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This topic contains 9 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  DoctorLucky 3 months, 3 weeks ago.

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    Caulder dreams of dark places. In a nightmare he lay clutching at the bars of a cage with bloodied fingers. All around him calls a chorus of tormented screams. A silhouette walks past, stops by the cage, and stares dispassionately into it.
    “This has been most educational,” says the figure with a serpentine whisper, standing up and casting a shadow over the doctor.

    Caulder howls with vengeance, reaching out and grabbing the figure’s jacket, accomplishing nothing more than a bloody handprint. The figure moves with inhuman speed, stabbing a needle into the doctor’s side. Caulder keels over, writhing. Through his pained haze he looks at the figure and sees that it is himself.

    “You may now continue dying….”

    The walls of reality bleed away and Caulder is on a field of wet grass. Every inch of his body seethes with unimaginable pain. To abate the burning sensation, he tears off his clothes and claws at his skin; he rolls and rolls along the grass and it is no good. Peripherally Caulder is aware of a figure in purple pacing back and forth, speaking to a crowd, but he does not hear the words, and the people around him are faceless shadows with wicked, sardonic grins.

    The ground gives way beneath Caulder and he falls into an abyss. After an incomprehensible length of time, he becomes aware of a throne of bone and gore looming above him. He continues falling. Down below, down a tunnel which is longer than perdition, Caulder sees a great, crimson sphere – almost like a sun – a roiling ball of fire and chaos. The sphere churns with a primordial energy, and in his dreaming stupor he imagines that tormented faces constantly form and shift along the sphere’s surface. His eyes burn as he looks at the sphere; a storm blows across his mind and his very consciousness seems to melt away.




    Caulder stirs early in the morning. He awakes in a bed outfitted with a copious amount of traps and explosives. The first thing he does is checks to make sure his hands and feet are still free. Then he checks the various security measures around his bed. Then he checks the locks on his shop – all of them, twice. Still disheveled, he spends the next hour re-calibrating the biometric systems installed around and on him. He changes the locks on his shop – all of them, twice. He gets up, showers, does a basic exercise routine. He looks at himself in the mirror for a long, long time, staring mirthlessly into eyes aged and venomous.

    Eventually, he gets dressed-up and heads outside. He takes down the CLOSED sign and puts up a sign on the door which reads: “THE DOCTOR IS IN.” The sun bears down on Caulder’s pallid skin. He adjusts his sleeves and takes a seat on a folding chair. Then he places another sign out front which reads:

    “Welcome to Caulder’s House of Arms, Ordnance & Science”

    Rates may vary and are negotiable. Credits and Morpheus Technology will always be accepted as currency.
    At this time, we are unable to do business with individuals responsible for direct attacks upon Oasis territory, or individuals known to be associated with groups responsible for such attacks.”

    Caulder sips from a thermostat and watches the road for potential customers.



    Duke walks up the road wearing a full toolbelt, looking weary and weatherbeaten. A few of the living-metal coverings over his skin are tarnished – it’s obvious he hasn’t spared much time for hygiene lately, as he’s covered in concrete dust and sawdust. Nevertheless, he greets Caulder with a small smile and a wave.

    “Hey, Doctor. How’s business?”



    Caulder returns a broad smile, leaning comfortably in his chair and folding one leg over the other.

    “Good day, Duke. Business is good. You seem to be adapting to the environs adequately enough.”

    He sets his thermostat down on the ground.

    “How may I be of service to you today?”



    Alina walks up to the shop sporting a slight limp. Upon seeing Duke, she nods and smiles before turning to Caulder. She stops, looks puzzled and confused at his choice of drinking vessel. “Are you… drinking out of a thermostat?” She shakes her head. “Nevermind. I can see you have company. Perhaps if you’re free later, you’re welcome to come over for tea. I have things to discuss with you that I’m sure you’ll find… fascinating.” Before waiting for him to reply, Alina again nods at Duke, and walks, rather limps, back the way she came.



    Duke watches Alina go before turning back to Caulder.

    “Two things – first, I need some supplies for the house I’m building. Metal fragmentation-resistant plating, cameras, and I haven’t been able to scavenge a water heater.” Duke goes quiet for a moment, then leans forward and speaks quietly.

    “Also… I’ve been remembering flashes of my life before the co-op. My organic memories are trying to reassert themselves, but it’s just flashes,” he sighs, “nothing enough to place the memories. If you have any M-class data chips, types 3-8 were used in my model for memory storage – it’s a long shot, but it’s possible that some of my memories are intact but were removed after the Old Masters finished with me 14 years ago, since I had three empty bays when I came to. I think what I’m remembering… it might be important, something about the Old Masters.”



    (Apparently I as a player got thermostat and thermos cup confused. Oh well gonna run with it, it’s the kind of odd thing Caulder might do :D)

    “It is not merely a thermostat; it is a thermostat modified to be a superior brand of container suitable for — oh, alright then,” he nods as Alina leaves.

    “This exchange can be arranged,” he says to Duke, pulling out a pocket computer and punching numbers.
    “Though it depends on how fragmentation-resistant and lightweight you need the material to be. Anything suitable for personal use would have an appreciable cost. But for what you’re asking, well, I’m sure we can figure something out without draining the monetary reserves.”

    He taps a finger to his chin as he watches Duke.

    “I see. What an… interesting development. I do not have the precise model of memory chip but I could, as some say, cobble something together that would serve a similar purpose of magnifying your cognitive and mnemonic functions with similar potency — do you believe that such an enhancement would suit your purpose? And then I must ask as well, is it top-of-the-line parts you seek or rather something more on the practical, affordable end?”

    • This reply was modified 3 months, 3 weeks ago by  Kriss.


    (I just assumed Caulder was chugging liquid mercury from a thermostat and rolled with it :P)

    “Weight isn’t a concern, I have steel rebar with poured concrete – the walls can bear a skyscraper worth of weight, but really doesn’t help if an explosive sends the rebar and concrete through us.” Duke is animated when talking about construction, it’s clear that he enjoys building things.

    “And you misunderstand me, Doctor – I still have plenty of room for data storage. I want to find the memory chips I think they took from me, filled with my past memories. If you could build me a device that searches for them, I would pay a lot for that. Failing that, just keep an eye out for any chips of that class, I’ll buy them off you.”

    Duke finally seems to shake off the preoccupation that has gripped him so far and takes a closer look at Caulder, frowning.

    “You okay, Doctor? You don’t look so hot. I can get Kestrel if you need a check-up, I know it’s tough to treat yourself sometimes.” Concern etches his broad features.



    Caulder lifts his head slightly as his eyes glisten with interest.
    “Now that, will be a curious endeavor – one which I shall gladly undertake. Do you have anything which I can use as a point of reference for tracking these memory chips? If not, I might be able to manage. Either way this is a matter which will take some time to research, you understand. I shall send you a quote once I’ve determined the extent of this project. We’ll talk soon, I’m sure – I’ll be heading back to the chaotic outskirts of this tumultuous town within the week.”

    Engrossed as he is with note-taking, Caulder takes a moment to realize Duke’s question.
    “Hmm? What? Nonsense, I am quite well. I have… missed some sleep, but am nonetheless at peak functioning. I am not certain that I would be open to medical examination by another – no offense, I am sure Kestrel’s capable, I merely have… certain level of protocol and meticulousness I must observe with self-care.”



    “You’re headed back soon? It’ll be good to have you there – I need to grab some more supplies from the outskirts for the house, and there’s some safety in numbers. And… I can definitely sympathize with poor sleep. Ever since that Old Master took over my mind, there’s been something left over. Prism freed me from the worst of it, but I can still feel… tendrils of his influence in my mind. Not enough to change how I act, just enough to influence my dreams towards nightmare territory.” He smiles, a tiny curl of his mouth that betrays no mirth.

    “Do consider accepting help, though, Doctor. Even if you feel fine. Tired minds make mistakes, even the greatest of them, and I feel like these looming conflicts will need us all at our best,” he says, a bit self-consciously towards the end as he realizes he’s being dramatic. The burly cyborg shakes his head briefly, then looks Caulder in the eyes.

    “Let me know when you have an estimate, if you’d be so kind. I’ll see you on the Rim.” With that, Duke nods to Caulder and sets off back down the road he came from.

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