As a final tribute to the Link plot, I tied it into the demise of the PDX House of Light after deciding to discontinue RPing them. Cross-posting that story below! (Cross-posted from this thread.) Inside and around the building complex in Portland, Oregon that once housed the Portland House of Light dojo, any Bee or anyone else sensitive to the Buzzing would have access to the following information about the organisation’s demise: Our wisdom flows so sweet. Taste and see. TRANSMIT - initiate the PDX frequency - RECEIVE - initiate the Connecticorp signal - PUT YOUR FUTURE IN OUR HANDS - initiate the Blood Witch cadence - THAT POWER DOESN’T BELONG TO YOU - initiate the last resort protocol - WITNESS - The Link Upgrade What came first, the chicken or the egg? Or was it the scapegoat? EVIL! shout the people in the street. BURN THE WITCH! Look for evil in the mirror, sweetling. Those you would call evil would call you evil. Evil must be routed out at the source. So what came first, the chicken or the egg? Round and round it goes, sweetling. Evil people make evil organisations and evil organisations make evil people. Forget control chips and action bars, corporate culture is as real as we are, and whispers into your ears just the same. What came first, the evil person or the evil plan? Do evil persons make evil plans or do evil plans make evil persons? Shall we listen to the evil persons in the evil organisation making their evil plans, sweetling? “It’s like a backup copy, of the person I am now. If anything happens to my chip, the power I took from the Bliesner witch will disappear into a mirror dimension, taking Caryn Blythe with it. All that will be left will be Justine White, as she used to be… well, with her mind rather fried. But they can run all their medical, magical and mental checks and all they’ll see will be Justine, freed of Link influence, because that’s what she’ll be. But Caryn will be… hiding in the mirror… waiting for the right moment to come back out.” “Very impressive, miss Blythe, I’m glad to see you’ve proven every bit as valuable as we’d hoped. And you could make such a mirror backup of all our chipped Bees?” “For any of them, absolutely, but doing it for all of them would take a very long time. If I can get back into that Portland dojo and get a sample of those blood probes, I believe I can upgrade the Link process to use bio-nanites in the bloodstream instead of chips in the neck to control our subjects. That would remove the vulnerabilities of the chips altogether.” “It would be risky for you to go back there, however, and we would hate to lose you, after how useful you’ve proven yourself to be to us.” “I believe it is worth the risk, miss Hamliel. Is this not why you wanted me? Why you wanted an infiltrator in the House of Light? I think you already knew that Desiree’s blood probes and Hikari’s abilities could offer unprecedented possibilities to control people.” “It’s true, originally we only wanted you for that. But you’ve turned out to be an unexpectedly strong asset yourself.” “Then trust that I can do this? All I need from Hikari is to observe how her power works with the abilities I now have from Camilla. Then I’m ready to infiltrate that dojo and get a sample of those blood probes.” “That won’t be necessary, plans are already in motion for others to infiltrate the Portland dojo and get a sample of those blood probes. As for Hikari, however, that part is on, she should be on the way to my office… right now. If you step out the door now, you might just bump into her in the hallway.” “Say no more.” “I’ll see you out to make sure all goes smoothly. Thank you, miss Blythe. You’ve done us a great service.” No plan survives contact with the enemy! Good planners always make a plan B! And a plan C! And a plan D! Stop at plan E lest you spend your whole life planning plans that never come to bear sweet fruit! Evil planners can be good planners too, sweetling. Let's fast forward a little... “Okay... Blythe? What about her? I’m sorry, Justine, unless I can be sure it’s you… I can’t let you go.” “B-Blythe… Blythe? Save her… We must… save her. She was there... I saw her... Trapped in… mirrors…” “Hey, found her. Not enough to report yet just… hold the line. I’m not sure the New York office is even intact. Where did you see her? And please don’t try to kill me.” “In the mirrors… Every time I looked inside… She was there, looking... At me…” “Justine, it’s okay. You’re you again. See?” “Me…” What lives longer, the planner or the plan? Plans are supposed to die with their planner, aren’t they? Nobody wants to still be tripping over apples years after they’ve cut the apple tree down. But some apples are just too sweet, sweetling. Let them lie in a forgotten corner and a new apple tree will grow. Fast forward a lot, this time. “So, Desiree and Connor will be leaving us tomorrow?” “Yup, to join the assault on the Tokyo dojo. Along with most of the veterans. They invited me to come too but… my place is here.” “I’m with you, Portland’s become our place. I wouldn’t want to leave it either. Looks like we’ll be left with a skeleton crew though.” “Yeah… Hey Justine, what about you? You going to join the assault party?” “Nah, I figured I’d stay right here. With only us die-hards staying here in Portland? I figure it’s a great opportunity for all of us to get… connected.” Most plans aren’t evil. Most plans are innocent. Have you ever planned to have tea with breakfast? To have coffee with your friend? The innocent plans tend not to live so long. Vulnerable they are to the evil plans. Though sometimes they can just become the worm in the apple… Fast forward just a little more… “Mistress Nicci! Sorry, old habits… We weren’t expecting you! What brings you back to your old dojo?” “Oh, I heard Desiree took most of the crew to raid Tokyo and left you all by yourselves. I figured it’d be a great opportunity to pay you a visit and give you some company, see how you’re all doing, if you need anything I can help with...” “Well, we’re all doing fine! But we’re very happy to see you again, it’s been a very long time!” “Yes, it has, the dojo really has changed a lot… It feels so very different here now… Even the place’s aura… did Justine reset the wards? It feels… almost wrong somehow…” “We were worried you might sense that. I’m afraid now that you have, we can’t allow you to leave.” “I… what? WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! Call Pippa. I’ve walked into a trap! Portland doj..” Are you beginning to see, sweetling? Are you beginning to see the beginning? The beginning of the end of the ends towards which this building was once begun? The plan of a long cut down tree put all their plans to an end, even one’s plan for an innocent visit. Innocent visit. Not so innocent visitor. Those who we speak to are hard to kill. Never go down without a fight. I’ve someone waiting for me back home. This blade cuts both ways, sweetling. The enemy has the same power. Weren’t you paying attention? This one has access to the Arterial Grimoire. Yes, the evil one. Look in the mirror, sweetling. She did not choose evil, she was made evil. That’s what they all say. After they’ve lost. But this one would not lose. Not today. The trap sprung and the visitor never stood a chance. No chance? Just one chance. There’s always a chance, sweetling, if you are willing to pay the price. The price fluctuates every day, as the markets go up and down. A guest should not have to pay, but this visitor paid dearly. What was the price and what was the prize? After it was all over, the Illuminated came to the site to illuminate themselves. Let’s listen to them, shall we? “Yes, a portal was definitely opened right here, very recently. Two people went through.” “And the destination?” “Some kind of pocket dimension. That’s already been destroyed.” “So what are we looking at? An escape? They burned their escape route behind them?” “Possible. I’m thinking more… taking the battle elsewhere.” “You think they threw so much magic at eachother in there they collapsed the place?” “Or one of them destroyed it deliberately... with the other inside.” Two went in, only one came out. What happened to the other one? The evil one? We do not know, sweetling. The one that came out could no longer speak to us, or hear us. The price that day was steep, steeper than was possible in four dimensions, and steeped in honey. And the prize? You want a prize, too? Isn’t it enough that you get to go home? Home is where the heart is. Just one heart continued to beat for some time longer. A wanderer got to take the path where she touched only half an angel, and embraced the phoenix. Rise from the ashes! Do not pass go! Do not save the lives you were sworn to protect! Receive a high five from King Pyrrhus to congratulate you on your victory. For all else had no honey to give and paid the price in blood instead. The Link has always been a sore loser. If you can’t checkmate your opponent, throw the board off the table and scatter the pieces! Nobody can say you’ve lost! At least nobody can say they won! If you can’t win, no one will! And make sure to go out with a bang. Maybe the fireworks will convince someone you’ve won. Sometimes it seems like everything comes with an overload and self-destruct button these days. Reactors. Security systems. Magical wards. Toys, as long as they’re produced by Orochi. Another tree went up in smoke, and its apples scattered to the wind. But not for long. Now the apples were known to the poisonous. If you can’t rout evil out at the source, at least burn all its branches. The witch hunters are nothing if not thorough. They made sure to get rid of all the scattered apples this time. Collateral damage deemed acceptable. Look, mistakes were made. What came first? We can’t be sure. What lives longer? It doesn’t matter if nothing lives. Look for evil in the mirror, sweetling. Nothing lives. Nothing? Does nothing remain of this place once so full of life? When nothing else remains, the lessons do. We all learned some valuable lessons here. We’ve preserved those for you, sweetling. We’ve preserved the wisdom. Our wisdom flows so sweet. Taste and see.