 4-90.png )

With the bees closing in, you grab a handful of royal jelly, close your eyes and cram it in your mouth. As you swallow, you feel it flowing through you and filling your body with bizarre tingles.

Nate looks frozen with shock.
>"Diego, are youuuuu allllriiighhht????"
No. 659753 ID: 557bac
File 143848239355.png - (190.50KB , 374x600 , 4-91.png )

You feel as if the curtains have been pulled back from the world; laying bare the glittering celestial machinery underneath. You stare at Nate's moving mouth as he clearly is tries to communicate, but mere sound is lost in the strange sea of information you find yourself lost in.

As an engineer you think you can see the logic behind it all, but the language is ancient and indecipherable. The sky beyond is full of vast objects of immense importance, vital to the basic functions of the universe. Yet, each one is a fragile constellation of lights that could be scattered with a stray thought.
No. 659754 ID: 557bac
File 143848240821.png - (110.48KB , 449x600 , 4-92.png )

And beyond that are things that are even stranger.

No. 659759 ID: 350a50

i wonder how much SAN loss Diego just took
No. 659766 ID: 9d792f

hey look, I think I see the blue prints for the anti star mover
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