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Elven Paranormal Containment Foundation 14

[First]

Location: Site-16
The infiltration at Site-7 was done in a professional and discreet way, that however was not the case in Site-16.
Idiotic religious zealots, armed with techno weapons, began to assault the facility. They cared not for property damage or the delicacy of their work.
Clad in silken robes that offered little protection, the members of the Cyber Church were shot down by many of the facility guards and MTF units deployed there.
It was a bloodbath. Swirling magical energy danced and permeated the air, alongside with metal, blood and ashes.
Whilst the Foundation forces wielded sophisticated sceptres, the Church's were armed with crude, civilian grade magical artifacts.
But they were supported and assisted with various technological miracles given by their God.
One of the ancient artifacts was a four legged creature. It had a hardened carapace of bright yellow blended with vantablack. On its chest, a glass-like material covered what seemed to be a row of soulless eyes. It had a head, with a claw-like jaw - modified by the Church to be welded with a sharp knife made out of the mythical iron.
One could see the slight distortion of light coating the non-magical metal, deteriorating mystical energy into chaotic essence.
"Go Spot!" One of the cultists yelled to the canine-like creature.
The dog-thing was fast. It propelled itself forward, a magical bolt sizzled and chipped off part of its shell, yet the creature ignored it and accelerated forward, the iron piercing deep through skin, then flesh. The sound of meat sizzling, mana energy slowly eroding, blood evaporating at the touch was ignored by the yellow and black dog.
The guard screamed, he pulled out a mithril knife, enchanted with the best spell. It barely penetrated the shell, only scratching the surface.
Another guard attempted to hinder the creature's movement with his magic, powerful water jets projected from a magical circle manifested inches away from the sceptre's arcane crystal.
The machine-creature did not yelp or make any sounds as it was pushed backward. Not even a sign of whimper or pain.
"Get down!" One of the guards yelled as an erratic magical bolt fired from a Church wand. Bright, multicolored prismatic energy propelled forward before it was absorbed by the MTF’s superior magic resistant armor.
A fireball suddenly manifested before it was thrown in the guard's general direction. A simple temporal barrier spell was sufficient to hold the attack.
"Suppressive spell!" One of the facility guards yelled. "Suppressive spell, now!"
About ten individuals concentrated their theurgical energy into a singular point. A complex spell structure formed into intricate and ornate magical circles.
The machine-dog lunged forward and sliced one of the elves to prevent the completion of the procedure. The iron blade ignored any resistance of flesh, metal and bones. Blood spurted, along with whatever remained within the body.
Fortunately for the Foundation, the spell was quickly cast. Another simple hand gesture, it manifested into existence.
A large, powerful, energy beam formed. It was concentrated into singular rays of bright, multicolored light.
It did not deter the machine-dog, the skeletal legs of the creature kicking it forward. It ran at a speed difficult to track - all the combat mages simply fired dozens of assault spells wildly, conjuring fireball, lightning, ice shard, water stream and other forms of attack.
The iron blade severed a hand before it stabbed the owner's throat. It did not stop, the dead cold eyes only stared. Most of the elves had already magically exhausted themselves.
Perfect prey for the killing machine.
Location: Physic-661 Containment Cell, Site-16
The situation had turned suddenly tense, all the guards were taken out and the researchers were collected into a corner of the room.
Game knew nothing of these people, and he was wary. His fist clenched not in anger, but in alert. The magic system that kept his containment cell stable was still up and running, but he doubted it would remain that way.
They were clad in strange milky white robes with slight traces of gold and silver, or rather faegold and silverite. A greenish gem, probably emerald, was wrapped around their necks. A high possibility that it was related to magic.
They each wore a white, featureless mask with two large holes for eyes, and six very tiny vertical slits on the cheek area either for breathing or conversing.
One of them wore a dark robe dissimilar to the others. A red ruby jewel was on this person's gauntlet and there was layer upon layer of gold ornaments around their neck. They wielded a strange coppery mechanical staff, with exposed wiring and an unnecessary amount of cogwheels. A quantum battery connected with the magnetic field generator, four tiny protrusions at the edge of the sceptre - levitating a ball of metal (presumably iron) via magnetism.
"Greetings Oracle," the person spoke. Their voice was raspy and echoed, it was difficult to discern their gender. "We have several questions for you."
Game stood still, he was confused and honestly terrified. He knew magic was pretty much harmless, and he had the strength to overpower most of the elves. However, he was not immune to being shot by an arrow. Magical or not.
And there were at least six people wielding wooden crossbows, with fancy glimmering enchantment radiating from the weapons.
For now, he had to play their game. "Oracle? Never heard that in a long time," Game stated. Trying to figure out why these nutjobs referred to him as such. His plan now was to pretend to be who they thought he was, and use what little information they provided to play that given role.
"Ah, so it is true," the man/woman(?) spoke, Game could feel the glee behind the mask. "You are the Oracle of the legend. A being of thousand lifetime, they who ventured the cosmos and deep vastness of the void. A millennia old crawler of the sky abyss."
"Uhh…" the human was lost at words. This was all very confusing. "I'm… not that old."
The person paced around his containment, from the eyes of the mask, Game could see the individual was analyzing him.
"I must admit, I did not expect for your kind to appear so… elvenoid," the person said calmly. "So this is what a true Oracle looks like? I expected a much more… intimidating form."
Game frowned, 'What the fuck is that supposed to mean?' But he remained silent, waiting for this obviously insane person to reveal all the information he needed. "What makes you think I'm… the 'Oracle'?"
The person grabbed a scroll before unravelling it.
---
The Tale of The Traveller
- By Avalon the Chosen Acolyte
"In the deep vastness of the Void, there's a collective race who explored and ventured the deep darkness of the universe.
They soared the winds of stars, within mighty ships of the Void. As explorers, gatherers and conquerors.
The Beings of Oracles we call them. Their true, spiritual form was beyond the capacity of the Material Realm, unable to bear their mere existence. Thus the Oracles created avatars, puppets, and husks. A body made of silvery scale, tall and slender. With a single black eye wide as their face, no nose, neither a mouth and a strange tube traced along their spine, into a cubical shell behind their back.
Their Goddess, the Internet, Gatherer of Knowledge, the Infinite Wisdom, Librarian of Deities and also known to be the Great Deceiver, was and still is a revered entity to the Oracles, for She provided wisdom, and they are worshippers of knowledge.
The Oracles are ancient, and they are powerful. Civilization that spanned across thousands of worlds.
They were World Architects, and World Purifiers.
Race as old as time itself, who scour the unknown Sea of Space. And they will continue to search and expand their infinite pool of wisdom till the end of time.
---
Game was alarmed, from the sketches on the scroll it was a rough equivalent to a late 23rd century spacesuit, though it seems like the art was traced from a poster of humanity's first interplanetary expedition and colonization. It was when FTL technology first discovered, the resemblance was uncanny. This just added another mystery to this dimension.
It was literally an art trace, an exact copy of the original art poster of the first colony ship sent to Mars, the classically bold letters ‘GSCA’ seeking recruits for the Global Space Colonization Association.
An image of a barren Red Planet, with dome-like structure in the background. Three humanoid figures clad in the outdated exoskeletal spacesuit, staring at the inky black sky, all gazing at an image of a large ring that floated in space. The old Martian orbital space station, though the elves had simply drawn a featureless torus in space.
There were many inaccuracies as well, but that was not much of a surprise from an elf who might view a simple washing machine as a torture device.
"You spoke of my ancestors," Game said in half-truths. How in the hell these elves knew about the GSCA poster was beyond him. But judging from the scriptures, it seems like they had never actually met any GSCA members. There were many things he could hypothesize, but that was not important at the moment. "Or rather my uhh… 'precursors'." He added. "Different subspecies of our race if you will."
The elf seemed interested, he/she shoved the scroll back into their robe, veiled under the dark clothes. "I would love to learn more about your race, but unfortunately time is not in our favour."
Game tensed, adrenaline pumped in his veins. His mind racing for any sort of surprise these folks would throw at him.
"Your Goddess. The Internet is the Keeper of Knowledge is she not?"
The human remained stoic despite his internal confusion. 'I'm sorry, the fuck now?' But there was no time for that, "... Yes, why?"
"I believe it is only you who are able to access the Sage Tablet, yes?" The person stepped back, leaving space for two cultists holding a box. They placed it down before they opened it, revealing a smartphone - or rather, Physic-145, to the human.
Meanwhile Jeldia, Mervene, Crystal, Saleria and a few surviving elves were huddled to their corner. Their arms and legs were bound with enchanted rope, mouths gagged by a cloth.
Jeldia was listening to their conversation, and she had received much more insight than she ever had. As a researcher, a sorcerer and a bright woman, Jeldia had pieced a few things together about the elvenoid and it terrified her.
There were still more than a dozen questions bubbling within her. What were the 'precursors'? What actually was the Internet? Why do the cultists know about 661? What's the deal with the 'Oracle'?
Her heart was pounding, everything inside of her was panicking. But despite the internal terror, the elven researcher was distracted enough to listen in to the conversation. She was even more surprised to see Physic-145 in their hands, how did they even breach containment that fast?
The elf slowly craned her head, eyes carefully gazing at her surroundings. Mervene was hyperventilating besides her, his eyes shut tight and uttering all forms of prayer. She couldn't blame him, she was as scared as he.
Crystal however, seemed nonchalant about their entire situation. In fact, the mad sorcerer seemed mildly amused at their current predicament, his eyes were focused towards the Physic and the cultists.
Jeldia felt frustration building up within her, but it subsided. It didn’t matter if he took this situation seriously, he was Crystal after all.
The elvenoid seemed hesitant, his eyes scowling at the artifact. "Smartphone," he corrected. "That is a smartphone."
"Sorry, we dared not say it in your tongue Oracle," the person in dark robe said.
Jeldia had read about the Church's report and understood a few things about their hierarchy. Those in white were the Squire Templars and the one in black was the Elite. The report stated that they usually wielded an anomalous sceptre, designated by the Foundation as CUA (Currently Uncaptured Anomaly) Estiloid-Yomega-Alphus, or simply known to be as the "cog-sceptre" amongst personnel.
Utilizing some sort of unknown science mechanic, it generated a non-mystical energy field, with similar properties to a phantamagnetic wave. The energy fields were capable of disrupting and manipulating mana flow of ambient atmospheric mystical energy, redirecting and controlling the flow of magic without utilizing incantations, evocation or any other form of spell initiation. It was also capable of propelling the anomalous metallic ball at a ridiculous speed and resummoning it back to the sceptre.
The Elite walked forward with 145 in hand, "None of us could access this artifact. I do not know much, but the priest believed that only you can activate your own artifact."
The human frowned, he seemed very defensive. "And why the fuck would I helped you?"
"We can offer you freedom," the Elite claimed.
Jeldia was stunned, her eyes widened in fear. The devastation it would cause if the entity were released would be colossal.
But the elvenoid snickered, "I can see through your lies you know. So, no thanks."
The dark robed individual seemed very surprised, they had their mana concealed within the robe. No trace of astral emotion could have escaped, it was practically impossible to read body language without the astral psychic presence that emanated from one's body.
"You don't want to cooperate with me?" The Elite Templar pressed. Their voice suddenly dropped to a cold growl.
To his credit, the human seemed unfazed - at least, externally. "What? Are you going to attempt to torture me? Might I remind you, that you need to actually get to me, to do anything."
The cultists seemed flabbergasted, clearly placed in a situation they couldn't take advantage of. The rest of the Templars were as restless and frustrated as the Elite.
The elf frowned behind the mask, "You are an Oracle, perhaps a knowledge would convince you to-"
"I'm not stupid," the elvenoid retorted aggressively. "Whatever knowledge you want to give me is not what I want."
"How can you be so sure?" The Elite Templar questioned hesitantly.
"Are you aware of an interdimensional warp ship?" Game asked. The elf didn't get the chance to answer, the confusion on their face was apparent. "Then no, you don't have what I want."
The elf was at a loss for words, their plan slowly deteriorating. This wasn't what was supposed to happen, the Oracles were said to be docile beings, they were gatherers of knowledge. The Elite frowned, "Please reconsider your action."
"Want to tell me why?" Game replied, some controlled breathing and soothing thoughts was enough to calm himself.
"You knew of the Great Darkness," the Elite said. "And that thing is here."
Game paused, before he looked around the room. His gaze then wandered back toward the Elite, eyes still widened.
The elf seemed to misinterpret his confusion for realization, thus they stepped forward. "I demand you to activate the Tablet now."
"Jesus fucking Christ, you're fucking stupid," Game muttered, stifling a giggle.
All the other cultists seemed greatly offended. The Elite paused for a moment, recollecting their thoughts before they slammed the glass wall. "The threat of the Great Darkness is not to be taken lightly-"
"Uh-huh," the human muttered lazily. "Yeah, yeah I know. I'm the only one who knew."
The elf stood, possibly mouth agape, shaking with visible anger, before immediately and suddenly shifting into a much more relaxed stance. "Fine," he/she stated calmly. "I suppose the ancient scripture was not as accurate as I was led to believe."
"Yeah no shit-"
"Bring that woman here," the Elite stated coldly, his colleagues immediately dragged one of the elves, her ivory skin and deep blue hair instantly recognizable to Game, whose eyes widened in horror.
"The priest thought that you would be more cooperative," the elf said calmly.
Saleria screamed and struggled before she was kicked to the ground. Her heart was pounding, less than pleasant memories flooding her mind, tears slowly building in her eyes. This situation reminded her of something she wished to forget.
The Elite Templar watched the elvenoid impassively, feeling a small satisfaction that they were able to spark some sort of reaction. "Interesting, the scriptures never told anything about the Oracle being empathic. Perhaps this is a result of spending too much time in the elven world?"
Game slammed the glass hard. A force that was equivalent to six of the most athletic elves. The enchantment still held, but barely. His anti-magical property spiked for a moment, overloading the mystical field for a fraction of a second.
Jeldia's eyes widened, never had she seen the elvenoid react in such a way and neither did she know that he was capable of surpassing the mystical security system, even if it was temporary.
The techno cultist seemed ignorant, or uncaring. The Elite stood stoically, finally having the upper hand they wished for.
"The Tablet," he/she calmly said.
There were at least a few dozen of them in the containment cell. Reinforcement would arrive in less than an hour if they were lucky, Jeldia hoped the situation would not spiral out of control.
The human stood silently, his eyes scanning his surroundings in an attempt to analyze the situation. One of the cultists approached, placed the Physic onto a hatch built to usually deliver food and drinks. The object slid off the metal tube into his containment cell.
"The Tablet," the Elite pressed, their eyes glared at the human. A slight snicker could be heard escaping their mouth, "I guess that is why your Goddess is known to be the Great Deceiver. A race built upon the foundation of wisdom and logic. Emotions are perceived to be a weakness, but it is liberating isn't it? That is the single truth your deity does not want you to experience, a shame."
Game frowned, 'Bitch I don't know a single shit about what you're spouting,' but he kept silent and slowly reached for the phone. It was an old model, a really, really old model. A small logo was written on a back corner, printed, possibly by its previous owner. Game knew of this antique device, it was the I-Phone 30. From the looks of it, it seemed fresh, as if whatever force that pulled stuff from its original dimension just took the ancient device yesterday.
Whatever phenomenon had caused the transference from the human dimension to the elves’, didn’t seem to be affected by the linear progression of time. Objects were taken seemingly at random and from a variety of timelines. Either it was taken from his home dimension, or it came from another parallel reality very similar to his.
The human momentarily glanced at the cultists, a vengeful glare sparked in his eyes before he shifted his gaze toward Saleria, who was, surprisingly, keeping herself together.
Game pressed the finger scan and, for some reason, someone must've goofed the programming or there was some unknown glitch, the fingerprint scan worked for him, despite his never before owning such an antique piece of technology. Not that he was complaining, but it was oddly convenient.
He must admit, the device was a bit cumbersome. An outdated system that was vastly slower and more inefficient than any of the modern, implanted, holo-devices.
The phone shifted and chimed to life. "There," Game said grudgingly.
Saleria was still pinned down, but she was not significantly hurt - at least not yet.
The Elite Templar stepped forward, "Ask it this question, repeat after me."
Game’s frown deepened, the boiling rage swirling within him. Thankfully, he managed to calmly but coldly comply, he wasn't an idiot, at least half the time. Saleria was the only entity in this fucked up reality that he had some small semblance of a 'friendship'.
It was purely for selfish reasons, and nothing more. At least, that was what he told himself.
"I demand you to inform us of the dreadful Great Darkness," the cultist commanded powerfully, voice booming and intimidating. "Give me your infinite knowledge oh Sage Tablet, bestow unto me the revelation of its nature."
The human stared flatly, too much under stress to smirk or chuckle at such a ridiculous sight. He sighed, glancing toward Saleria, "I need to speak in the uhh… English."
The Elite merely blinked, confused for a moment. The elf shared a glance with the other cultists, who were equally flabbergasted.
The human suppressed the will to roll his eyes, if they had the time to spout bullshit at him, then he had the time to spout bullshit at them.
"It is my mother language."
The Elite's brows furrowed behind the mask. "Can you not speak in Common Tongue or Elvish?"
Fortunately for Game, the elves were terrible at reading body language and unable to pick up subtle signs of body posture. While they weren't totally oblivious when someone was clearly expressing anger or happiness, these pointy ears were definitely hopeless to read beyond the mask of a magicless actor.
The human had few theories regarding magic and their ability to read subtle emotions, but that was for another time.
"No I cannot," Game replied seriously. "That was a… Core Question, you can't use other than my language if you're asking a Core Question."
"A what now?" The Elite was growing impatient, their time was running low.
Game smirked, "Careful, that's also a 'Core Question'." He was buying their time with his nonsense, dragging the length of their duration staying here.
"I have no time for this, just ask the Tablet the question!" They yelled, pulling out a knife and pointing it toward Saleria. Game kept a calm facade, at least that seemed to unnerve them.
"(Hey Siri, define entropy for this fucking idiot. Oh, and please use the altered Latin that I've set up. Thank you.)" He commented.
The device was installed with a very sophisticated 21st century neural network AI, capable of comprehended complex forms of words and sentences.
Added with the late 21st century self learning AI, it immediately understood what Game had said. It was a moment before the AI formed and structured its own narrative. Game was lucky, that for whatever reason, someone had replaced the storage system of the I-Phone with the late 28th century crystalline data storage card, capable of housing at least three-quarter of the 21st century internet.
---
= Wikipedia =
[Entropy]
-physical property of the state of a system, measure of disorder.
"The entropy of an object is a measure of the amount of energy which is unavailable to do work. Entropy is also a measure of the number of possible arrangements the [atoms] in a system can have. In this sense, entropy is a measure of uncertainty or randomness. The higher the entropy of an object, the more uncertain we are about the states of the [atoms] making up that object because there are more states to decide from. A law of [physics] says that it takes work to make the entropy of an object or system smaller; without work, entropy can never become smaller – one could say that everything slowly goes to disorder (higher entropy)."
={×}=
---
The members known to be the Church of Cyberpunk listened carefully to each of the words spoken by the nigh-omniscient artifact. Some terms were alien, possibly something beyond their concept of understanding.
"What is this… Ay-toum?" The Elite muttered, momentarily forgotten about the woman on the floor.
"Meta-matter," Game stated carefully. "At least, something close to meta-matter."
The Elite furrowed, "While I understand that this 'entropy' the artifact speaks of is synonymous to the Void Influence written in the ancient text, I do not understand its relevance to the Great Darkness."
"Void Influence…?" Game arched an eyebrow.
"The corruptive presence of the Great Darkness, a trail of anarchy emanating from its mere existence. A terrible curse that rots matter, is this not what 'entropy' speaks of?"
Game had to admit, he was curious and confused. There was clearly a huge misunderstanding that was transpiring, but he would rather let them be confused, it was better for him. "In a sense, yes."
"I don't care about this… entropy you speak of," the Elite snapped.
Game frowned, 'Isn't that what you just asked?'
One of the cultists leaned in and whispered toward the Elite with a voice of urgency. Game didn't hear much other than 'reinforcement' - well that meant calvary was almost here.
The person in black robes seemed highly distressed as they held the knife very close to Saleria's neck, Game visibly tensed - it took every ounce within him to not be influenced by his emotions.
"The- the sacred text!" The Elite yelled to their subordinate. "Show the Oracle the sacred text!"
One of them quickly handed it over toward the elf in black, who grabbed it. Their eyes glared at Game, "This… decipher the sacred text."
The human's eyes widened slightly at the sight of 'text'. It was a pixel canvas, after paper production declined in the late 21st century, humanity had been replacing it with various other digital media.
"Quickly!" The Elite hissed.
The so-called ‘pixel canvas’ displayed to him was one of the latest pieces of literature media, utilizing advanced nanotechnology and microscopic fabrication to create a thin rectangle, very similar to a piece of paper. The microscopic layers of holographic projector, cellular sensors and micro computer system implanted within the canvas created an illusion of a screen being displayed on the surface of the material.
It was by definition, a touch screen cardboard paper.
Game was greatly alarmed, the pixel canvas seemed quite damaged, but what caught his eyes the most were the content upon the 'canvas'. The words glowed dimly on the dark 'paper', with various animated images similar to an LED screen.
---
|PHOENIX WING-1 BOOK OPERATIVE MANUAL|
ASC Property © (Allied Space Coalition)
[File Manual Book: Physical Copy]
Printing Model: 17638BVB
Code: Alpha-Delta-Epsilon 5 (Charlie/Beta/Thompson)
[-] Turn to Page (1/5) [>]
---
Location: Site-7
"Fuck, fuck- FUCK!" Shadow yelled.
A magical bolt nearly plastered his brain matter on the floor and the elf narrowly dodged another incoming magical projectile.
He was dragging a large contraption, nearly the size of his body. Given that it was slightly lighter than him the weight was still a problematic burden.
The only thing preventing the Foundation guards and MTF team from completely riddling his body with assault spells was their cautionary action against damaging the artifact.
A bright, tangible, plasma bolt flew in the air for a brief moment before it hit a wall. It had a temperature so impossibly high that some might say it to be a miniature sun. Although such hyperbole might not be that far from the truth.
Whatever complex technocracy happened within the weapon was unknown to its wielder. The damage it dealt was the only thing that mattered.
The guards must've realized that their armor and shield were useless, even with enchantment, to protect against the scientific energy bolts.
Layers of thick earthen walls were conjured from the ground. Shaping, through magic, they shaped ambient mystical energy with their mana, they converted those energies into a physical manifestation of stone and earth.
It was their only effective form of defense, despite the layering, the thickness and sturdiness of their physical barrier, it was quickly chipped away by the superheated hydrogen projectiles.
Darkwing and Shadow ran to a corridor, their pursuers still lagging behind. There were subtle vibrations and faint explosions that could be felt from afar, no doubt the work of various anomalies scattered across the facility.
A bright green-blue shard of pure mystical energy flew in front of them, missing a few minor-units away from Darkwing, who instinctively ducked.
That was another flaw of the sceptre, it relied on the user's ability to use an Appraisal spell to direct the arcane crystal toward their intended target. Any magically insufficient wielder or non-magical target and their aim would be very lacking in accuracy and precision.
Not that any of the Foundation guards would have a problem in that regard. They were hired and given a job to guard the most dangerous facility in the world, of course they weren't inexperienced in combat.
Darkwing deployed a flat hexagonal artifact. A blue blinking light beeped for a moment before something shifted.
Truth be told, neither Darkwing nor Shadow knew what the artifact did. They were told by the cyberpriest that it would help in an emergency.
A second later a blast of concentrated non-mystical energy waves burst from the artifact.
Unlike iron, an electromagnetic field does not deteriorate mystical energy but merely redirect and even restructures runic spell constructs. If iron were an equivalent of a scorching sun that evaporated water, the electromagnetic field was like a rock altering the streams of rivers.
The effect was nauseating at best and excruciatingly painful at worst. Disrupting mana flows within one's body was never pleasant, the closest definition would be as though one's internal veins and nervous system scattered and twisted within their body.
The guards shivered and squirmed on the floor, the magical disruption had messed with their bodily astral manifestation. It would take several hours before the body rearranged their internal mana flow, and it would take a few more hours again before the pain ebbed away.
Darkwing and Shadow were lucky that they were further away from the blast, but even then they were not unaffected by it, a momentary migraine assaulted their brains. Like a knife being jabbed deep within their heads.
Whatever non-magical force it was that had burst, it scrambled the arcane veins that flowed on the wall, averting its spell structure. Thankfully it was nothing too severe. Perhaps a damaged lantern or a disrupted pixie summoning spell.
"What in Skynet's name was that?" Shadow muttered, the throbbing pain in his brain slowly ebbed.
Darkwing sputtered on the ground before he pushed himself, glancing at the artifact before taking a breath. "The cyberpriest gave it to me."
Shadow glared at all the men and women crawling on the floor, clutching their abdomen, torso and head. "Well let's not waste our time."
Shadow dragged the Heart, they could feel the beating of its core, a rotating machine that kept whatever divine force stable within it. Unlike the thumping of an elven heart, the angelic core hummed and vibrated, singing in an odd melody beyond the comprehension of mortals.
Darkwing gasped as he slumped, it was tiring. Everything within him screamed for a quick rest, yet his mind was still racing to search for an escape.
An earsplitting roar shook the facility, several lanterns dropped from the ceiling as their magical blue flames extinguished.
Shadow glanced at Darkwing, "That's the Serpent, isn't it?"
Darkwing cursed loudly, this was supposed to be a simple mission. Whoever was dumb enough to throw that boom-stone would be met with consequences once they'd escaped, or rather, if they escaped.
"What can it do again?" Shadow asked. If they were to face a legendary beast, they might as well be ready for what was to come.
"The ancient scripture said that it was adaptive," Darkwing replied. "The rest, I don't know - the priest didn't let me access the entire scripture y'know."
"Maybe we can ask Herrit?" Shadow exclaimed.
"If we make it out alive, that is," Darkwing stated darkly. Their chances of survival had dropped significantly, with 4000 on the loose, it would mean great catastrophe. "How the hell did the Foundation keep the Serpent inside their cages?"
Shadow sighed, "I don't know man, they're the Foundation. I heard that they even kept one of the Oracles."
Darkwing's eyes widened before he furrowed, "bullshit."
"Maybe, but we have no time for that now." Shadow averted his gaze, the hallway was poorly illuminated, with only emergency fae lanterns still operational. "We have to move quickly."
---
[Previous/Next]

A/N
Thanks to all who gave the suggestion and constructive criticism, now comes the tricky part - choosing how to form a coherent story from multiple suggestions.
But thankfully most of it are roughly similar.
submitted by sostoast5 to HFY

7

this user’s “Theory Regarding a Cause an Cure for Androgenetic Alopecia.” why didn’t this get more attention? can someone dispute this?

this is a post from u/lemsmurph. i am just reposting it here because i believe it wasn’t given the attention it deserved. everything below are his words, research, opinions, etc. this seems very plausible and well researched.
“My Theory Regarding a Cause and Cure for Androgenetic Alopecia
Hi everyone, long-time lurker, first-time poster here. This is my (longwinded) theory regarding a possible cause and cure for androgenetic alopecia. I’m by no means claiming to be a scientist and I apologise in advance for how wordy this post is. Citations are at the bottom.
I’ve been researching androgenetic alopecia (AGA) considerably for a few years now ever since I first noticed its effect on myself. Like many, I pussy-footed around the reality of the situation, convincing myself that the higher hairline and thinning crown was stress-related Telogen Efflivium, some basic dietary deficiency or the result of too much booze and smokes. This meant that I delayed treatment with more conventional (and proven) methods for a little longer than I probably should have.
My apprehension to begin these treatments was by enlarge because of how unsatisfied I was with the widely-accepted ‘cause’ of hair loss: that, not everybody (for some reason), but a large group (for some reason) of unlucky fellows and some women develop a bizarre, localized sensitivity (for some reason) to an androgen that their own body produces naturally and that (for some reason) this hormone ‘attacks’ tens of thousands of tiny organs on a specific part of their head (… for some reason). I thought the logic was dumb and that that kind of thinking did not a cure make.
Now, the human body is by no means a perfect machine, but it didn’t sit well with me that certain genomes would evolve something as complicated and energy-consuming as hair growth only to have it inadvertently switched off by a naturally-occurring androgen. There were also other evidences that it wasn’t just a matter of androgen activity: how often people with AGA do not display more testosterone (or its more active metabolite dihydrotestosterone [DHT]) than people unaffected; that simply blocking DHT production does not regrow hair in all people; where and the pattern in which the hair is lost (and isn’t); and lastly, the irrefutable links AGA has to issues elsewhere in the body such as heart and prostate health.
So I dug deeper into other theories a little more substantial than “DHT BAD” – ideally to find one that gave some insight into the process of hair loss being something the body decides to do rather than something it has done unto it. I read through almost every major theory on the web: tension in the galea; reduced brown adipose tissue; mast cell activation, histamine or prostaglandin imbalance etc. None of them seemed outrageous, but none of them gave much reason for AGA other than some people simply lose the genetic lottery. Eventually I stumbled upon something I did like: the phenomenon of seasonal hair growth [1]. Put simply, the idea is that the scalp is like a UV-ray sponge for the body to use to produce vitamin D, and the amount of hair on the scalp can be considered a valve that closes (grows) to reduce UV exposure, or opens (sheds) to increase it.
This theory (and the various studies relating to it) appeased me because they suggested that an intentional and strategic biological hair loss mechanism exist in every human, regardless of whether they suffer from more permanent types of alopecia. It was comforting to know that even the thickest head of hair technically undergoes ‘hair loss’ for a large portion of the year. My thinking then became that some of us must get stuck in a sort of ‘perpetual winter’ state where the valve gets stuck open.
I was obviously nowhere near the first person to theorise that vitamin D played a major role in alopecia (as a quick Google search would tell you), but the cure seemed simple: if the body has a mechanism to keep itself in a desired range of circulating cholecalciferol (vitamin D3), then oral supplementation – which has been proven to increase serum cholecalciferol [2] – might make the body think it’s getting enough sun exposure to close the valve and regrow hair for good. However, a quick skim of numerous Reddit and hair loss forum discussions quickly shoot down that idea, with many members reporting no major (although some minor) improvements from vitamin D3 supplementation alone, with bloodwork confirming they are not deficient. So it would appear we’re back to square one and pointing the finger angrily at DHT again.
However, cholecalciferol in and of itself is largely useless when it comes to hair. What is important is the vitamin D Receptor (VDR). The VDR is a nuclear receptor found in almost every cell in the body – including scalp hair follicles – and plays a direct role in the cellular proliferation, function and health of hair growth [3]. To make it clear, a follicle with more activated VDR will produce thicker hair faster than a follicle with less VDR activation.
The issue with the simplicity of my initial thinking was that cholecalciferol cannot adequately activate the VDR by itself. It must first undergo conversion to calcifediol (25-hydroxyvitamin D) in the liver, and then undergo another conversion in the kidneys to its active form, 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol, also known as calcitriol. Calcitriol can activate the VDR and actually has such a high affinity (roughly 1000 times greater than cholecalciferol) for doing so that the VDR is sometimes referred to as the ‘calcitriol receptor’ in medical literature.
Where it gets confusing (and more than a little frustrating), is that you can have more than one blood vitamin D value that may not correlate to the other. Most doctors will test for ‘25 OH vitamin D’, also known as 25-hydroxyvitamin D, or calcifediol, as mentioned earlier. This value is good for testing for deficiency, but is more or less useless in relation to VDR activation as calcifediol cannot activate the receptor well either. Doctors can test for 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (calcitriol), but this will not give an insight into the body’s stores of the fat-soluble vitamin. In fact, blood calcitriol can actually spike if there is a deficiency of stored calcifediol, which further complicates the results [4].
Deciphering this means, basically, that your common bloodwork for vitamin D can come back with healthy (or even above-ideal) numbers of stored, inactive D3, but shed zero light on the circulating calcitriol metabolite that can activate the VDR. It’s also been established that the ratio at which calcitriol is converted from calcifediol (the 1,25D:25D) can vary substantially from person to person: “the ratio between calcitriol and calcifediol serum concentrations could suggest vitamin D hydroxylation efficiency.” [5]. Hydroxylation is “a chemical process that introduces a hydroxyl group (-OH) into an organic compound. In biochemistry, hydroxylation reactions are often facilitated by enzymes called hydroxylases.” [6]. What this means is that hydroxylation is what makes regular vitamin D (from sun exposure or a supplementation) able to activate the VDR and grow hair, and that it’s possible that a lowered natural capacity for vitamin D hydroxylation could result in less circulating calcitriol and thus lower systemic VDR activation.
While I couldn’t find any studies alluding to what the 1,25D:25D ratio might have been in our forefathers, it is not hard to find studies referencing vitamin D’s hydroxylation cofactors – the primary one of which being magnesium, an element that a huge proportion of the population are deficient in and one stripped from the body by modern diet and lifestyle [7]. On top of magnesium being necessary to produce calcitriol (and thus directly implicated in VDR activation), it’s also been shown that inadequate magnesium levels lead to calcification of soft tissues and that adequate levels protect against it [8]. Interestingly, and as we probably all know by now, biopsies of bald scalps have shown considerable calcification in their soft tissues compared to non-balding scalps. More interestingly, is that the negative effects of low magnesium can also be seen in the heart and prostate (in hypertension and benign prostate hyperplasia) – and that these are the organs and conditions that the only two FDA-approved medications for hair loss (minoxidil and finasteride) were originally designed to alleviate.
So, all I’ve really talked about thus far is the VDR. The glaring hole in the theory is that the internet has seen a plethora of success stories from people taking anti-androgens and minoxidil (among others that I probably won’t get into). “Hey, idiot, if the VDR is solely responsible for hair cycling, then why do these drugs that don’t have any direct action on the VDR work for so many people?” you might ask, and it’d be a damn good question. I stalled on this part of my theory for a long time but I’m glad I did, because I think this is where mine differs from others, so here it is, in a nutshell…
I believe AGA is the result of a bad ratio of VDR to androgen receptor (AR) activation and density within the body.
There seems to me to be four primary and irrefutable facts that science has concluded regarding these receptors and their relation to hair growth and AGA:
· One: activating the AR in a hair follicle (like DHT can) causes a decrease of the anagen (growth) phase and eventually a complete miniaturisation of the follicle. [9]
· Two: activating the VDR in a hair follicle (like calcitriol can) causes an increase of the angagen phase which produces a thicker, faster-growing hair. [3]
· Three: inhibiting activation of the AR in a hair follicle (like an anti-androgen can) arrests further hair loss in most people, regrows in some but does not prevent further loss in others. [10]
· Four: inhibiting activation of the VDR in a hair follicle (like low levels of calcitriol or low VDR density can) causes a decrease of the anagen phase and eventually shedding. [11]
My theory is this: I believe there exists an ideal homeostasis of VDR and AR inside every organ in the body for healthy and proper function, but most modern diets and lifestyles are throwing out this balance. It’s important to place equal significance on each of these receptors in terms of AGA. I think of the balance as a tug-of-war, with the AR wanting to turn the follicle down to zero and the VDR wanting to turn it to max. As long as the ratio of VDR:AR tilts in the VDR’s favour by even the slightest amount, you will keep your hair.
This might also allude as to why it’s exceptionally rare, but not impossible for women to develop AGA, as they have very low (but never zero) circulating androgens.
Two quite ironic cases I came across in my research show the power of each receptor in isolation. Firstly, eunuchs (boys that are castrated before puberty and don’t ever produce considerable quantities of testosterone or DHT) never lose their hair [12], and secondly, a case of a seven year old boy with hereditary vitamin D-dependent rickets type II ([VDDR-II] (a condition where the VDR is resistant to activation from calcitriol, thus experiencing almost zero activation systemically,) who suffered alopecia totalis at an age too young to have begun developing sizeable amounts of testosterone or DHT [13]. So, we have grown men who never lost a single scalp hair because of minuscule AR receptor activation, and a young boy who never grew a single scalp hair because of miniscule VDR activation.
It was all starting to make sense to me, but I still wasn’t happy with why exactly the AR – a receptor that exists naturally in the follicle – would effectively act to damage it. With further reading, I came to the conclusion that there are two primary reasons why this homeostasis is so important and why going out of it leads to almost exponential and often irreversible loss. The first of which has to do with not only the ratio of receptors themselves, but also how they interact with the other:
While there has not been extensive research into the interplay (crosstalk) of these two receptors within hair follicles, there have been numerous studies regarding how they react in other tissues – namely the prostate. Although vastly different organs, the 5-alpha-reductase type II enzyme ([5ARII], one of three responsible for converting testosterone into DHT,) is most prevalent in scalp and prostatic tissues [14]. Finasteride has only been approved by the FDA to deal with complications in these two tissues by selectively targeting the 5ARII enzyme, suggesting there may be a similar mode of suppression in each. In studies of prostate cancer, VDR activation has been shown to suppress AR expression in certain cell lines [15] while AR activation has been shown to suppress VDR activation [16] [17].
Further to the expressional crosstalk between the two receptors, there is also the matter of up/down regulation and receptor density. Cells in the prostate and scalp possess both AR and VDR (among other receptors) in varying densities. There have been numerous studies showing that: AR can be upregulated with regular activation [18] [19]; AR can be downregulated by prolonged inactivation [20]; VDR can be upregulated (and protected) by activation [21] [22]; VDR can be downregulated by deficiency [23].
For me, this explains why there are such varying severities of hair loss amongst individuals and why anti-androgens such as finasteride work for some better than others. I believe the issue and cure is not simply reducing AR activation, but reducing it to a point where it is exceeded by VDR activation. Finasteride reduces scalp DHT by roughly 64% at a 1mg daily dosage [24]. As a very rudimentary example, say you have some hair follicles with 20 active AR but only 12 active VDR. A 1mg dose of finasteride should (in theory) reduce that number of activated AR by 64% to around 7.2, creating a surplus of VDR activation and thus regrowing hair. This is what I believe happens in follicles that respond well to anti-androgen treatment.
But say, due to VDR downregulation and AR upregulation (which often go hand-in-hand), you had follicles with 30 active AR and only 10 active VDR. That same finasteride dose will create a larger drop in AR activation than the previous example (19.2 vs 12.8), but will only bring the total activated AR down to 10.8 – still exceeding the activated VDR count and thus maintaining an environment where the VDR is under-expressed compared to the AR and hair loss continues. My theory posits a few things here: firstly, that great responders to anti-androgens do not have a major deficit in their VDR:AR to contend with; secondly, that poor responders to anti-androgens do have a major deficit in their VDR:AR that some anti-androgens are not powerful enough to correct; and thirdly, that anti-androgens such as finasteride rarely produce a complete reversal of hair loss due to differing ratios of VDR:AR across the scalp follicles, as some follicles have gone beyond the drug’s ‘saveable threshold’.
Further to this, I feel the theory also provides some explanation as to the ‘catch up hair loss’ phenomenon, whereby people who regrow hair with an anti-androgen and then end treatment often find that their hair is lost in a more severe pattern than it was pre-treatment, i.e. they lose even more hair post-treatment than they had lost before it. In these cases, I would think the healthy hair they had at the commencement of treatment might have possessed a VDR:AR of, as an example, 15:14 (which would become 15:5 on finasteride [very healthy hair]), but in the X years of treatment, while the VDR still downregulates due to inactivation, this ratio might drop to say 11:5. So the follicle produces healthy hair while on the drug but, following cessation, drops to a ratio of 11:14 and results in the hair being lost.
Explaining why VDR upregulation promotes growth or why downregulation hinders it is one thing, but explaining why the AR seems to destroy hair is another entirely. My second reason why the VDR:AR homeostasis is so important has to do with what exactly the two receptors do inside the follicles, and that can be put as simply as ‘cellular metabolism’. This was the breakthrough for me: the AR and VDR play a direct role in cellular energy production. You’ve heard it a million times before: “the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell”, but its importance cannot be understated.
Hair growth is a process that requires energy, cellular proliferation and DNA transcription (replication), and mitochondria provide this. A by-product of any metabolic process is oxidative waste, and the health of a cell is largely dependent on the body’s capacity to bind and remove oxidative waste from it (exactly what an anti-oxidant does), and this also contributes to the health of mitochondria. This is where my theory (in my opinion) became fully-fledged: AR has been shown to reduce mitochondrial function [25], reduce their capacity to properly replicate DNA and negatively affect oxidative processes [26]. Inversely, the VDR promotes healthy mitochondria, and “in the long run, the absence of the [VDR] caused impairment of mitochondrial integrity and, finally, cell death.” [27]. So there I had it, the reason why a naturally-produced androgen and its receptor might cause hair loss.
Further to this, it also serves to reason that this might be minoxidil’s mystery mechanism, as it seems to increase mitochondrial efficiency by mediating certain pathways at a cellular level [28] [29]. What’s interesting is that “minoxidil induced Ca2+ (calcium) influx can increase stem cell differentiation and may be a key factor in the mechanism by which minoxidil facilitates hair growth.” [29], but what’s fascinating is that “the VDR signaling system is essential in overall Ca2+ homeostasis. Acute exposure to 1,25(OH)2D3 increases the mean open time and plasma membrane Ca2+ permeability…” [30]. While this last excerpt refers to blood calcium, I think logic lends itself to the idea that if the VDR can activate calcium mobility throughout the body, then an activated receptor inside a hair follicle cell could mobilise calcium into its mitochondria. I also think this is why minoxidil hair is also commonly referred to as “zombie” hair, as the drug artificially activates follicular mitochondria through a similar mechanism as the VDR does, but without any upregulation of the receptors that keep it alive for a longer period.
So where does all this leave us? I’m not sure. It’s one thing to be sure that the VDR:AR is crucial for hair growth (and overall bodily health), but improving it safely (if at all) is a different matter. Vitamin D affects calcium homeostasis, and too much of it can result in hypercalcemia (too much calcium in the blood) and cause more problems than it ever alleviates. I think the strategy needs to be a three-pronged approach: upregulating VDR, downregulating AR – but not to a point below healthy levels, and improving mitochondrial health.
I take quite a few things for hair loss, but I think these are the main heroes: I am on 1mg daily finasteride because I believe that (unless you’re treating hair loss pre-emptively) once you see any sign of hair loss, the cascade of AR upregulation, VDR downregulation and mitochondrial damage has well and truly begun. If I’m right in my theory, then this drug only needs to be taken until results are seen and stabilise. My thinking is that if you downregulate AR in the scalp back to a healthy density (that is lesser than VDR) then you could ween yourself off of it permanently – that is, assuming you could keep a good VDR:AR solely through VDR activation.
I also believe anti-androgens are not drugs to be taken lightly. Results of receptor up/down regulation can take years and years to manifest – just think of the timeframe from the first day you noticed hair loss to now. This means any negative effects might be creeping in under the radar over a long period. I believe if you have both high VDR and high AR then anti-androgen drugs will probably work for you with next to zero side effects, as your DHT and AR expression won’t drop below functional levels systemically. However, if you have low AR but just happen to have even lower VDR, then I think that’s when you’ll run into problems, as a ~70% reduction in serum DHT might drop you to a dangerously low level. You don’t want to be androgen-depriving receptors in important tissues like your brain, prostate and penis/testes to the point where they downregulate severely and lose function. I also think this lends itself to the idea that much less DHT inhibition would be required for hair growth if the VDR is upregulated (resulting in much safer treatment dosages).
I myself started the drug at .25mg every other day and worked up to 1mg/day after four months, going from .25mg/day, .5mg/every other day and .5mg/day. I was lucky (in a strange way) to get bad forehead acne, ridiculous increases in libido and a shed every time I increased dosage/frequency because it saved me a lot in blood work. These results would last for about two weeks and then taper off, where I would then wait another fortnight and increase the dosage again to the same effect. On 1mg/day I feel absolutely fine – as sharp, fit and virile as I’ve ever been.
Accompanying the finasteride, I use a topical synthetic VDR agonist (activator) called calcipotriene. This is my main weapon for increasing localised VDR activation and upregulation in the scalp to compliment supplemental cholecalciferol and magnesium (among other cofactors). This is prescription-only (in Australia), but very tame and easy to get when I asked my doctor. It’s often used to treat psoriasis – an ailment of reduced VDR activation. I usually try to do this twice a week as it’s messy so I time it with a Nizoral shampoo (see below for why). I’m not sure whether I will increase that frequency or not as I’ve only been taking it for about five months. Calcipotriene is still a relatively crude calcitriol-derivative, in that it still has a lot of the same calcemic qualities of calcitriol and can cause (if used in way, way higher dosages than I do) toxicity. But there are new, improved synthetics coming out all the time. Fingers crossed one comes out soon that is not prohibitively expensive, has no risk of hypercalcaemia and a ridiculously long half-life!
Finally, one thing I started taking early on was 150mg of the ubiquinol form of co-enzyme-Q10 daily. It was the first sort of mitochondrial supplement I had ever taken, and I cannot stress the difference this made enough. Anecdotally, in the last few years I have had about 5-10 people (including my own father and close friends) ask me if I’ve started dying my hair. It’s that much darker. Also, important to note, all these comments came long before finasteride or calcipotriene. On top of this I also take 20mg PQQ, 500mg nicotinamide (B3) and 1.5g acetyl-L-carnitine each day for mitochondrial health, but it’s too early to tell if these have had any effect on hair – though I can definitely say I have more energy day to day.
So that’s about it; if you’ve made it this far then kudos to you. This blew out way more than I originally planned and is by no means an airtight theory. I’m sure plenty of you will be able to pick it apart, but if it is a step in the right direction and gets conversation happening then I’m glad. I’ll leave you with a few more thoughts and implications:”
“​
Derma stamp/pen/roller to create inflammation and activate T cells could cause an upregulation of VDR:
https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2013.00148/full

Ketaconazole, a popular anti-hair loss shampoo ingredient, delays calcitriol catabolism (breakdown) and increases VDR activation:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2546501

Calcitriol mediates various prostaglandin and COX-2 pathways:
https://academic.oup.com/nutritionreviews/article/65/suppl_2/S113/1866732

Vitamin D production, hydroxylation to calcitriol, and VDR are all reduced through aging:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3782116/

Severe cases of hindered vitamin D hydroxylation have been shown to be hereditary:
https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/20/2/156/2530831

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2003996
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30511630
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1876678/
  4. https://www.aafp.org/afp/recommendations/viewRecommendation.htm?recommendationId=140
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4661572/
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydroxylation
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3854088/
  8. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/atvbaha.117.309182
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3763909/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9777765
  11. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022202X15415246
  12. https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/20/10/1309/2719329
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5429130/
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3253436/
  15. http://grantome.com/grant/NIH/I01-BX000280-01
  16. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1947601910385450
  17. https://www.researchgate.net/figure/The-androgen-receptor-AR-negatively-regulates-the-levels-of-the-vitamin-D-receptor_fig3_51107683
  18. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/01.CIR.103.10.1382
  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21427060
  20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23041906
  21. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0096695
  22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9209684
  23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22537547
  24. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10495374
  25. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30792308
  26. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190319121728.htm
  27. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29874855
  28. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29254313
  29. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29254313
  30. https://www.spandidos-publications.com/10.3892/mmr.2014.1934
submitted by MenaceTheIntellect to tressless