CAST OF PLAYERS:
Debora Silkotch…………..Casey Gavin…………………………Human Psionic
Jera Morrison…………….Alseyne Aulaudin……………………Sidhe Changeling
Jeremy Whitener………….Korin Alabaster………………………Were Mongoose
Rob Bennett……………..General Branford Stonewing………..Troll Changeling
Kendall Nye………………Joseph McAdoo……………………..Ronin Garou
Ezrandi Shadowheart……Andali…………………………………Eshu Changeling
Mia Schubert……………….Marlboro…………………………….Satyr Changeling
Aron Head……………….Story/Setting/Everything Else…….Game Master
Yggthor was holding back the goblin forces on the catwalk to the left of the control station as Percyndi held it on the right with the assistance of the dogs. Both the princess and the troll were soaked in gore. Pip and Wynne were organizing the folks on the control station platform.
More than half the freed prisoners had been lost.
The catwalk was full of guardsmen coming from either side. Dozens and dozens … a hundred or more all told? Not just Redcaps now; Changeling soldiers of every kind were charging to their King’s defense. Some carried the strange clockwork firearms, but most fought with the usual blades and blunt instruments.
Andali had done an admirable job rendering the Machine’s control panel to a pile of debris. It was unlikely that anything there was functioning … or able to affect the Machine.
Focused on Mardmor’s apparent death and on his awakening Machine, Casey was easy prey for the Eshu guardsman that swept in from her left. With a quick snap he sent the Adamas blade flying from her hand, disarming her. Just as fast, his sword slashed to the right chewing deep across her chest — lancing her with white hot pain!
Casey staggered back in a fine spray of her own blood, the Eshu sighting along the length of his weapon preparing for the kill.
The persistent agony in her shoulder had dulled her perceptions, muddled her thoughts. Paradoxically, the unexpected searing slash of the fae blade sprang everything back into sharp focus.
As her weapon skittered away across the deck, Casey’s empty left hand made a quick snatching gesture toward her opponent’s own sword as she attempted to telekinetically wrest it from his hand and toss it over the railing.
His grip was ironclad. He tugged once against her force, testing; the weapon didn’t budge. Without a moment’s hesitation he used Casey’s telekinetic hold on his sword as leverage, spinning both feet at her — driving his heels into her chin. He dropped to the deck as she stumbled back, her hold on his sword broken. The Eshu hacked down at the disoriented psionic —
Alseyne blocked the swordsman’s blade with her own, inches from Casey’s neck. Their swords sparked as they struck one another again and again.
Casey grimaced, pretty sure her jaw was broken, then sent a brutal bolt of force at the guardsman’s head.
SNAP! His neck broke, his sword arm fell, and Alseyne liberated his head from his shoulders. Both pieces of him dropped to the deck.
Casey moved wordlessly back to the rail, searching until she found Mardmor’s broken, bleeding body lying on the deck far below. She sent a bolt of heat down to incinerate his body; it burst into white-hot flames.
Alseyne quickly took a posture to defend Casey, sword at ready, eyes flicking around to identify the nearest threats. “Casey, I know you are hurt but we need you now,” she said tensely. “We’re vastly outnumbered and that thing is getting ready to do whatever he designed it to. The only thing I can think of that might help here is that amulet we took off of him.
Casey looked down at the nearly-forgotten amulet still clutched in her right hand.
“It was obviously important to him but it may not be the control item I think it is. We can try one of two things and it’s entirely up to you.”
Her entire body was awash in pain. It was an effort just to grasp what Alseyne was saying, to follow the thread of words.
“Either you can try putting it on and seeing if between it and your own powers you can control the machine and shut it down. Of course, you do risk being potentially susceptible to any forces that are within the amulet doing that. I’d do it myself but I think we’re going to need your mental abilities in this instance. Or two, we can smash the amulet and hope it helps stop the machine. What do you think?”
“I–” Casey’s face twisted as her broken jaw protested the attempt at speech. She took a moment to heal the injuries inflicted by the Eshu. The jaw knitted swiftly in a warm flash, and the sword wound followed suit.
Now that Mardmor was dead or disabled, she made another attempt to heal her burned shoulder, pouring all the will she could muster into fighting whatever was resisting her powers there. Veins popped on her forehead as she went deep inside to follow the path of corruption afflicting her … fight it, overwhelm it… BURN IT! She shook violently with the effort, then cried out in frustration. The shoulder remained damaged.
As much as she would have liked to indulge in a good cry, Alseyne was right — the Machine needed to be dealt with, and fast. “I’m not sure the amulet can help us,” she pondered. “Mardmor seemed to be using it to enhance or focus his magics in some way, but I don’t use magics. Even if I could, I don’t know how the Machine works, much less how to shut it down from here. I might just make things worse.” If things could get any worse. She considered the second option. “We could try destroying the stone I guess, although I’m not sure what the connection would be between it and the Ma….” She trailed off as a new thought occurred. The amulet had flashed brightly when Mardmor had flung his green bolts to burn her. Instead of testing her ability to utilize the stone’s power on a huge, high-stakes experiment like tackling the Machine, maybe she could start with a smaller, slightly safer trial run. Maybe the amulet could heal the wound it had inflicted …?
Closing her eyes, she sent her perceptions reaching warily into the green stone. She sneezed abruptly as the power contained in the amulet tickled her senses. She didn’t sense an elemental presence, only what she had come to know as magic of the powerful kind.
She proceeded with great caution. She didn’t want another incident like the one with McAdoo, and it seemed likely that the Goblin King might use a similarly chaotic form of power. Poised to withdraw at any moment if the communion should start to turn ugly, she poked and prodded, examining the borders of the amulet’s power. Reasonably assured that she could withstand a deeper examination, she poured her mind into the heart of the artifact.
She dove into a sea of energy, plunging deep, deep within … fully submerged in the otherworldliness of the amulet ….
Beyond power, there was information here.
And an intelligence.
She realized she was being studied and scrutinized.
Her desire for enlightenment stronger than her wariness, she moved deeper within, passing through layer after layer, unabashedly seeking out the watcher’s presence. “Who’s there?”
Like a submarine’s sonar ping in the deep darkness of the cold sea the intelligence’s curiosity bounced off of her own mind.
:: …who…? ::
She was on the verge of something. A great mind. A wealth of information.
:: …Who are you? ::
She didn’t hesitate. ** Casey. A student. **
:: Student? What do you study? ::
** Of late I’m majoring in political philosophies and alternate sources of power, ** she responded with the mental equivalent of a straight face.
:: …I confess to an interest in green energy myself. ::
Casey smirked at that. Without thinking about it, she slipped the amulet over her head so that it rested against her chest, freeing her hands. She felt herself drawing closer to the presence. ** Do you know how to operate Mardmor’s Machine? **
:: The construct? You refer to the Gateway Engine? ::
** That’s the one. **
:: Yes. I designed it. ::
** Is it possible to shut it down at this point? **
:: No. Critical mass has been achieved. The Machine is self-sustaining now. Once the difference engines complete their calculations, the aether cannons will fire. So, take heart! Arcadia is at hand! At last, the Gateway will be opened! ::
** Splendid, ** she responded with a lot more enthusiasm than she felt. ** That’s wonderful. I’d love to see the dawning of the new age first-hand … can you tell me where the aether cannons are? **
:: Directly above. At the top of the chamber. ::