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Ataraxy

Valuce: Breaking the Fourth Wall

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Being a college student was supposed to be tough. And, Ataraxy guessed, sometimes it was. But more often than not it was a complete breeze. The quarter of winter 2018 in particular held what was perhaps the easiest group of glasses he'd ever taken. He never did see how people had such trouble with college courses, but of course he was pretty comfortable with money and living situations. That probably had something to do with it. Or, maybe, the average person was just stupid. That whole idea of a C being an average grade to aim for blew his mind. 

Ataraxy picked up a pencil and spun it around his fingers in the classic anime style, a skill he'd learned in high school out of utter boredom. At first he dropped the pencil a lot. After years of practice...well, he still dropped it a lot. Honestly it depended on the weight balance of the pencil and whether he was in the zone. See that's why the fidget spinner had been useful. Less distracting noise from constantly dropping the fucking pencil. 

As he spun the pencil, his Statistics professor mentioned something about Z-tests or something. Fuck if he knew what that meant. Statistics had literally nothing to do with his future profession and his 99.18 percent basically guaranteed him a high grade, so, naturally, his attention drifted to his laptop where the classic red and blue of Valucre was open and inviting. Thank god for that website, or he'd probably have learned how to do other useless anime stuff. Maybe.

As he clicked through the notifications and PMs that he had, a gray notification ball popped up in his personal messages.

"That's odd," he muttered just quietly enough that his friend sitting next to him couldn't hear. Normally the alerts were red. His mind raced with the possibilities. Was the valuminati real? Was Carlos asking him to be an admin? Probably not that last one but hey, who knew?

Moving his mouse over a little to hover over the gray ball, Ataraxy clicked on it.

Gaia has declared you worthy. Do you accept?

Hell yeah he did.

Click.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Ataraxy groaned. A sharp pain cut through his mind as his eyes cracked open, the incredibly strong sunlight burning holes in his pupils. His memories flooded back almost instantly and his body jerked. It was only a moment before Ataraxy was on his feet, eyes glancing all around him in a wild panic. If a doctor had been listening to his heart, the doc would have worried the young man was having a heart attack. 

"Holy shit, holy shit, holy fucking shit!" he shouted, feeling panic crawl its way up the back of his throat. Where the fuck was he? Hadn't he just been in Stats? How was he know outside? Forget that, how had he ended up in a fucking forest? As the situation continued cause his heart rate to increase, Ataraxy forced himself to take a deep breath. And not just one, but many. Over and over again until a couple minutes had past. Eventually his heart rate decreased. Luckily he hadn't quite gotten to the point of hyperventilating so it wasn't like he was desperate to breath. 

Okay, first thing first. Ataraxy pulled his cell phone from his back pocket. 

6:35pm. No service. Battery 68%. 

Fucking fantastic. It was only then that he noticed he wasn't alone. A group of other people seemed to be in similar states of distress or confusion. It was at that moment Ataraxy regained full control over himself. At least as much as he could considering his situation. Which, incidentally, was still unknown. Probably a kidnapping, though he couldn't reason out why anyone would want to kidnap him. Inhaling and then exhaling deeply one last time, Ataraxy steeled himself and moved to go talk to some of the other people. But before he made it more than a few steps, a video game like notification popped up in front of his vision. Maybe a few feet from his face. Anyways, it was far enough that he had no issue reading it. 

Congratulations! You have been chosen by Gaia as a hero. Prepare yourself for the long road ahead. 

What. The. Fuck? Ataraxy cast quick glances toward the others to see what they were doing. Regardless of what they were doing he turned back to the video game screen thing in front of him. 

Just say "menu" to see your stats. Enjoy!

Oookay. "Menuuoooo- Woah!" Ataraxy flinched back as some random ass dark blue box leaped at him out of no where. He hadn't expected that happen. "Am I dreaming?" he whispered, pinching himself hard on the harm. The wince and pain told him that was unlikely. Maybe he'd gone fucking nuts. If his phone still worked, that would have been his queue to look up the characteristics of schizophrenia. 

The blue box in front of him was more like a board. Ataraxy's eyes widened in a mixture of shock and excitement. He'd read enough manga to get a feeling for what was going on. He honestly felt bad for whoever had summoned him. He was many things but a hero was most certainly not one of them. In the far right of the menu box was an icon of himself. Short and styled dark brown hair. Sharp green eyes with gold spots mixed in. Approximately 5" 9' and athletically built. His strong chin and body posture tilted his head in the image to the point that he was nearly looking down on whoever viewed his profile. 

Name: Ataraxy (Alex)

Age: 22

Ability: Firebending

Rank: Freedom Seeker

Title: Otherworlder

No. Way. His heart sped up against, this time more out of pure excitement than anything else.

Ataraxy held out a hand and stared at it. Firefirefirefirefirefirefirefirefirefirefirefirefire. Nothing happened. His heart dropped like a rock, but there was no way in hell he was going to stop trying. 

"C'monc'mon! Work goddammit!" he growled, almost forcing his hand to catch on fire when a small spark crackled in the middle of his palm before going out like a candle. This was really happening. Thoughts of his family flashed through his mind, but he pushed it to the side. He'd never read a manga where the hero actually went home. But he'd try. First though, he probably needed to help defeat some demon lord. 

Gulp.

After a couple minutes of trying to light his hands on fire, Ataraxy didn't manage more than a small flame. He decided it would probably be better to go talk to the others, so he walked toward a spot where all of them could see him fairly well. He'd never been the most extroverted person on the planet and public speaking was far from his favorite thing to do, but he wasn't scared of it. And starting the conversation was control. Something he thrived on but didn't have an abundance on at that moment. 

"Hey guys," he said, waving to the group in general. He put on a smile even though the others could probably tell he was pretty fucking freaked out. "My name is Ataraxy. What the fuck is going on?"

Edited by Ataraxy

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It was like any other day for Javier, drawing art on his tablet for his tumblr page, turning in super late assignments to the college he was going, playing dark souls all chill even though he'd die like hundred times. A typical day. But one other thing javier did on typical day was go out to meditate in the woods for he was a nature lover at heart, seeing the plants and trees, listening to the curious sounds of the woodland creatures around him, the smell of the woods, it all gave him peace and comfort. 

He walked the path that he normally went through in the woods, however something felt a little different here...there was something calling to him in the woods. Javier lightly scratched his cheek and decided to follow where this strange feeling lead him. He had nothing but his casual clothing, a red plaid button up shirt with fit jean pants and lace-less flat shoes, he also carried his sketchbook with pencil, eraser, and phone inside a small satchel hanging by his shoulder the strap across his chest. 

"...Hmm i feel like i don't recognize these  parts of the woods?" he said as he entered a clearing with a single tree, granted a very large tree with some unusual swirling patterns on it. He felt a sleepiness as he approached the tree. He shrugged it off as tiredness from all the work he had done recently and decided to give in to the sleepiness, thus javier sat right on the trunk of the strange tree and slept there using his satchel as a sort of pillow. 

Javier felt as if the ground was become like cotton that he would sink into, he fell into an abyss of deep sleep.

~You have been chosen young one, by Gaia as a hero~

Were the words that echoed in his slumber before javier rubbed his eyes. He felt actually quite refreshed when waking up, he yawned and looked at his surrounding. People....people he did not know were around him, this made him feel confused but even more so the fact that the forest he was in wasn't exactly the same as the one he had enter. So many questions to everything around

14 hours ago, Ataraxy said:

"Hey guys," he said, waving to the group in general. He put on a smile even though the others could probably tell he was pretty fucking freaked out. "My name is Ataraxy. What the fucking is going on?"

Javier looked at Ataraxy, 'Who was this person? And why was he along with these other people here?' again so many question came to javier's mind that he couldn't answer anything at the moment. He could only look at Ataraxy with confusion and curiosity, his honey brown eyes and dark wavy hair that reached over one of his eyes, Ataraxy may mistake javier for a girl due to his very feminine appearance overall. Javier touched his caramel toned skin of his face to make sure he was still alive, 'Yep still alive...' he thought to himself.  

 

Name: Javier 

Age: 22

Ability: Fairy Dust Manipulation

Rank: Fanatic

Title: Otherworlder

 

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A sturdy lad stands in his bedroom. It just so happens that today, the 7th of March, 2018, is this sturdy lad's another work day. Though it was about twenty three years ago he was given life, it is only today he will be---

Oh, right...

I don't have bedroom anymore.

Nick scratched his head as he looked around half empty room of his soon-to-be-vacant flat. As a matter of habit, he often came into this room to lie on a sofa during his thought experiments, creative process or just pure lazyness. But instead of sofa Nick could see only a wooden floor. His occasional hums echoes across the walls and dampened only by a lone wardrobe containing his clothes. From the window at the room's end a lovely sight was shown: a snow-covered trees sparkled under the rays of a sun shining above condensed city blocks. Bemused by such sightseeing, Nick hummed a Snowman tune (You know, that one from Earthbound). He traversed from bedroom to his workplace - just to appear again in the bedroom a couple of minutes later.

Nobody said that moving from one flat to another was going to be easy. Not to mention being a student and a part-time worker at the same time. And yet, Nick was quite optimistic about his future. He learned a few ways how to live on his own pace despite of all the crap happening worldwide. And knowing the fact that an incredibly fast Internet connection has been already waiting at new apartment, Nick only wished for weekend to finally come.

But now he had to live another day. Which was unnecessary bad, at least.

After mindless wandering, Nick sat down behind the desk where his laptop was residing. A few clicks, a couple of seconds - and he was already surfing at least three of his favorite websites. Needless to say, Valucre.com was one of those sites. A roleplayer's haven where he can freely develop (or abuse?) his English writing. Occasionally Nick would check the notifications for any responses on RPs he was subscribed to. Recently there was none of that, so he practically wandered across the site, watching character profiles, which pops up almost every day. There were also some browser notifications indicating that someone wrote something.

But again, Valucre wasn't the only site Nick usually visits and the internet itself wasn't the main interest. If nothing of interest appears or there is a some kind of artblock, then he simply switches to another computer thing or starts to wander across his flat again. Only a passing notification from Valucre could bring him back.

That day, the 7th of March, 2018, was just like other days. Clicking, typing, scrolling and all in-between. Nick was about to close browser - it was minutes away from dinner and preparation for study/work. But a little pop-up window that appeared on one of Val's topic slowed him down a bit. It wasn't simple pop-up with user's pic, name and kind of his action. It was rather a prompt.

Gaia has declared you worthy. Do you accept?
|          YES          |          NO          |

"Pfft. Some kind of clickbait ad for another pay-to-win crap." - Nick thought and attempted to close the entire browser. However, another pop-up appeared and blocked the control, as if the scammers were refusing to lose their "client".

Please accept this offer! This is you chance of a lifetime!
|          YES          |          NO          |

"Su-u-u-u-ure." Ctrl+Shift+Esc, Processes, Kill Process. And boom! The anonymous plea had disappeared without a trace. With a sense of accomplishment, Nick stood out from his desk and walked toward the kitchen. The soup bowl won't heat itse--

BZZZZZZZT! BZZZZZZZZT!

Nick turned around as he had heard a buzzing sound in his room. He knew his phone would receive another broadcasted message from another art group. Yet, the bubble at the top of a phone indicated that was a PM. Without hesitation, Nick swiped back and forth and spent seconds to briefly read the message.

It appeared that those seconds were enough.

On the screen there was a chat room with an empty field instead of name. A single text blob was written in bold and crimson red font:

ESCAPING FROM

YOUR PURPOSE

IS MEANINGLESS

"Oh. Kay..." - Nick mumbled. He didn't know if someone from his friends wanted to prank him with OFF reference or it was a death threat, but such things could get on his nerves. Soon he forgot about grim message and walked away from his room. On the way he turned right to the bedroom, driven by a yet persistent habit.

Suddenly, a familiar sofa stood before his eyes. In reality it should be taken apart and lying in another apartment. Yet here it was, fully assembled and prepared for a night's sleep. An instant wearyness fell upon Nick. He didn't questioned how the sofa got here in the first place. He simply walked mindlessly toward it to lay down and take a quick nap, like he always do.

With an unexpected grace he jumped out and fell flat onto a blanket. A sofa responded with a soothing wobble. The blanket was so soft and warm, that Nick could not help but roll around and wrap himself with it. Overwhelmed by a somnific sensation, he closed his eyes.

...And then there was nothing but the void


.

.

.

.

..

...

*cough* *cough*

The first feeling Nick got is the taste of soil in his mouth. He spitted out the stuff and slowly stood up. It was difficult to do, as his vestibular apparatus still haven't restored itself properly after dozing. When Nick finally got himself together, only then he realized, there was no bedroom around.

Moreover, there was no flat he was inside.

Okay, let's get this straight: it was a forest. A dense, humid, never-ending green forest. It was hard to believe that several minutes ago Nick saw tons of snow outside. Of course, this sudden change of scenery made his heart beat faster than usual. But, needless to say, the surroundings were quite pleasant to the eyes that have been seeing only seventy shades of whites for months. But there was no time to enjoy the forest's refreshing air. Nick needed to do what any millennial would do on his place.

Firstly, he checked in his mind all the possibilities of how he got there. Kidnapping? Unlikely. Teleportation? Still early for that. Dreaming? Pinch cheek - ouch! - nope, awake as hell. No possibilities left? Okay, saving that questions for later.

Next, Nick checked the tools at his disposal. Luckily, he was still holding his dual-SIM smartphone - perhaps something or someone had brought him along with it. Regrettably, all comms were dead. At least, the battery was full enough to allow Nick get to the highest point of this... place.

He looked around. At first glance, there was nothing but trees. A space fulls of trees, with no visible trace of wildlife or civilization. However, he managed to find a clearing in the distance. There were several people wearing casual clothes - much like himself. Even though Nick's outfit was more suitable for domestic purposes: with such intense heating in his flat he could afford a thin gray shirt and black cotton shorts. For some weird reason, he was literally barefooted, so he could feel every stick and stone below.

But that didn't matter because it was mandatory to make contact with those people. He make a few steps toward the clearing, when suddenly he tripped over a stone.

THUD!

Once again, Nick's mouth was full of dirt. He stood up quickly to examine that stone, which presumably appeared out of nowhere. Surprisingly enough, it was a runestone. The surface was covered in glowing symbols that seemed to be familiar. Way too familiar...

~ДОБРО ПОЖАЛОВАТЬ, О ОТВАЖНЫЙ ГЕРОЙ!~

Сама Матерь-Гайя избрала тебя, дабы исполнить древнее пророчество.
Долгий и опасный путь лежит пред тобой.
Но ты будешь не один. Мечом, магией и дружбой ты проложишь путь к своей судьбе.

Nick rapidly took out his glasses and rubbed his face. Nothing. He didn't feel anything on his face but his own palm. No VR headset, no implants, nothing. Nick put his hands onto his head, biting up his lower lip and tight as possible. The flat interior wasn't coming back and the glowing runestone was still before him. This was going wrong in so many directions.

He remembered that Disney movie about the guy that got himself into Russian folklore world almost in the same manner. And the resemblance was far too obvious to ignore. It was clear as a day it would be useless to search for embassy in this world. But at least he could search for friends in distress.

Nick stepped outside the forest, revealing himself before the group. They would see a tall wide-shouldered man with glasses, carrying the impression of a guy who visits computer classes more often than gyms. A short haircut was made for one purpose: to elevate the rest of dark brown hair with the developing bald spot at forehead.

In other words, unlikely hero.

He noticed that the people were speaking English and introducing themselves by using something that might count as a nickname. At least, a young short-haired man and the person with long wavy hair (probably a girl, it's hard to tell) were talking that way. Nick thought about using his own nickname, but the name "P.N.See" would sound stupid in live conversation. Struggling to find something suitable, he gulped and spoke to the group with the following words that came into mind:

"The name's Sho'Horo. Care to explain what is this place?"

- - - - -

Name: Shourito Horosaki (Sho'Horo)
Age: 23
Ability: Water Manipulation
Rank: Randomizer
Title: Otherworlder

 

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"Finally, easy day at work, tired as shit, just got in a shower. Time to get in a nap before going out for the session tonight." With that, feet were kicked up on the love seat and nothing but darkness over took his vision. Sleep took to him fast, which was only slightly odd, then there was a voice calling from the darkness.

Awaken Hero.

Gaia has found you worthy. There is work to be done and others who will need your skills and strength. Arise Hero.

He did not stir from his rest. "I'm no fuckin' hero." There was the thought of this being a nightmare, usually being called hero was the start of something stupid and annoying...the fun times was when he was called demon or anything along those lines. 

Wake Hero, the others are waiting for you to rise.

The ground under his back as he appeared lying down beside those who were already there. The 6 foot 2 built 23 year old with nothing on but a grey white and black striped beanie cap and a pair of tan cargo pants (pants are comfy don't judge me!), was getting irate. His chest was like a rug on both sides, filled with nothing but hair along with his arms and hands and top of his feet. The Russian ancestry, so he claims, and the Alaskan heritage gave way to that. His hair was very short cut, almost crew cut but with less hair on top and more on the sides due to inherited hair style, and his neck was unkempt with hair on his neck, chin and face that seemed to be an extension of the hair on his head. 

"Look! I'm no hero, say it again I'll rip open your fuuu.." His eyes flew open as he shouted out in anger until his eyes looked over to see a few others nearby. This wasn't his home, not the chair he was sleeping on. There was no TV in front of him. This was open air, fresh, he could smell it, feel it, see it...SEE IT...his glasses, his bummed eye, nowhere to be found but his vision was clear. His feet moved to strike ground, the feeling of packed dirt on his skin was wonderful. It'd been a long while since he felt it. The lack of toxicity in the air, the lack of tall buildings and noisy streets, the feeling of having nature around him again, it was almost like being back east when he lived down south. 

"Well...ty che blyad...shit feels real.." He looked down to his hands, clenched his fist, then struck his chest to make sure it was real. The burning sensation of the blood moving around the area let him know this was definitely real. "Great...well I had plans this weekend but I suppose this is happening now." His eyes looked around to the others. "Anyone know where the hell we are?" 

17 hours ago, Ataraxy said:

"Hey guys," he said, waving to the group in general. He put on a smile even though the others could probably tell he was pretty fucking freaked out. "My name is Ataraxy. What the fucking is going on?"

"I'm taking that as a no now." He stood up enjoying the feeling of not having to need his glasses and not having his bummed left eye.

Name: Kevin (Kodiak)
Age: 23
Ability: Primal Attunement
Rank: Roleplay Wizard
Title: Otherworlder

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Wednesday morning, 7th of March, 2017. Everything was in its place. Abigail had packed her bag, consumed breakfast, put together her outfit for the day and was now watching the clock as she checked the notifications on her regular sites before heading off to battle for a place on the tube to start the day. Ah, the morning commute that was filled with so many wonderful moments.

 

She dabbed at her eyes, trying to push the droopiness that filled that as she gazed at the illumined pages of Valucre. She shivered slightly, her little box of a room was colder than usual, overcast and fluffy white clouds cast a cool tone over her. Tap, tap, tap went her fingers over the keyboard as she completed her morning check-up.

 

Gradually her elbow appeared on the desk, followed by her head nestled in the crook it. So warm.  A yawn soon followed, green eyes fluttering shut momentarily before the cutting sound of a notification. The box popped and flashed on her screen like a child begging for attention.

 

You have been declared worth by Gaia. Do you accept?

 

Gaia? After trying the obvious routes of escape, all unsuccessful, she reached the limit of her patience, Abigail dragged her mouse over and indicated her acceptance.Her eyes closed the moment her the weight of her finger left the mousepad. slipping into the warmth of her arm.

 

Light and warmth. Hmmm, most peculiar. She dragged herself from the depths of her surprise catnap and reached out with her fingers to log back into her laptop. Leaves, earth and were those twigs? Head shot up, chocolate curls bouncing round her face as she gazed at her surroundings in bewilderment. Followed rapidly by panic.

 

Scrambling up, she twirled in a panicked circle as her mind attempted to catch up with what reality was presenting her. Stay calm. Stay calm. Her breathes became shallow, tears pricked at her eyes as she reached for a nearby plant. Yes, real, definitely real. A forest? Woodland? Not her room. Abigail wondered briefly if she was going to be violently sick in this rather lovely space.

 

Gingerly, she stood, feeling her shoes sink very slightly into the earth. High heels were truly a most inappropriate form of shoe for woods. Her mind was briefly assaulted by the sounds of the wind rustling in trees, the mirage of colours and the tranquil peace that conflicted heavily with her own emotions.

 

And there were people here too. Her hearth lifted. Good! Maybe someone would know what was going on. However, these people worn the same lost looks. Confusion filled the air so palpable Abigail felt she could almost touch it. A menu blurred briefly before her but she focused her attention on the others,

 

Before focusing her attention on the others, she patted down her skirts for her phone. Yes, it was there, and without any service. On the plus, it was on 80% battery. Hooray. Abigail thought bitterly, about as useful as a swimming pool full of mash potatoes.

 

Slipping it back into her pocket, she smoothed down her skirts and become to gaze at the others one by one. She could offer no further insight than they could into their current situation. She stepped forward to introduce herself, presenting a five foot seven slender girl styled heavily in the 1950s. Green eyes, red lipstick, curling hair that licked the sides of her face with a black floral dress, petticoat and a little black cardigan that reached her elbows. Black tights and high heels completed the girl who stepped forward to stumble out her name with an apologetic shrug. “I don’t have any idea as to where we are or what’s going on. I’m Abigail, I guess its nice to meet all of you…” The words came out in a rush, a rose bloomed on her face and she ducked her head quickly to avoid eye contact.

-

Name: Abigail (Abigail666)
Age: 19
Ability: Manipulation of size
Rank: Aficionado
Title: Otherworlder

 

Edited by Abigail666

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"Yo, Ellie, we've got another truck to check! Door 317, yard guy says the reefer unit was cutting out."

"Awesome," Ellie muttered, slipping her phone into her pocket and standing up from the long counter at the window that supposedly counted as her desk. The old man at the doorway to the real office slid a temperature gun across the counter to her and vanished back into his space, to do whatever it was he did all night. Probably porn, Ellie thought.

She pulled her arctic-rated insulated coveralls off of a hook behind her and slipped easily into them; the supply cage was stocked with big burly men in mind, not a tiny cherubic woman who claimed to be five feet tall but who was actually 4'11". She puffed a lock of blonde hair, dyed purple at the ends, out of her face as she bent over to roll up the cuffs so she wouldn't trip on them.

Not for the first time, she missed her old life, where she had a real desk and could wear nice pretty clothes and take an hour for lunch, in a place where it was always warm and sunny. She'd traded all that for a frozen warehouse in a frozen tundra working the night shift and having to wear neon green bibs that she was sure made her ass look absolutely huge. Huge-er. The things we do for love.

She stepped out of the receiving office and onto the truck dock, pulling the hood of her purple sweatshirt up over her head. Cold air that smelled like the inside of an old fridge turned her pale cheeks instantly red and made her sniffle. Rough men zipped recklessly to and fro on various pieces of power equipment, and even though she was trussed up in a radioactive-zombie-vomit industrial burqua, she could feel their eyes boring into her as they passed. It was unsettling, but hard to blame them; if she was being generous, she was probably a five or a six in the outside world, but by warehouse standards she was probably an eight. Not many mid-twenties girls put up with this place as long as she had. Ellie guessed they must not have rent to pay.

Door 317 was at the extreme end of the dock; Ellie often wondered why it wasn't 301, and where the other 16 doors were supposed to be. She flung open the overhead door and peered into the trailer; pallets laden with bagged carrots greeted her, silently resigned to their ultimate fate as either salad or pet food, depending on which lane the guys on the forklifts sorted them into. Ellie aimed her temperature gun at a few of the pallets and scribbled the data on her clipboard. Everything seemed fine.

Her phone dinged in her pocket; she fished it out and unlocked it. A notification greeted her:

You have been declared worthy of Gaia. Do you accept?

For a second, her heart melted. Her soulmate often sent sweet, nerdy things like this, the beginning of some cute bit of role-playing that made her feel loved and special. But this wasn't a text; it was from Valucre, which she had been poking around in to kill time. 

Ellie frowned and sighed; she should have known better. Things had been rough lately, there hadn't been little romantic gestures in quite a while. Even though Ellie wasn't especially happy with where they'd ended up geographically and financially, the move had brought a great deal of stability and peace... but it seemed like that peace was poison to her relationship. Maybe her brother-in-law was right; maybe they thrived in chaos and would come to hate each other when there were no external pressures forcing them to band together. That was a sad thought.

The young woman shook her head, and impulsively pushed "yes" on the notification. She was new to Val, and really wanted to get involved with whatever event was going on. She didn't have many friends out here yet, after all.

Her walkie-talkie crackled, and her boss's voice issued from it, somewhere between bored and annoyed. "Hey short stuff, what's going on out there? Can I take the flag off the door, or are we sending it back?"

Ellie looked at the piles of carrots, and suddenly felt sleepy. A crafty idea lodged in her mind. She pushed the button on her radio. "Not sure yet boss, I'm going to need to check every pallet. There were some odd readings at the door."

"Fine, whatever. Let me know."

Ellie giggled and threw herself onto one of the pallets. Door 317, way at the end of the dock and flagged so the forklift guys wouldn't touch it, was the perfect place for a little nap on company time. She set her alarm for thirty minutes, and was asleep as soon as her eyes closed.

----

Ellie woke up bathed in sweat. The coveralls that had kept her toasty and warm in the nearly-freezing trailer had become an oven. She scrambled out of them and stood up.  She was in a forest, a warm forest, a too-warm forest. She yanked her hoodie off and threw it in the pile with her coveralls, then rolled up the sleeves of her shirt, trying to get cool again.

"What the fuck?"

She looked around at the tall trees and leafy undergrowth, bewildered. Other people, strange and similarly bewildered, were all around her. Some kind of screen popped up in front of her eyes:

Name: Ellie
Age: 25
Rank: Journeyman
Ability: Waterbending
Title: Otherworlder

"Ok, I'm dreaming. That's cool. But Waterbending? Really? I need better superhero dreams."

A voice caught her attention.

On 3/6/2018 at 10:05 PM, Ataraxy said:

Hey guys," he said, waving to the group in general. He put on a smile even though the others could probably tell he was pretty fucking freaked out. "My name is Ataraxy. What the fuck is going on?"

"Hi!" Ellie waved. "I'm Ellie, and I'm dreaming! Thanks for being in my dream! I expect Scarlett Johansen to come along any time now, and them we're probably all going on some exciting romantic adventure. Fun, right?"

Edited by Raspberry LA

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A fresh breath came into his nostrils. A very audible "Ahhhhh..." escaped his lips. A long sigh of content that would be the start of his time here. It was bitter-sweet really, the one hand being in a new place, out in the woodlands, during the day time..this was definitely a start to a good day. So far not bad...he 'was' here with a few other people. There was safety in numbers if things 'did' go south. For right now the thought of finding civilization passed his mind. If that couldn't be found then food source and shelter. 

 "I go by Kodiak, it's easier to remember. I hate to be the one to bring us back to the reality of the situation but normally, just saying, most dream sequences don't pull in other people. And the hit let's me know that it's physically real. We should start by covering the ground, trying to find some kind of village or town. If we can't we need to find some shelter and something to sustain a few days travel." He popped his neck and his shoulders. Now all he had to do was to pick up a sign of life in the area. "Just gotta pick up a sound...a scent..tracks.."

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"I um...." javier was terribly shy to speak, and worse yet not only was it that there were a strange couple of guys but also girls...and boy did he have trouble talking to cute girls, in fact he has alot of memories where girls mostly teased at him. But being honest in general everyone teased him like he was some cute little animal. 

Javier stood up and looked around the woods he was in, he kinda wanted to sneak away from everyone....in fact thats exactly what he was going to do. He'd quietly walk backwards into the shadows of the trees hoping no one would see him and crawl away from everyone. Problem was the fact that HE HAD NO FREAKING IDEA WHERE TO GO, he kinda stood there under a tree trying to think about his options. The Russian/Alaskan  guy named Kodiak made a fair point in the fact that working as a group we could find some better shelter and such, but thought of being with these people only made javier nervous, plus some of them showed to have freaking superpowers or magic of sorts! Javier wished he had magic or powers but he doubted he'd have any. 

I mean life isn't THAT generous to him. 

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Ellie looked around at her impromptu compatriots. There was no sign of Scarlett Johansen, nor of Demi Lovato, nor of Amy Lee, nor any of the other celebrities she typically adventured with in her dreams. She didn't even have a war unicorn to ride.

She scrunched her eyes shut and concentrated hard

Nope, still nothing. 

Ok, so it was a sucky adventure dream. They couldn't all be super winners, right? Maybe if she tried again...

A loud tweeting sounded from her pocket, like an oversized bluebird was trapped in her fashionably-ripped jeans. She fished out her phone and muted the alarm, then stared at it. She was supposed to wake up to that.

A creeping terror began to work it's way up Ellie's spine, and she shivered in spite of the warmth of the air.

"Oh no. I'm supposed to wake up now. I'm going to be in serious trouble if someone catches me sleeping on the job! I'll get fired! I'm our only income! Jamie's book hasn't gotten picked up yet, how can we pay our bills?? Wake up, Ellie! Wake up!"

She scrunched her eyes closed again and her pixie-like face turned red with the effort of her concentration. 

Nothing.

Panic was a gnawing goblin in her gut, and she fought it down, though she was unable to keep the tremble from her hands and voice.

"It's ok. Time is fucked up in dreams, is all. Because what else could this be? I'm not seriously standing in some crazy hot forest with a bunch of strangers. That's not even possible. Right? Of course you'd all say you're not dreams, because that's what dream people say! Or maybe I could buy some weird Inception type thing where we're all sharing a dream somehow--"

Ellie clamped her mouth shut; she was babbling. Babbling came naturally, but it didn't usually help. She looked at the trees with big eyes, then around at the group. Her lower lip trembled.

"Someone maybe just tell me I'm dreaming, and that my alarm didn't really go off in the real world, and I'll wake up back where I'm supposed to be any minute now? Pretty please?"

 

 

 

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The more Nick (or Sho'Horo? If only he knew for sure) looked at the group, the more he acknowledged he had been definitely teleported here. The cast happened to be quite diverse, as far as he could tell by observing and listening.

There was a shirtless man of his age who swore in Russian with no particular reason and speaking native English in other cases. In other words, not the best partner for nationality exposure, Nick thought. Then there was a handsome grean-eyed girl in a dress and a blond-haired woman in a uniform clearly not suited for this type of climate.

Being put out from their mundane activities to this strangely calm place... Nick managed to consume enough corresponding media material to know where this was going.

As the others were talking their way out, Sho'Horo kept his mouth shut. It was clear that despite the current condition he still felt foreign among those potential "partners". With his accent even more distinct that the one of that Alaskan guy, Kodiak, it would be quite a trouble to communicate. Yet, it was crucial to communicate... and cooperate.

Nonetheless, Kodiak was right. They needed to orient themselves and find any trace of civilization, no matter how alien it might seem.

12 hours ago, Raspberry LA said:

"Someone maybe just tell me I'm dreaming, and that my alarm didn't really go off in the real world, and I'll wake up back where I'm supposed to be any minute now? Pretty please?"

But first they needed to keep their crap together. Sho'Horo turned to a woman named Ellie who had already disposed of her winter clothes. She seemed to be less accommodated to change of scenery than others, as she was rejecting what happened to her... or basically to all of them.

"I'm afraid, miss Ellie," - he spoke, once again exposing his Russian accent. - "that we are, in fact, not dreaming. I may refer to some dream-bubble-type thing, but... In any case, our problem won't be solved if we just stand here, waiting for ourselves to wake up."

Sho'Horo stood aside, awaiting for others to offer something that would help the group to find a nearby settlement to progress. Even though, something was bothering him. The occurring seemed way too roleplay-ish to him. Besides, one of those guys, @Ataraxy... Sho'Horo couldn't put his finger on it, yet he had a feeling he had heard this name before.

"By the way..." - he spoke again, this time aiming is speech at everyone. - "Aren't those real name you're using? I mean, Ellie seems quite real to me, but you guys..."

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She smiled slightly at Ellie’s comment, a slight feeling of relief filling her that everyone else was just as confused about their situation as they were. If only Scarlett Johansen would turn up everything might make sense. Abigail was still waiting for someone to pop out of the undergrown and shout “SURPRISE, YOU’VE BEEN FRAMED!” And then everyone would laugh and go home. However, this seemed less and less likely with every minute that passed by.

 

She nodded vigorously in Kodiak suggestion of moving on. Who knows what might lurk in their surroundings? They were a large group to be sure but they were still vulnerable. Ellie’s alarm sent her almost five feet in the air, and that was only a phone alarm. She started to nervously twist her fingers together and into her skirt, panic building as she watched Ellie’s own panic. The feeling was almost contagious. Abigail shuffled very, very slowly towards her and offer her right hand to her. Comfort seemed good. Touch would ensure this was really happening.

 

She gave her a smile, nodding along to what Sho'Horo was saying. “I’m sure everything will work out eventually.” She offered quietly, her own British accent contrasting heavily to the Russian one of Sho'Horo. At the very least they all seemed to be in the same boat. That was something in their favour. She couldn’t offer much for helping them move forward but she began to look around their area, looking for clues of human or some kind of life that wouldn’t wish to have them as a tasty snack.

 

On 16/03/2018 at 8:57 AM, P.N.See said:

"By the way..." - he spoke again, this time aiming is speech at everyone. - "Aren't those real name you're using? I mean, Ellie seems quite real to me, but you guys..."

 

Her eyes swiftly moved up upon these words, judging the reactions of the group before she offered her own answer. “Kinda of… I mean, it came up to me in the box. There was also three sixes but that seemed rather peculiar so I went with the first part. The box was just there when I arrived. It isn’t much of a normal name, but it wasn't unfamiliar to me. Like I had heard it before..."Her words trailed off slowly as she pondered the name and the mysterious box. 

Edited by Abigail666

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There was a bit of a swift pace in his stride. Moving without making much sound as his feet were grazed by the well known feeling of wild grass. If the others were going to toil then far be it..

The Russian accent caught him off guard, being fifth generation his accent was long gone and only a few words spoken between older relatives in the old tongue. 

"My apologize, I'm used to talking in bastardized Russian and with friends. And you're right, Kodiak's the nickname I earned. It's hard working with 10 other Kevin's in the same factory. I went by Kodiak," He turned back to make his way to where he felt at home, "there's a story behind it but we 'should' get the move on. I don't like not having weapons other then my natural ones when I've been called 'Hero'." A violent shudder came over him as he spoke the word. It was almost like an allergy that shook him with disgust down to his core. 'Hero ' to his ears that word was a blight. 

He was in luck, there was a tree branch that had fallen over. His feet quickened the pace as he made his way towards the fallen lumber. After a quick inspection, more like his eyes being glued to it, Kodiak found a suitable branch to use as defense and made a quick snap. The branch was a good size, about as long as his leg, felt sturdy enough, good inch and a half thick. 

"For-warning, forgive me if I'm distant or a bit..odd at times." He gave the branch a few good swings before going for circular spins with it to feel out the weight, 'someone could make good use of this.' Getting these people armed would be priority, he could handle himself without for now. "But I enjoy the wilds a bit more then most. I'm more in tune, is the lightest way to put it." This was true, already he could feel his eyes focusing more, his ears picking up sounds, and his nose picking up scents. All he had to do know was to find anomalies other then those around him. 

His hands spun the stick around for a few more moments before tossing it back towards the others. "Ain't metal but it'll do if need be." His attention turned back to the woods he was moving towards, taking the plunge into territory that felt inviting. This was slowly feeling like his territory for the moment. "Eyes up, ears open. If you find what looks like civilization or tech, shout." He would take his swift pace through the foliage. 
"Damn...really been that long since I walked about barefoot through the woods...almost forgot what it feels like." In his mind, there was nothing but an acceptance of the situation at hand. This wasn't so much shocking as a mild surprise. Having dreams about something like this was all to common for this to not come to much of a shock. His words were simply internal thoughts that had no room in his mind. 

The steady breeze felt good, it brought with it the sounds of leaves dancing on branches. There was the occasional song bird and the sounds of a few small creatures. A few of the sounds were unfamiliar, however the nature of each sounds was, so far, non-hostile. The feeling of this place so far was not that of hostility towards invaders, but of the usual comings of the regulars around this district of roots and shrubs. Before he knew it, Kodiak was quite a ways out. There was a fire in his belly and wind at his back, the nature surrounding him was like a fresh breath of old world air. It was calm and reassuring to be away from the hustle and bustle that offended his sensitive ears and to be far from the bright lights and neon backdrop of the cities that made his eyes wince. He turned to look back towards the group that seemed to be taking their time. To him, this place felt like returning home, his pace was unhindered by foliage and terrain, he moved along fallen logs and around bushes with ease. He barely felt the pain of stepping on the occasional nut or root that jutted along the un-marked path. "I'll scout up ahead, yell if you need me! Doubt you all could match my speed at the moment!"  He shouted back loud enough to be heard but not loud enough to let everyone within a mile radius to let them know.

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Javier watched everyone, unsure of whether to follow Kodiak or not. He had to admit the man was like a big tree man whose mastered and lived in the forest his entire life. At least he and javier had that in common, they both liked the woods. It was safe to assume that following Kodiak would prove to help himself and the others around get to a safer spot and possibly find a town or something. 

Thus javier quietly and a little shyly followed the path that kodiak made, looking back every so often to make sure everyone behind was doing fine. He'd might help the strangers if they're not forest goers like Kodiak and himself, he just hope they didnt need it....especially the girls. 

In the back of his head he could already hear their giggles and laughter at him, making a bit anxious looking as he walked. However the laughter and giggles began to sound less like it was in his head and more...real. He couldn't put his finger on it but Javier felt as though he were being watched and there were voices around him but they were too small sounding to make out what was being said. 

"Huh....weird." Javier utter to himself 

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Eventually, Sho'Horo became bored of standing in the middle of forest. Even being surrounded by total strangers didn't affect his former perception of reality. When all topic have been used, yet discussion is still going on, Nick was tend to dive into some side activities until being called out. And by side activities he meant Internet browsing via his phone. Nick wasn't a slacker, however - as long as he has something to do, he would do his best - even if he overextend himself for doing obviously simple job. At the moment, he had nothing to do except to wait for a detailed plan to come out. Nick would just pull a phone, take a few swipes and...

Oh... I forgot.

The comm signal couldn't be any more dead than that. The phone showed no trace of any available operator around here. With a deep sign Sho'Horo (now Nick had to be Sho'Horo again) pulled the phone into the pocket and once again embraced the cruel reality... without much emotions.

He gave silent nods to Kodiak's effort to search the surroundings for any settlement suitable for their needs. After all, Kodiak's behavior was revealing a character of a man who was accustomed to the wilderness. It was not about "Russian heritage", though - Sho'Horo was quite calm and domestic for an average Slavic. It was something else, but he couldn't put the finger on it.

Soon one of the group - that wavy-haired guy (let's just assume he is a guy, okay?) - had decided to join Kodiak. Sho'Horo preferred to let it be that way. He didn't followed them - three is a crowd, they say. So he stood among the rest of the group - Ataraxy, Abigail and Ellie - thinking about their involvement in the searching process.

Sho'Horo felt his throat being dried a little. He remembered he had forgotten to get a glass of water back home. He was confident at thinking that way considering the fact he wasn't dreaming. His feeling were real and at the moment they were indicating at the developing thrust. Sho'Horo gulped and closed his eyes. Man, he would do anything... Anything for a glass of water.

Water...

Water...

A boiling stream, passing under the trees. Hovering above the rocky patches. Skipping between shallow ponds and deep pit. Flowing down... Down... Down...

"Huh?"

Sho'Horo snapped back from the trance-like state standing in the same place. The forest was quest as before - only swishing leafs and party members' gossip could be heard. No sign of river or babbling brook. Yet he stood, facing the direction opposite of where Kodiak went. There was something behind those trees, and Sho'Horo knew it. Or felt it?

He scratched his cheek in confusion. He had never had any sort of vision or hallucination. What could it mean? He spoke to drag people's attention - yet mostly trying to calm himself.

"You know, they say all the ancient civilizations were created near rivers... So were villages, as far as I could tell. I wonder if we could find any source of water so we could find any sort of settlement... or probably take some liquid to boil and drink."

@Abigail666 @Raspberry LA @Ataraxy

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Ellie took a deep breath, trying to center herself, and took Abigail's proffered hand. She smiled up at the taller woman gratefully.  "I've got this. I think. No, really, I've got this. It's going to be ok. Right? Of course it will. I've got this."

A largish stick landed a few feet in front of her and she looked up, seeing "Kodiak" ('nickname checks out' she thought) getting to the business of scavanging up supplies. That would be handy. 

"Hey, uh.. Kodi.. can I call you Kodi? I've got some stuff over here... Uh..."

She reluctantly let go of Abigail's hand and walked back to the pile of neon Refriga-Ware she'd discarded. "I've got a hoodie, and these coveralls... there's a box cutter in the pocket, and a big Sharpie, and... uh... a little laser-temperature-gun-thing... some shipping labels..."

She stared helplessly at the pile. "Jamie could make a backpack outta this, and probably a fire and a tent and a short-wave radio and a spaceship with an ion reactor or something crazy. All that camping farm country stuff that I never thought I'd ever ever need to learn... but it's totally useless in my hands. If you have any ideas, it's all yours."

5 hours ago, P.N.See said:

"You know, they say all the ancient civilizations were created near rivers... So were villages, as far as I could tell. I wonder if we could find any source of water so we could find any sort of settlement... or probably take some liquid to boil and drink."

Water.... Ellie shook her head. Some odd shiver went through her at Sho'ho's perfectly reasonable suggestion. 

"Yeah. And... uh.. we find water by..." Her little face scrunched up as she tried to remember even the most basic thing her partner had tried to teach her about wilderness survival. "Rubbing sticks together? No.. uh... getting a pig to sniff it out? No, that's mushrooms, and duh, where would we get a pig anyway? So stupid. Uh... Shit! Wait! Going to the north side of a tree! No, almost... Going downhill! That's it! We have to find downhill!"

Ellie clapped her hands together and bounced on her toes. She remembered! Yay!

@P.N.See @Abigail666 @Fennis Ursai

Edited by Raspberry LA

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