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Messages - Edward Batten

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The Phalanx / Re:
« on: April 07, 2018, 05:06:39 PM »
I do apologize for the long hiatus. There has been a lot going on with work, much of it meaning long and very tiring hours, and then there's been a steady supply of personal drama as well that's been taking up quite a bit of my creative energies. Rest assured, it will not last forever.

There's still entirely too much for us to do together.

I appreciate your patience, faithful readers and fellow writers, some of whom I count among my closest friends. I promise, your patience will be rewarded.

The Phalanx / Re: In Extremis v2
« on: October 22, 2017, 05:43:01 PM »
[size=9]09/10/2017, 13:55 Rhy'din Daylight Time
Batten Tower, Sublevel 7, Vault D

The explosion caught him by surprise.

One moment, he was explaining to his sister's fiancee her condition.

It was quite a story. DIANA had informed him of how things would go, of course. Stage one would eliminate the virus and begin the alterations and enhancements to the non-Reevi half of her genetic makeup, in preparation for the second stage of the treatment. The second stage built upon the foundation laid by the first stage, interacting with the Reevi portions of her physiology. The alterations would trigger an interesting reaction in the Reevi genetic makeup, causing it to form a chrysalis in which the remaining enhancements and mechanisms of evolution would be allowed to complete their work.

What would come out, of course, even DIANA could not wholly predict, only that she would be proof against any of Renna's future viral agents, just as Ed was. She knew the treatment would be a success, however, as it had succeeeded on another version of Katt in another world...though the results had been markedly different, of course.

Clayton had been remarkably calm about it. That should have been his warning, of course. He'd heard that saying many times about upsetting the quiet people. His mistake had been in remarking on that calmness.

He found himself up against the wall of the vault, slammed into it hard to create a man-shaped divot in the armored surface and to make his vision go black for a moment, blinding slivers of light dancing and bursting in his sight. When his eyes cleared he found himself well off the floor, held by a huge, clawed hand against his chest by a creature half man, half catamount, the green-gold eyes inches from his own.

"You told me you would not keep things like this from me again." The voice was a low, deadly rumble, only barely human, coming from vocal equipment not specifically constructed for the shaping of words, but understandable nonetheless.

He shook his head, though it rang with pain and more stars exploded across his vision as he did, his voice pained as he spoke. Pained, but not weak. "Geez, man...ya were outta contact...dere wasn't a way..."

The hand let up on his chest, letting him drop in a heap to the floor. He coughed and pushed himself up to his feet. Cracked ribs, a concussion, maybe even a fractured skull. It would heal in less than an hour, but it was going to hurt until then. When he looked up, he saw Clayton turned back to the table, human again, although lacking clothes now. He could see scraps of cloth that was probably the remains of the man's clothing.

"You could have found a way to tell me. Sent someone."

He sighed and nodded as he leaned against the wall, one arm held across his throbbing ribs. He could have, yes. He'd thought it would be fixed by now, but even DIANA was beginning to voice concern. He couldn't even think of a reply that wouldn't sound like an excuse or a justification.

Instead he pushed away from the wall, moving towards the huge door that was the entrance to the vault. "Ah'll...give ya some time wit' her, Ah guess." He got nearly to the door, stopped and looked back. "Ah've done everyt'in' Ah can t'ink of, man, Ah promise. It'll be all right...she'll be all right. She'll be perfect., ya'll see."

He turned and stepped through the door. He was halfway down to the elevator door when he heard the soft murmur from Katt's bedside, as easily as though it had been whispered in his ear.

"She was already perfect."

The Phalanx / Re: In Extremis v2
« on: October 01, 2017, 05:26:09 PM »
[size=9]8/16/2017, 05:45 Rhy'din Daylight Time
Batten Tower, Sublevel 7, Vault D

"De two hours is up, Di."

"You will note that I did say 'approximately' two hours, sir. Nothing is entirely certain when it comes to biology, as you well know."

He grumbled as he rolled his eyes at the detached voice before returning his gaze to the tableau laid before him. The "gurney" was really a reinforced autopsy table, more or less, of his own design, strong enough to withstand stresses upon its frame that were several times greater than what he thought it would have to undergo.

He hoped, anyway. He'd designed it according to the specifications that DIANA had given him. Along with the treatment itself.

On top of the table, secured to its surface by several thick bands of OmniProof fabric, lay his sister, her body covered by a form-fitting black fabric suit that covered her from just under her armpits to just about mid-thigh. Above her, hanging from the ceiling like some bizarre, lethal-looking insect, was the treatment delivery apparatus, ten needle-tipped armatures linked to the central control hub with its reservoirs full of the first stage of the treatment, a silver-and-black swirling substance that refused to be still and instead roiled about in a perpetual maelstrom inside the transparent container.

He turned his attention back to the holographic readouts next to him, watching as his sister's vital signs were displayed for him. They hadn't changed for the last thirty minutes, save for in very slight, almost undetectable ways.

He grumbled and stood up, stretching. He'd been sitting in the chair for almost an hour, since they'd gotten everything set up. "Ah'm gonna go get a drink. Lemme know if anyt'in'..."

He stopped, trailing off, halfway to the door, and turned towards the gurney his sister was strapped to.

Listening to the soft sound of throaty laughter.

Her eyes were closed, but as he looked upon her they opened, gazing up to the ceiling as her laughter grew louder. There was amusement in the sound, as well as a mocking tone, and an undercurrent of something darker, more...wanton, as she spoke.

"Edward. You have me all tied up." She chuckled, long and low, as she raised her head to look at him. "I knew you were kinky like that. You have me all tied up."

He withdrew a step from her, shaking his head. This wasn't right, not the way it was supposed to be. It was his sister there, all right. But those words, that voice.

That was Renna. That was Manticore.

Her lips formed a mocking pout as she saw him take a step back, and then she laughed again. "Oh, come on now. Look at me, Edward. I'm young, fit, attractive...surely you've noticed. You are a man, after all. Aren't you?"

As he watched, she moved under the straps. Not struggling to be free, but rather writhing sensually against them, a low, sensual moan escaping her lips.

"Come, Edward. You want her, just as she wants you. She does, you know. When you first met she wanted you, and some part of her still does, buried deep down where it will never see the light of day again. Surely you've been curious, what it would be like to take this body, were she not your sister." She stopped moving, her smile turning wicked as she watched him where he stood, frozen, transfixed, an expression of fear and grief reflecting the turmoil within as he listened to the virus speak using his sister's voice, her mouth. "You could, you know. No one would know, down here, deep in this vault. If it helps, she isn't your sister right now. She's mine."

That smile widened, her laughter growing louder, crueler. "And you will never get her back, Edward. Never."

She started laughing again, her head falling back on the table, louder, mocking, harsh and cruel. That laughter, echoing in the chamber around them, filling his ears, was the sound of his own personal hell.

And finally, something snapped.

He barely remembered moving, even later, but suddenly he was next to the gurney, his face inches from hers, his hand seizing her around the throat. The table shuddered as he slammed her head back into its surface, his eyes furious as he stared into hers.

Into the eyes of the Manticore.

"You listen t'me. Ah want ya t'get a real good look at dis face. Ah've killed ya before, an' guess what?" His hand tightened around her neck again, her eyes widening as her mouth moved in silence, attempting to make some sound. She failed even to make a strangled peep. "Ah'm gonna do it again."

He pushed her head back against the table again and held it there. "Look good. Dis is de last t'ing yer ever gonna see t'rough dese eyes. Di, start de treatment."

He didn't even look up as he said it, didn't move until the last moment, when he pushed away from her just before the needles found their marks in her flesh, her breath coming in harsh, ragged gasps.

He stood back and watched as the treatment was injected into her. The Virus tried to struggle, using his sister's body, tried to get away, but there was no chance, no room to maneuver so she could get away. The scream that ripped out of his sister's throat then was one of defiance, of anger and frustration, loud and long...

...and then with a sudden violent shuddering, she fell silent and limp back onto the table.

"Hey, Di."

"Yes, sir?"

"Dis Red'n'Black Gala. We got an invite fer dat?"

"Checking...yes, sir. You have received an invitation."

"Sweet. We got anyt'in' appropriate to wear?"

"I believe you do, sir."

The Phalanx / Re: In Extremis v2
« on: September 21, 2017, 08:08:26 PM »
[size=9]8/16/2017, 03:30 Rhy'din Daylight Time
Batten Tower, Penthouse Level[/size]

"It is ready, sir."

He looked up from the myriad holograms surrounding him, various readouts scrolling across them, to see the shimmering blue figure of DIANA appear before him. "Show me."

The AI's holographic construct vanished, along with the holographic readouts surrounding him, to be replaced with another series of holographic readouts, these larger and more detailed. As he watched, the data streamed across them seamlessly, as well as graphical representations.

All of the graphical displays were familiar sights to him. They showed the Manticore virus, currently hosted by his sister's body, working to modify her physiology and repair it from the damage he was doing to it. Another showed that damage, a series of nanomachines which were busy tearing at his sister's body at near the molecular level, just fast enough to keep the Manticore virus busy, not so fast as to cause any damage which would be permanent.

These readouts were not the focus of his attention, however. In fact, he did his best to ignore them. He had eyes only for the spiky, multi-limbed construct in the center of it all, and the readouts streaming around it.

The remnants of the Guardian Project nanomachines that he'd extracted from himself over 5 years ago were still viable units, albeit completely drained of power. When they'd malfunctioned, he had been unable to remove their programming, and had to resort to measures that had nearly killed him in the process of getting rid of them. Along the way, he had discovered that they were pretty much impossible to destroy and able to adapt themselves to counter anything he was able to throw at them. When DIANA had first suggested using them as a cure for the latest strain of Manticore that Katt was incubating, he'd thought she had somehow gone insane, or perhaps was suffering from a memory glitch.

But then the AI had reminded him of two facts. The first, that she was not the same DIANA that had helped him remove the Guardian virus. The other fact, however, was more to the point: that this DIANA had not only helped develop a nearly identical project for an alternate Edward Batten in a different, darker reality, but she also had a much deeper understanding of the intricate workings of the Guardian Project then he or his counterpart had ever managed to obtain.

He reached out and flicked his fingers at the holographic construct as he spotted an anomaly. "Just a sec, Di. What's this?"

"An adjustment, sir. Prior to her infection, the Reevi part of your sister's DNA was in a state of flux, as though it were still developing. In the time since then, it appears to have stabilized and bonded with her fully. I had adjusted the programming of the nanomachines to compensate so that the alterations to her DNA would leave the Reevi part of her mostly unaffected, while enhancing the bond between it and the non-Reevi part of her which will be altered in the process of eliminating the Manticore virus. However, now that it has stabilized, I have altered the programming to include new enhancements to the Reevi genetics which were included in your counterpart's version of the Guardian Project, in order to make it more resistant to external influences."

He nodded, flicking at the hologram again to resume the feed. "And yer sure dis'll work? It ain't gonna affect her de same way it did me, or her counterpart, will it?"

"No, sir. The nanomachines will infuse her DNA with the same crystalline material that was woven into your own genetic makeup. However, her physiology is more compatible with the genetic alterations you went through than your human DNA is. As for her counterpart, the Kathryn Batten of my prior acquaintance was subjected to numerous, adverse psychological traumas during treatment in order to change her into a psychopathic killing machine. The treatment by itself will not have the same effect."

He nodded, his eyes following the flow of data. Once it finished, he nodded again. "All right. How long until we can begin the treatment?"

There was a momentary pause this time. "The treatment has been completely manufactured and is ready to be administered. However, the nanomachines that are currently keeping her in stasis will need to be removed and the Manticore virus allowed to regenerate her to a point where she can survive the initial interaction of the treatment with the Manticore virus."

He grumbled to himself. This AI could be maddeningly verbose at times. " long?"

"Approximately two hours, sir."

"Good. Let's get everything ready to go."

Community Events / Re: The Fires of Beltane (2016)
« on: April 23, 2016, 01:48:51 PM »
Looks like everyone is gonna be dressed to the nines this year. As for the Playboy himself, well, he's taking a more casual angle...

The Phalanx / Re:
« on: February 18, 2016, 03:10:05 AM »
I know, I know, I haven't been around lately. I suck that way at the moment, with real life taking up almost all of my time, but (hopefully) there will be more of me around in the near(ish) future.

I hope.

Thanks to all that have, in the past, present, and future, have been loyal fans and contributers of mine, Ed's and the rest of the company! Until I see you again...

The Phalanx / Re: The Beginning is the End...
« on: September 17, 2015, 09:52:58 PM »
Batten Tower - Penthouse Level

He stood in the middle of the living room, an array of holographic data displayed around him. Not work, not even his own current impending issue that would for a certainty lead do the end of his life. Today, he was just...tinkering.

It felt good to be just playing around with ideas again, toying with theoretical designs and implements. Boys and their toys, his sister would no doubt say, with that little smile of hers, before chastising him that he should be spending time in the real world, among other human beings.

But he was most comfortable, most free, here, letting his mind wander amongst equations and inventions and improvements to already existing designs. People were complicated and difficult. Math and science were pure, easy and straightforward. For the most part, anyway. To anyone else, the equations and theories and designs would be the next best thing to being incomprehensible.

He was in the midst of working on an improvement to his suit thrusters when he heard the cool, clipped voice of DIANA interrupt his concentration. "A moment of your time, sir, if I may?"

He sighed, not taking his eyes off of the blown-up schematic floating in front of him. "Can it wait, Di? Kinda in de middle o'somet'in' here."

The feminine curves of his AI appeared before him, just beyond the visual of the schematic hovering before him. "I suppose it can, but I really think you should not delay in hearing this. I was collating audio files gathered by your monitoring network when I encountered one conversation I believe you may want to hear. The exchange took place between your sister and the entity called 'One', whom you identify as Renna."

He was in the midst of manipulating a particular portion of the design when she said that last part, and he froze in mid-motion, his eyes refocusing on the AI. He had no idea what the conversation could possibly entail, but if DIANA thought it worth his time...

He swept a hand sideways, a sweeping motion in front of him, and abruptly the floating holograms vanished, all but the AI's. "Show me."

Abruptly DIANA's figure vanished, to be replaced by a full three-dimensional hologram of the Red Dragon Inn's common area, the only two people present in it his sister and One. Renna, not One. She may not be the same person, but she's still Renna, at least in part.

And he listened.

As the conversation played out, his features grew darker, puzzlement, then anger setting in. By the time it was over, he was fuming.

Turning away, he stormed across the penthouse's living room, heading for the doorway to the balcony. "Dat goddamn, arrogant, insensitive..." He stopped as he reached the door, glaring across the room at DIANA, whom had reappeared when the conversation finished playing, his voice rising near a yell. "How'n de hell did she find out about dis?"

DIANA's cool voice came back to him from the hidden speakers implanted in the walls. "From the data I have on the subject: One, given that she was able to absorb your previous ancillary and all its data into herself, provided she could acquire the same readings I was able to collect, she would have had little trouble reaching the same conclusion."

He swore under his breath vehemently. He ought to have known. "An' dat stupid b*tch jus' couldn' keep it to her damn self." He had the sudden urge to throw something. One, for instance. Off of the top of the Tower, preferably. Chased by a high-intensity ionic pulse blast. "Ah can't b'lieve dis sh*t."

He turned to face the glass door, looking out on the city spread out below, laid open to his gaze. After a moment, he heard DIANA clear her throat softly behind him before she spoke. "You had planned to tell her eventually, sir. Does this significantly change that, simply because she will know sooner than you had accounted for?"

He sighed, his head bowing slightly. "Di, ya ain't human. Ya wouldn' understand. My sis...she worries too much as it is. Hones'ly, de reality of t'ings is Ah was gonna die someday. No idea when, where, how, or why, but Ah knew, an' so did she. Diff'rence now is dat Ah know two outta de four conditions. An' Ah know she's always been worried about it...if Ah was okay, if Ah was alive, if Ah would go off an' get m'self killed doin' somet'in' as de Ranger. Ah didn' want her t'know b'cause Ah couldn' stand de t'ought of it weighin' on her mind. She's gonna get married, fer Christ's sake, to a guy Ah know she's happy wit'. She d'serves t'be happy, not worryin' dat today or tomorrow might be de day Ah'm not 'round anymore."

He turned back towards the hologram again. "Dat, an'...Ah may be dyin', Di, but Ah ain't dead yet. Hell, Ah don' even feel like Ah'm dyin'. Ah feel fine. An' Ah don't want anyone - least of all my sister - treatin' me like Ah'm gonna buy de farm any second, like Ah'm fragile or somet'in', 'cause Ah ain't." He shook his head and turned away again. "Ah don' expect dat t'make any sense t'you."

She was silent for a long time, and in that silence he found himself trying to find the words to say to his sister, to explain to her why he had kept it from her. She would argue, no matter what he said, that he should have told her as soon as he found out, but the truth of it was, he couldn't. He couldn't stand the thought of the worry and sadness and hurt in her eyes when he said those words to her. It hurt him to his core just to contemplate it.

Finally the cool voice spoke behind him, softer this time. "What do you intend to do about this, sir?"

He lifted his gaze to stare out the door, sighing deeply as he shook his head. "Guess Ah'll hafta talk to her. Ah can't just...pretend like not'in's wrong. Katt's a lotta t'ings, but stupid ain't one of 'em. An' she ain't shy 'bout speakin' her mind, eit'er."

He turned from the view, finally, heading to the master bedroom. "Di, get de Hammer-E 16 ready fer me. Gonna go out for a little bit, blow off some steam."

"As you wish, sir."

The Phalanx / Re:
« on: September 06, 2015, 05:26:57 PM »
Text to Sister Dear: Meet me by the fountain in the marketplace. I've got something for ya.

The Phalanx / Re:
« on: September 06, 2015, 01:46:09 PM »
[quote:287f29bc3d="Issy"]Just read this and...


Now, now, don't worry, Ed still has a little ways to go before the end.

And besides, this is Rhy'din. Even when someone dies, nine times out of ten, that's not the end of them...

The Phalanx / The Beginning is the End...
« on: September 06, 2015, 02:21:53 AM »
Batten Tower - Penthouse Level

The Playboy sat in the upper floor lounge of his penthouse atop Batten Tower, reclining in one of the comfortable chairs, feet propped up on the hassock before it. A glass of his favorite Dalmore Trinitas rested on the side table near his elbow, a bottle of the same next to it, but judging by the amount in both, the glass had been poured and remained untouched.

His attention was focused in front of him, where holographic images played before his eyes. The central focus of the images was a scale model of his own body, displayed in perfect detail, while around it various types of data streamed - calculations, formulae, graphical representations and images that fluxed and swelled and danced.

The images finally froze, all of the graphical displays peaking at the top of their respective scales, and the feminine, crisply businesslike voice of Diana emanated from the hidden speakers around him. "Analysis complete, sir."

He nodded, his expression one of grim acceptance. It was the fifth time he'd had her run the diagnostic program. When she'd reported the anomalous data the first time, he'd been certain there was some sort of malfunction in her biometric sensors. It had taken a full week and many systematic checks of her entire operational structure and systems before he'd been convinced it wasn't. A malfunction was a remote possibility, but faced with what she had reported to him, he'd had to check. After all, this incarnation of his own artificial intelligence had come from another world, and there could have been any number of glitches or deviations that caused her readings to be inaccurate.

Not to mention that she had been initially designed, programmed, and maintained by a darker, twisted version of himself. That fact alone meant that he had to be doubly certain that there were no anomalies in her operational matrices.

But he had checked, and re-checked, and then checked again. While there were certain distinctive variations in the AI's persona, cognitive, and reactive patterns from the one that Renna had absorbed, her functional and analytical routines were a perfect replica of her predecessor.

He'd been convinced of the accuracy of the AI's projections by the third time the analysis had finished. When he'd has her run it the last two times he had introduced variables of his own, but the end result was the same.

The Playboy raised a hand to massage his forehead, his eyes falling closed for a moment as he sighed softly. "Ah shoulda known dis was comin'. How'd Ah miss it?"

There was a momentary pause before the feminine voice responded. "Unfortunately, I am unable to determine how such a thing could have evaded your cognitive and perceptive faculties. However, historically and psychologically speaking, there are certain aspects of the human condition which most people do not actively contemplate. Even the counterpart of yourself that created and programmed me had such flaws in his perception. Unlike yourself, however, he would not have been so readily accepting of the facts."

He rolled his eyes at the AI's voice, his hand dropping to rest in his lap as he let his head fall to rest against the backrest of the chair he reclined in. "Dat was a rhetorical question, Di."

The frozen holographic display vanished, only to be replaced by the shimmering, petitely sculpted feminine shape of the AI construct, posed prettily with her hands clasped behind the small of her back. "My apologies, sir. The statement was intended to provide some measure of comfort."

He lifted his head to regard the shimmering construct for a moment, thinking back over her statement. He supposed, in her own logical way, the construct had been trying to make him feel better. It was at least good to know he wasn't as flawed as all that. "Yeah, well...t'anks, Ah guess. Any idea how long?"

The holographic construct tilted her head to the side slightly, a gesture he  had built into the original to indicate that the AI was calculating an answer to a query. Whatever the differences, there were obviously some similarities between himself and his darker counterpart. It was not a thought he liked contemplating much. "There are a number of variables which could affect such a projection, too numerous to ensure an accurate calculation."

He should have known that, too. In life, there were no certainties. Not even in his own. "Yer sure dat dere's no way dat it can be stopped?"

Diana gave a simple nod, not even a pause this time to consider. "I am very sorry, sir. There may be a method which can be devised to postpone the inevitable, but the situation has progressed to such a point that it can no longer be reversed."

He nodded again, another sigh, soft and long, escaping him. Inevitable. Another concept he was not fond of. But he'd seen the analysis himself, reviewed all but this last one down to the last qubit, and could not find a flaw. He'd been up for days, weeks in fact, with little rest. And he still had so much to do. So many things unseen to. So many people he wanted to see and speak to, though he did not think he could tell them about this. Not even Katt.

Katt. His eyes drifted over to the glass of scotch at his elbow, untouched and forgotten until this moment. If she were there to see it, she would know instantly something was wrong. Hell, any of his friends would. If they remembered anything about him by now, that is. He'd been absent from them for far too long.

It was funny, though not amusing at all, he thought. Only when faced with the inevitable did he begin to wonder if they missed him, thought of him, talked about him. Hell, he hadn't even been watching his city-wide network for...well, anything.

But now...well, now was the time to start living in the moment. But first, there were details to see to.

His attention returned to the AI, still hovering in the air before him. "Diana, start a new file and begin recordin'."

The AI paused a moment, then nodded. "Ready, sir."

Ed paused a moment, his gaze dropping to his hands, now folded in his lap. He didn't want to say the words, didn't want to start this file. To do so was to acknowledge the beginning of the end, but he also knew he had to be done.

With an effort he raised his gaze back to the AI and took a deep breath, then began.

"Ah, Edward Karl Batten, bein' of sound mind and body, do declare dis t'be my last will an' testament..."

The Phalanx / Re:
« on: August 23, 2015, 07:11:13 PM »
[quote:161b879031="Ebon Ilnaren"][quote:161b879031="Edward Batten"]For all those that may have been wondering (and even if you weren't), yes. Edward Batten will be returning.


You have been warned.[/quote]

Quick!  Save the women, the children, and the Dalmore Trinitas![/quote]

None are safe.

Especially the scotch.

The Phalanx / Re:
« on: August 23, 2015, 12:21:51 AM »
For all those that may have been wondering (and even if you weren't), yes. Edward Batten will be returning.


You have been warned.


The Phalanx / Re:
« on: March 03, 2015, 01:38:40 PM »
Text to Sister Dear: Come on, sis, if I'm getting a drink and I'm not at home, there's only one place I could be.
Text to Sister Dear: And whoever altered Di's personality to a teenage girl needs to fix it.

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