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File 143882717598.png - (136.18KB , 501x600 , 5-title.png )
660548 No. 660548 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
Chapter 4:http://tgchan.org/kusaba/questarch/res/623905.html

Wiki: http://tgchan.org/wiki/A_Conspiracy_of_Wasps
Discussion: http://tgchan.org/kusaba/questdis/res/81536.html
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No. 660549 ID: 557bac
File 143882730341.png - (191.48KB , 600x488 , 5-1.png )

You are Nathan Springer.
You are deep within the psyche of your neighbor, Zeke. Your friend, Diego, ingested a handful of royal jelly in order to avoid being attacked by Zeke's bee custodians.

Instinctively you back away, watching as parts of Diego's body flicker between bee and person and strange languages stream from his mouth. The bees still seem to be suspicious, and lurk in a silent circle around the pair of you.
No. 660550 ID: 5a02f7

... Oops.

Grab Diego and get ready to book it; the bees probably won't just keep watching for long, and I doubt they'll just make Diego the new drag queen.
No. 660551 ID: 0fc976

Eat the jelly too. maybe it'll help you understand Diego.
No. 660552 ID: defceb

Freak out at the gravity of the situation.
No. 660553 ID: e114bc

Ask the bees what's happening to him. If they don't answer, put your stump to your ear and try to whisper the same question to your wasps.
No. 660566 ID: 3663d3

help him anyway.
No. 660572 ID: 06d147

do note because of your bug-phobia, trying to physically help Diego at this moment would probably lead to a panic attack.

Possible avenues of attack in order of choice.

1. Try screaming out to Zeke to help them somehow. This is his mindscape, more or less. And you probably are on good enough terms for him to care about your wellbeing, so something helpful might happen on a subconscious thought.

2.You've got to go in Deeper Nathan, go mind walk into Diego's mind while you're mind walking in Zeke's head

3. Go and try to get Diego to invoke his beetles. Maybe they can do something to protect his mind.

4. Use your wasps, I think what they do is like steal honey and generally freeload? Have them take the royal jelly out of Diego.
No. 660577 ID: ea0ad9

Calling the wasps in will make the bees grow even more aggressive, though. Don't do that.
No. 660644 ID: d4a543

Dream up a power glove, to cover/replace your torn-off hand.
No. 660733 ID: a141b0

Option number three might be the most sane approach right now. Diego is basically the pinnacle of unaware at the moment, so jumping over to his mind and trying to stabilize things would be wiser than sticking around a bunch of hostile bees.

...I'm actually surprised Nate hasn't thought of this himself. Make it an actual Nintendo Power Glove for extra geek cred.
No. 660780 ID: 350a50

It didn't help the first time, let's not repeat it.
No. 660846 ID: 7efdba

I know it will make the bees more aggressive, and it might hurt zeke, but we can probably be sure that we can survive.

But anyway, we're a bit fucked. The disguise is running out and we're a man down, in enemy territory. What we really need is some armour that looks like a bee.
Also power glove asap.
No. 661580 ID: 557bac
File 143925757515.png - (233.29KB , 600x459 , 5-2.png )

Your fear paralyzes you for a moment, but as the creatures start to close in you grab Diego under the arms and try to drag him away from the group. But between his weight and your missing hand, you don't find yourself having much luck.

Looking around for a way out, you shake him in an attempt to wake him up.
"Diego, I could really use some help right now!"

There's a thud, followed by another and another. The bees suddenly take flight as a section of honeycomb is bulldozed aside by the massive beetle guardian. It pulls Diego out of your grasp with a massive honey covered appendage, and turns in retreat.
No. 661582 ID: e114bc

Follow the beetle to escape back to the entrance. Also grab some honey to refresh your disguise.

Once you're outside, take some of the streamers that are hanging between rocks. Don't bug Zeke, and don't mess with the streamers involved with his restraints.
No. 661586 ID: 350a50

This sounds the most logical and safe, as far as getting a piece of the tether.
No. 661587 ID: 195233

Agreed, and take a look at the streamers and see if there's any meaning to them.
No. 661625 ID: 0fc976

Take flight atop a cloud of wasps!
Or with a thruster pack, if you feel like being *boring*.
No. 662108 ID: 557bac
File 143951489264.png - (183.53KB , 600x600 , 5-3.png )

You test your wings and take off after the fleeing beetle. Bees swoop in to test the creatures' defenses but are warded off by the massive, armored flanks.

You emerge, blinking in the sunlight with a swarm of angry bees in tow.

"Hey! This way!"
The beetle unsheathes its wings and takes off with a vicious buzz of activity. Together you head to a nearby rock spire and you grab one of the long ropes tied to it. The stone shifts with a slight rumble, but stays upright.
No. 662109 ID: 557bac
File 143951490064.png - (134.81KB , 600x600 , 5-4.png )

You return to the hovering titan.
"Are you ready?"

Diego's beetle doesn't react, but allows you to place a cautious hand on it and pull it into your head-space.
Immediately, you feel the rope tugged out of your hand, and it drifts up to join the rest of the collection. However, the filaments of light connecting it has an unstable flicker to it.
No. 662111 ID: e114bc

Damn. It's a shitty tether. It kinda looks like we're going to need to get the main one... unless we can reinforce it somehow with a second tether.

Taking the main one is too risky right now. We need more info. First, ask the beetle if it knows what's happening to Diego. Second, ask your wasps if that tether is going to work, or if this endangers the mechanism. Heck ask your wasps about Diego too. We'll want to wake up soon and tell Zeke what we saw and what he makes of it, maybe he can tell us if it's safe to take his main tether.

Oh good, the drone's mechanism still only has three items in it. We're catching up.
No. 662113 ID: d90668

Well it will probably work for now but you had better keep helping Zeke with his problems or it might not hold up when you need it most.

But that can come later I think right now it's a good idea to get out of here and take care of Diego.
No. 662159 ID: 5a02f7

Pull-out, see to Diego in the real world. Also, tell Zeke just what the hell is going on in his head - maybe you'll get some insight into what these tethers are about?
No. 662163 ID: 3663d3

the problem is, if we fix his problem the tethers could cease to exist since he no longer needs them. them holding him together is why they are powerful.
No. 662171 ID: 8dde9a

Make sure to get the doctor with you, whether visiting Zeke's world again or discussing the meaning behind his inner world. We don't want to engage in any further mental damage to your neighbor/friend.
No. 662704 ID: fda42f

Ask the drone if its stable, ask it for advice getting the stronger tether, even though taking it completely negates it.

Consider constructing a wormhole at one end of Zeke's tether, connecting it to your head space, letting it link up with the mechanism and connecting the other end of the tether through a second wormhole back into Zeke's head.

Otherwise, dump the entire beehive into your headspace and let your wasps battle it out in home territory.
This wouldn't let you keep the tether, but you could almost certainly get rid of Zeke's problem.
No. 662795 ID: 350a50

>Otherwise, dump the entire beehive into your headspace and let your wasps battle it out in home territory.
That sounds like a good way to mentally destroy both of them.
No. 663056 ID: 557bac
File 143976557177.png - (94.96KB , 468x600 , 5-5.png )

You decide that you need to worry about the tether later. You take Diego's hand and concentrate, allowing yourself to sink back into the real world.

You awaken to see Zeke sitting up with concern written over his face.
>"Woah... hey what happened? Is he okay?"
Diego lays sprawled on the floor, twitching slightly.

"I think he's turning into a bee..."

>"Wait,what? Is that possible?"

"I have no idea. We ate some honey and it let us blend in with them, but he ate some royal jelly and then started to change."

>"Seriously? You did it? What'd you see?"

"Um... well, when we found you, you were bound to a stone. You were having what looked like a seizure."

Zeke looks as if he's just seen a ghost.
>"But...I haven't had an attack in years."
No. 663058 ID: e114bc

Yeah, that's because the bees fed your inner self honey and the seizure stopped. So, your bees are stopping the seizures before they happen to your outer body.

Tell him you didn't take the main tether inside him because you didn't want to screw with the bees' treatment of his seizures. You took a secondary tether, which... kindof works maybe? It's up to him if he wants to risk having seizures again in exchange for giving you a better tether.

Go inside Diego's head next and see if there's any way you can stop the transformation. Hang on, are the wasps willing to talk now that you're not under threat by bees? Ask them if you can stop Diego's transformation. You should stop it, right?
No. 663064 ID: f4d940

Uh, I guess we should...actually, first see about stabilizing Diego. Ask your wasps what's up with him. Maybe you should touch him and see what's happening in his mind space?

Once that's all settled, THEN tell Zeke the whole story in all it's detailed glory.
No. 663067 ID: bb78f2

Was that about when you started seeing Dr. Cooper?

Tell him you think she knows more about these bugs then she lets on. She helped create my safe place, which allowed me to keep myself together and recover, and it turns out my safe place is important for a few things. And if she is the cause for the lack of Zeke's attacks, its because she taught the bees how to keep him stable.

We need to call her, so she can help Diego.
No. 663227 ID: ea0ad9

>"But...I haven't had an attack in years."
And I don't think the bees intend to let you have them again. They were taking care to ensure no harm was brought to you, and even had means of stopping the seizing, somehow.
No. 663394 ID: cfebcf

Note our previous experience mind walking, Diego was dealing with the fear of losing the connections he used to have/ being in able to make new ones. Perhaps for Zeke it could be the fear of the seizures coming back to wreck the life he has now? Or perhaps being afraid of living life as he fully wants because of the chance of seizures returning?

In any case we'll need the good doctor here before going further. Not interrupting another's therapy is the safe and polite thing to do.
No. 663747 ID: 557bac
File 143994477664.png - (98.96KB , 532x600 , 5-6.png )

"Was this around when you started seeing Dr. Cooper?"

Zeke shifts uncomfortably.
>"Yeeeeahh, why?"

You look down at Diego. He twitches slightly and his wide open eyes track something invisible to you. His hand slowly reaches for empty air and grasps at nothing.
"She helped me develop my safe place, and she may have had a hand in stopping the seizures. Maybe we should call her. "
No. 663748 ID: 557bac
File 143994478172.png - (78.74KB , 493x600 , 5-7.png )

Zeke nods and scrolls through his phone before hitting the call button. He hands it to you: looking at the cracked screen you see that he apperntly has Dr. Cooper's cell number.

You hear her pick up.
> Hello, Zeke? Is that you? Everything okay?

You and Zeke share a nervous glance.
"Actually Dr. Cooper, this is Nate...."
No. 663749 ID: e114bc

Tell her you've been delving into more minds, and you just went into Zeke's. Ask her if she helped him overcome his seizures.

If she drops the facade of not knowing about the inner worlds and Custodians and shit, broach the topic of Diego and ask what you should do.
No. 663751 ID: cdec48

"So I heard you're good with controlling seizures..."
Also, ask the wasps what to do if you can't get any straight answers out of her.
No. 663759 ID: bb78f2

Explain to her what happened, then say that judging from the fact your problem with scratching yourself was tempered by her and you developing the safe place, and it's kind of obvious that Zeke's attacks are kept in place through mental conditioning of some sort rather than medicine, you think that MAYBE her practices might be a bit unorthadox and that she understands much more about what's happening than what she's telling us.

There is a possibility that Cooper prescribed Zeke's weed and that prevents the Seizures, and that's what the feeding of honey by the bees actually represents, but that doesn't explain Diego's reaction at all, which means these mental projects of bugs and mind worlds actually mean something in the real world, even if it's all a hallucination of some sort that Nate is able to perceive.
No. 663761 ID: 0fc976

Yeah I kinda screwed around with whatever you did to Zeke to fix his seizures and now my coworker is speaking bee. Pls halp.
No. 663762 ID: 334db2

choose your wording very carefully, you don't want to sound crazy.
No. 663797 ID: a107fd

This is the wrong approach when attempting to explain bizarre happenings to someone who deals with crazy for a living. Spill it all, then go back and clarify as needed.
No. 663807 ID: 8dde9a

In a calm logical way, list the events that happened in order, differentiate from events that mentally occurred and physically occurred. Ask for the Doctor's assistance, especially for what to do in terms of helping Diego in regards of limiting whatever pain our friend is in.
No. 663827 ID: 4f556f

>There is a possibility that Cooper prescribed Zeke's weed and that prevents the Seizures
No idea if it's what you intended or not, but some of the components in marijuana are actually incredibly effective seizure blockers. But that's only possibly in the refined form, I'm unsure if smoking it in the form of marijuana would provide the same effect.

Regardless, it is something to bring up. Ask Zeke for permission to question the good doctor about his drug usage.
No. 664225 ID: 557bac
File 144012196529.png - (109.25KB , 514x600 , 5-8.png )

"... You remember how I told you about going into people's minds?"

>Yeesssss? And do you remember how I told you that it sounded dangerous and irresponsible?"

You feel embarrassment creep over your face and you start to feel itchy.
"Yeah, er... well... We, Diego and I, tried going into Zeke's mind-"

>-Wait, you're saying you brought someone else in with you? And Zeke was okay with all of this?

"Oh yeah, we asked him first, he said it was fine, but warned us it could be dangerous."

You hear a kind of I told you so noise from her, but you continue.
"Well, something happened with Diego and Zeke's bees. I think he's having some kind of seizure."

>And you called me? Shouldn't you be calling an ambulance or something?

"I just thought you might be able to help. You set me up my safe place, and it sounds like you helped Zeke with his seizures."

There's a moment of uncomfortable silence where you anxiously chew on your lip....
You hear her sigh.
> Alright, I'm coming over. Don't touch anything, though I don't think I need to tell you that. If it looks like he's in danger, you an ambulance immediately, you understand?


>I'll be right there
No. 664226 ID: 0fc976

Treat for shock.
No. 664228 ID: d90668

That does not look like a seizure really. More like he is really high on a very strong hallucinogen. I bet he is seeing some crazy stuff right now.

Keep a eye out for it getting worse though.

He is a gator right? Give him some belly rubs to calm him down.
No. 664231 ID: e114bc

Don't touch anything, that includes Diego.

Talk to Zeke a bit more about what the bees were doing in his mindscape. Ask about the terrain, like the tree and the streamers. See if any of it is familiar to him.
No. 664238 ID: 5a02f7

Don't touch anything, including Diego.

But watch him - if his mouth is opening and closing, he might be in danger of biting his own tongue. Might want to put something in his mouth to prevent that.
No. 664244 ID: 8dde9a

I agree with this, also ask Zeke if he's willing to have something like a group therapy session. One, you need that tether so information on its nature and helping Zeke with his own fears, insecurities and physical afflictions is the proper thing to do especially for a fellow patient.
No. 664364 ID: a107fd

Clarify that it is Diego, not Zeke, having the seizure.
No. 664435 ID: a141b0

...well it was unavoidable at some point, but be careful around your doctor. You trust her, but you don't want to come out of this institutionalized. A lot of the other intrusive voices thinks she knows things... but that doesn't mean she'll help. That means she's the adult in the room, and you're the kid who just found ET in the back yard.
No. 664684 ID: 557bac
File 144036633394.png - (113.65KB , 429x600 , 5-9.png )

You give the phone back to Zeke.
"She's on her way. Do you think you can stabilize him? If I touch him, I might end up getting pulled in."

He kneels down and rests Diego's head on his knees. Diego continues to look in random directions and claw gently at the air.
>"I'm not sure. This isn't a seizure, I think he's just tripping balls. Diego, can you hear me?"

Diego seems to focus on Zeke for a moment.
>"!╘┘>╗╝╜╛ ┐╚╗╔└┐├┼╦╩ ├╕╚─├º├τ╙╬» ╚║╩╪╡┬╚╗┼º├┬├╖ ╧╘╡¬╡┤╩─»┤«╢╡╖╞║ └┐╜º╝║╗╛┐└║ └┐└┐┴└╛╝╣º"

>"Okay, that's some creepy shit right there. Did you understand any of that?"

You're forced to admit you didn't.
"Zeke, in about your mind..."

You give him the details about what you saw inside his head. He nods and gives you a tired smile.
>"Yeah, That's my safe place. When I first met her, Dr. Cooper told me to think of it and I've gone there ever since. Of course, getting tied down by it is probably my fault."

"Why do you say that?"

>"Well, as you can probably guess, I've done a lot of...self medicating in my life. My parents were never into traditional medicine, you see, and I was desperate. I was lucky Dr. Cooper stepped in when she did."
No. 664685 ID: d90668

Tell him about the tether and how you picked up a secondary one but it might not hold up under stress. It would be nice to get the main one but would have to deal with what was tying him down in there. We can't rile up his bees without his help.

Oh man if that royal jelly is a byproduct of his self medication its basically a super condensed psychic high. Deigo could be out of it for awhile.

Ask him if he is ok telling us more about his seizures and his history.
No. 664687 ID: e114bc

I don't suppose your wasps understood that?

...hmm. I'm still not sure if taking the main tether will cause his seizures to come back or not. The seizures his inner self is experiencing might not have anything to do with his outer self's seizures. Ask if there's anything that changed in his life that seemed to be responsible for stopping the seizures. Maybe we can tell his inner self how to stop the seizures without relying on the honey? Then we can safely take the tether, although the bees will be pissed off at us and probably rather inconvenienced.
No. 664704 ID: bb78f2

Well, hey weed's apparently a fun and legit way to deal with pain, there's not too much need to blame yourself for that.
So, Cooper was able to stop your seizure's through building a mentally safe place? Were they not caused by a physical ailment, and it was instead a mental one? I mean, I don't understand seizure's fully, but these safe place's Cooper makes sound fucking miraculous.

I mean, a safe place sounds understandable when dealing with our Anxiety problems, but shit, seizures?
No. 664706 ID: bb78f2

Any cryptologists or puzzle lovers that did Fez legit that can decrypt that font? I don't even KNOW what that would sound like.

Nate, your synthesizia might be key to decoding that language.
No. 664707 ID: e114bc

Apparently it's not a code. Don't bother trying to decrypt it.
No. 665073 ID: 557bac
File 144055252391.png - (193.76KB , 524x600 , 5-10.png )

"What do you mean 'find you when she did?'"

Zeke takes a deep breath and looks you in the eye. The heat in his gaze hits you like a hammer, his voice rings likes an anvil: drawing out his anger and tempering it into a long, thin blade. As he speaks you can feel it twist.

>"When she found me, I was locked in a hotel room while my family was outside praying for me: Because, of course, the attacks were my fault. What, with me smoking both pot and cocks, obviously divine intervention was called for. Oddly enough, it was kind of a miracle: she showed up out of nowhere and managed to convince them that I would be better off in her hands than convulsing to death on the bathroom floor."

You've never seen him like this, and have to turn away from the storm.
"Jeeze... Sorry, Zeke."

You hear him chuckle darkly.
>"Don't be: When I turned 18 I sued the shit out of them. Got them to turn over the trust fund my grandpa set up for me and in exchange I don't see or talk to them again."

"So what happened then?"

He gives you a lanky shrug, looking more like his usual self again.
>"Dr. Cooper got me on meds, legit ones, and we dealt with the damage my family did. I spent a lot of time in my safe space around then.."

"Well to be honest, it looked like a pretty delicate balance in there. We were going to take a tether, but it felt like it would have put you in too much danger. We ended up taking a smaller one instead, but I'm not sure if it'll suit our needs."

>"You mean for the save-the-world brain machine?"

You nod.
"There's a chance I'll be able to find another one somewhere else. But if we can't..."

Diego rolls his head and spouts another cryptic string of
>"╞O╚─╕╕º¬«╚╨- ┌╔╤─╬≡─╪╘╬ƒ╛ ─═╙┤╥╤╘╙╬╒═╧ ╠╒╘╓┘╪╫╫"

Zeke nods.
>"What he said."
No. 665081 ID: 5a02f7

Shiit, man. Sounds like he had it just about as bad as you did, Nate.

I guess trauma-bonding's out of the question for the moment. Nothing to do but wait on the good doctor.
No. 665082 ID: bb78f2

Ask Zeke what does he know about Lester then, it seems like there's going to be something there too. Tell him that you think Cooper patients are probably best kept alone though, because the components they might supply help keep them all in check in their safe place.

I mean, we can TRY Lester, since it is just hoarding so far as we know. If he doesn't bug out from learning that we can mind read that is, a conspiracy theorist loves his privacy.

Cooper won't let us in her brain, I'm sure. So there's Doug's girlfriend if neither of them have a problem with it, since Doug tries to always stay clean of bugs. There's Morgan; we could try Anthony again, and perhaps Detective Hunter should she return. We're not going to ask a cop's permission to read her mind because under no circumstances will she believe us.

Man, I hope Cooper isn't too pissed. I didn't think she believed us, but her tone said otherwise. I mean, she actually said it was a dangerous thing to do.

Think all those options out loud so we can hear what Zeke has to say, because I'm curious.
No. 665116 ID: 8dde9a


Hmmm but it's not really a fair exchange, let Zeke know a bit more about your own history. Don't do any comparisons about your situation, but let Zeke know what happened to you and how you got rescued by Dr. Cooper
No. 665119 ID: 350a50

No. 665243 ID: a141b0

Yeah, opening up to him seems like a good idea. You already recapped him on the day's strangeness, and he known about your "delusional parasitosis" for awhile. Start with the ant hill when you were eight. Your parents were more supportive than Zeke's, but they also thought that you needed to excel academically if you were to be independent one day, ESPECIALLY with your condition. Oh, and then there is the fact that they don't know you started self harming out of stress built up from a relationship issue.

Oh, and as much as people might want to keep Lester out of this... that might not be possible. Doctor Cooper seemed... haggered when you talked to her on the phone. Unlike you and Diego, she and Zeke should have gotten a full night's sleep. She may have been up all night dealing with the most troublesome patient.
No. 665318 ID: df6309

"It's ok me and Diego suck dick too."
No. 665323 ID: 8dde9a

Hey wait for a more appropriate time to drop this revelation, preferably to give a reason to survive whatever incoming doom you're trying to avert.
No. 665467 ID: 557bac
File 144081564751.png - (124.59KB , 334x600 , 5-11.png )

As your mind drifts back into your memories, you feel yourself starting to itch. You will your hands into fists, clenching them as the sensation builds.
"When she found me, I was chained to a hospital bed... to keep me from tearing my skin off."

He looks sick at the thought of it.
>"Eugh. Because of the bugs?"

You shrug, your voice sounding hollow in your ears.
"Yeah... my partner at the time left me because he thought I was going crazy. I thought he was cheating on me and I was finding ticks all over him, then they got on me... things got worse. Things had been bad before, but I had always had some kind of support. When he left, I couldn't help thinking that maybe I deserved it. Like, even if he was seeing someone else, it was because of me and my problems."

You feel yourself shaking, your mind brings back the clinical smell of the hospital and the harsh florescent light. The two of you share an awkward silence of mutual understanding, like soldiers in the aftermath of battle.
Actually, now that you think about it...

"Zeke, what about Lester? Do you know anything about him?"

He scratches at his chin thoughtfully.
>"He hasn't told me much. I guess he was in the army or something. Occasionally I hear things through the wall but he's usually pretty quiet. Though, every once in a while he gets worked up and talks about how he knows 'someone's listening' and to 'give her back.' Whatever that means..."

"I wonder if Dr. Cooper could tell us. Although... I don't know if she'd trust us after she see's what happened to Diego. I hope she's not angry..."

>"Kind of late for that. Why? Did she sound mad?"

"More like tired. She warned me that it was dangerous, and I didn't listen."
No. 665468 ID: d90668

While it might be dangerous with the end of the world waiting around the corner it was worth the risk.

Honestly the last few days have been good for you. You have a few new friends, you have gotten a better handle on your powers and learned a lot of things that will help you.

So keep your chin up because you have made some important steps in improving your life.

Anyways while you are waiting for the doc get some pillows under Diego's head and get comfy. Hopefully the stuff will wear off in a few hours.
No. 665469 ID: e114bc

"Give her back"... Did Dr Cooper leave part of herself behind? No, that shouldn't be possible. People go into trances when they're delving and being delved into.

Let's go talk to Lester, but we need to wait for Dr Cooper to get here before trying to go into his mind for any more parts of the device. We should just try to see if he's willing to talk about his issues, and gauge how much he trusts us.
No. 665473 ID: a141b0

Hey, it might not be about you. Don't let reflecting on your darker times bring back bad habits. Besides, there are factors to your decision that you haven't talked to Doctor Cooper about. Some due to your job security, and others due to just not wanting to sound insane to your therapist.

A lot of those things you didn't talk to her about because you weren't yet telling Diego about the whole entering people's minds thing. When she gets here, you might want to catch her up on the two other times you accidentally entered people's mind; once while checking an unconscious persons pulse, and again when someone fell on you. And Doug. Doug coming out to you as expressing the same condition should be high on the list.

But that is in the near distant future. More immediately...

DO NOT TALK TO LESTER BEFORE DOCTOR COOPER! There are way too many fireworks that could go off there. Doctor patient confidentiality will keep you from asking Doctor Cooper about Lester, of course, but that is not the reason you should delay. If Doctor Cooper sees you talking to someone else before she gets there... boy that would be trouble.
No. 665496 ID: 8dde9a


Agreed, for now enjoy Zeke's company and make Diego comfortable, and maybe put a pencil and paper in our reptilian friend's hand. Who knows it might just be informative.
No. 665499 ID: e114bc

Oh my god we could ask him to draw what he sees.
No. 666077 ID: 557bac
File 144106777243.png - (90.79KB , 600x412 , 5-12.png )

You realize there's not much you can do now besides wait for help. Curious, you get Zeke to put a pencil in Diego's hand and slip a piece of paper underneath. The result is a garbled mess, though it looks eerily familiar.

After a while you hear someone knock at the door.
No. 666078 ID: e114bc

Familiar, like the diagram the satellite was sending?
...I'm starting to wonder if we're walking into a trap here, and the real solution is found in the satellite info.

Look through the peephole to make sure it's who we're expecting, before letting them in.
No. 666081 ID: d90668

Have Zeke keep feeding him paper and go peep out the peephole. Hopefully its the doc and we can let her in.
No. 666082 ID: 0fc976

Ask them for the secret password. (It's 'bees')
No. 666101 ID: a141b0

Don't jump to conclusions. While the characters/syntax looks familiar to what Cobalt was pumping out, the format looks less like third dimensional trajectories and more like the blue prints to the transponder. Diego might be speaking and writing in tongues, but he's still formatting those thoughts like he normally would where he can; in this case, like an engineer.

But yeah. look through the peep hole and let Doctor Cooper in if you see her. Nothing else to say until she gets in here and starts yelling.
No. 666367 ID: 557bac
File 144115404471.png - (105.75KB , 600x600 , 5-13.png )

You peek through the peephole: Dr. Cooper is standing in the hall.

>"Nate? Are you in there?"
No. 666368 ID: e114bc

...no mantis?

Ask her what the password is. (there is no password)
No. 666372 ID: d90668

Yeah keep looking for her bug to make sure she is not a shape shifting alien robot.
No. 666377 ID: a141b0

...her body language seems off. She seems more concerned with whatever is to her left than the door. If I have my orientation straight, that way is down towards the parking lot.

Don't be too worried about the lack of a bug. They tend to wander, after all, and if she's worried about something down the hallway...

I can't see how the probe could have gotten her image, so at worse she's currently under duress from a cop. If that is the case, keeping the door closed will only delay the inevitable.

Mind you, there is also the not so bad but still hazardous situation of something going on in the parking lot. If that is the case, we'd want the good doctor inside as fast as possible.

My recommendation... open the door, get her inside, and ask if something is wrong in the parking lot. If you end up being jumped by a cop, so be it.
No. 666379 ID: 8dde9a

Quickly open the door and peek in the direction she's looking. If there's a threat, pull her in immediately. If not and it is a cop, try to play it off as a emergency home visit.
No. 666392 ID: 0fc976

Nate's not here, only the bees!
No. 666776 ID: 557bac
File 144124479503.png - (94.27KB , 600x408 , 5-14.png )

"Yeah, hang on..."
You fiddle with the lock and quickly let her in. You try to close the door, but it suddenly slams into you and throws you back on your ass.

>"Hello, spaceman. Looks like the gang's all here, how about we have a chat?"

Dr. Cooper's voice is level and deliberate.
>"I'm sorry, Nate. Let's just remain calm, I'm sure everything is going to be fine."
No. 666777 ID: 799689

Freak the fuck out
No. 666778 ID: e114bc

Ah. Great. He's lost it.
Ask Lester what he wants.

Don't try to push your own information on him. Keep the conversation focused on his side of the story, try to get him to keep talking about what he wants and don't aggravate him.
No. 666779 ID: a19cd5

lester what the fuck
I thought we were cool
No. 666783 ID: 3663d3

release the wasps! sting his eyes!
No. 666786 ID: 0fc976

That's not exactly a conversation piece you're holding.
No. 666791 ID: 8dde9a

Who is it really? We're assuming its Lester from the roaches but are we really sure that was his insect?
No. 666815 ID: d90668

Tell him you would gladly chat with him anytime but you are not feeling to comfortable with his choice of conversation pieces.
No. 666882 ID: 678ad2

Lester we don't have time for this Aliens are trying to destroy the world.
No. 666904 ID: 5a02f7


No. 666921 ID: a107fd

Doug's not here! If somebody kills me and Diego, our asshole boss becomes Earth's last line of defense against xenostellar annihilation! Is that what you want, Lester?
No. 666926 ID: a141b0

While this would be a powerful line to use, be careful of when you drop it. Dropped too soon and things will spiral out of control, but dropped too late and he'll believe you're patronizing him.

What might be easier to drop... today, someone played master of disguise after breaking into your place of work, and then went Houdini on a several ton satellite that they then proceeded to deposit in the middle of a forest clearing without disturbing the surrounding grass and then cutting it open in ways the engineers thought was impossible. You aren't part of the problem, but Lester would be very surprised what you are willing to believe after a day like today. Your classified super computer suddenly talking in Base 8, and how all attempts to construct a new transponder to talk to it have been sabotaged... these are the types of truths you should be telling him.

Oh... and skip over fact you lost several hours because someone mind hacked you with your own phone.
No. 666942 ID: 350a50

Curl up on the floor and cry like a little girl.
No. 667097 ID: 557bac
File 144133777467.png - (89.42KB , 383x600 , 5-15.png )

Lester peeks out from a seething mass of cockroaches. He swings the pistol back and forth, indicating that he has you both covered.
>"Good idea. Lets all just stay calm, hands where I can see them. We're going to step inside and you're going to give me a few answers."

You nod and shuffle backwards into the living room.

Zeke stands up but wisely puts his hands up.
>"Who- Awww, come on Lester. The fuck is your problem?"

He brandishes the weapon in Zeke's direction.
>"My problem is: everywhere I turn, you people are stalking me, listening, watching, and now I have you right were I want you."
No. 667098 ID: 557bac
File 144133779450.png - (81.32KB , 600x493 , 5-16.png )

Dr. Cooper waves her hands, trying to get him to lower the gun.
>"Its okay, its okay, Zeke. he just wants some answers, lets see if we can help him. What's your name?"

>"Wait, we thought he was one of your patients."

>"No we've never met, have we?"

Lester narrows his eyes suspiciously.
>"No.... We've never been introduced, I suppose. Lester Palmetto."

She's still as calm and cool as an ice floe.
>"You were in the military, Lester?"

He nods curtly.
>"Yes ma'am, Gulf War, the first one. Now if you'll forgive me, I believe I should be asking the questions here, starting with: just who are you?"

>"I'm Dr. Gail Cooper: I'm a psychiatrist. Nate and Zeke are both my patients."

Lester gives her a wry smile full of menace.
>"Kind of an odd hour to be making a house call [/i]doctor[/i] Cooper."

"I agree, but Nate called and said that there was an emergency. Isn't that right, Nate?"

You try to speak but all that comes out is a whimper.
"Diego... he..."

As if on cue Diego babbles another string of incomprehensible nonsense.
>"⌐╩╛≥┐≡├╚╛» ┼δ╔╧º└╛╣╕╓«Φ ╤╘╬╧δ≥╬┐╡│╪╠."

>"Ahh, I've seen this before."

Dr. Cooper give a snort of disbelief.
>"What? How?"

>"Special Ops, mental reprogramming, psy-warfare. I see what's happening here: you boys lure your friend here, and then turn his damn brain inside out? Is that right?"
No. 667104 ID: d90668

From his reactions I have a feeling he might have actually had someone rooting around in his head before. If you have these powers you can be sure the military has people on there payroll who can do this sort of thing.

Hey we did not lure anyone. Diego is our friend and we did not mean for this to happen. We were just experimenting and well things went wrong. I just learned about this crap a day ago.
No. 667105 ID: e114bc

Time to spill a bunch of facts that he has no way of fitting into his narrative.
1. Diego's your boyfriend, you think.
2. Diego ate some royal jelly without knowing what it did, you think he's tripping like really hard. Maybe he thinks he's turning into a bee.
No. 667109 ID: 5a02f7

If you've seen this before, please help him. You can think we did this to him, but we just want him better. Please.
No. 667110 ID: 3663d3

"almost, we were unlocking his potential. he's seeing things from beyond the veil right now, look at the picture he just drew."

play into his paranoia, he wont accept that we aren't doing something crazy.

"i can open your mind as well, but i need to touch you, can i?" once you touch he will pass out, letting the doctor snatch his gun.
No. 667124 ID: a19cd5

better option is this.

Don't patronize him, he's batshit but that doesn't mean he's an idiot.
No. 667149 ID: bb78f2

And not in the mercy killing way! The "I'm actually going to try and help you continue to live on normally kind of thing"
No. 667160 ID: a107fd

Sorta-maybe half right? Zeke's the one we lured here, we're trying to get some parts to stop an alien attack, and what happened to Diego was a total accident. If you know more about this, particularly how to reverse it, that'd be wonderful.
No. 667170 ID: a141b0

...as much as I want to say something, we can only really control things by suggesting things REALLY LOUDLY at Nate. And Nate appears to be paralyzed by the swarm of cockroaches on Lester.

But hey, think of this Nathan: if there are people in the government who do this thing for a living, maybe you can pass this saving the world thing off onto them? I mean, you're not completely off the hook since the Apex is in your head, but still... getting the device back from Doug and getting it to the government could solve a lot of things.
No. 667176 ID: c75857

Daaamn, nope. Seems like the govt was doing mind-control not to contact aliens, but to well, control people's minds. We cannot let anyone else but us know of this.

So, Lester, let's be clear here. Diego here works with me at the satellite factory. When I got contacted by aliens, he believed me, and helped me. (continue to tl;dr the situation)
No. 667189 ID: ea0ad9

>you boys lure your friend here, and then turn his damn brain inside out? Is that right?
Hey, if that's what happened, then there's another person behind the scenes here.
No. 667207 ID: 350a50

Tell him that Diego is your boyfriend.

You were all getting high and trying to do some psychic readings on each other and then Diego started seizing out of nowhere.

Have Zeke show him the weed as proof.
No. 667234 ID: 8dde9a

Better ask if Diego would be alright, if Lester saw something like this before it would be nice to know if our friend is seriously in danger or not.
No. 667860 ID: 557bac
File 144157942151.png - (145.24KB , 600x612 , 5-17.png )

You finally find yourself able to speak up.
"No, it was an accident! We were exploring Zeke's head, and he.. well... is he going to be alright?"

He snarls.
>"I'd worry more about yourself right now, boy...."

"Please. Lester, you have to know how to help him!"

Lester scowls at you.
>"You'd like that wouldn't you? For me to let my guard down?"
The gun lowers slightly.
>"That wasn't my department."

Dr. Cooper steps towards him.
>"What was your department then, Lester?"

In an instant the gun is back up, and pointed at her. She backs off.
>"Don't... try any of that on me, miss. Your superiors have all the intel you'll ever need on me. Which is why I'm glad you're here"

>"Er.. what do you mean?"

>"I mean, you're going to help me find 'her'."

"Who is 'her'?"

He starts to shake, the gun's sight wobbling between the three of you.
>"I... can't remember..."
No. 667868 ID: bb78f2

So... you want me to touch one of your custodian cockroaches to go into your head, is that right? I'm the only one that can do it and it requires you to actually let your guard down for it to happen. We had to watch Robocop for a while for it to work on Zeke, then I touched his custodian bees.

That's the only way I can think to help, Lester. If you want my help, you also need to help Diego. I'm new at this, I can't guarantee it will work, but its the only way I know how I could help you. It helped Diego a little bit with his feelings of isolation when I tried this earlier today.
No. 667869 ID: e114bc

How can we help you?
No. 667907 ID: 350a50

Can you describe 'her' at all? Do you remember any details?
No. 667909 ID: a141b0

...I just had a thought that is far too speculative to suggest to Nathan just yet. More in Discussion.

That aside... tell Lester you don't think you can personally help... at least not with the tampering with powers you don't understand thing. Which is more or less true; if something was taken from Lester's mind, you could help by returning it, but you'd need to find wherever it was placed.
No. 667930 ID: 0fc976

Nate, remember the basics of CQC!
No. 668017 ID: ea0ad9

>"I... can't remember..."
Wait, wait, the only way to help him remember is to go into his head, though. If you did that, he might just end up like Diego! Does he really want to take that risk?
No. 668460 ID: 557bac
File 144176120874.png - (188.26KB , 600x600 , 5-18.png )

Dr. Cooper eases forward as he seems to deflate.
>"Who was she? Can you describe her?"

Lester sinks to his knees, shaking.
>"She's gone... they took her away. I've been trying to find her... How many years?"
No. 668461 ID: a141b0

Remember that contact with an insect will send you into the person's mind. Don't let the cockroaches get on you!
No. 668465 ID: 5a02f7

On the contrary, I think this might be a good time to dive into his mind - just expect that Dr. Cooper with touch you and follow.
No. 668469 ID: 350a50

No. 668470 ID: d90668

Don't make any sudden movements or try anything silly like go for the gun.

Maybe sit down nonthreatening like and tell him that you only have a few days experience with this sort of stuff after a lifetime of being scared of it but you will help him if you can.

I know it might be a bad idea but right now might be the perfect time to pat him on the shoulder. If he is not paying attention enough you will go in his head and can start seeing what happened in there. But if it does not work he might think its a attack and slap you around a bit. So maybe a really light pat.
No. 669305 ID: 557bac
File 144211333301.png - (143.17KB , 600x428 , 5-19.png )

You quietly approach Lester and reach for his shoulder.

>"Stay BACK!!"
Snarling, Lester swings the pistol and his roaches flutter off of him in a greasy storm. The butt crashes into your wrist and you feel your hand go numb.
No. 669306 ID: 557bac
File 144211333832.png - (456.42KB , 600x568 , 5-20.png )

Zeke pounces on Lester, driving the wind out of him and seizing his arm. They struggle for control in a seething cloud of insects.
No. 669322 ID: e114bc


Basically what you need to do here is find a roach that isn't mixed up with the bees, then grab it. That should send you into his mind, while also sending him into a trance, defusing the situation.
No. 669324 ID: cdec48

Grab the gun, get Zeke clear, and shoot out his kneecap. Failing that, go for the torso. You have a sufficient number of people present to corroborate a self-defense claim, since he literally broke into the apartment and threatened to kill everyone. You'll get nothing but hostiles in his head and I don't think anyone's fit to be doing any mind-diving while we have the other emergency going on.
No. 669326 ID: e114bc

dude what
That's murder. Even if you can get away with it, it's still murder.
No. 669327 ID: cdec48

You don't have to kill him, just incapacitate him.

The party's full enough anyway.
No. 669333 ID: 350a50

Help Zeke keep that gun arm pinned.
No. 669336 ID: 8dde9a

Better yet, stomp on the wrist, knock it out of his hand and kick it away. As long as the firearm is in this conflict, things will escalate into an undesirable situation. So do whatever you need to do to get rid of that gun.
No. 669343 ID: d90668

Don't get to caught up in that fight. It would be to easy to get shot if you tried to wrestle with his gun.

Either grab a roach and try to go in to his head to help him or do the responsible thing and call the police.
No. 669369 ID: a141b0

Yeah. Besides, he just broke your wrist. You are in no condition to wrestle.

Calling the cops might complicate matters with Diego, but it's better than taking the law into your own hand with Lester.

Plan B would be to touch a lone cockroach. Yes, it would be dangerous, but only if you walked around and poked stuff. If you just stood still and whistled dixie... it should be safe enough to stay like that for awhile while you wait for thing to calm down in the outside world.
No. 669370 ID: 0fc976

Stomp his bugs!
No. 669374 ID: 350a50

Also, when we were in Zeke's head he was zoned out in the real world. Might have been a side-effect of the weed but if it stuns Lester for even a moment it could help.
No. 669441 ID: a107fd

Call the cops. Dude just broke into your apartment with a gun, that's the kind of thing they'd prefer to hear about sooner rather than later, and they've been reasonably competent and helpful so far today.
No. 669656 ID: 557bac
File 144227626577.png - (329.41KB , 600x541 , 5-21.png )

You cradle your arm and stare as the two of them wrestle for control. Zeke's element of surprise is wearing off and Lester moves to push him off. While he's distracted you reach blindly into the swarms and something buzzes into your hand with a slap.
No. 669657 ID: 557bac
File 144227627183.png - (41.27KB , 382x600 , 5-22.png )

You feel the world drop out from underneath you and darkness envelops you completely.
No. 669659 ID: e114bc

Conjure a flashlight. You should know how those work, also the batteries that go with them. Well actually in complete darkness an omnidirectional light source is better. Lantern?
No. 669662 ID: 3663d3

get your armor, and a light.
No. 669664 ID: 73c49c

The darkness is a reflection of his tormented mind. There has to be a light of hope or focus in here somewhere, like looking for the person he lost.
No. 669668 ID: a141b0

This. You might want to hold off summoning a light until your eyes adjust and you can get an idea of in which direction any faint illumination is coming from.

Definitely summon a light before walking, though. Wouldn't want to walk off any cliffs.
No. 669673 ID: 350a50

This. Space suit with lights on the helmet.

This first though.
No. 669675 ID: e114bc

Well if we're not using a light, the alternative is night vision goggles. Not sure if Nate knows how they work well enough to make them.
No. 669678 ID: cdec48

Make armor and/or a helmet with a thermal imaging camera and a head-mounted light. Better to have an idea of where unknown bodies are before setting them off with light, yeah?
No. 669716 ID: a107fd

Isaac Clarke's armor has glowy bits front and back.
No. 669717 ID: 350a50

I mean, like, a tacticool little flashlight on his helmet we can turn on and off.
No. 669731 ID: f73c29

Darkness, paranoia. Light shows the way, but might attract attention. Who knows what's out there.

Well, you need to go anyway.
No. 669935 ID: 3ab69d

Lester probably has an infestation of many bad feelings, tread lightly.
No. 670264 ID: 557bac
File 144253670158.png - (132.52KB , 466x600 , 5-23.png )

A flashlight appears in your hand and you turn it on. You appear to be in a small room, made from black, glossy, opaque material. You reach out to touch it, feeling it give and stretched around your fingers like tough plastic sheets.
No. 670265 ID: 396d2a

Not to alarm you, but it sounds like you're in a garbage bag. Get something sharp to cut yourself out.
Alternatively, wait for a friendly raccoon to bust you loose.
No. 670266 ID: e114bc

Great. Nate's in a garbage bag.
Look around a little bit, is there no exit to the room? If so, summon up an axe, cut through a wall, and stick your face in the hole going "HEEEERE'S JOHNNY!"
No. 670275 ID: a141b0

OK Nate. You now know you are in no imminent danger of death. After all, you can't suffocate in the vacuum of space so a plastic bag will do nothing. As such, I'd now recommend one thing... bouncing up and down on your heels and whistling Dixie.

I know you are tempted to explore, but there is a lot of danger out there, and you don't know IF you can even help. Right now you SHOULD be paralyzing Lester, so that is helping enough as is. Besides... last time Diego's beetle had to save you instead of your wasp. Right now... you are probably defenseless.
No. 670276 ID: 0fc976

A garbage bag... or a body bag?
No. 670277 ID: e114bc

...you have a point. Maybe Nate should stay put until Dr Cooper shows up in here.
No. 670281 ID: 3274e0

Maybe this is Lester's/his custodians' way of dealing with interlopers in his mind, to trap them out and isolate them? Either way, I don't think you're safe in OR out of the bag. Trash is sacked up to be "disposed of," you know. Just be on your guard when you bust out.
No. 670310 ID: ea0ad9

>last time Diego's beetle had to save you instead of your wasp.
Bees are able to kill wasps, is why. Roaches, on the other hand, are killed by wasps. Nate's psyche trumps Lester's.
No. 670314 ID: e114bc

Unfortunately I think Nate's wasps are almost all dead at the moment. Those bees did a number on his hive.
No. 670372 ID: 557bac
File 144260351125.png - (54.47KB , 600x619 , 5-24.png )

You forget the flashlight and a knife appears in your hand. With some difficulty you manage to push it through the plastic and allow in some rather dingy light. Stretching and slashing at the sheets, you make a hole large enough to slip though.
No. 670373 ID: 557bac
File 144260351745.png - (159.12KB , 700x463 , 5-25.png )

You tumble out unceremoniously and dust yourself off, finding yourself standing waist deep in a thick mist. More sheets are used to cover strange, lumpy objects or stretched between pipes set inexplicably in the ground. The place has a sour, forgotten smell that you feel clinging damply to your skin. You have the an unbalanced sensation as if you were moving slowly, despite standing still.
No. 670374 ID: cdec48

I'd joke about Nam flashbacks, but that's the wrong war. Investigate red bits on nearby tarp.
No. 670377 ID: 2a7417

Nate forgot FLASHLIGHT and learned STAB!

Examine room you just exited. Also, forget nose.
No. 670378 ID: 863006

No. 670382 ID: a141b0

Let's not provoke the custodian into "poking" us with it's mandibles.

Yes. Look but not touch. It might look like a dump, and you might feel like you are alone, but if you must walk around treat the place like an expensive store where a store clerk is hovering right over your shoulder at all times.
No. 670607 ID: 8dde9a

And maybe it'll be best to take stock of your hive, you don't want to rely on your wasps only to find out you're out.
No. 670808 ID: f73c29

What are you standing on? Dirt?
No. 671221 ID: 91ee5f

Hey, I just realized something! Every time we got a new piece for our "mind machine thingy", we "fixed" something in that persons' head! Which means the reason that rope we got from Zeke's head isn't working is because we haven't "fixed" what was wrong in Zeke's head! At least, I think that's how it works. And if I'm right, we at least know how to get new pieces now!
No. 671345 ID: 3ab69d

No. 671462 ID: 557bac
File 144288644784.png - (146.06KB , 600x482 , 5-26.png )

You cautiously take hold of one of the nearby tarps and give it a pull. Underneath is a pile of rusty machinery shaped roughly like a person. It groans slightly, but is too corroded to move.
No. 671467 ID: 350a50

Dorothy, you need to give the tin man some oil so he can move
No. 671469 ID: 3663d3

engineer the hell out of that robot. make new cogs if you have to.
No. 671515 ID: e114bc

Yep. Let's cover this guy in WD-40.
No. 671559 ID: ea0ad9

Be careful! There's a reason that Lester's mind has stalled and covered itself up. This may be a part of the cause, or it may be a victim. If you do lubricate it, be prepared for the possibility of hostilities.
No. 671561 ID: e114bc

Hang on, are those purple lines to the left something interesting?
No. 671604 ID: a141b0

Yeah. Don't forget your synthenasia. The fact that the lines are subtle and in the distance only means there is plenty of time to prepare for whatever it is if we notice them NOW.
No. 671605 ID: a141b0

Yeah. Don't forget your synthenasia. The fact that the lines are subtle and in the distance only means there is plenty of time to prepare for whatever it is if we notice them NOW.
No. 671630 ID: 6995fb

check for weapons before wd40ing. weapons=move along.
No. 671646 ID: 3ab69d

Summon a trusty can of WD-40.
No. 671881 ID: a107fd

Summon WD-40 paired with duct tape, just in case something starts moving that shouldn't.
No. 672762 ID: 557bac
File 144324103611.png - (110.15KB , 600x520 , 5-27.png )

You ditch the knife and try thinking of something to loosen the device. You end up with a can of machine oil, which you apply to the visible joints.

While you're working, you hear something in the fog,The sound of small, close together footsteps running away from you. You turn to pinpoint where the sound is coming from, but the sounds is drowned out by a metallic screech.
No. 672763 ID: 557bac
File 144324104284.png - (154.51KB , 600x423 , 5-28.png )

Suddenly the rust figure springs to life; unfolding and spinning erratically. It dances back and forth in a fixed pattern. You jump out of the way, but not before a piece of metal grazes your chest.
No. 672765 ID: defceb

Ban the robot from the chatroom

Get away. Are there any other bots acting up? If not think up something to scrap this one, otherwise just run towards that noise asap.
No. 672768 ID: e114bc

Dangit. Spray it down with water again. Or glue. Once it's disabled again, you can listen for that person.

Also maybe summon up needle and thread to stitch up your wound. You don't seem to feel any pain in here, so it should be simple.
No. 672770 ID: cdec48

Investigate noise. The bot is fine if it's staying within a set location and may or may not be part of a larger machine/system.

Alternately, climb on top of bot and blast off to get an overhead view.
No. 672771 ID: 3663d3

no, let it spin. just back up. replace tiny oil can with a super soaker full of oil. hose bots down from a distance.

anyway, first back up and see what it spinning freely has done to the mindscape around it.
No. 672772 ID: 0fc976

Imagine a tetanus shot, and find something else dangerous to stick your nose into. (Why haven't you un-imagined that yet? Ugh, I think the stench is getting even *worse*.)
No. 672798 ID: 350a50


It's not moving to chase you. That means we started something up in Lester's frozen mindscape. Maybe we can help him move on?
No. 672857 ID: a141b0

"If a sentient bacteria discovered one of our satellite and started to explore it, one of it's last thoughts as it was being fried by a live circuit is that it must have all been a test from a higher power." ...or something like that.

Point is, don't jump to conclusions of this thing being hostile or nonhostile. It's dangerous, but so is a garbage disposal if you stick your hand straight down it. Just back away and observe.

Oh, and don't try and chase the person just yet. You came from under one of the tarps, so it probally thinks you are dangerous too. This is a mind of paranoia after all.
No. 673520 ID: 557bac
File 144349124838.png - (104.83KB , 600x428 , 5-29.png )

The whirling metal spins in place briefly before twirling off into the fog, in a snarling whirlwind of sound.

You stumble off in the opposite direction in search of the footsteps, the uncomfortable off balance sensation even stronger now. You pick idly at the slash on your chest as you walk: unwilling to look at the papery nest you've become inside, but bothered enough to poke at it like a cavity. Around you, more of the tarps groan worryingly as you pass between then and you increase your pace.
No. 673523 ID: e114bc

Sound spotted to your right.

Also a roach, in about the same direction. Either armor up or make a jetpack or something so it can't reach you.
No. 673526 ID: a141b0

Right, well if you're going after the noise, then there is a roach between you and it. It's a big one too, given that we know it's there based on the antenna poking out of the fog.

Best thing I can say is to not aggravate it. I should be a given, but even taking a too defensive stance might be too aggressive. Remember we are in a paranoid mind here.
No. 674085 ID: 557bac
File 144366784227.png - (159.96KB , 600x502 , 5-30.png )

You think you see something move in the mist and
head in its direction. You suddenly feel your legs pulled out from under you, and you hit the ground heavily before being dragged several feet backwards.
No. 674086 ID: 557bac
File 144366784870.png - (208.50KB , 600x527 , 5-31.png )

The thing pulling you lets go, and a moment later the metallic dervish spins past in a blur. It crashes into a covered shape, which groans for a moment before shedding it plastic shroud and gearing itself up. Ponderously at first, it starts to spin until the two of them match speeds and whirl off in opposite directions.
No. 674089 ID: 396d2a

Look back at your savior, thank them!
No. 674091 ID: e114bc

Oh god, you started a chain reaction. This is bad. Very bad. These things might even represent the guy's military memories, in which case you started a flashback.

Find out who saved you, and ask for their help in stopping what you started.
No. 674092 ID: 3663d3

i am reminded of something

"i am the milkman, my milk is delicious. "
No. 674162 ID: 0dc9cf


It's fortified with what the world wants. What the world deserves.
No. 674171 ID: 3ab69d

But what you don't know is that while you're out at work the milkman is screwing your wives
No. 674182 ID: 561b41

...yeah, I'm going to agree that we [censored] up.

Still... do we want to stop thing? At worse I think these machines represent the more maniacal side of paranoia... but is that's the case why was Lester going on crazy up on the real world with all these things already bagged up? We need more information.
No. 674496 ID: 91ee5f

Are we sure we want to thank them? Because this could be one of those situations where he says, "I didn't want you to get killed, because I want to kill you myself." Of course, I could be wrong, so just be careful and don't let your guard down.
No. 675068 ID: 557bac
File 144409377761.png - (113.75KB , 509x600 , 5-32.png )

You roll over to thank whoever saved you, but all that is there is an empty swirl of haze. You feel yourself getting nauseous: the floor is definitely moving now and has picked up speed. You stand up, but lurch strongly to one side, suddenly realizing that you're missing a foot.
No. 675069 ID: 557bac
File 144409378324.png - (101.55KB , 600x450 , 5-33.png )

You continue limping towards the sound and another figure looms out of the fog in front of you.
No. 675071 ID: 0fc976

Stay at a distance and throw your shoe at him.
No. 675073 ID: b2f5eb

Are you sure it's another figure?
No. 675080 ID: e114bc

I'm going to bet that's Lester. Be careful, he may be hostile in here too. I would suggest creating some basic armor, maybe an artificial foot so you can move properly.

The movement you're feeling is probably the time-dilated movement of you and/or Lester being moved in the waking world. All indications point to time passing slower in the inner world, so it's very important that you stay in here as long as possible so that your friends can restrain Lester and get that gun away from him. Do not let anything in here kick you out by destroying your projection.

Once you're sure of your own safety, approach and get a better look at them.
No. 675083 ID: 561b41

I'd actually put the moving down to us possibly being in a barge or some sort. A trash barge would fit the trash theme.

And expect any attempt to approach or touch Lester to provoke his Custodian. They're far more likely to be hostile towards you than Lester himself.
No. 675275 ID: 91ee5f

Whoever "saved" you yanked on your leg so hard they pulled your food off! That was either on purpose or it was an accident. Keep your guard up!
No. 675499 ID: ab25fe
File 144435260032.png - (129.08KB , 369x600 , 5-34.png )

You try to creep closer, but you underestimate how hard it is to sneak up on someone with a missing foot. You end up stumbling and the person turns ready to strike.


Zeke lowers his fist.
>"Oh thank God. Nate what is this? Where the hell are we?"
No. 675501 ID: 5ad4a7

Oh! Well I wasn't expecting this. Tell him this is inside Lester's mind. Ask what's the last thing he remembers happening in the waking world. Is Lester restrained yet?
No. 675503 ID: bb78f2

Okay, Zeke, if there's some Royal leftover Pizza, whatever you do, don't eat it.
No. 675526 ID: 0fc976

We're in a head filled with lots of pointy objects and maybe some shooty ones as well. Watch your tail.
No. 675594 ID: 561b41

This. Also, if he confirms touching Nate before arriving "here", Nate will have confirmation on how Diego got into Neke's head. Which we need, since Diego was too busy explaining why he was a bee instead of telling Nate why he was in Zeke's head. Until Nate learns this fact we have to remind ourselves constantly that it's unconfirmed to him.
No. 675871 ID: a1c0c2

Tell Zeke this is what you were talking about when you said 'going into people's minds'. We're in Lester's mind right now. At least some sort of representation of it.
No. 675964 ID: 91ee5f

Tell him, "Remember when I said me and Diego went inside your head? Well, that's what's happening right now, except for the fact that it's me and you and we're inside of Lester's head."
No. 676301 ID: ab25fe
File 144478312158.png - (78.83KB , 600x434 , 5-35.png )

"We're in Lester's head. Somehow, you must have been pulled in when I entered."

>"Urgh, I hope my mind wasn't so..... bleak."
"Nah, yours was a technicolor wonderland compared to this."

He snarls
>"That bastard, I can't believe him..."

"Who? Lester?"

>"Yeah, is there some way to fuck him up in here? I'm not going to miss a chance like this to stop him."

"I have no idea. To be honest I may have fucked it up already..."As if to emphasize things, something clangs in the distance. "Weeeeeee should probably keep moving."

He looks anxiously in the direction of the sound.
>"Good idea. Where to?"

You stand in the silent mist for a few moments and look around. You spot several sounds, but its hard to tell what they are from where you are.
No. 676303 ID: 0fc976

Ooh! A red one! I'll take that.
No. 676304 ID: bb78f2

Easy on him, Zeke, he's mentally sick, much farther along then either us. He doesn't even get help because his condition won't allow him to. LEt's not try to make him worse, because he might kill us and maybe even more people if we fuck this up. Like murdering the whole building.

Honestly, I'm hoping I can make him more sane in here, not worse. And see if there's some form of legitimacy to his claims. I'd feel like shit if his daughter or wife or sister is in trouble and lost it forever if we give up this chance. Whatever you feel about Lester, well, it doesn't go on to his daughter or sister or wife. She doesn't deserve whatever terrible thing happened to her.

So just look around for bits and pieces, and be careful, I've already lost a leg in here. That's fine for now, but I don't want to test what being entirely mutilated will do to me or you. Could be worse than what happened to Diego.
No. 676306 ID: bb78f2

And go red.
No. 676310 ID: 5ad4a7

I say pink since that's the color we've repeatedly been spotting but not quite catching.
No. 676321 ID: a141b0

Most of this. Lester is still waiting for his miracle moment of someone to save him.

Pink does appear to be the running figure. Let's close that loophole rather than poking another hornet's nest.
No. 676327 ID: 350a50

No. 676696 ID: f36501

Pink definitely.

Try to calm Zeke down on the way if possible.
No. 677259 ID: ab25fe
File 144512330409.png - (91.20KB , 600x360 , 5-36.png )

Together, decide to keep heading towards the pink sound.

"Come on Zeke; Lester's sick, we can't make things worse for him..."

He responds with a surly grunt.
>"Yeah okay, we'll just hug it out, right?"

Before long the sound of footsteps draws close. They sound small, light and close together. Zeke nods at you; he can hear it too.
No. 677261 ID: 0fc976

Imagine a kung fu fighting stance.
No. 677262 ID: 5ad4a7

Looks like a kid Lester. Reminds me of the lab girl's mind. I wonder what was up with her, come to think of it.

Zeke can hide behind something if he wants to keep the possibility of an ambush open.
No. 678089 ID: ab25fe
File 144531111736.png - (96.69KB , 600x600 , 5-37.png )

You signal Zeke to be quiet and to circle around. He nods and slinks away into the mist.

You approach the mysterious person.
"Lester? is that you?"

They stop running and as you get closer you can see that they seem to be a child. They slowly turn around to face you.
No. 678090 ID: ab25fe
File 144531112597.png - (100.18KB , 600x421 , 5-38.png )

No. 678093 ID: 5ad4a7

What the fuuuuuuck

Get away from him. I want no part in that. Go find one of the other sounds.
No. 678111 ID: 3663d3

don't touch them, try to read their face.
No. 678129 ID: a1c0c2

Yeah, my best guess would be that it's some sort of manifestation of a traumatic flashback or dissociation or something else equally unpleasant. Do NOT touch.
No. 678190 ID: a141b0

Don't panic, but also don't touch. Calmly ask him... well anything expect for what is wrong with his eyes.
No. 678529 ID: 91ee5f

This is the personification of his mental scarring. His mind has been damaged. Memories of this "her" he was talking about have been stolen from him. He's desperate to remember who "she" is and he thinks you're from some government conspiracy group here to make sure he never remembers who "she" is. Let's fix that, shall we?
No. 678553 ID: 3ab69d

Try asking how his mom is doing. Try poking at the relevant female figures in ones life to try and see who "her" might be.
No. 678818 ID: ab25fe
File 144556298913.png - (129.74KB , 600x476 , 5-39.png )

"Lester? Is that you?

>""L͚̇̅ͣ̚e̩͎̟͑s͕t͉̞̒̆̊́͛ͮe̲̪̼͚͇̓ͫ͆̿r͈ͭ ̄̒ͩ̌̇i̩̳̜̗̱͓͙s̫̫̍͂̒ ͕̩̅̽ͩ̿t͔͙̟̬͔̼̖̀̀̓h̰͕̭͎̲̀̋͆ͫǎ̯̱͎ͨ̽̈́̂t̞̣̰ ̤͉y̺̮̯̣̫̖̬͗ͪ̐ͧͧö̮͎͖̠̙́̔̏́ͅú̮̭̝?̮͚̬̯̫͇ͫ͌"̦̟̭̼̲̜̿̇͑̊ͤ̄"

"Um... My name is Nate, I want to help you..."

Lester(?) cocks his head.

>"...W͔̫̳͍̥̭̙͇̫͒͆ͦͦͩͥ͋͝a̘̻͚̯̣͛ͫ́ͮ̈nͨ͛̒̀̚͢҉͇t̷̨͚͖̩̾ͦ̄̓̌͋̑͟ ͦ̾̿ͮͩ҉̫̗̫̻̞̪̰̕ṱ̵̩͇̫̼̳̄͑ͬo̟̦̥͕̫̭̖͙ͫ̾̏̎̃̒͢͞ ̴̧̢͇̳̥̳̟͎̟̑̐ͬͭh̻̾̐͋̃̿̈͌͡e̥͈͓̱͙̰̦͖̊͒͆̽̏ͤ́ͮͨ͜͞͠l̨̯̪̭ͫͯͫ͐̅̋̂͊͘p̪͖̟̝̪͎̮ͥ̊̔̀̕..."

"Yeah, you said you wanted to find someone?"

He steps closer, and despite yourself you stumble backwards on your missing foot, bumping against something large and greasy.
No. 678821 ID: 0fc976

Duck and cover! And RUN.
No. 678823 ID: bb78f2

Conjure up Levar Burton's visor from Star Trek and give it to him.
No. 678838 ID: 350a50

Don't let the spinning top hit Lester, deflect it with a riot shield or something.
No. 678869 ID: 5ad4a7

Oh god. You just backed into a giant roach, one of his guardians. It might be a good time to armor up or something. Or get help from Zeke, if the roach tries to attack you.

It's not one of the machines, guys.
No. 678880 ID: 350a50

The curbed lines here and there make it hard to tell whether it's a roach with antennae or a garbage bag. You're right though, if it is a roach he needs to get away quickly.
No. 678907 ID: a141b0

The roached hasn't attacked... in fact I think it might have been the roach the saved Nate from the spinning blades. Custodians are very good at maintenance and preservation... not so good at change and improvement.

With that said, the roach is actually keeping Nate from backing away too far from Lester... maybe some physical contact is what is needed?

In any case, this probably looks worse than it is to a first time. Be ready to call off Zeke if he does something overly aggressive.
No. 678910 ID: bb78f2

If Physical contact is what's needed, then my suggestion for Geordi La Forge's glasses being given to baby Lester still stands.
He looks blind, and metaphorical sight may help the real Lester see more clearly. And nothing is better than Geordi La Forge's visor when it comes to clarity.

I am very serious about that suggestion, and it was serious from the start. I just needed to make another post clarifying that it wasn't a joke post because my earlier one is brief.
No. 679311 ID: ab25fe
File 144579912869.png - (153.08KB , 600x461 , 5-40.png )

Instinct takes hold and you dive forward, as something spiny and black reaches for you. You duck behind Lester (?) and turn to face your attacker: a massive, black cockroach, still chewing idly on your missing foot.

A wind picks up from somewhere and the mist starts to thin, revealing a swarm of insects surrounding you.
No. 679313 ID: defceb

Nate: Freak out at the gravity of the situation.
No. 679319 ID: 3274e0

Welp, you're completely surrounded by Lester's custodians, but Zeke's already shown that custodians don't always attack on-sight and can actually be helpful. No assumptions are safe, though, so let's just try and defuse this peacefully. Push the line of helping Lester find "her." Not only would that keep him occupied, it'll be valuable information once we're done mind-diving. Don't give his custodians a reason to defend him; no sudden movements, keep your own custodians in check unless you absolutely have to. Speaking of Zeke, what's his situation?
No. 679320 ID: bb78f2

Okay, get your dead space armor on, give you a robot leg, but put some brown antenne up top to confuse them!
No. 679323 ID: 5ad4a7

Tell them you aren't here to fight, or to mess with anything they don't want you to mess with. Ask for your foot back. Maybe you can reattach it?
No. 679369 ID: 3663d3

wait, that one has your foot, it's the one that pulled you over to avoid the dervish. it hasn't eaten it so i think your foot just broke off from the force of the drag.

explain lester is attacking people in the real world, you want to stop that.
No. 679395 ID: a141b0

Two things.

One: make sure to emphasize that you want to stop the fighting by helping him. You don't want them to perceive you as a threat.

Two: don't use the term real world to the custodians use... physical world instead. Remember, this world is far more real to them.
No. 679979 ID: ab25fe
File 144608667739.png - (70.95KB , 600x398 , 5-41.png )

You back away from the child with your arms up defensively, ready to imagine a set of armor at any second.
"Its okay, Its okay! I don't want to hurt him. We're looking for someone, can you help?"

The custodian's antennae flick upwards and its vicious black wings buzz to life. It seizes Lester by the shoulders and launches into the air. It flickers across the sky clumsily and heads towards a structure looming out of the thinning mist. A moment later the rest of the swarm joins them in a noisy clatter of wings.
No. 679980 ID: ab25fe
File 144608668125.png - (97.75KB , 600x369 , 5-42.png )

In the eerie silence, you hear the squeal of metal in pain....
"Uh... Zeke? You still out there?"

Zeke rushes towards you, a look of panic on his face.
No. 679984 ID: 5ad4a7


Don't run, fly! Think up some bee wings like you had during Zeke's dream. Or a jetpack. If you can't do that you're gonna have to do something like get fully armored because you can't run on that stump. Tell Zeke to imagine up something to let him fly! Or move faster, whatever.

Next destination is the structure.
No. 679986 ID: 0fc976

Now, now, who's the expert brain spelunker here?
Stay and see what's got poor Zeke all riled up.
No. 679991 ID: bb78f2

Follow the bugs, they're fleeing to safety, the robots must be hostile! Lester uses trashbags to feel safe, so when we released one from it's bag prison and greased one up, a hostile force could then attack!

Well, maybe just ask Zeke while you run with him.

And for god's sake, get your self a peg leg!
No. 679993 ID: 350a50

Jetpack time! Grab Zeke and fly out of there.
No. 680000 ID: a141b0

Color is a bit different, but based on the shape we now know what the far right sound was... pity we may never know what blue was.

Jet pack might be asking for a bit much... though... back in Zeke's mind Nate mentioned the bees swarming him as soon as he landed. Landed implies he was in the air before. So yeah... just do whatever you did to fly there Nate, assuming you can take Zeke with you. Walking is just not gong to cut it here.
No. 680171 ID: 91ee5f

Well, running's out of the question, seeing as one of your feet has been reduced to a stump. So I suggest you either summon a jetpack that can support the combined weight of you and Zeke or ask your wasps to help carry both of you!

Or maybe Zeke's bees will come and help both of you!
No. 681000 ID: ab25fe
File 144651825550.png - (161.94KB , 468x600 , 5-43.png )

Zeke rushes past you and as you turn to follow, a swarm of spinning rusty engines come swooping out of the fog. In a panic, you stumble and concentrate on a means of escape.
You feel armor wrap itself around you and kick you forward as its boosters activate.
No. 681002 ID: 5ad4a7

Time to fly around like a drunken bumblebee until you figure out how to deal with iron man-style propulsion.

Consider grabbing Zeke.
No. 681010 ID: a141b0

Your armor is both a weapon and a means of propulsion... so be very VERY careful.
No. 681662 ID: ab25fe
File 144677371379.png - (159.36KB , 600x550 , 5-44.png )

You swing low to pick up Zeke, plowing into him and carrying him skyward. Unsure of how to control yourself, you do your best to aim yourself in the same direction as the roaches.
No. 681663 ID: ab25fe
File 144677371779.png - (46.32KB , 600x365 , 5-55.png )

Together you trace a series of drunken loops before crash landing on the lowest platform of the mysterious structure.
No. 681664 ID: 5ad4a7

Oh jeez. Check self and Zeke for injuries. See what you can do to brace yourselves to keep going, then see if you can find where the roaches went.
No. 681665 ID: 0fc976

Use hand repulsors to blast your way through the structure to the top.
No. 681666 ID: ecfa2c

Oh. Hey. The blue noise. Neat.

This. Looks like there's an incline to the mesa you're on, forming a spiral path up to the top... either that or everything just slanted to the left due to your impact. Either way, once you're ready to move, just walking to the incline should get you on the right path.
No. 682517 ID: ab25fe
File 144703277713.png - (110.34KB , 600x600 , 5-56.png )

You groan and flop yourself over, staring up at the structure looming over you. There seems to be something at its peak, but its strange and difficult to identify from your point of view.

Zeke sits upright.
>"Dude! How'd you do that? With the suit and everything?"

"Huh? I just kind of imagined it, and it popped up. Ive always had a pretty active imagination."

He stares at his hands for a moment before giving you a frustrated look.
>"I can't- it wont work. "

A swarm of the rusty spinning engines swoops out of the fog and starts to assemble around the base of the structure, with more converging with every moment.
"Shit, time to go, Zeke."

You figure the safest place to be would be at the top of the building, and you definitely want to examine the object up there. It looks like there are entrances leading inside at odd intervals, or you could try using your jump jets again to take you up.
No. 682523 ID: 0fc976

Jump jets. Hey, have you considered imagining a helmet too? Safety first and all that. Maybe you can fill the gaps in for Zeke's imagination too.
No. 682530 ID: bb78f2

Imagine another armor for Zeke or something. A jetpack, whatever.
No. 682711 ID: dccc95

A dancer.
Is it a music box?
No. 682885 ID: ecfa2c

Flying is probably going to be a last resort thing for the moment. Try walking to heaven for now.

As you walk, talk Zeke through what you know of item creation. Like, there is a limit to how much one mind can create at once and that different minds are inclined to different objects. For instance you're obsessed with space, and while you can make armor they've almost always been fictional space armors. Aside from that you've managed to create simple hand tools, but even a handgun was beyond you.

Ultimately suggest Zeke he should try and manifest something really personally as the true test of if he can manifest anything, and then move one degree from that object to something more useful to his immediate needs.
No. 682887 ID: 5ad4a7

Likely. The machines down there seem to be all about spinning as well...

I'm guessing Lester has some sort of important memory involving a spinning dancer music box. The dangerous ones are probably some sort of distortion of the memory.

I think you should just go inside. Can't fly reliably while carrying Zeke and it won't do to be separated.
No. 683407 ID: ab25fe
File 144729616513.png - (135.61KB , 600x500 , 5-57.png )

Worried you'll end up crashing again, you decide to stick to the ground instead of using your jets and step through the door. Your eyes take a moment to adjust to the gloom, but you find yourself standing on a catwalk crossing over a massive open space. the floor below is cluttered with strange, crystalline gears and coils of black, wiry ivy.
No. 683409 ID: 211d83

Man I hate symbolism. Is this a good machine? Should we clear out the ivy? Were those other machines bad in general or just damaged from being rusted?

Guess you just got to go with your gut and try to help if you can. Something in there represents the damage done to him. Are the robots a symbol of the military messing with his head? Or were they here and all spinning nicely before?

Is it a good thing that this machine is not running? Or would starting it up help fix things?

Whatever the color is much nicer so its probably a good machine. Figure how to start it up.
No. 683418 ID: 5ad4a7

Strange, the spinning things outside haven't swarmed in yet. Yet, I bet if we cleaned up that stuff down there, things would improve.

This is definitely a music box... Fix it. Maybe block the door to make sure no spinny shit can get in.

...I wonder if Zeke can't do any imagination stuff because you didn't fix his internal problem? If it could even be fixed. It occurs to me we never found his queen bee, maybe we can try again later, but stockpile some honey from somewhere in the dream before heading into the hive, so that we have multiple doses of bee-disguise.
No. 683427 ID: ecfa2c

It's obvious that fixing that machine would make things better. The question is, would getting rid of the black stuff fix the machine or break it more? Maybe the black stuff is keeping a perfectly good machine from keeping the world in balance, or maybe keeping a broken machine from spinning it's wheels and damaging itself.

We made a mistake by starting up one of the robots. Let's not make another but acting rashly like we're the heroes. We're pedestrians jail walking at the moment, gotta look both ways.

In summary, the real question isn't whether we fix the machine or not. The question is if we investigate the problem by getting up closer to the machine or climbing the tower to see if something is missing there.
No. 683440 ID: 5ad4a7

Oh you make a good point. We should make sure to look at the entire mechanism so we can fix it properly, and maybe get permission to do so besides.

Go up, find the roaches maybe.
No. 683700 ID: a1c0c2

I'm guessing the machine is definitely related to the Axle, judging from how that pole and line in the middle resemble it.
No. 684197 ID: ab25fe
File 144763142329.png - (105.78KB , 600x600 , 5-58.png )

"Its a music box! But its all tangled up like Lester's face..."

>"Wait, you saw Lester?"

"I'm pretty sure, but he was just a kid and there was something... wrong with him."

>"Yeah I'll say."

"No I mean his face was covered in some kind of static or something. And he wasn't speaking normally either. This probably has something to do with that."

>"Well, if we go down there, those things will probably swarm in and tear us apart. Lets go upstairs instead."

You follow the ledge as it coils its way upstairs, while outside the clattering of machines increases.

You step out onto the roof, finding the young Lester at the apex standing behind a massive glass sculpture and flanked by a pair of roaches. You assume that the machinery on the first floor would allow it to spin if it weren't entangled. Instead it groans as if under strain.
Zeke looks at the massive custodians and leans close to you in a stage whisper.
>" Dude, you never told me they were so big... Holy shit."
No. 684198 ID: 5ad4a7

Ask them if they want the music box fixed. Say you might need some help doing so.
No. 684217 ID: bb78f2

Bow to his Majesty, Lester the First of his name.
No. 684272 ID: 3663d3

ask if they want the box to spin again.

you probably wont need to cut all of the vines, just a few and the released tension will allow he other sections to overpower the vines.
No. 684339 ID: ecfa2c

This. It's question time.

Also, casually mention to Zeke that they are only this big in people's minds. Though they can get VERY numerous when people are upset.
No. 684946 ID: ab25fe
File 144798904519.png - (107.42KB , 433x600 , 5-59.png )

You whisper back to him
"They normally aren't so big, its only inside someone's head. They're, like, guardians or something. To be honest, I'm not sure what they're supposed to do..."

You raise your voice to address the trio.
"Hello? Lester?"

His voice crackles and carries faintly like a badly tuned radio.

You and Zeke share a worried glance.
"Uh, we'd like to help, you know...with the music box? Shouldn't it be spinning?"

There's an awkward pause as he seems to work out what you said.
>"H͓͍͖̻̽̾̏̈ͣ̔̋̕eͬ͑ͤḽ̀p̴̙̼ͫ̊.͇̝͚ͯ͒̃̓ͨ̚.̶͔̜̦͔̖͔̗ͫ.͉͢.ͫ͒̑ͩ̓ ͉̬͙̟̖͈̫͊ͤͧ̒̒b̙̞̬̑̌̓ͯ̈̀oͬͫͤ̑̄̆̅͟x̓ͯ̇͐ͭͨ.͖̖̹͚͝.̄͏̲̬̻̝͍.͓͓̳ͩ͜.̥̱̬̱̲̰̎ͧ̀.͓̭͔̻̝ͅ ̮͇͎ͨ͂̐ͦͫͪs̯̼̞͒ͫͮͧͥpͥͬḭ͔͓̲͚̰̋́ͅn̪̗̰̦ͨ̌ͤ̏̐?̡̫͙̺̤̼̤ͬ̃̊̌"

"Yeah!" You step forward with a clank. "You'd like that?"

>"Y̺̥̜̥e̙̦̯̪̲̔ͪ̑̇͒͝a̧͕̯̰̙̝̫̠͂ͨḩ͒̎͒͊.̺ͦ̏̇ͨ̋͜.̜̥̜ͦͪ̋.̠̿͊͑̐ ̜̫̈̏̽L͌͒i̵͖̲̳̻͂͌̉͑̋̈k̤̤̭͕ͦͬ̕è̘̟̭̻̙̙̰.̚.̹͈̝̙̫̂̈́̇̈͋.͉̦̤̟̘̥͒̾"

>"He's really one for conversation, isn't he? The hell is wrong with him?"
No. 684947 ID: ab25fe
File 144798905095.png - (190.59KB , 600x600 , 5-60.png )

You're about to respond but your thoughts are interrupted by an angry metallic screech. A whirring amalgam of clockwork looms overhead before swinging down in an attempt to engulf you.
No. 684949 ID: 5ad4a7

Holy shit run for it. Blast your jets for a quick burst of momentum.
Ask for help from the Guardians, see if you can summon up anything to disable the mechanisms of this thing. Glue? Hydrogen peroxide and salt is the fastest way to rust metal. Once it's dealt with, you can go down and fix the music box.
No. 684956 ID: ecfa2c

Take to the air and observe before doing anything. You need to get an idea what is going on before you try clogging anything. This machine could be an invasive force... or could be a part of Lester that is running out of control without the music from the box.
No. 684967 ID: 0fc976

Blast the Claw with your repulsive thrusts! -Er, your repulsor thrusters!
No. 684974 ID: 3663d3

No. 685065 ID: 8dde9a

pirouette cause you're a man's man.
No. 685217 ID: 612806

dive tackle zeke, or take him with you or something
No. 685248 ID: a107fd

Back inside, and down. Unclog the music box.
No. 685543 ID: ab25fe
File 144841443494.png - (169.96KB , 600x419 , 5-61.png )

You fire up your boosters, shoulder tackle Zeke and propel yourself forward right as the machine hand rakes the building with its claws. The two of you scramble to your feet and take shelter inside the structure. Moments later the building shakes as the machine thrashes against it in fury.
No. 685544 ID: ab25fe
File 144841444276.png - (45.97KB , 600x291 , 5-62.png )

Zeke points at the central column, as several fragments crack and spall away from it.
No. 685548 ID: 5ad4a7

Shit, we can't repair this thing unless we deal with the machine outside first. It'll just destroy the music box, gum in the mechanism or no.

WE HAVE TO FIGHT. Or at least, distract it. Tell Zeke to try to do something about the goop, while you go out and engage the enemy.
No. 685551 ID: 350a50

Tell me Nate.

How do you feel about mecha anime?
No. 685701 ID: ecfa2c

Splitting up really might be the only option. For Zeke to do anything, though, he needs to have tools... and you need to talk him through it fast.

So, quick explanation: simple tools unless it's something one degree of separation from something you're "attuned" to. You're armor? One degree of separation from a space suit. You're not sure what Zeke is attuned to, but remind him you've never actually been in space; you're just really enthused about it.

...no. That would be way beyond what Nate can do. Maybe we'll luck out and Zeke watches a lot of giant robot movies, but otherwise... we are ironically going to have to handle this like a bug.
No. 686303 ID: ab25fe
File 144885322221.png - (190.01KB , 600x521 , 5-63.png )

"Its going to smash through! Zeke, you try to get it working while I distract it!"
He starts to protest but his voice dopplers into noise as you launch back into the air in a series of wobbly loops. The mechanized hand pauses its assault on the giant music box and swings its claws at you in a ponderous arc.
No. 686305 ID: 350a50

Fire your shoulder-mounted mini-missiles!
No. 686306 ID: 0fc976

Just imagine a huge gaping void beneath the claw.
No. 686307 ID: 5ad4a7

It's working! Keep dodging. Attempt to learn how to fly the suit for real in the meantime. Or even try using the thrusters as pulse blasters, just like the real suit. Priority 1 is not getting hit, Priority 2 is distracting it, Priority 3 is not shooting the music box, Priority 4 is damaging the rusty machine thing.
No. 686321 ID: 3663d3

shoot at it some to make yourself a threat.
No. 686329 ID: ecfa2c

This. Keep dodging, only attack it enough to keep it's attention on you instead of the box.
No. 686659 ID: ab25fe
File 144911742804.png - (137.53KB , 600x600 , 5-64.png )

You aim one of your palm blasters at the heaving metal beast and feel the pulse kick your shoulder back into its socket. The blast takes a molten chunk out of the attacker and sends you pinwheeling in the opposite direction. You fight with your boosters to maintain control but it is a desperate battle for stability.
No. 686660 ID: ab25fe
File 144911743835.png - (140.86KB , 600x627 , 5-65.png )

As you balance out, you notice the mass of rust coiling in on itself like a snake about to strike.
No. 686662 ID: 5ad4a7

Shit. Launch yourself as far away as you can. Or, watch it carefully and boost yourself sideways with all four thrusters to dodge once the attack comes.
No. 686690 ID: f56624

Shoot towards and past it, it can lunge at us one way but can it shoot the other way?
No way of telling, but I doubt we can dodge it if we try to outrun it's lunge
No. 686699 ID: 3663d3

No. 686714 ID: bb78f2

Yes, use the boost to get through and do a barrel roll. We're fine. you okay over there, Zeke? All Aircraft report.

You know, in this time of duress, I have one question.

Why hasn't Dr. Cooper joined us yet? Wouldn't her natural reaction be to try and maybe touch Zeke or Nate when we conk out? At least to confirm the existence of this phenomenon?

I'm going to be honest, I'm just questioning it because I want her help.

Nate, can you summon the Hulk Buster suit? We need to go heavy duty now. (Or is that impossible since Age of Ultron came out WAY after this quest started? Or is it in a state of limbo). At this point, I would summon a Zord if you can.
No. 686764 ID: 2a7417

Cut all thrusters.
No. 686822 ID: ecfa2c

Oh. Yes. This. So this. You're a thinker, not a fighter. So out think this thing. Drop like a rock and then shoot away at an odd angle.

I don't think mass is an issue or complexity is the issue. It's the nature of Nate's mind. He summons armor, but most of them have been space armor or some sort. Even Iron Man's armor is some has space suit capabilities. He'd be more likely to summon Gundam than a Zord... or most of the Zords.

That aside, we do NOT want a giant robot battle here. We want to keep the property damage down a bare minimum. This is Lester's mind, after all.
No. 686834 ID: 350a50

Third. Cut thrusters, re-stabilize, then burst away.
No. 687140 ID: ab25fe
File 144935311671.png - (403.29KB , 600x600 , cow5-66.png )

You shut off your boosters and drop out of the sky, giving you a chance to straighten out as the claw launches itself at you. You watch as it flings itself at you in slow motion, before roaring past your head like an enraged freight train. It starts to swing low and correct itself but you fire up your jets and shoot out from under it. The force laces y our vision with black and your blood moving like lead, as you approach the tower.
No. 687141 ID: 5ad4a7

Pull up, pull up! Do not impact the tower!
No. 687148 ID: 3663d3

turn, cutting beam. start at the top and swing your arm downward.
No. 687182 ID: 350a50

This. Cut into its underside as you swerve away.
No. 687329 ID: 91ee5f

It might help if you have a helmet. You know that, right? It'll keep the wind out of your eyes so that you don't close your eyes.
No. 688089 ID: ab25fe
File 144980202875.png - (167.92KB , 600x496 , 5-67.png )

You spin yourself around, ignite your palm blasters and cut a swath of destruction down the machine's flank. It starts to unravel as you pass, raining half-molten pieces of metal and spinning automatons behind you.
No. 688090 ID: ab25fe
File 144980203678.png - (191.18KB , 600x601 , 5-68.png )

With the music box looming, you try to pull up but the building engulfs your vision. You throw your arms up to protect yourself, and hit your air brakes. The wall creeps towards you like a glacier and folds itself around your armor as you plow through it. You roll to a stop near Zeke.
>"Holy shit! Nate, are you okay?"
You respond by retching and vomiting, something wriggles in it.
No. 688092 ID: 5ad4a7

Blarg. Steady yourself if you can, go see if the rusty machines are backing off. If not, you have to go back out there. If you can't move any more even with the suit, conjure up um, some... degreaser or something, and hand it to Zeke. If he can fix it fast enough, then maybe...
No. 688105 ID: 3663d3

need some kind of weed killer.
No. 688116 ID: ecfa2c

Right, time to give Zeke a crash course in how to manifest basic objects. Because honestly, given what we were just throwing up, I think Nathan might fall apart into a collection of wasp larva if he dismisses his armor.

It's been said twice before, but one more now that it's REALLY needed. Each mind creates is prone to create different kind of objects. You can manage armor with complex rocket propulsion but couldn't even manage a handgun. That's because your armor is just one degree removed from a spacesuit, something that is mentally comfortable to you. Zeke needs to think of something personal to him, come to his very being, and then think of something with only one degree separation from that object that is useful in this situation.

...good luck summarizing all that down into twenty words or less. This intrusive voice is going to prepare for the worst.
No. 688117 ID: 5ad4a7

Apparently the GUN problem was also due to trying to imagine more than one thing at once. The iron man suit is one object, that happens to have both offensive and defensive capabilities.
No. 688178 ID: 91ee5f

I told you that you needed a helmet, but noooo you didn't listen to me. Now you've got a concussion and you only have yourself to blame for that!
No. 688800 ID: ab25fe
File 145014757261.png - (69.69KB , 301x600 , 5-69.png )

No. 688801 ID: ab25fe
File 145014758347.png - (109.21KB , 600x426 , 5-70.png )

You feel the servos in the suit come to life fitfully, something pops and you smell burning electronics. Something inside you is torn, shifting like a loose brick in a suitcase full of glass. The sky is filled with the sound of clattering, ratcheting metal as a tide of rust pours toward you.
No. 688802 ID: 5ad4a7

I don't think you're going to be doing any more flying. One last blast, maybe?

Or, a new strategy. PURE OFFENSE. Dismiss the suit and make a laser turret, strong enough to hold back the tide.
No. 688805 ID: 3663d3

we can't. the suit is probably the only thing holding him together.

take a knee and become a turret. pew pew pew pew.
No. 688813 ID: ecfa2c

Seconded. The suit must stay on.

Oh, and Nathan? Call over your shoulder to Zeke. Tell him to go to his safe place if anything happens to you. Last thing we want is for him to be stranded here.
No. 688819 ID: 350a50

No. 688846 ID: bb78f2

Begin mentally playing Back in Black by ACDC.
No. 688847 ID: 94cb83

I don't think this suit is gonna cut it anymore, we need an upgrade we need a Gundam. Or at least some power armor.
No. 688898 ID: 91ee5f

Well, he's wearing the Iron Man suit, if he's going to upgrade then I think the next logical step is to get the Hulkbuster armor!
No. 688954 ID: bb78f2

My concern is that Avenger's 2 came out this year, this quest started last year.
Unless the date is purposely vague enough to include Avenger's 2 into the timeline, or Nate is a huge comics nerd and has seen the Hulkbuster in action in the Avenger's comics if there is one, Nate can't logically think of the Hulkbuster.

But I also vote for Hulkbuster in addition to running some ACDC if its possible.
No. 689423 ID: ab25fe
File 145040989916.png - (110.20KB , 600x344 , 5-71.png )

You half turn and shout back into the building, "Zeke! If this goes bad, get out of here!"
You drop to one knee, take aim, and unleash hell. For a moment you see the swarm pushed back before the machines surge over their broken comrades.
No. 689424 ID: ab25fe
File 145040990819.png - (163.03KB , 600x426 , 5-72.png )

You fire wildly into them as they start to slip past you in ones and twos, but in seconds they're on you.
No. 689425 ID: ab25fe
File 145040991656.png - (104.50KB , 600x551 , 5-73.png )

The world suddenly throws itself sideways.
No. 689426 ID: ab25fe
File 145040993660.png - (117.21KB , 600x485 , 5-74.png )

The floor rears up and slams against your head. For a blissful moment, everything seems muted and calm here on the ground. There's noise and movement around you, but it all seems so far away.
No. 689427 ID: 5ad4a7

I think it's time to wake up. Then maybe try to immediately reenter.
No. 689428 ID: bb78f2

Create Safeplace.
No. 689431 ID: 5ad4a7

...I just had an idea.
How much can you take into your Safe Place? Maybe you can take all of them to space, where they will spin harmlessly like space debris.
No. 689444 ID: ea0ad9

That... might actually allow them to act as a safeguard if the alien agent tries to attack.
No. 689446 ID: 350a50

Assuming they're not sucked up by the Axis or as part of our mechanism.

Let's go for it. Not like we have any other viable play.
No. 689848 ID: ab25fe
File 145074869516.png - (67.60KB , 600x502 , 5-75.png )

You try to remember on your safe place, or really anything at all, but you feel like your head is stuffed with cotton. You try to sit up, but can't for some reason. Confused, your eyes meander around until you manage to focus on what appears to be your arm. Desperately try to move, with a rising sense of panic as you realize that your body isn't responding.
No. 689849 ID: 5ad4a7

Um. If you can talk, call for help. If you can't, try to imagine something that will push your body back together.

Failing that, try to just wake up. You can't possibly be trapped here, can you?
No. 689852 ID: 350a50

Be the headcrab.

Sprout some mechanical legs from your head.
No. 689853 ID: 3663d3

be modok
No. 689861 ID: 0fc976

Become a spider-brain droid from the Star Wars.
No. 689890 ID: a107fd

Deploy wasps out of your neck-stump, make a ribbon of nest-paper-skin connecting back to the rest of your body.
No. 689935 ID: ee1e0e

You can do better, become hitler from that one wolfenstein game.

You know the one, with the head in the jar and the robot body with gatling guns for arms
No. 690061 ID: ecfa2c

Actually, I've been wondering where the wasps have been during all of this. Three theories, none of which are good.

But yeah, Nate... you're completely disabled at the moment. Try not to panic, close your eyes, and hope really hard that Zeke and Lester will be OK. You've done all you can and then some, but you are well past your limit. Don't blame yourself, you did everything you could to help. There was no way for you to guess that Lester's job was hazardous waste disposal. So just breath. Close your eyes, breath, and pull yourself together mentally if not physically.
No. 690471 ID: ab25fe
File 145116959953.png - (102.19KB , 511x600 , 5-76.png )

"Zeeeeeeke? Are you there?" You hear someone approach from behind you, but can't even turn your head. "Can you give me a hand?"

>"I did tell you to be careful, didn't I, Nate? I can't say I expected this though."
You feel yourself being picked up and turned around to see the concerned face Dr. Cooper.
>"Are you okay? Does this hurt at all?"

"Oh, I guess so. It feels...weird, like being a piñata or something. What happened?"

She looks up at the towering structure; above it the glass figure pivots slowly in pace while a strange crystalline tune emanates from it.
>"I'm not sure, let's go find out. "
No. 690472 ID: ab25fe
File 145116960719.png - (116.80KB , 392x600 , 5-77.png )

Dr. Cooper tucks you under her arm and sets off into the music box. Inside, the glass mechanism turns smoothly and the floor is littered with broken pieces of steel. The remaining clockwork figures are positioned around the edges of the chamber, and move slowly and elegantly in time with the music. You see no sign of Zeke, but the strange black tangle appears to be missing.
"What happened to you, Doctor? Is everything okay out in the real world?"
>"I'm not sure... as soon as you touched your neighbor, everyone went into some kind of trance. I wasn't sure about what to do, and tried taking the gun from them, but somehow ended up here. "
No. 690473 ID: 5ad4a7

Oh dammit, I only realized after Nate was decapitated that the clockwork figures could have been part of the music box. Did we fuck up trying to keep them away from the music box? Did they remove the gunk after Nate was chopped up? Or were they going to break it if the gunk wasn't removed first by Zeke?

We have to find Zeke and find out what happened. Ask the doctor to bring you up to the top of the structure, Zeke might be there. ...actually ask her to try putting your head back on your body first, maybe you can stitch yourself together like a scarecrow. Or heck, ask if she can imagine things up or otherwise manipulate the world to fix you.
No. 690474 ID: 3663d3

i feel the dancers were too insane to have helped, they were lashing out and would have destroyed the box.

i think this was perhaps the best way, freeing the dancers from the rust and tarps and then getting the music started. if they were still locked away then when the music started the box would have been empty.

ask doc to get the rest of you, imagine some glue and try to glue your head back on.
No. 690475 ID: 3274e0

She seems remarkably calm given the circumstances, but you could chalk that up to the training in her line of work. I suppose it's time to give the good doctor a sparknotes version of what's going on while you try to get yourself together (or failing that, while she carries you around in search of Zeke).
An exit strategy may be worth thinking about at this point too, once you find Zeke. Lester still has a gun, so maybe exiting all at once isn't a great idea. If he realizes all of you went poking around inside his mindscape (especially after Dr. Cooper claimed she knew nothing of the stuff) he's going to trust you even less than before. Sending someone ahead to disarm him is pretty prudent.
No. 690476 ID: 0fc976

How good is your throwing arm, doc?
No. 690485 ID: 1a7e25

Tell doc that this is what you meant by entering other's heads, but she's probably figured that out already. Maybe just tell her that she's in Lester's head.
No. 690488 ID: ecfa2c

Agreed. Remember, they tried attacking the entire building as a claw arm BEFORE they tried entering in from the bottom. Clearly unstable.

Anyway, tell the Doc not to freak out at the giant cockroaches. Also, apologize for how much catching up she you two will need to do. Last long description of events you gave her was over the phone while at work. You've had three more accidental incidents since then, plus the one intentional experiment with Zeke, and then this deal right here.

Things have gone... crazy, and aside from the consistency of one unknown antagonist at work you don't know what is truth and what is fabrication.
No. 690512 ID: f56624

ask if she can sort of try to put you together again.
No. 690516 ID: 350a50


If not, we have to look around for something we can safely take for our own machine.
No. 690569 ID: ab622b

Wheeeeere's your heeeeead at, at, at, at, at...

But seriously imagine your head is strapped to a combine scanner from half life 2 or something, lets not inconvenience Dr Cooper too much.

Keep looking around for Zeke, maybe he fixed the box?
No. 690679 ID: 5ad4a7


Tell her that this is the perfect time to make a Shakespeare reference.
No. 690818 ID: ab25fe
File 145142438520.png - (99.41KB , 488x600 , 5-78.png )

"You seem to be handling this well, Doctor."

>"Its pretty strange, I'll give you that. I take it that this is one of the mindscapes you told me about?"

"Yeah, this is Lester's head. Zeke and I were trying to get this music box untangled so that it would spin. I don't see him anywhere, though."

>"Alright, we'll check upstairs."
She scans the room and starts climbing. You give her a quick recap of what you and Zeke went through as you travel.
"The problem is that once we leave this space, he'll still have a gun. Zeke thought that maybe we could do some kind of damage and shut him down from the inside, but I don't want to use this ability to hurt anyone..."

Dr. Cooper gives you a gentle smile.
>"We'll deal with that when we have to, Nate. No matter what happens, I'm proud of what you did today."
No. 690819 ID: ab25fe
File 145142439131.png - (138.77KB , 600x530 , 5-79.png )

She steps out onto the roof of the building, You still don't see any sign of Zeke, but Lester is still where you left him, flanked by a pair of gently spinning rust people. He seems to be staring deeply into the glass dancer, and as you approach you see, not a reflection, but a window to somewhere else. Looking back is someone remarkably similar to Lester.
No. 690820 ID: 2a7417

You good with kids, doc?
No. 690822 ID: bb78f2

Ask her to approach and observe.

Twin or daughter then?
Judging from the age Lester currently is, probably twin. It would be weird to interact with your daughter in your abstract memories as a kid yourself, unless you distinctly looked so down on your parenting style you felt like a kid.

I guess this means no Geordi glasses, his eyes are fine now.

Ask her how good she is at deciphering abstract thought and images from the mind, we could REALLY use an expert here.
Oh and tell her to imagine so cool armor or something. It has to feel natural to her though, we usually just go with nerdy space stuff, like a space suit or becoming Iron Man.

Also ask her how good she is with kids, since Lester her will probably think and act in a childlike manner.
No. 690823 ID: 5ad4a7

I bet that's his sister.

Also I suspect Zeke is awake now. He'll likely disarm Lester if we stay in here long enough.
Speaking of "long enough", ask Dr Cooper how long it was before she touched Lester. I suspect there's some time dilation involved in the mindscape- time moves slower in here, so 5 minutes inside is like 1 minute outside. Or even more dramatic than that, like 20:1 or something.

If we can approach Lester safely, ask if he'll be okay in the waking world. Parallels usually have an awareness of their waking self, so...
No. 690827 ID: 15720c

That's probably the "Her" Lester mentioned, but forgot. He apparently remembers, now. Mother, sister, daughter, cousin, we don't know, but at least he found her in here.
No. 690833 ID: 3663d3

walk over calmly and say hello.
No. 690838 ID: ecfa2c

Zeke probably went to his safe place with the black goo. It's the only explanation for why he and the black stuff is gone. We may have to go to his mindscape and fix things before they get too bad.

As for who that young lady is... it could be a twin... or Lester could be secretly tansgender or gender fluid. This is a mindscape after all.
No. 690839 ID: 3663d3

there's an idea, use the goo for the tether.
No. 690841 ID: 350a50

That might work actually. An adhesive to bind everything together.
No. 690867 ID: 91ee5f

Let's look around real quick and make sure Zeke isn't off to the side getting ready to swing a crowbar at something.
No. 691245 ID: 2d99eb

Should we worry because of our Wasps didn't appear during our stay in lester's mind?
No. 691717 ID: ab25fe
File 145196101810.png - (89.80KB , 600x447 , 5-80.png )

Dr. Cooper approaches the scene, trying to make sense of it.
>"Is that... who you were looking for? Is that 'her'?"

Lester drags his gaze away from the crystal and regards the two of you.
>"I...I have a sister. I went away, and when I came back... she was gone."

Dr. Cooper bends over to look at him closer.
>"Do you remember anything else? Anything that might help you find her? Her name? Where you used to live?"

>"Ca-Callie. We were twins. They said she had...problems, that she would act out.... she wouldn't talk to other people. But she would talk to me."

You speak up and he stares at you.
"Are you okay? Do you think you're going to calm down?"

You can see him panic a little, but he settles down and nods.
>"I, I feel better. Clearer. There's still a lot of fog, but I'm starting to remember."

"We might want to get out of here and see what happened to Zeke."
Dr. Cooper nods and you feel the world slip away from you.
No. 691718 ID: ab25fe
File 145196102571.png - (93.63KB , 451x600 , 5-81.png )

You feel your consciousness returning and stagger a bit as you remember that you have legs.

Zeke stands over a weeping Lester, apparently having disarmed him at some point.
No. 691719 ID: 211d83

Tell Zeke good job.

Let him know that it looks like someone or something did mess with Lesters mind. But hopefully we have seemed to have helped start fixing things.

Check on Diego and lets get everyone sitting down and calm. We all need to discuss things.

Also ask if Zeke called the authorities. That would make a mess of things.
No. 691720 ID: bb78f2

Does anyone remember ANY of that or was it just me?
No. 691722 ID: ecfa2c

Lester appears to remember, since he's crying.

The real question is, is Zeke OK. He was very eager to lash out at Lester before. If he took the dark goo into himself... this might be very bad.

Nate should be OK, back in physical flesh now. Take it slow. Call out to Zeke. Make sure he's really OK and not getting ready to execute Lester in cold blood.
No. 691723 ID: 3663d3

lester should be rational, at least mostly, enough that you can have a civil talk and explain that the power is yours and not a government plant thing.
No. 691729 ID: 5ad4a7

Alright, first off, ask Zeke if he's alright, and how he got rid of the black goo. We may need to go into his head next if he took it into himself.

I think you should let Dr Cooper deal with Lester's recovery. She's a therapist.
No. 691836 ID: 91ee5f

Make sure Zeke doesn't shoot Lester.
No. 692098 ID: ab25fe
File 145222312284.png - (73.60KB , 600x600 , 5-82.png )

"Zeke, are you alright? Do you remember what happened?"

Zeke squints and shakes his head.
>" I don't know, man. I was wrestling with that black stuff and you told me to get out. I think I took it with me; my head hurts, dude. What happened?"
No. 692099 ID: ab25fe
File 145222313519.png - (90.49KB , 600x575 , 5-83.png )

"Whatever you did, it worked. The music box started up and Lester found who he was looking for. Do you remember now Lester?"

His puffy red eyes look at up you from a mask of snot and dirt.
>"Callie." He pants.
Suddenly he scrambles across the floor, heading for the front door. Zeke raises the gun and tracks him, but hesitates when you tell him to wait. You turn to Dr. Cooper to see if she knows what to do, but in doing so you realize that you can't find Diego.
No. 692110 ID: f56624

Check the hall or other rooms? Did zeke see where he went? and where's Cooper, too?
No. 692141 ID: 350a50

He's probably writing on things somewhere.
No. 692145 ID: 5ad4a7


Ask Lester to wait a minute, make sure things are okay between you and him. He knows you're not out to get him now, right? If he needs more help he can ask.

Then multitask. Go looking for Diego in here first, he may just be in another room. If he's still in the apartment then go back into Zeke's head to try to dissolve the black goo somehow. Now that you know the general theme of Zeke's head and what dangers are in it, you may be able to avoid pissing off the bees to get to the goo. If it can't be destroyed, then take it into space since that seems to be a neutral area, not really your head. It might even count as one of the parts we're looking for. ...actually maybe you should take it there first before trying to destroy it.

If Diego isn't in the apartment then just have Zeke hand over the gun to Dr Cooper since there's something wrong with his head now. Then I guess all three of you can go looking for Diego.

After that's done, then you can go back into Diego's head, perhaps alongside one other person, and see if you can fix whatever's wrong with him.
No. 692305 ID: f7322c

What can you see outside the window? If it is the exit of the apartaments, maybe someone should Keep an eye for him.

As for what to do with the gun... Maybe the doctor should have it, or at least she should keep the bullets to make sure no accidents happen. (or maybe dismantle it? Only if it seems to be a better idea)
No. 692694 ID: ab25fe
File 145244738350.png - (88.51KB , 600x473 , 5-84.png )

"Wait, where's Diego?"

Dr. Cooper looks around, confused.
>"I'm not sure, he was just here."
You check the bathroom and find it empty. You rush out into the hall just as a trash bag is ejected from Lester's apartment. It rips open like a spoiled fruit as it hits the wall and you duck back instinctively.
No. 692700 ID: 5ad4a7

I'm guessing Lester has lost his hoarding urges and has decided to clean his apartment. Those are cockroaches flying around, right?

See if you can get past and check outside to be sure Diego isn't running off.
No. 692708 ID: bb78f2

Tell Lester if he needs help cleaning, he can ask.

Call Diego on his cell phone, you have the number right? Or call Doug to get his number, you should have your superior's number, and he should have Diego's.
No. 692715 ID: 5ad4a7

Nathan did lose his phone but he should be able to use someone else's.
No. 692787 ID: ecfa2c

Lester probably needs some alone time, but make a note to remind him later to call the city for a mass pick up. You know, when the world isn't about to end.

But yes, contacting Doug and/or Hiro would be a good idea. Diego might be drawn to either one of them while he's under the influence like this. Ask whoever you call for Diego's number, and warn them that he's under the influence.

If you talk to Hiro, lie convincingly. Talk about the fire in the clean room, and how Diego charged in there without a suit to get you out. He must have had a delayed reaction to something in there because he became unresponsive and started drawing weird symbols. Hiro can give you an update on the weird stuff Cobolt has been spitting out, and you can contact him by email if necessary since he's in lock down in front of his computer right now and might not respond to strange phone calls. Only reason he responded before is because you used Diegos.

If you talk to Doug , tell the truth. You went into a neighbors mind, Diego somehow piggy backed on your ability, and when inside Diego ate some royal jelly and came out unable to communicate except by drawing alien mathematics. Shortly after, another neighbor broke in and things got violent. Unaware contact was made, and by the time you got out of that mind... Diego was gone. Oh, and while you may chide him over taking the computer, warning him about Diego acting impulsively should come first.

Finally, while you're doing either one of those things, ask Zeke ifs he would mind working with Doctor Cooper to check on the status of his Safe Place. The fact that the black goo just vanished AND he has headaches is a bad sign. It had to go somewhere, and some hypnosis therapy might allow you to check on things in his Safe Place without actually visiting his mind.
No. 692913 ID: 350a50

I still think the black goop would make a good tether, if we can get it safely back to our machine.
No. 692994 ID: 91ee5f

Call his phone. He should still have it with him. Just call it and listen carefully. If he's still hiding somewhere nearby, you should be able to hear his phone ring when you call it.
No. 693587 ID: ab25fe
File 145273302721.png - (65.91KB , 422x600 , 5-85.png )

You rush back into the apartment.
"Dr. Cooper, I need to borrow your phone!"
She unlocks it and hands it to you. The touchscreen struggles to respond to your taped up fingers but you manage to dial Diego's number. It rings for a moment before switching to voicemail. You hang up and try again with no luck. Instead you try calling Hiro.
>Allo? Who's dis?

"Hiro, this is Nate. I need to talk to you about Diego."

You hear an expansive yawn come through the other end.
>Oh, you two hit it off then? He told me he had a date. Did he give you the D?
A snicker cackles through the other end.
>Get it? because Diego starts with a-

"Come on, Hiro. He just took off and won't answer his phone. I think he may have been exposed to something in the clean room and I think he's freaking out. Do you know any way to get in touch with him?"

> I'll try, but I dunno what good it'll do."

"How's it going with cobalt?"

>[i]Boring: just the same old garbage. Most of the cops left a few hours ago, but the place is still on lockdown. I've been trying to come up with fixes but it getting hard to....do... think...without sleep

No. 693589 ID: 5ad4a7

Tell him he should probably get a power nap.

Then just take everyone and go look for Diego. First thing is to see if he took the car. If he did but Dr Cooper has a car to follow him in, do so. Actually I bet you can treat Zeke's black goo problem in the back seat. Should be quick.
No. 693627 ID: ecfa2c

It's a big city. Trying to run around looking for him would be a bad idea. You don't know where Diego lives, and it sounds like that aside from his home and work he hasn't really spread out much in this city.

Also, if you tell Hiro to go back to sleep, tell it in a way that sounds like "sorry for waking you". It sounds like you may have woke him up.

Also, don't dismiss how easy or how urgent Zeke's problem might be. Lester is just a normal person who had a tragic experience with his sister. Zeke is a normal person who SUFFERS FROM SEIZURES. A lot could be at stake.
No. 693647 ID: 5ad4a7

Well I mean if we see him leaving we can maybe catch him and stick to him.

Alternatively Nate could ask where Diego lives, because that might be where he's going?
No. 693671 ID: f5f4c3

Have you ever tried contacting the custodians outside of the mind-realm?
No. 693680 ID: 350a50

If he's on foot, he may not have gotten far yet. In a big city, a guy who looks stoned out of his mind and alone is also Grade A mugger bait. Time to get a search party together.
No. 693878 ID: 38b10a

Zeke's probably got some of Lester's muck in his psyche, we'll need to check everythings ok later but in the mean time take a quick look around the block to make sure Diego's not at risk of getting run over or something.

Also take a quick look at Lester when you get the oppertunity, just to make sure the fixed music box hasn't made him obsessively clean or something now.
No. 694863 ID: ab25fe
File 145308206589.png - (118.67KB , 600x600 , 5-86.png )

"Maybe you should get some sleep, Hiro?" He grumbles something in agreement and the line goes dead. You hand Dr. Cooper her phone back. "He said he'd try contacting him, but maybe he hasn't gone far yet."

>"Hey what do I do with this?" Zeke holds up the pistol in one hand, gripping his forehead with the other."

Dr. Cooper takes it from him gently.
>"I'll just hold this for now, if that's alright?"
She checks to see the safety is on before putting it into the inside pocket of her jacket. The weight makes it hang lopsided, but it shouldn't attract any attention.
The two of them follow you downstairs and around the block, finding only an empty parking spot.
No. 694864 ID: 5ad4a7

Is there any sign of Diego's car? Wait where's Dr Cooper's car?

If we can't tell where Diego went, then go back upstairs and let's go into Zeke's mind to solve the goo problem.
No. 694875 ID: 211d83

Zeke does not look good. We need to solve his black goo issue soon.
No. 694889 ID: 561b41

Actually, that is an issue. Where is the good doctor's car?

Agreed. Assuming we're not in a "wake up from a dream only to find out you're still dreaming" scenario. Even then, the black goo would be the problem.
No. 694941 ID: 350a50

Yes. Let's get in there and get the gunk out of his head.
No. 695039 ID: 91ee5f

Do you guys even realize it's not that simple? Remember what our creepy boss Doug said? He said, "Not sure if you knew about this or not: If you touch someone while they aren't aware of it, you'll be drawn in. But as long as they know that you're there, thier mind will block you out. I still haven't figured out why, but its handy if you don't want to get wrapped up in everyone's baggage." Based on that, we can't just jump into Zeke's head and deal with the problem just because we want to! I agree that we need to get in there as soon as possible, but think about how long we'd have to wait for Zeke to become "unaware" for us to even get in there! It could take a few minutes or a few hours! And while we're doing that, Diego, who's brain has been scrambled, is missing and probably doing something dangerous without even knowing he's doing something dangerous! I'm not saying we shouldn't help Zeke. I'm saying we should find Diego and help him first, then we can help Zeke, while someone else watches over Diego to make sure he doesn't wander off again!
No. 695040 ID: 5ad4a7

Dude, we jumped into his head by distracting him, just last thread.
No. 695139 ID: 561b41

Not to mention we have a therapist probably trained in hypno therapy. We should be good. Trickier part will be returning the rope we took from Zeke's brain so it can be used to repair the damage that the black goo is going to his head. That involves jumping through some hoops we've never actually done before.
No. 695202 ID: 350a50

Actually, that's a good point. We took it as a tether (it was a weak one though), but now it might be important to have taken it. He might need some 'spare parts'.
No. 695842 ID: 91ee5f

So basically either we A) Help Zeke now and possibly never find Diego or B) Find Diego and Zeke's condition gets harder to fix.

Man, I hate these kinds of situations.
No. 696011 ID: ab25fe
File 145334242838.png - (79.77KB , 387x600 , 8-87.png )

Dr. Cooper casts her eyes around the empty street.
>"Are you sure this is where he parked?"

"Yeah, we were trying to avoid being followed. Maybe we should go look for him, can we take your car?"

She suddenly looks a little uncomfortable.
>"Mine? Oh, I... got a ride with Uber..."

"What, why?"

>"Because.... I may... have had a couple of glasses of wine before you called, okay? I didn't expect to be on call for a-a whatever this is."
You've never seen Dr. Cooper on the defensive before, its kind of unsettling.
>"If you want I can get us a ride, but we'll have to wait for them to show up."

"Well, what about you, Zeke?"

He gives you a scoff.
>"Dude, do I look like I have a car? I bike everywhere."
No. 696024 ID: ecfa2c

We don't know where Diego lives or where he would go in his current condition. If we can't head out right away, we may as well not bother.

Right now, you need to make sure Zeke didn't take the black goo into his head. Last thing we need is for his Asian water garden to get turned into tar pits.

If his mind is contiminated, it should be fixed while the problem is fresh and he hasn't suffered any side effects of it like Lester did. If his mind is clean, I think everyone involved here could use with some rest. Tomorrow morning you need to figure out how to get to work to retrieve your car, and which of the MANY problems you'll need to wack a mole first.
No. 696030 ID: 5ad4a7

If we wait for a ride we'll have no chance of seeing Diego on the streets and we have no idea where he's going. We'll just have to hope he's on autopilot and either going back to work or going to his own home.

Let's just fix Zeke then ask permission to go into Dr Cooper's head. I suppose explaining to her WHY we're going into peoples' heads might be a good idea too.

After that, Lester may have recovered enough we can ask him for a sample of his mind constructs. Maybe one of the dancers would help us? Or heck we could ask his inner self what part of him might work and be safe to take.
No. 696458 ID: 2f4b71

Reassure Dr. Cooper. She's obviously uncomfortable that her enjoying herself has prevented her from helping in some way. Regardless that it's not her fault, it's a difficult mindset not to fall into when your job is helping people.
No. 697168 ID: ab25fe
File 145377733918.png - (92.64KB , 600x595 , 5-88.png )

"Maybe we should try and help Zeke, then. I'm worried about what that goo might do if left unchecked."

Dr. Cooper yawns,
>"If you say so. This is all still very bizarre to me."
No. 697169 ID: ab25fe
File 145377734624.png - (100.29KB , 600x462 , 5-89.png )

The three of you head upstairs and you sit Zeke down to try and re-enter his mind.

Dr. Cooper
>"So how does this work?"

"Well, all it takes is physical contact. The problem is that he can't be aware of it when it happens."

Zeke rocks gently on the couch as he nurses his head.
>"You know, I appreciate all this but its okay. Its not like I haven't had shit wrong with my head before this."

"Yeah, but I want to make sure it didn't do any damage when you took it with you. Just relax and like... try to think of something else."

You spend the next half-hour trying different ways to distract Zeke and enter his mind with no success.
>"I can't do it, dude. Its like trying to pretend the dentist isn't there. Plus I've got this headache..."
No. 697170 ID: ab25fe
File 145377735232.png - (77.15KB , 600x526 , 5-90.png )

You sigh and lean back against the couch, exhausted and running out of ideas.
No. 697171 ID: 1129c9

Kissing him should prove a sufficient enough distraction.
No. 697172 ID: 350a50

Phone the police and report a missing person (Diego). Mention that he seemed to be having some sort of seizure or episode and wandered off. He should be kept from hurting himself or others.
No. 697182 ID: 5ad4a7

Well, we know it works if the target is asleep.

Dr Cooper could also try hypnosis?
No. 697200 ID: 350a50

Actually, if she can do hypnosis, we should step out and make the phone call while she does so.
No. 697239 ID: f6442a

Idea: Zeke pokes you while you're tired and out of focus, and retrieves the tether himself.
No. 697258 ID: bb78f2

Can you get high again?
No. 697300 ID: ecfa2c

This. Or at least the poking thing. We know that something happened when Diego touched you... though it wasn't exactly what happens when Nate touches someone, Nate doesn't know that.

Other plans... Zeke holds your hand and tries to go to his safe place, or Doctor Cooper uses the same hypnosis technique used to teach her patients about the safe place and Nate just touches Zeke when he's deep in trance.
No. 697740 ID: ab25fe
File 145395561096.png - (75.25KB , 379x600 , 5-91.png )

>"I think you'd have to wait till I fall asleep, Nate. Unless Dr. Cooper can, like, hypnotize me or something?"

Dr. Cooper rolls her eyes at him.
>"When have I ever indicated that I know how to hypnotize someone? Its not really a standard practice among psychiatrists."
She runs her fingers through her hair
>"Listen, I'm going to call in a missing persons report for your friend. I don't know how much they're going to be able to do, since so little time has passed, but maybe they can spot him."
No. 697741 ID: ab25fe
File 145395561665.png - (63.06KB , 600x473 , 5-92.png )

She steps out of the room to make the call. You lean back and sigh as you close your eyes...
No. 697742 ID: ab25fe
File 145395562548.png - (110.93KB , 512x600 , 5-93.png )

-worrying about how you're going to get to work in the morning.

No. 697743 ID: 5ad4a7

Well I was going to suggest Zeke get high, next, so that he can relax more and thus stop thinking about Nate... but okay!
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