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  #16  
Old Sep 1st, 2023, 01:29 PM
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Mah Guo
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"I wantcha to squeeze me tight, Yijun. Really go for it! You don’t gots to worry ‘bout being gentle. I have been with a lotta folks your size before so it won’t hurt if you get rough with me. Just grab me right heeeere and– ah!-- no, sorry, I am okay! Your hands are just really. really cold. But I am sure I can warm ya up easy! Now, hold still and…"

The sun hit Mah Guo the moment she jumped down from the ship’s ramp, poor, delicate Yijun bouncing on her back as the pair plummeted to the verdant lawn with a holler and a yip.

The feeling of the dome regulated wind on their face was a joy for Mah Guo. Don’t get her wrong! She loved, loved traveling on Chang’e! It was like a dream come true, y’know, exploring the stars and working on a ship with a cast of quirky characters. One of which was a robot. Like, wow, am I right? That was amazing! …buuuut Mah Guo couldn’t deny she missed the feeling of earth beneath her feet. The sun on her face. The noise of a populated town. A horizon that was worth spending three hours in her VMA program and clipping the scenery to her favorite anime opening.

Little things like that were just hard to get in space.

But the planet they docked down on for their next gig was perfect for pepping Mah Guo’s spirits up! And she hoped it’d do the same for Yijun, too. It was part of why she offered to give them a piggyback ride once they hit planetside. Mah Guo figured, y’know, since Yijun couldn’t enjoy the sights, maybe Mah Guo could at least offer them other wonderful sensory experiences! Like what it was like being tall and fast, with the wind in your hair and the sun on your back, being jostled ‘round on a lady whose shoulders were cut like a warrior god. Surely they’d love that!

‘course it was probably difficult for Yijun focus on much from how Mah Guo gripped their thighs. Holding them steady around her waist with hands that dwarfed theirs twice over. Rough, scratchy skin grazing Yijun’s perfectly flawless skin. It was… something to say the least.

Mah Guo was oblivious to any of it because of course she was. Her attention more on the mansion that rose before them like a colossal beast. She whistled at the sight, cocking her head left and right like a dog trying to pick out all the sounds and smells of a new place to call its playground. "Duuude. Yijun. We are working for somebody who lives in a castle." Eyes only on the expansive floors of the mansion, Mah Guo nearly tumbled over when her foot got caught in one of the many holes that were burrowed in the lawn.

"Hup!" Mah Guo took four stumbling steps forward before she split her stance so far that her butt nearly kissed the ground. But it worked! She didn’t fall. And neither did Yijun! "That was a close one. Huh." Noticing the many holes in the lawn, ruining that perfect symmetry of well cut grass and freshly pruned hedges, Mah Guo was about to point it out to Yijun when that well-dressed stranger came running out to greet them.

Mah Guo may not have been the brightest tool in the shed (wait, did she say that right?) but she figured out pretty quick from the panic in their voice that this was CATLOVER84.

…with no cat in sight.

Disappointing, but she won’t let it show. She was on a job. She needed to be professional.

Ignoring her particular pose, Mah Guo took on a firm expression that she stole straight from Fan Ning when he was deep in thought. "Ay ay ay! It is alright, ma’am. Breathe. Breathe. We are here. We’ll help. You just gotta slow down a notch. What’s uh… what’s here? What showed up?"

Please say cats, please say cats, please say cats.

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  #17  
Old Sep 2nd, 2023, 04:28 AM
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Yun
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"Shhhh..." Yun dismissively waved off a blinking red warning indicator from the interactive display, easing down on the thrusters as Chang'e made her final approach. Arrival without incident, mostly... just as planned. Despite their love of speed, Yun typically took their time during this part; the final approach. Something about looking down over an entire planet, the gentle hum of the ship barely underscoring the otherwise total silence of space, had a way of really putting people into perspective. Down on the ground, it was easy to get lost in the notion of who belonged to what class, and who had the power. But up here... they were all equally invisible.

Well, unless you had a giant, gaudy billboard.

"The Cosmic Palisades... must be SOME resort. Why else would the ultra elites willingly live in a place where the air beyond their estate isn't breathable? Then again, I guess those are the kinds of problems people with estates don't think about... just us poors, right Chang'e?" There was no response. "Hell, I don't even breathe and I'M thinking about it." Still nothing. This wasn't all that uncommon; even when she wasn't terribly angry with them, Chang'e wasn't the sort of ship AI to prattle on about things like income inequality. Still, Yun liked their conversations, one-sided or otherwise. It was in these mundane little exchanges that personality could show, and Yun knew better than most that machines DEFINITELY had personalities, even if they didn't always know it.



"I wantcha to squeeze me tight, Yijun. Really go for it! You don’t gots to worry ‘bout being gentle. I have been with a lotta folks your size before so it won’t hurt if you get rough with me. Just grab me right heeeere and– ah!-- no, sorry, I am okay! Your hands are just really. really cold. But I am sure I can warm ya up easy! Now, hold still and…"

Yun halted for a moment. They knew Mah Guo was probably feeling pretty unsatisfied after being deprived a victory earlier, but this felt like... poor timing.

SUBJECT INQUIRY: FORNICATION POTENTIALLY IN PROGRESS. ENGAGING SOCIAL CONTRAC-

'Nope, I'm a different kinda busy.'

"Either let me join or let me by because we got work to... do. Oh." Rounding the corner, Yun spotted Mah Guo... carrying Yijun like a backpack, and they realized what was going on. "Come on now... there's no way that wasn't on purp-aaaaaand you're gone." With not a moment's hesitation Mah Guo was sprinting down the ramp with Yijun in tow, leaving Yun staring after them before following at an awkward jogging pace.

"Wow, I wonder if the owner likes pink." Yun stared up at the alarmingly pink mansion, wondering how they hadn't see it from orbit. Between house, the vibrant trees, and the expertly maintained lawn (well, aside from the HOLES all over it), there was basically only one thing in this bubble that wasn't exceptionally colorful, and they were frantically running toward the crew, begging for help. This, as it turned out, was CATLOVER84. The droid threw out a casual wave.

"Yo! Are you CATLOVER84? No worries, we're on it. Pest control? More like... best... control..."

INQUIRY: WOULD YOU LIKE TO DOWNLOAD THE LATEST VERSION OF THE UNIVERSAL THESAURUS? RHYMING CAN BE-

"HEY MAH GUO, GREAT SAVE! SO COOL!" Giving the fitness paragon a thumbs up, Yun tried their best to purge their memory banks of the last 10 seconds as they turned to focus back on the huge collection of holes. "And yes, what she said. Tell us everything you know about these... things." What would make something like this... maybe just something mundane, like the equivalent of a gopher? Or maybe it was acid rats. Were acid rats a real thing? Or did they just exist in the "Eternal Fist" game universe? Yun was having trouble connecting to the Nebula right now to check. They really hoped it wasn't acid rats... that was going to suck a LOT.

'Light'

ACTIVATING

An LED clicked on from a spot near the top of Yun's facial display, and they knelt down, taking a look into the closest hole on the lawn.

"Anybody in there? Please don't spit acid."
Rolls & ActionsYun investigates the nearest hole.
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  #18  
Old Sep 27th, 2023, 06:33 PM
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Fan Ning
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Growing up, Fan Ning would never have expected to become an engineer on any sort of ship. He was never mechanically inclined, and his size was always an impediment to the sorts of tight spaces the average engineer was expected to navigate aboard a starship. The first time he set foot in an engine room though... he knew he'd found home.

There was always a lot going on inside his head. People generally confused him and he'd been a quiet child as a result. When he did open his mouth, there was a good chance he was going to say the wrong thing... or more likely, something that was neither right nor wrong, simply... out of place. Between his size and his tendency to stay quiet, people often assumed he wasn't very bright. He didn't think he wasn't very bright but he wasn't about to go asking around.

Fighting had been a way to quiet down his overactive brain, at least for a little while, but the violence and the number of people he'd hurt eventually just added another blanket of worries on top of the blankets already there. It was getting hard to move under all those blankets. It was when he first encountered Xuanwu, his personal deity, that he started to understand how to relax. But it wasn't until he'd left the arena and started exploring the engine room on the first ship he'd worked on that he finally found the trick.

Keep his hands busy and let the thrum and purr of the engines soothe his mind.

Tinker about. Take some things apart, put them back together.

Calibrate. He liked calibrating. He started realizing that it helped his mind organize its troubles and find ways to deal with them.

All of which is to say that spending the journey keeping an eye on the engines took away the stress and irritation of whatever that debacle in the Shrine had been. He would apologize to Yun for overreacting. He would make reparations to the ship. He would approach this gig with serenity and thoughtfulness. That sounded wonderful.

So once they arrived, he was a new person. Or he was more like his old self, maybe. Or maybe his old self with a new outlook. Or...

Aiya... stop. This is just what I was trying to avoid! he thinks as he joins the others on the surface.

CATLOVER84 turned out to be even more of a stressball than he was. Fan Ning couldn't quite decide if this was a good thing (whew, he's not the most high-maintenance person around) or a bad thing (were they going to be hard to work with?). In the end, he decides that it's simply A Thing and carries on.

While Mah Guo tries to get information and Yun starts investigating, he asks, "Are they dangerous? Or just... overabundant?" He keeps an eye on Yun's investigation, a pained expression creeping over his face, half-certain that some sort of face- (or facial display-) eating beast is about to attach itself to them.
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  #19  
Old Sep 30th, 2023, 09:56 AM
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The most adorable of infestationsAt first, Yun doesn't see anything in the light of their headlamp, just a small hole that curves off after dropping down under the lawn. Then there's a rustling sound of disturbed earth, and a purple ball of fuzz rolls into view. Large, shining eyes open in Yun's direction, then squint in the glare of their light. Per-tweet? it chirps. Confusion is evident in the way in blinks in the light. Has it never seen an android before?

Out on the lawn, a flash of motion catches the rest of the crew's attention. More of the purple fuzzballs, rolling about and gamboling in the grass. Two of them seem to be chasing each other in and out of holes until they inadvertently collide with all the force of a cotton ball meeting a feather duster, surprised squeaks turning twitters emitting from both of them. Others bounce about, jumping and rolling over each other, while some rock back and forth singing like birds. The whole tableau would not be out of place in a piece of holoprogramming for small children.

One of them notices the crew standing out on the lawn and squeaks an alarm call, sending the whole mass (including the one staring up at Yun) squealing back to their holes and out of sight. A smile almost cracks through the worried facade on CATLOVER84's face before the worry lines reasserting themselves as they nervously brush their fingers over the silver fly emblem on the left side of their chest. "I don't know what they are!" they wail. "They just showed up! They don't seem dangerous, but they're multiplying and ruining the lawn." They rub their hands together nervously, then beckon the crew to follow them. "Come with me, I managed to catch one."

The interior of the manor is as ostentatious as one would expect from the exterior. A pair of curving marble staircases arch up to a mezzanine overlooking the entrance, but CATLOVER84 leads everyone into a kitchen that could cater a conference. Sitting on a marble countertop is one of the small creatures in a cage, bouncing about and chirping a trill that sounds suspiciously like pretty bird. "This is "little birdy" (he/him)Xiao Niao," CATLOVER84 says with a conflicted mix of weariness and fondness. "When they eat, they grow larger and then split apart. Unless it's sesame paste. They love it and for whatever reason it doesn't make them swell up and split like other found." Their face droops as they gesture at Xiao Niao again. "He's already eaten all the sesame paste in the house."
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  #20  
Old Oct 6th, 2023, 11:18 AM
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Mah Guo
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What. was. that!!!!

"AAAAAAAHHHH!!" screamed Mah Guo at the first bounce of that adorable little fluffball. Like an excitable golden retriever, her feet bounced, ready to chase after the closest little critter. The only thing keeping her still was Yijun, who was still on her back and probably didn’t want to endure the trial of slipping and sliding across the lawn as Mah Guo was oh-so tempted to snatch one of those babies up for a snuggle. "They are so cuuuute! Awwww!"

"Do we really have to get rid of them? They look so– innocent and sweet. And no doubt super-duper intelligent creatures," Mah Guo said with pleading eyes to Yun and Fan Ning, ignorant of the two fuzzballs that slammed into each other right behind each other.

Buuut apparently that was the gig. Get rid of them. Get them off the lawn. Stop them from living their cute cozy little lives in the ground. Mah Guo knew she had to be professional– it’s been awhile since they had a gig– but she couldn’t keep that pout on her face as followed CATLOVER84 into the very pink house.

Gently letting Yijun down, Mah Guo was all wiggles and jiggles from how ready she was to examine the critter locked up in his cage. Pushing past both Fan Ning and Yun– "PARDON ME! EXCUSE ME!"-- the giant woman squealed in excitement and took out her datapad to take pictures of the plump Xiao Niao.

THE FOOT OF THE SOUTH SUN ENTERED THE CHAT

THE FOOT OF THE SOUTH SUN: Yoooo!! LOOK AT THIS CUTE LITTLE GUY ASLDLSADLASKDSALAS ~(≧ω≦)~

[An incredibly close-up image of Xiao Niao is uploaded to chat, followed by several other images of his round and plump face. Big eyes. Soft fur. With just an obscene amount of heart stickers and WOWs splashed all around him]

everyone in chat started typing…


OOCAyyy! Gonne roll Cyber Research on that absolute unit of a boi! I get a +1 when I rely on my Gaming Friends for any task relating to Cyber Research, so fingers crossed it goes well!

Dice Cyber Research:
2d6+1 (3, 6)+1 Total = 10



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  #21  
Old Oct 16th, 2023, 10:10 AM
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Yun
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"Ah... huh." Yun wasn't sure what they'd expected to see based on the description given, but they'd spent a fair amount of their early operational years as a survey droid, and they'd seen a fair number of creatures in that time, either through direct contact or in the form of data uploaded in preparation for exploring new locale. it was therefore a little odd to not be able to note even a passing resemblance between any animal Yun had ever heard of... and the thing that was staring back at them from inside the hole.

Okay, so? It wasn't as though Yun knew EVERY species of animal in existence, right?

'... no. That's easily one of the cutest creatures I've ever seen. If I know anything about the Nebula, it's that this fuzzball should be ALL over it already. No chance I wouldn't recognize it from a meme or something, unless it's.... unknown? New species? Ooooh, maybe OLD species? Terraforming disrupted an ancient underground hibernation chamber for the Fuzzlords, a tiny species of galactic conquerors who are fated to destroy all life as we-'

ERROR. DATA SUBJECT: "FUZZLORDS" NOT FOUND. IRREGULAR LOGIC PROCESSES MAY-

'... I'M JOKING. I think... am I? Maybe I'd better lay off the cheesy sci fi movies with Mah Guo for a bit.'

Speaking of Mah Guo, the poor woman was already positively GUSHING at the sight of these odd things. It was an understandable response, but Yun had to rise above the temptation; they needed the money on this one, and prolonging the gig would only make it harder. Before the android could form any actual concrete theories about the things though, a general alarm amongst the critters seemed to sound, and Yun's new friend was gone in a flash. Cursing, Yun sighed, straightening up and switching off their light as they returned focus on CATLOVER84, the woman beckoning them to follow her inside so they could witness the one she'd apparently managed to catch.

"Wow... nice digs." Yun noted the garnish interior with only a small amount of sarcasm. It genuinely was probably the nicest "house" they'd ever been inside... but it was too clean and organized. Too rich-coded. Most importantly, it couldn't fly, which made it inferior to their home by default in their opinion. Buuuut, different strokes for differently privileged folks. The kitchen was, unsurprisingly, just as unnecessarily massive as the house itself, but the android quickly lost interest in the surroundings as their focus honed in on the purple puffball chirping contentedly in the cage.

"Huh... sesame paste huh? Well, maybe we have some back on the ship? Not that I'd know, I don't exactly do the "food" thing. Mah Guo, do we-" Yun was sharply cut off as they turned to find the cook charging through with reckless abandon, suddenly finding her inner shutterbug as she began snapping pic after pic from multiple angles. "... we have... yeah, she's gone. Alright, new topic." Yun wheeled about in place, shifting focus back to the client. "So food lures em... preferably sesame paste. That's a start, but we'll need something to catch them in. What's say you give me a quick tour and we see if there's anything around this unnecessarily large house that would make a serviceable kennel for these overgrown, fuzzy meatballs?"

It was more of a statement than a request, and Yun didn't really wait for the green light before the android gave their companions a nod and exited the kitchen, on the hunt for something big and sealable. A giant house like this... maybe they had a swimming pool-sized laundry hamper sitting around?
Rolls & ActionsYun is going to go looking around for something that could be used to contain the creatures. (+1 to roll from Thieves' Tools, in the off chance a pesky locked door might be hiding a convenient solution).

Dice Scavenge:
2d6+1 (3, 4)+1 Total = 8
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Last edited by Touketsu; Oct 16th, 2023 at 10:12 AM.
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  #22  
Old Nov 9th, 2023, 12:52 PM
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Propagation and containmentThe responses in Mah Guo's chat come fast and heavy.

ELBOWGRAM: NO. NOT ALLOWED. TOO CUTE. (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

FOOTSIEFUTZI: ┬─┬ノ( º _ ºノ) Do not listen to them more.gif

BLKTYPHOON: FUZZ FOR THE FUZZ GOD


Eventually, some of the responses are even helpful.

ChangChangChang: It seems pretty calm for a wild animal in a cage. Is it stupid or does it like confined areas?

YIPPIEKAIYAY: Better watch out! (a hastily edited video depicting a fuzzball in commando gear crawling through an air vent plays with the caption "Welcome to the party, pal!")

ZombieGrad22: This sounds eerily like an article I just read...


That last comes with an attachment, a scientific paper about a parthenogenic alien described in a way that sounds like a close match to the pests. A quick search reveals that the author, Mei Mei, has a lab within walking distance of the mansion. Mah Guo also gets pinged by Garyatric, a name she vaguely recognizes as belonging to a CorCom influencer, with a request for a private conversation.

Meanwhile, CATLOVER84 shows Yun to the basement of the mansion, where clothing is collected in one room from chutes throughout the house for laundering. "The hampers seal and lock because my boss doesn't trust people with his silks, but we can take an empty one." They use a keycard on a fob to check one of the hampers, a boxy affair on casters, and programs temporary cards to that hamper specifically. "I don't know how you're going to lure them in without a lot of sesame paste, though. I haven't been able to find anything that will keep them from running." They show Yun to the freight elevator so they can get the hamper up to ground floor. "Uh, what are you going to do with them once you've caught them?" After a pause, they put up a hand. "Wait, don't tell me, I don't want to know."
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Old Nov 15th, 2023, 09:07 AM
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Mah Guo
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"Ehhh? What does ‘parthenogenic’ mean?" Oh. Ohhhh. Thaaaat’s what it means. Wait. Then that means they’re like… "Bees!" Mah Guo shouted gleefully, looking up from her phone just in time to realize Yun and CATLOVER84 were gone. "Ehh? Where’d they go? I cracked the mystery on these guys! I want my praise! Dang it. Maybe the others will be impressed…"

’BROTHER, NOOOOOO!’ went Mah Guo’s notification ping and she blinked at the new message she received.

The more sensible part of her would’ve swept the message aside. She was working and she couldn’t afford to do collabs right now. Not after the Seige: Dark Tales fiasco. Buuuut she was also bored and unsupervised, as Yijun and Fan Ning were in the middle of their own thing. Surely taking a quick peek on what Garyatic wanted wouldn’t hurt anybody.

The Foot of the South Sun accepted your request.

THE FOOT OF THE SOUTH SUN: ٩(◕‿◕)۶ hey!!!

THE FOOT OF THE SOUTH SUN: so you know I can’t really do collabs right now

THE FOOT OF THE SOUTH SUN: I am working-working, y’know! ᕙ(‾̀◡‾́)ᕗ

THE FOOT OF THE SOUTH SUN starts typing…

THE FOOT OF THE SOUTH SUN stops typing.

THE FOOT OF THE SOUTH SUN starts typing…

THE FOOT OF THE SOUTH SUN: BUT I AM ON BREAK AND THAT IS WHY I HAD TIME TO POST THOSE PICTURES

THE FOOT OF THE SOUTH SUN: I AM SO PROFESSIONAL

THE FOOT OF THE SOUTH SUN: SO PROFESSIONAL

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Last edited by Strangemund; Nov 15th, 2023 at 09:08 AM.
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  #24  
Old Dec 6th, 2023, 09:36 AM
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Yun
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Looking over the large, sealable laundry bin, Yun was honestly impressed at the level of paranoia one needed to possess to have something like this commissioned. The only thing that was perhaps even wilder was the notion that this WASN'T a custom system... and in fact, there were simply a large enough population of rich bastards out there worried enough about the help stealing their bedsheets that an entire product line and installation service was established around securing them. It felt like an unnecessary flex of wealth regardless, but then, weren't MOST displays of wealth unnecessary?

"Mmm... yeah, I think this will work." By now, the android had begun reflecting on what they'd do if they ever amassed great personal wealth. Laughable, given the fact that their very personhood was a murky philosophical concept for the world at large, even WITHOUT getting into the massive debt. Still, Yun didn't think they'd need all that much... the first thing a sudden windfall would go toward was likely the ship. She WAS after all simultaneously functioning as Yun's home, mode of transportation, and primary source of purpose in the galaxy, so a tune up and fresh coat of proverbial paint wouldn't go amiss. After that though... honestly, the biggest advantage to having disposable wealth would be no longer having to worry about all the fines Yun tended to accrue violating rules of galactic travel, breaking speed and sound ordinances, and occasionally causing mild-ish amounts of property damage. They didn't need it for food. They certainly didn't need any new hobbies; between flying around exploring and bumming around with the rest of the crew, Yun probably had enough of those.

'Then again, being rich means no debt, and no debt means no obligation to the ship... which means the others might consider moving on.' Well dang, that was kind of a bummer to think about. Yun LIKED the rest of the crew, even Fan Ning. Mostly.

In the midst of their mildly depressing hypothetical daydream, Yun was brought back to the present by the inquisitive voice of CATLOVER84.

"I don't know how you're going to lure them in without a lot of sesame paste, though. I haven't been able to find anything that will keep them from running. Uh, what are you going to do with them once you've caught them? Wait, don't tell me, I don't want to know." As the door to the freight elevator slid open, Yun glanced over and shrugged before helping to push the hamper onboard.

"No worries there... because I don't rightly know yet. Before we got here I might have consider just ejecting them all into space... but I don't think my crew mates are going to back up that one." Hell, YUN was bothered by the idea now; destructive, dangerously reproductive little monsters they may have been, but they were also too cute to just fling into a sun. "I mean... if you don't mind us taking the hamper, we could probably find a nice abandoned rock floating out in the middle of nowhere to dump them on. In fact, I know one pretty well already." Yun's flexible morals may have softened at the notion of harming the adorable little monsters, but dooming them to the exact same isolation the android had personally experienced didn't seem to motivate any internal alarms. Hell, at least they'd have company.

The elevator dinged, announcing their arrival on the ground floor. As they carefully maneuvered the hamper out and in the direction of the kitchen, Yun continued.

"First things first though... getting them into the bin, which starts with getting them OUT of the lawn. Maybe if we put-" They fell silent, hearing what sounded like Mah Guo excitedly yelling something from the kitchen. By the time the android had pushed through the door however, they found the woman quietly, very intently texting on her phone.

"Hey, we found our trap... sort of. What did I miss?"
Rolls & ActionsYun has some vague potential plans, but I'd like to wait and see what the others have to say before launching into anything.
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Old Jan 1st, 2024, 08:01 PM
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Best laid plansAfter it's clear that Mah Guo is finished typing, Garyatric starts to respond.

GARYATRIC: i'm not looking for a collab exactly

GARYATRIC: in fact i'd like to keep this quiet

There's a pause and a set of typing bubbles.

GARYATRIC: let me back up

GARYATRIC: you see how cute those furballs are

GARYATRIC: i think i can make bank with them as a pet influencer

There's another pause.

GARYATRIC: my husband disagrees

GARYATRIC: my siblings disagree

GARYATRIC: my ENTIRE FAMILY disagrees

GARYATRIC: if they find out i'm pursuing this i'll never hear the end of it... unless they find out when i become a viral hit

GARYATRIC: i want you to catch one of those furballs and send it to me, quietly

GARYATRIC: assuming that's not too unprofessional ^_^
OOCThis is your first Side Gig offer. Side gigs are an opportunity to make additional progress on clearing your debts, but they divert time away from your main gig. They also aren't GEAS-vetted, meaning that a payout isn't a guarantee. Sometimes they will be scams or ill-conceived ventures that don't pay off, depending on how you roll upon completing them. Accepting this particular Side Gig from Garyatric will eat up two spaces on your timeline.
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  #26  
Old Jan 5th, 2024, 09:56 AM
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Mah Guo
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On one hand, they soooo could use the money. Chang’e really needed more repairs than they were willing to admit to themselves. Like, sure, the duct tape and the extra sticky duct tape solved a lot of problems, but also, they were gonna run out of that soon! And then they’ll have bigger problems! Problems only money could fix! So yeah, the responsible answer was to agree to this shady transaction that none of her other crew-mates know about.

But on the other hand, pet influencers were the worst. Mah Guo knew she shouldn’t judge someone she didn’t know. That wasn’t very nice of her. But at the same time, who would want to get a pet for the sake of views? Pets were meant to be showered with love and affection, put in adorable outfits, and fill up majority of your data space with pictures of them sleeping in weird places. And yet that didn’t sound like something Garyatric wanted at all!

Biting her lip, Mah Guo looked over to the caged fluffball, and whispered softly, "Do you… want to be an influencer?" Those big dumb eyes stared back up at Mah Guo and melted her heart all over again. "Awwww. You’d do so well on the web. But… you are also just a little guy, who loves to eat sesame paste." So relatable!! "Being on the internet is a lot of work, and I think you’d be happier free." She paused. "But in, like, a place equipped for you to be free. I’d say our ship but we don’t have nearly enough sesame paste."

Or do they…? Could she raise this fluffball as her own…?

Eyes narrowed, she reached tentatively through the bars to see if he’d enjoy a good pet or two.

Garyatric could wait.

This was far more important.
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Last edited by Strangemund; Jan 5th, 2024 at 10:06 AM.
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  #27  
Old Jan 8th, 2024, 03:17 PM
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Fan Ning
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There really isn't that much going on, but Fan Ning nonetheless struggles to decide what to do next. Take him off the ship, put him in an investigation, without machinery to fix (by tool or fist, either one), and he's a little bit lost. So he ends up tailing Mah Guo about, keeping his eyes and ears open for something he might do.

As it turns out, the most interesting thing to do is to follow Mah Guo around. He's aware of her extensive contact network on the net; she's used it to great effect (and sometimes hilarious effect -- there was that one incident with the retro VR headset, a plate of spicy noodles and a microtorque plasmon resonator after all). So when she starts in on doing some research, he casually watches over her shoulder. It's not hard to see over her shoulder, given that he's several inches taller, but it surprises him more than a little that she can't feel him hovering. He honestly expects a good-natured but insistent elbow to the gut, but her distraction from the fuzzball and the flood of information coming in seems to have her otherwise occupied.

While Mah Guo stops to converse with the fuzzball, Fan Ning deliberates on what he's seen and heard:

1. Sending a fuzzball to this Garyatric person makes him uncomfortable.

2. He's pretty certain that sesame paste is on the shopping list posted in the galley. So either:
2a. They need to visit a shop that sells sesame paste which is:
2a.i. Probably going to be expensive if they need a lot of it, which:
2a.i.i. defeats the purpose of taking the gig.

or

2b. They need to find out more about the fuzzballs which means:
2b.i. Visiting this Mei Mei's lab.

A light of inspiration blossoms in Fan Ning's mind and brings a slow smile to the big man's broad face.

"A field trip."

He blinks, realizing he's spoken out loud without intending to. Clearing his throat, he explains, "We should go into town. If we need sesame paste to feed them, it's probably the only place we'll find some. And maybe we could also visit this lab ZombieGrad22 told you about."

That said, he clasps his hands behind his back and stands like a schoolboy having just recited his lessons.
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  #28  
Old Jan 9th, 2024, 01:06 AM
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Yun
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Yun, question not immediately answered, watched the others with mild interest. Fan Ning seemed to be totally lost in thought; Mah Guo on the other hand was more consumed in the cage, sticking her fingers through the bars in an attempt to pet the creature. Bold, considering they hadn't ruled out yet whether these things ate fingers... but that answer would be coming in just a moment, regardless.

"We should go into town. If we need sesame paste to feed them, it's probably the only place we'll find some. And maybe we could also visit this lab ZombieGrad22 told you about." At Fan Ning's sudden interjection, Yun returned their attention to him, head cocked.

"Lab? Like... a science lab? Here?" With renewed interest, the droid stepped forward and glanced over at the phone for themself, taking note of the message he was referring to. "Wait wait... so there's research material on an alien that sounds a lot like the one we're currently dealing with, and it comes from a lab... nearby?"

LOGICAL ANALYSIS SUGGESTS EVIDENT CONNECTION. ORIGIN POINT: LABORATORY. ALIEN EMERGENCE HIGHLY CORRELATED. CONCLUSION APPEARS SELF-EVIDENT.

QUERY: THE F*CK?


"Yeah... count my vote for hitting up that lab too. That's... honestly probably where we should start, right?"

CORRECT.

'Quiet you.'

ERROR.
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Last edited by Touketsu; Jan 9th, 2024 at 01:07 AM.
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  #29  
Old Jan 9th, 2024, 10:03 AM
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Don't know how to feel about *any* of thisCATLOVER84 winces at the thought of spacing the furballs, though they don't offer any comment. When Yun suggests the possibility of marooning them on some desolate rock instead, they look down at the hamper with ambivalence. "I think I can fudge a missing hamper. It's easier to deal with than this mess at least."

They huff and puff a bit as they help maneuver the hamper, though it's not clear if that's from the effort of moving the hamper around or the ongoing, low-grade panic. They reenter the kitchen just as Mah Guo begins to reach into the cage. CATLOVER84 begins reaching out as though to intervene but hesitates, conflicted emotions written across their face.

Xiao Niao, on the other hand, hardly hesitates at all before aggressively rolling into Mah Guo's hand and rubbing against her palm. It makes a noise somewhere in-between a coo and a purr. Its fur is so. so. Soft. It's like been nuzzled by a little purple cloud. His big eyes look up Mah Guo hopefully. "Prrreee? Prrrrreeee? Prrrrrrrrrreeeeee?"

Then he bites her finger.

CATLOVER84 is unable to take their eyes off the proceedings, but they do manage to follow some of the conversation. "The closest grocery store is Bean & Beluga, in another air dome, so you'll need to take a cab." They blink, then look up. "Wait. There's a lab. In walking distance. That's already researching these?" They grit their teeth.
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  #30  
Old Jan 12th, 2024, 11:09 AM
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Mah Guo
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Mah Guo was hit bit by Yue Lao himself. That fluffy little pork bun just rolled right into her head, crooning and purring and nuzzling her like they were the bestest of friends. Tears welled in Mah Guo’s eyes– which was surprisingly not because of the chomp Xiao Nao took out of her finger– but because she knew right then and there, she couldn’t live without him.

Missing everything that happened behind her, which yes, included Fan Ning’s snooping, Yun’s return, and the announcement that they were going on a field trip, Mah Guo faced the others with a pleading puppy dog look. "Do we have to get rid of theeeem? Because I am pretty sure Pork Bun wants to be with me. Forever. And I think it’d be wrong for us to be separated after he’s grown so attached to me." which she wasn’t wrong about, as technically, biting was considered form of attachment… of the physical sort.

Please please please please please please please.

Wait.

Was that her phone!?

"Yun! Don’t look at my group chat!! I haven’t taught you everything about memes yet! You won’t understand them!" She wanted to go over and take it back, but that required not petting Pork Bun and, well. That just wasn’t going to happen any time soon.

Scratching his head with her now free hand, Mah Guo was amazed by how fast everyone figured out what was going on. Fan Ning knew about the lab and the sesame paste, and Yun also figured out that the lab was close by! Wow, her friends were so amazing!

At CATLOVER84’s soul-crushing realization about the lab’s closeness, Mah Guo happily piped in, "Yes, it is real close! I was thinking they may have come from there myself because it just makes sense, yeah? Just a stone toss away. And it looks like these cutie-pies know how to get into vents, don’t you? Yes you do. Yes you do~!" crooned Mah Guo to the little fluff ball until she was cooing baby talk at it. "Do you want to visit your home? Huh? Do you? Want to come with? I bet you do~!"

Mah Guo suddenly paused.

"Oh yeah, Yun, do you mind telling uhhhh what was their name Garytric that I can't do the thing they asked because uhhhh I don't know, I died or whatever."
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Last edited by Strangemund; Jan 12th, 2024 at 11:51 AM.
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