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
Eyes narrowing, Alseyne flicked the dagger in her hand expertly down toward Mardmor.
The Goblin King snatched the blade from the air and in pure Lo Pan style, he sent the blade hurtling back at Alseyne. Had she not stepped away immediately after casting the dagger, Mardmor’s return of it would have caught her in the forehead.
She glanced around the deck and quickly grabbed up one of the strange clockwork firearms that the latest batch of guards had carried, checking to make sure it was still loaded.
Pip knocked an advancing guardsman in the head just as Wynne slit another’s throat. “They’re breaking through the line!” the sluagh called out.
The satyr nodded, casting a glance at Alseyne. “We have to fall back. Consolidate here on the platform. We hold ’em here. Or it’s all over. Alseyne… whatever ya’ll are doing over there, make it quick. I haven’t seen this many Kithain in one place since Scarborough Faire!”
McAdoo took the Guardian blade in the gauntlet while facing to cover Casey’s back. His bare free hand on her shoulder, ” Strength. ”
She felt the infusion of will from the garou, and felt the barrier grow that much stronger. “We might be able to stop him,” she muttered quietly, “but who’s going to stop his damn Machine?”
“Maybe not possible. Overload it?” The words were difficult from the werewolf’s muzzle.
Casey only shrugged, unable to give any adequate amount of attention to that option. Part of her — a big part — wanted to let go of the barrier and turn her focus to figuring out a way of shutting down the Machine. But as long as Mardmor remained near the door, as long as whatever he had conjured was still active, as long as the Redcap clung so perilously near those green flames, Casey wouldn’t risk it. She stood motionless, tuned solely to her shield, hoping against hope that any second now one of her fellows would find that damned Off switch.
McAdoo closed his eyes, hand on Casey’s shoulder, and focused his own power into her. His voice was low and commanding, “… Stop him.”
Casey felt an odd tickle as McAdoo’s power crawled across her.
And that tickle changed into …
Ants crawling over her body.
Hundreds of them.
Thousands of them.
Boring into her.
What — ?
Something horrible was happening. Her heart raced. She couldn’t breathe, yet a scream formed in her throat. Her concentration began to slip as she was … invaded!
The voice of her grandfather screamed at her to push McAdoo away.
Stop — stop it! She choked on the words, couldn’t make them heard.
** STOP!! **
McAdoo was blasted back, not unlike being shot in the head. The force of Casey’s psionic blow sent him off his feet, his back arching, the back of his head crashing against the deck.
Her power surged back on itself, abandoning the barrier as it raged hotly through her own body in a frantic attempt to drive out the unfamiliar violation … destroying it, overwhelming it with reason.
For what had attacked her was chaos. Wild, unrestrained, unpredictable chaos.
She felt her body beginning to right itself, the invading magic cast out bit by bit.
“Hi there.” An Eshu guard stepped over the blinded McAdoo and slashed at Casey, who narrowly avoided the bite of the man’s sword. The dodge was pure reflex — Casey’s mind was still reeling from its brush with the garou’s corybantic essence.
With a deep growl, Pana lunged for the changeling, but was backhanded away before she could sink those pearly whites into the swordsman’s flesh. Belatedly Casey fumbled for her weapon, her left hand awkwardly gripping the hilt as she powered it up and confronted her attacker. She had no confidence in her own swordsmanship at the moment — the weapon felt strange and unwieldy in her left hand, and her right shoulder was a wretched, soul-sapping misery. “Hi yourself,” she grumbled irritably to the Eshu. “I’m prepared to accept your surrender. That’s why you came, right?”
The fellow smiled. “You are a spirited one. I shall endeavor to end you quickly. As a courtesy, you understand?”
Fallen to the ground, mighty galbro form gone, McAdoo in human form moaned as blood trickled from his nostrils. “Sorry…” he mumbled weakly. “…Trying to help.”
She spared a quick glance over her shoulder at the garou, glad to see that she hadn’t done him any mortal damage. In the future she’d have to remember that not all forms of power were compatible with hers. “You okay? I’m sorry too — I didn’t know that would happen.”
“Stop talking, think fight.” McAdoo’s words were pain-filled as he squinted, peering with bloodshot eyes past Casey’s feet to the Eshu’s. He fumbled for the Guardian blade.
Alseyne called to Pip, “I’m going to try to take Mardmor down one more time. If it doesn’t work … well … I don’t know what else to try. This thing is fixing to do whatever he wanted it to and I don’t know how to stop it. You got any ideas? There’s no off switch, Andali destroyed the control panel and it didn’t help. Only thing I can think of that may help is destroying the amulet I cut off of him.”
“It’s a machine, right?” Pip considered. “Banana in the tailpipe?” He calls to his comrades-in-arms: “Yggthor! Percyndi! Fall back…!”
Alseyne fired down on Mardmor’s position. The weapon’s clockwork gears ground and clattered as she squeezed off a rapid succession of bursts. A hail of green energy pulses rained below where, with Casey’s barrier down, Mardmor’s roiling power storm boomed — launching the Redcap into the belly of the Machine!
“Crap! He got that Redcap of his into the door!” Alseyne snarled as she fired.
“What?! No–!” Casey’s eyes jerked back down to the flamey door. DAMMIT!
The device revved itself, hooting with effort — generating … something. Waves of heat emanated from it.
Mardmor threw his arms wide rejoicing. “IT IS DONE…!”
“That’s it, bastard. Just hold still a moment … ”
And he was struck one … three … five times by Alseyne’s weapon’s fire. Shoulders, chest, and neck exploded! He shrieked, the violence sending him spinning down to the lower deck.
“Yes! Got him!” Alseyne rejoiced as she turned to face the others.
Hope soared in Casey’s chest at Mardmor’s cry and Alseyne’s triumphant words … but the Machine continued to rumble and groan, warming inexorably to life.
“Now,” the sidhe added, “we just need to see if we can find a tailpipe to stick a banana in.”