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
Casey blinked herself back to her physical surroundings. Alseyne and galbro McAdoo stood close, warding her anxiously; the rest of her allies were still embroiled in battle. The enemy troops had crowded onto the platform, cutting off the escape route onto the catwalk.
As her sense of communion with the amulet drained away Casey grimaced, realizing that she’d forgotten to ask about healing her shoulder. Too late now; no telling how long they had until those aether cannons fired. “I know where the tailpipes are,” she said at once to Alseyne. “Now all we need are some bananas.”
“Slight change of plans,” Alsyne said. “We can’t retreat, so we need to go over the rail.” She looked at the young woman soberly for a moment before turning back to guard against enemy attack, her sword ready. “Casey … if all of us who are conscious can lend you strength, is there any possibility that can you take all of us at once? Or most of us at least? We’ve got to get as many safely off as possible in the shortest amount of time. Once we’re away from here we can drop most of them off where they can get away while we head on to the tailpipes, as you say.”
Casey considered. “If getting them to safety involved taking them down to the bottom of the chamber I might be able to slow everyone’s fall at once, but everything we’ve seen tonight suggests that the quickest and surest way out of here is straight up to the outside. There are aether cannons up at the top of this chamber about to fire any minute now, so it makes sense that they’d face out into the open air. I think up is the way out of here. But … up is harder than down for carrying. I doubt I could carry more than three people, maybe four if they were all really light. As for sharing power, I just tried that with McAdoo — turns out some forms of power are incompatible with mine. We can try it and see what happens, but I’d hate to see anyone else get hurt like that.”
“Could be because of that gauntlet and the Well. Try me. I’m the only one not fighting for the time being,” Alseyne offered. “I’ll do my best to add my strength to yours — just try not to drain me completely if you can help it in case I do need to fight. If it works with one Kithain it should work with all of us.”
Casey nodded, moving to retrieve her weapon from the deck where the Eshu had knocked it from her grasp, and awkwardly sheathed it with her left hand. “I’m not sure I’d even know how to drain you; I only use what you give me.” She slipped her right hand into Alseyne’s empty left, wincing a little at the shoulder movement. ** If either one of us breaks the physical contact, that’ll be the signal to end the experiment. Ready?… Go. ** She opened her mind to receive the sidhe’s gift of strength, intending to test it first against the goblin hordes …
And stopped, the intended attack amounting to no more than a startled twitch of her left hand at her side.
It was different this time. Not a stream now, a … a vessel, brimming with power. Alseyne gasped as her strength began to flow out of her.
… Perhaps, Casey wondered, the difference was not so much Alseyne … as it was Alseyne’s perspective. The sidhe noble was offering herself up to Casey whereas McAdoo had forced his power upon her, feeding her. Alseyne’s passive posture allowed Casey to … well … feed upon the elf.
Or maybe it was something else …?
Casey knew now that she could drain the vessel, and be stronger than she’d ever been. She ached to do that … thirsted for it. She meant to resist the urge, but almost involuntarily her mind delved greedily into the sidhe’s reserves of strength, drinking it in. Another gasp escaped from Alseyne, her body spasming.
Instinctively Casey avoided the wild aspect of the changeling glamour dwelling within Alseyne, knowing it was poison to her. A realization struck: it wasn’t the sidhe’s magicks upon which she feasted at all. No, it was the woman’s willpower, her strength of character, her resolve. Casey had no use for the magic; that felt very much like what McAdoo was pushing in to her … crazy, wild, chaotic death.
She gestured sharply with her left hand along the front line of goblins, creating a wave of telekinetic force to push them back and open a few feet of space between the two groups. The enemy force bounced back several paces in a wave, some spilling over the others.
McAdoo leaped forward, still in galbro form, blade lashing and Gauntlet smashing into the crowd of goblins, pushing a clutch of them back even further.
Casey registered the success, but distantly. She felt … good. Strong.
Without quite meaning to, she siphoned off more of the sidhe’s strength.
Alseyne grasped her sword convulsively in her left hand, locked in almost a death grip. She steeled herself, turning her eyes towards Casey and gasping out in a low voice near the girl’s ear. “I am trusting you with my existence, Casey, and with that of all of us Kithain here including my lord’s daughter. Please … don’t destroy us in saving us.”
The words floated through Casey’s mind like a faint whisper in an unfamiliar language: indistinct, unimportant, irrelevant. Something about not destroying everyone.
Why should she want to destroy them? They were absolutely … delicious.
Alseyne turned her face back outward and attempted to speak loudly enough for their allies to hear. “Pip, Wynne, Yggthor — Casey is going to get us all out of here. Let her tap into your will so she can draw on your reserves to carry everyone and make sure that all of us get pulled out safely.”
The three warriors looked from one to another in the brief respite provided by Casey’s mental “shove” against the enemy.
“Nothing to lose,” Pip shrugged, nodding to Wynne and Yggthor. “Percyndi! McAdoo! Elijah! Korin! Take over the line!”
” Recover Bran..” McAdoo barked to Pip, smoothly sliding back a step beside the sidhe noble.
The troll and sluagh guided by the satyr darted over to Casey and taking Alseyene’s lead, touched the psionic on her shoulders.
Casey was rocked by the onrushing roar of power. Her cheeks flushed and a low moan of pleasure escaped her as she noted — distantly — that her shoulder was completely healed.
She laughed. And it chilled those who heard it.
Making a gathering gesture, she effortlessly drew her allies together and lifted them as one off of the catwalk. All of them … every single one of her allies on the control platform floated up into the air.
” Whrrrrr? ” The werewolf yipped.
It was one of the easiest things she had ever done. They rose and she rose with them, over the rail and up the shaft, past level after level of Machine and catwalks. All the way to the top, as far as it was possible to go.
Elijah began singing: “Time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin
Into the future…
Time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin
Into the future…”
McAdoo hrmphed, finger twitching to the remembered beat of the Steve Miller Band’s stoner hit.
Alseyne huffed wearily, the drain upon her was magnificent. She glanced weakly at Pip. Dark circles were evident under his eyes: he was experiencing the same drain as she.
The covering slipped off Marlboro’s badly burned form revealing a satyr near death while not far from him Bran remained struggling and groaning with his flaming head. Alseyne looked at the general almost incuriously, her will draining from her. She struggled to pull enough will together to form a sentence. She wanted to say, “Casey, can you help the general?” but what came out was a croaked “Casey help general?”
Casey glanced over at Stonewing, then at Marlboro.
Percyndi watched the General with concern, “Does he seem… shorter?”
” Yes … much,” McAdoo agreed. Stonewing looked to be maybe five-eleven now, but it was hard to say given the fact they were all floating in the air. Returning to his bare chested and sunburnt human form, McAdoo sheathed the Guardian blade and tried unsuccessfully to move toward the flame-headed Bran.
So much power. Strength to spare. Casey flicked the fingers of her left hand toward Bran, but even with nearly unlimited psionic strength the magical flames were beyond her ability to affect. Marlboro was a different story: she turned her healing flow to the satyr and at once a fire of health burned through him, fully restoring him.
Rising some fifty feet now from the control station platform, Casey noted that they were passing the level through which she entered. They continued to rise, the temperature growing hotter the further they climbed.
Wynne hung in the air rag-doll limp. Yggthor’s jaw clenched, his head pulling back as a mustang rejecting the bridle. This one’s willpower was the greatest of them all … he was a well-spring, deep and cool. Casey smiled faintly.
“Casey….” Alseyne’s eyes turned helplessly towards the young woman as she tried to loosen the grip Casey had on her hand. Not to pull away, but just to have the option to do so.
Casey’s fingers tightened implacably on Alseyne’s, rejecting the sidhe’s option to withdraw. “No,” she murmured expressionlessly.
She could feel Alsyne’s sudden alarm, her inner struggle to gather enough strength to be able to pull away, but it didn’t seem important.
“I want to fly like an eagle
To the sea,” the vampire sang, apparently heedless of any psionic drain.
Fly like an eagle
Let my spirit carry me”
“I want to fly like an eagle
Till I’m free
Oh, lord, through the revolution”
The levitating comrades having ascended past another twelve levels arrived at the top of The Machine to find an array of what Casey identified as aether cannons. There were nine of these black tubes in all, each fifty feet in length and each directed high above to a channel cut through rock into open air.