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Sep 19, 2019 12:36 AM
A Nimire and a Cat in SWL. Also, horrifying alien pregnancy powers.
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Our wisdom flows so sweet.

 

The night is hot and muggy. A window is left open. The building pants like a dog. NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT A small golden bee alights on the windowsill. It has no sting. Not yet. INITIATE THE ARISTAEUS PROCEDURE The bee creeps gently across bedclothes. It touches skin and then lips; its wings flick in the warm rush of air. It descends. BEES, AS HONEY-MAKERS, ARE AN IMAGE OF WISDOM

Do you know the San people, sweetling? They say a bee carried Mantis over the water before there was land. It died for that, but before it did, it left Mantis with a seed that would blossom into the first human.

Everything is true, sweetling.

 

 

Taste, and - WITNESS - see.

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A sleeping girl inhales.

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She wakes on an alien shore, under dry rain. The rocky ground is sharp, not to the touch, but to the mind. The air is sweet, like a hospital room that's been lived in for too long. The sky gapes into a blue-green Möbius strip.

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She stares up at the tumbling sky for a long moment, then says, "What the entire fuck."

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"You will see the end of days," a sourceless voice proclaims.

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"What if I don't wanna?"

She attempts to sit up.

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Nothing will stop her. The sourceless voice doesn't seem to pay her words any attention.

"You will see the dawning of a new Age."

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Is her environment any less unsettling from a sitting position? Wow, it super is not. She stands up anyway, looking around at the for-lack-of-a-better-word landscape.

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It's pretty much more of the same in every direction. Behind her is a big hill, also made of rocks; in front of her is an ocean, reflecting the light of the... sky? If she stares at the sky for too long her vision will start to swim and it will get harder to stay on her feet. The blackness is too black. There are no stars. There are too many stars.

"To be a monarch, or a beggar," the voice continues. If she listens closely, it is not just one voice but several, in chorus. "To lose everything, or to become a god. To stand with us, or against us. The choice is yours."

In the manner of dreams, she is no longer on the island, no longer in a body.

"Remember this," the void hisses.

She wakes up in her own bed, a slight tickle at the back of her throat.

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She tries to mutter a complaint about trippy dreams, but coughs instead, sitting up abruptly. The cough is unpleasant, one of the kind that feels sharp and spiky in her throat. She shuffles out of bed to go get a drink of water—

—and a wave of flickering blue flame rolls out of her hand and washes across the floor, lighting several discarded socks on fire and scorching the hell out of the carpet.

"What. No," she says, curling her hands into fists and hugging them against her chest as she stares disbelievingly at the mess. Indifferent to her exclamation, the socks continue to burn. She feels dizzy and unbalanced, and despite the relative calm and quiet of the early morning, her concentration wavers as though she's surrounded by a hundred TVs playing a hundred different movies at full volume. Something in her head makes the silence feel like noise.

She takes a deep breath, and then another, and then slowly and carefully reaches for the nearest burning sock. Nothing explodes, yet. She picks it up, slowly and carefully, and drops it in the small and mostly empty metal trash can by her bed, slowly and carefully. Then she approaches the second sock.

The noise that isn't there flares and pops like static. A wave of force billows outward from her body. It stamps out the remaining fire, but knocks over the trash can and spills the first sock under her bed; and cracks her window, shatters the empty plate on the floor by her desk, shoves the desk halfway across the room, and hurls her favourite chair into the wall. Loose papers swirl around the desk, blown out of their mostly-tidy piles; a rain of pens clatters to the floor.

She bites her lip and closes her eyes and stands very still for a moment. Then she turns, paying close attention to the noise now, and rights the trash can and retrieves the adventurous sock and carefully-carefully-carefully carries sock in can to bathroom, where she dumps it in the sink and turns on the tap. Now there is no more fire in her apartment. This is good. This is a step forward.

A shift in the noise—she drops the trash can—azure fire spills from her shaking hands and melts a big messy hole in her shower curtain.

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She turns on the shower, cold, and climbs into the bathtub past the smoking vinyl tatters and sits under the spray in her nightshirt, clutching her head in her hands and crying. A halo of flame crawls over her hair; she flinches from its quiet crackle, shivers when the water puts it out with a sputtering hiss.

This is not a long-term sustainable solution, but it is a solution that involves her not burning her house down right this minute, so she'll take it.

It's a while before she pulls herself together enough to turn the water to a more livable temperature, flinching back quickly from the shower knob when blue light sparks and flickers on the back of her hand. It's another, longer while before she curls up and pillows her head on her arms and tries, for lack of anything better to do, to get back to sleep.

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Sleep is nearly impossible to achieve. She half-dozes, her attention wandering, feeling the tiny tongues of flame that rise from her skin and wilt in the water.

Then she jolts awake. Her first thought is that she's having another bizarre dream; her second thought is that she's managed to start drowning in the shower. Then all the strange sensations come together into a unified experience.

A wet gritty feeling on her skin, an oily gas-station smell, deep darkness on the other side of her eyelids, the spray of the shower a rain of muffled impacts barely detectable through her (wet, gritty) nightshirt. She's still curled up in the bathtub, but there's something all over her, and it's flowing over her face and obstructing her breathing.

In a flash of sudden panic, she explodes.

She can feel the fire pouring off her, but the slime just hugs her tighter, wrapping itself around her face, pressing on her eyes to keep them closed, blocking her nose and shoving itself against her mouth until a treacherous cough opens her clamped-shut jaw and the wet gritty stuff surges in, tasting of something that belongs under the hood of a car. She claws fruitlessly at her face, first with her hands, then with arcs and spouts and blasts of fire as tangible to her as extra limbs. Nothing helps. Fire rises from her back, burns through her nightshirt, and bubbles haphazardly through the glop without substantially displacing it. Fire flows in waves over her skin, sputtering and choking and breaking apart as the slime rolls over it in a horrible sticky gritty nasty-tasting tide.

Slime pours itself down her throat and slides down her back. She flails, bruising her arms on the wall and the edge of the tub. It would be very stupid to get out of the shower and go running blindly through her apartment in this state, but she has trouble suppressing the feeling that she has to get away

Imaginary sound rolls and boils in her mind, feeling like static under her skin. An unseen force launches her out of the shower, through what remains of the curtain, through the thankfully-open bathroom door, and out into her bedroom. She tries to calm herself down, tries to keep the strange power contained inside her body, but she can't keep a lid on her panic. Blasts of force and fire lash out at random, doing nothing much to the slime but having very audible effects on her furniture. And the slime still scrapes over her skin, pours itself down her throat in torrents, slides up her nose and into her ears and between her legs and fills her from every direction, in her guts and her lungs and her stomach and—she should be choking to death, she should be popping like an overfilled balloon, but she's not, she stays alive and conscious through all of it, even when the slime does something agonizingly painful deep inside her body—

A new sense unfolds. It's nothing like the synaesthetic static of the magic dream fire. It's mostly closer to sight than anything, but it sees in every direction, without reference to the position of her body; and it sees only life. The trees in the park outside, the early-morning squirrels climbing their branches, seagulls fighting for discarded fries in a McDonald's parking lot, every other person in her apartment building and their plants and their pets and—herself, last of all: the glow of a human life, honeycombed in gold and haloed in angry blue fire, being rapidly overtaken by a marbled red-black pattern like alien ichor or bad cartoon lava. The last of the slime soaks into her skin and disappears, leaving her clean and unhurt, the abrasions left by the gritty stuff rapidly fading. She opens her eyes and watches her scratched-up arms healing over in seconds.

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After a minute to catch her breath and calm her racing heart, she warily looks around. Her bedroom is a fucking mess. Surprisingly few things are on fire, but that's still—she counts them, the dresser and the laundry basket and the pile of scattered calligraphy—three more fires than she wants in her house. And the only fully intact piece of furniture she has left is her bed, which although structurally unharmed is still soaked in the same dark red liquid that's splattered all over the room. Judging from the trail of it leading out of the bathroom, and the way it so thoroughly soaks the remaining scraps of her nightshirt, it's probably the slime's fault. Slime blood, maybe. If slime has blood. At least none of the things with slime blood on them are burning.

She doesn't dare move. She can see the power inside her, now, watch it flicker and flare in time with the dance of the noise, watch it flow into her limbs every time she shifts slightly.

Can these problems be used to solve each other somehow? Did she get anything out of being sexually assaulted by alien slime besides this - life-sight?

Her curiosity yields a confusing series of not-quite-images, alien creatures she's never seen before, that she can only identify by imperfect analogy - hyena-horse-crocodile, worm-lizard-mining-drill, mammoth-dinosaur, sea serpent, demon bat - and then something that looks almost like slime blood, dark and red and gooey, and she stops there with the thought that she could really use a source of slime blood right now—

With her new life-sight, she can clearly see the egg that starts growing inside her.

Why the fuck is there an egg.

Her jolt of alarm sets fire to the one remaining dry corner of her blanket. She hisses angrily under her breath and curls up into a ball on the floor and watches the egg grow rapidly in size from 'marble' to 'tennis ball'. It stops there. She can tell, when she thinks about it, how to incite it to come out.

The slime powers may have had a much more hostile introduction than the fire powers, but they're vastly friendlier now that they're here. Laying an egg the size of a tennis ball, even one with a soft shell filled with nothing but soft squishy goo, is probably not going to be terribly comfortable; but so far it seems to be under her control in a really heartening way, and it might be useful for something. Putting out fires, if she's really lucky.

She does the thing.

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Laying an egg turns out to be significantly more comfortable than advertised. She loses hold of the fire again, this time not in fear but in pleasure; the feeling of the egg sliding out of her womb is like a long, intense orgasm, and it exhausts her enough that for a minute or two afterward she doesn't even feel up to opening her eyes and looking around to see what else is on fire.

When she does, it's actually not that bad; a few more things are scorched, but the only actual visible flames are the ones she's already seen. She sits up and looks at her new slime egg, resting on the floor in a puddle of clear sticky fluid. Its lifeforce is nearly the same as hers, marbled red-black without the trace of gold or the aura of fire. A simple mental command splits the shell and sends the blob of dark red goo slurping across her floor. Controlling it is as easy and intuitive as moving her own limbs. She rolls it in a circle, has it consume its own eggshell for sustenance, then blobs it along to the scorched and slime-soaked fragments of her desk and has it start eating those. By the time it reaches the burning papers, it's the size of a largish teddy bear and capable of rolling right over the fire without hardly having to stretch. She sends it to the laundry basket next, feeds it all the clothes with holes burned through them but has it leave the intact ones alone, then has it climb the dresser to the burning corner and put that out, and finally sends it over to her bed to smother the burning blanket.

There. Good. No more fire, and a means of controlling further fires that's significantly more workable than 'sit in a bathtub for the rest of her life'.

As for the rest of those images - she examines them again, nicknaming them in her head. Tank for the thing like a mammoth crossed with a triceratops crossed with something out of Lovecraft. Warhorse for the hoofed thing with crocodile skin and ram horns and hyena teeth. Tunneler for the worm-lizard with a face like industrial mining equipment. Leviathan for the snake with fins and a dragon's head. Imp for the long-limbed bat-winged hairless demonic monkey. And the goo... she rolls it across the floor toward her and pokes it with her finger. Its outer surface hardens at her command, lightening to a rocky reddish-pink; then the goo underneath consumes the hardened skin and rounds itself back into a uniform blob. Useful, malleable, multipurpose. She thinks she'll call it Clay.

She is definitely in no hurry to lay a Tank egg, but Tunnelers look like they could be legitimately useful, with those heavy three-part jaws full of hard rock-chewing teeth. If they're as good at digging as they look... well, she's not going to be fit for human society if she can't stop setting things on fire. She and a Tunneler and a blob of Clay could all fuck off underground and find or dig a nice little cave for her to live in, assuming she can find usable sources of food and water. Is Clay edible...? Let's not test that just yet.

There's another page in the mental booklet of egg options. She flips forward from Clay and finds herself looking at a mental image of... herself.

Um. What.

...if she clones herself, does she get a little baby twin, or...? Will it turn out like the Clay and be totally under her control? A little mind-controlled baby twin?

If she clones herself and gets a true duplicate, though, a second Naomi identical both physically and mentally to the first... the Clay doesn't seem to have any problems with pyrokinetic incontinence. Maybe a second Naomi could escape her fiery curse.

She decides she doesn't feel quite hopeless enough to try that yet. Maybe she can start a little smaller, make one of the other creatures whose adult size would be easily concealed inside her apartment, see how long they take to grow up and whether they have any detectable independence.

...maybe she won't try that right away. She makes an effort to clean up her room instead, sending her Clay around to eat broken things and slurp slime blood out of the carpet. It has trouble digesting the ceramic of the broken plate, but manages wood and rubber and plastic and spilled ink just fine; and it does get through the plate, just very very slowly.

Okay, now that her bedroom is more or less vaguely clean, she should protect it as best she can against further outbursts. She has enough Clay now to form it into a hard-shelled nest, its high curved walls hopefully sufficient to block any involuntary emissions; she puts it under a broad splash of slime blood on the ceiling, which although unpleasantly drippy will provide some protection against any escaping flame blasts. Then she curls up in a puddle of surprisingly comfortable goo and spends a very long time quietly crying. She doesn't seem to get hungry or thirsty, and although she's exhausted she is very reluctant to sleep given what happened the last couple of times.

The ceiling gets lighter, then darker. Intermittent flame blasts splash harmlessly against her hardened Clay walls. Eventually she is tired enough to sleep despite her well-founded worries.

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She wakes, foggily and not all at once, on her bed in her room as it looked before all the fire and slime blood. Her front door is standing open, silver-gold light dimly defining various furniture.

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...ugh it's the magic dream aesthetic again. She sits up and snaps, "Fuck you!" at the unmarked walls.

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The walls don't answer. Her doorway leads into a gothic-style cemetery carpeted in mossy grass. A woman in white stands by the gate, under a lamppost.

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Fine. She approaches the woman, because that seems like the sort of thing you're supposed to do here.

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"The world trembles," the woman says, by way of greeting. She sounds vaguely apologetic, but firm. "You must learn, or be swept away."

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"I am so in favour of learning, you don't even know."

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The woman nods gravely. "Make haste."

She vanishes in a cloud of golden hexagons and reappears some ways beyond the gate. The wrought iron bars swing open. A box sits invitingly in front of a statue of some kind of angel killing a snake, or a dragon, or something. The stone is a bit worn.

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...oooookay. And if she opens the box...?

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There's a grimoire inside. It's sort of plain-looking but is obviously an Object of Some Importance. As soon as she touches it, new knowledge leaps into her head, of how to give life and take it, of blood as a vital essence, of protection and endurance. Sigils crowd her vision for a moment, then fade into something like muscle memory. With these sigils she can call blood, her own and others', to her bidding.

The woman gestures; at her feet there is a rotten corpse, skin sloughing from putrid flesh. It is bisected by the iron fence, trapped there by the way the bars have bent.

It is still trying to get out.

"The dead are rising to the siren's song," the woman says. Her tone does not change. "Destroy it."

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The woman waits patiently. The zombie under the fence flails and makes some unpleasant gasping noises.

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...Fine. She attempts to damage it with her newfound knowledge.

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