Welcome to No Books of Men! We are a modern alternate history board set in a magical school nestled in the Columbiana Valley of the Rocky Mountains. Students of the Collegium Illustrata Columbiana (commonly called simply The Academy) are free to explore their wildest imaginations in learning the mystic arts, so long as it does not jeopardize the ongoing Shadow War with the Exarchs. How will you live up to the legacies of Merlin?
darkkenchild is the Head Admin here at No Books. He enjoys long walks on the beach and debating the metaphysical underpinnings of reality, so any questions about your character , the plot of No Books, and/or how magic works on the site, please do not hesitate to ask him.
Squeeji is the head of “Human Resources” here at No Books, and responsible for pretty much everything related to our contact with the outside world. Advertising, orientation, and just about anything to do with bringing in new blood is in her wheelhouse.
Friday night. A time to go out with friends or loved ones, or maybe even a time to find future loved ones. At least in a perfect world. Kim's world was almost never perfect though, and accordingly she was here more often than not. Whiling away another Friday night cleaning up after the messes her students had left. Or rather, a very specific student.
"Goddammit Jazz, why?" The assignment had been extremely simple. Using the reality code that Kim had provided, the students were tasked with making some sort of minor change in themselves or their environments. A change of hair/eye color, shifting light into another frequency with code alone, projecting a single packet of information directly into the mind of another; simple stuff. Indeed, Kim had provided a code that was specifically designed to only allow minor changes.
Somehow though, Jazz had found a way to not only recompile the provided code to allow greater changes, but she had somehow managed to infect the base code of the lights in the room. Now, rather than insubstantial waveform particles which lights typically emit, she had somehow manage to reconfigure said photons to take physical form and manifest as liquid. A liquid that was slowly pouring out of the fluorescent bulbs above and tumbling to the floor below where they pooled and rose like the tide coming in.
This made life quite difficult as Kim was left to code like crazy to prevent the room from filling with liquid light. She didn't even know if one could drown in light, but she didn't want to try. To make matters worse, Jazz's program seemed to be semi-sentient. Intentional or not, Jazz had created a self-repairing code which corrected itself after every workaround that Kim managed to force through. So far, only two things had saved the day. First, Kim had been sitting in her office twenty minutes ago when the program had somehow initiated itself. Second, she had noticed what was happening quickly and managed to both isolate Jazz's computer from the network (to prevent its spread through the school, for now) and to turn off all but the emergency lights to slow the flow to a trickle. Still, if she couldn't figure out a solution soon, the light would flood the building. It was already leaking underneath the door and flowing down the hallway in what must be a magnificent and bizarre sight...
Noah had long since given up on the idea of doing much of anything on a Friday night...some twenty years ago, hell only right now he had found some time to really breathe, and now? Well he wasn't so certain he knew what to do with himself, an empty nest, a lack of cause and a sister too busy to keep him out of trouble- yeah really he was almost anxious about the whole thing. Idle hands and him tended to end poorly...
Case in point, here he was, well after hours at the office just to tinker, a collection of small mechanical bugs had started to take over the entirety of the Turing Building, and he was the reason why, well he and the fact that he had nothing better to do. Time was a construct that was quickly lost on the Etherite, who was hunched over with a jewelers scope over his next skittering contraption, that was...until the lights killed.
"Oh come the fuck on..."
Annoyance? Thy name was Noah, he threw down his eye wear and blinked a few times, the immensely photosensitive trying to get his bearings in a new dimness...with all the wisdom of a guy who was half blind and stumbling out in the hall to see what was up. Fortunately he only caught the corner of his desk once, and hit the door sham twice... Only to find himself dazed by some new awful light source. "Oh my god, really?" Exasperated and pressing the heels of his hands into his eyes , just trying to ignore the fact that everything below his waist was probably bleeding internally.
After a few moments, normalization finally came, and Noah blinked back against the pain to find that things weren't really much better then initially theorized. "What...wh-what?" With every shocked sound that came out of him, his actual shock turned more and more into a state of crumpled agitation. Brows knitted as tight as they could in the middle of his forehead as he frowned something fierce. What did these kids do now? No correction: What did one kid do now? And where was Jasmine Dashe and why wasn't she by this point chained to Mansfield like Hilyer's kid or you know Mansfield Jr.
The irony of him complaining about bad kids was not lost on him- but it was more a topic of envy really, no one had really gone easy on him, and yet...and yet...
"Kimmy? Kimmy you see-see...seeing this shit?"
So he wasn't so certain she was out there, but he had a hunch- something about her not having much of a life too. Cruel but true.
Kim allowed herself the smallest of moments to lament her unfortunate position. She thought how she would rather be anywhere else. More than anything she would prefer to be somewhere with hard liquor and no computers. No such luck here.
Focusing back on the glowing computer screen, and trying to ignore the fact that it was slowly dribbling more of the liquid light out of the monitor. She was also trying to ignore the fact that said light was flowing over the desk and onto her legs, where it was soaking into her jeans and leading to a very strange sight as increasingly damp denim clung to her legs and began to glow with the faint blue-white light of a computer monitor. Add all that to her ignoring the slowly rising liquid water, and she was basically only paying attention to two things. First, the task at hand as her fingers flew over the keyboard in her desperate attempt to reverse this bizarre effect. The second was the sound of someone shouting from the hallway beyond the slowly leaking door.
Who was still here? Depending on who it was, this could be a big help or a big problem. She wished she could get up and check who it was, or even clarify what exactly she heard beyond what sounded like an annoyed shout. Instead, she kept working until she heard someone messing with the doorknob. "No, wait, don't!" Kim barely looked up as she shouted at whoever it was started to pull the door open. Silently cursing fire codes that required doors to open outward, and thus allowing the weight of the "water" to help push the door open, she glanced up to see Noah framed in the doorway as the shin high water rushed into the hallway as it attempted to normalize its level.
Sighing deeply, trying not to think of how pissed off Lawrence and Walter would be when they saw all this bizarre mess later, she nodded curtly at Noah. "Yeah, I sorta noticed it." Her sarcastic response had a bit more of an edge to it than she had intended, but she didn't have time to apologize for it. Nor did she have time to admonish Noah for calling her Kimmy again, not that it bothered her that much, but still... "Kinda trying to stop it before we drown in this crap! If you know anything about reality coding, I'd appreciate the help. Otherwise I might need you to grab a bucket..."
In his defense, a screaming light headache had made it a bitch to hear- and he was kinda sorta deaf to begin with. Noah pushed through the door like it was nothing, an unfortunate side effect of a life lived adventuring, he was actually quite strong, rumors of him deadlifting a Volkswagon? Absolutely true. So a waterlogged passage was nothing, hell...for the longest time waterlogged passages were everything while you tried to keep from having your under water lab from collapsing under you trying to make it to escape pod.
Jesus Christ did they suck a nut. He watched in almost rapt fascination as the glowing 'water' rolled over his ankles and soaked into his pants. An equal mix of familiarity and confusion keeping him from reacting completely. "Um...yeah. " that was, about as good as he could give without thinking of and trying not to think of things bygone, talking dolphins and explosions. Noah smirked awkwardly and rubbed at the back of his head, gesturing at his feet. "Sorry."
He really was, like really, really- not only was this all a hell of mess, and Kim seemed really upset- though he wasn't so sure it was at him, or the situation. Maybe both. Safe and fair to say both. But there was something to be said about whatever the hell qualities this viscous fluid had. Probably cancerous. Because everything lead to cancer. Like literally everything, this was probably just a pool of cancer in waiting to think of it.
"I...I do not. Doesn't uh...what is it...Honey? Hawnee? Isn't that his job? Where the fuck, fuck is he?" Noah sloshed over to Kim with a shrug, not sure where to find a bucket or a reality coding professor. Or a major, a minor or hell...even just a 101 student. It was D-E-D dead down here tonight. "This his class?" Idle chit-chat, all the while he considered options, what little he could wrap his head around, maybe if the servers were taken down, sure the kids might riot because they couldn't play Halo again, but better then whatever this was probably. Maybe. Depended really.
Well, the 'water' pouring out of the room wasn't such a big deal really, now that Kim thought on it. The janitorial staff wouldn't be happy, but so long as this got fixed before turning positively catastrophic, it wouldn't matter just where the 'water' ended up. Not like it was hard to find, at least a night. Still, her sigh was unpreventable as it all soaked into Noah's pants. “Apologize later. I wasn't really joking about the whole bucket thing...” Well, she was, but something had to be done to stem the tide if possible and since she couldn't turn off the emergency lights from where she was, that had to be dealt with. Not to mention that she unfortunately couldn't turn off the monitor and still see what she was doing...
“Yeah, Honee would be super helpful right about now, but he's probably too busy taking it up the ass at home right now to really help.” That was mean, and Kim winced as she realized it. Her fellow reality coder didn't deserve that. Too many nights PvPing online had meant that when frustrated she threw insults that could make a sailor blush sometimes. She wasn't mad at Noah either, and she made a mental note to buy him dinner sometime or something to apologize for letting him get dragged into this. However, she was having problems again. The code apparently was gaining some sort of real sentience and had realized that she had confined it to the single computer and it wasn't happy about it...
The computer seemed to come to life, cords springing from its back to wrap around her arms and try to wrench her away from the keyboard. That wasn't good. The program was clearly aware that it was programmed to alter reality and was using that to its full advantage. This wasn't good. "Shit!" Not good at all. "Goddammit..! Get these things off me!"
Noah grumbled, pussy footing the mess with a disgusted look as his senses finally came back to him, he wasn't about ready to bucket brigade but there was something to be said about whatever this was starting to log the place. What it said was: It probably wasn't good. "K-Kimmy." His tone wasn't so much a warning as a gentle reminder, because you know professional courtesy and all that, if anyone else had heard that other then him, her House head would roll.
Maybe he would have said something more, because he didn't want her to think he was just yelling at her, but there was always distractions in this damn school- in this case it was the computer reaching out to grab his fellow professor for whatever ill intentions it meant- he had seen enough of his son's weird Japanese porn to know how this might end. "Shit!" No stutter that time, but Noah went on the counter offense in an instant, leaping onto the computerized arms and trying to wrench them free of Kim's limbs. "Let...let go!" He growled, concentrating on himself in some attempt to make himself stronger.
If that did any good with this stupid computer crap.
What the hell was the right sentiment right now. None of this was good, and none of this should have been something that a simple grad student should be able to do. Of course, Jazz wasn't a simple Grad Student, she could be a professor by now or at the very least a graduate. Instead, she spun her wheels and messed around. Instead, she programmed reality breaking code that could achieve sentience and decide to fight back... Or did Noah mean to admonish her about her comment? A moot point at the moment she thought, but just in case. "Sorry. Sorry. A bit stressed out right now..."
Speaking of which, Kim was struggling to simultaneously dislodge the cords that were snaking their way around her limbs and keep tapping away at the keyboard to stay ahead of the program's attempts to lock her out of its base code. If she could stay ahead of it long enough, she hoped, she could actually get at some way of stopping it. For now though, preventing herself from losing was almost the same as winning. Almost.
Either way, her way forward with stopping the program was currently complicated by the impossible tentacles of wires that sought to stop her in her tracks. "Shit! Shit! Shit!" She could feel the cords tightening around her limbs, the circulation starting to get cut off. A mad grin flashed across her face as she imagined the cords looking like snakes wrapping around her. It was almost funny; at least it would be if she weren't right in the middle of such a volatile situation. Well, at least they weren't trying to wrap around her neck...
With a grunt, she realized that she had perhaps spoken too soon. The mouse had sprung to life and was wrapping around her neck, ever tighter, its 'head' coiled up to look her dead in the eye as if it truly were a snake watching its prey. Between her focus on the screen and this newest distraction, she didn't see so much as feel Noah leaping to her rescue. She felt the cords wrapping around her limbs loosen and in some cases even go entirely limp as his enhanced limbs literally tore the plastic and wires apart. Good, but she had a more immediate concern. Instinct led her newly freed arms to shoot to her neck. Fear, magic, and desperation combined to incinerate the mouse and its cords, leaving a lovely surface burn on her neck behind. Taking a deep, gasping breath, she stuttered out a "Th-thanks" in a shaky voice.
Then she realized what she had done. Glancing back in horror, she saw the computer screen go black. "Fucking hell...! That's bad. Very bad...." She looked at Noah, desperation in her eyes. Did her moment of self-preservation just lead to Jazz's Ultron escaping?
No Jazz was NOT a simple grad student...she was the reason they couldn't have nice things. Why most the budget for the engineering department was focused in on repairs, and why often why Noah didn't sleep at night. Yeah, and the fact that he knew that she hung out with Murphy's contemporary- Dr. Diddler, didn't help him rest easy any. Yeah...
The worry hit close to home, like looking through a mirror darkly, maybe, he thought....he should talk to her personally, you know- if he ever survived the onslaught of cables that were trying to twist around him and Kim- who was looking nearly choked out by the time he was able to yank her free. He didn't stop immediately when she was freed, just in case, he didn't stop until every bit of cord was too snapped back to struggle. Because he had learned his lesson about not being thorough a long, long time ago.
So after the white haze kind of drifted out of his eyes he huffed and puffed, not quite in the shape he used to be in, a sad realization if he even cared anymore. Noah waved a dismissive hand. "No...no problem." He gave her a once over, pulling his sunglasses up for a moment and them dipping them back down. "You alright?" A hesitant smile, and that was gone in a flash, because before he could even get a proper answer Kim was panicking about something or another.
"What? W-what happened?"
He could guess, and while he hoped they had trapped the abomination in a dormant machine, the more likely conclusion was worse...that somehow the damn thing had gotten into the system. "NOoooOOooo." God he wanted to whine, hell he was whining and stomping his feet, and clawing his fingers down his face- "Come the fuck on...REALLy? Like...r-really?" He gestured at the computer. "FuuuUUuck."
"No no no no no no no no. This is not good. Not good at all..." Kim was damned near in a panic. She practically leapt to her feet and back to the keyboard. She tapped a few keys. She smacked the monitor. She slammed an angry fist on the desk. "Fuck me..."
She looked over at Noah and sighed deeply. "Me? Yeah. I'm fine." Her voice seemed anything but fine. "Thanks to you." She gave him a weak smile. "What happened? Well, we're kind of screwed here. I mean, I managed to physically disconnect the computer from the network. So, if we're lucky, the program's still isolated in this single computer. Even better, it seems to have gone on full lockdown. Nothing in or out..."
Kim took a deep breath and shook her head. "Unfortunately, that means this semi-sentient program has intentionally locked itself into a feedback loop. I would say, if we're lucky, we have about an hour before this thing reaches a point where it becomes truly self-aware and realizes two things: That I just tried to abort its programming before it could be 'born' and that it was based upon a program designed specifically to alter the basecode of reality." She shook her head. "Granted, the program should have only been capable of minor changes, but Jazz already broke the restrictions in the code and I don't expect it would take long once the program decides to think on the matter to figure out how she did it and how to further deviate from the restrictions.
"So, yeah. Basically a magic Ultron." Kim said nothing about Noah's tantrum. Mostly because she currently felt like doing the same, but she barely managed to restrain herself from joining his wailing with her own. "So... I'm open to ideas if you have any..." She smiled weakly, but not without a heavy hint of gallows humour mixed in.