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
“What the — ” Casey froze for one instant in agonized indecision — and then made a panicky choice.
She dropped her shield. Sent a brutally hard telekinetic blow square into the chest of their erstwhile ally, the blue troll. Yggthor grunted, only momentarily slowed from his mission, but it provided Casey the moment she needed to slip past and bolt to the rail. Whatever Mardmor intended to do, it suddenly seemed to her of primary importance that he not succeed in doing it.
“Can he power the machine with his own soul?” Korin wondered aloud. “How close was it to being fully powered? We can’t let anyone in this room die!”
“Tell them that!” Elijah complained as he climbed to his feet just in time to slap down one of the guardsmen dropping from the level above. The first nine had reached the control panel.
Andali had apparently been freed from her floating immobility, maybe when the mage had vanished. Standing on the deck now she looked out among the people fighting and yelled, ” The Machine cannot be harmed by magics of any sort. It feeds upon enchantments, spells, cantrips. It has to be stopped with weapons. ”
” Pull Plug! ” McAdoo barked. ” Trip safety! Nockers! Turn Machine OFF! ”
No one seemed to be paying attention to this directive.
Casey looked over the rail to see that Mardmor was not so much falling as he was flying. The redcap woman struggled violently in his grasp as the two of them dived for the Machine’s feeding door.
Casey reached out with her mind, struggling to snatch the Goblin King up. Like trying to catch a fish by hand, he slipped between her fingers — in only moments he would reach his destination. She stopped trying to grab him and threw a barrier up across the big flamey door, to block him from access.
The hot, sick throbbing in her shoulder had roused an answering pounding in her head. She was beginning to feel weak, clumsy, disconnected; she would have to put some serious effort into trying to heal that burn soon, before it completely sapped what was left of her strength. For the time being she focused as best she could on thwarting Mardmor’s efforts.
He slowed to a hover out before the door and hurled the redcap at it. She cried out, arms flailing — then crashed against Casey’s barrier and fell away, catching the small ledge with a wild grab.
Mardmor’s eyes flashed up to Casey.
She smiled down at him. Such a minor victory, and probably temporary, but it felt good.
Shouts rang out as the prisoners engaged the charging guardsmen on either side of the catwalk, but Casey’s attention was so intently focused on the telekinetic barrier that she was barely aware of the fresh battle — until a howling fighter crashed beside her, spraying blood from the stump of a severed foot. Startled by the near miss she turned and nearly collided with McAdoo in galbro form: he had apparently just saved her life. Behind him she saw the huge wave of new arrivals swarm across the catwalk. Crud. “Thanks for that,” she nodded to the garou. Her first instinct was to finish the Redcap off, but she wasn’t sure how to manage it. Her right arm was next to useless, her right hand still clutching Mardmor’s amulet. She could take the time to draw her weapon with her left hand, but she didn’t want to risk weakening her barrier by spreading her power too thin.
Her left hand fumbled at her belt, came away gripping the heavy surgical blade she’d borrowed from Mardmor and still intended to return to him. With one swift stroke she slit the Redcap’s throat, blood gushing as he gurgled his last breath.
” Machine.. off? ” McAdoo panted.
“No … I think it might have protective spells warding it from tampering. Or maybe we just need somebody stronger than me to have a go at it.”
Korin ducked as a Redcap swung a cudgel at him, then clouted the guard in the side of the head sending him spinning to the deck. Without breaking stride he moved to cover Casey, giving her space to focus on Mardmor.
Casey gave a grateful nod to the two fighters watching her back, and turned back to face the Goblin King again — just as a tremendous green fireball rose up from below, exploding across the entire front of the control station platform. Casey fell to a knee, blinded and disoriented. Stars flashed across her mind’s eye. In a panic, she felt for the barrier as she blinked her eyes back into seeing.
Mardmor hovered before the still-intact barrier, his hands moving through a series of intricate motions. The Redcap woman continued to hang from the ledge.
Casey frowned as her attention zeroed in on the Goblin King. The woman was barely a blip on her radar: one Redcap looked more or less the same as another to her, and Casey had already seen Mardmor’s willingness to sacrifice his own people. Anyone foolish enough to follow an anarchist despot shouldn’t be surprised by sudden betrayal when things got tight.
Mardmor, though … he definitely had Casey’s attention. He was summoning some spell, gathering some power, harnessing some force … she didn’t know the details, but she knew her barrier was about to be seriously challenged. She was vaguely aware of other things going on around her on the platform, and made a voluntary choice to trust that Korin and McAdoo and Pana were covering her back. Tuning out everything else, trying to tune out the effects of her injury, she closed her eyes and immersed herself into her shield. Her intent was not only to withstand Mardmor’s imminent assault on it, but to perceive the nature of that assault so as to understand how it might be countered.
His conjuring complete, a maelstrom of fire and force exploded against the barrier. It was like a punch in the head to Casey. She gasped at the pressure, feeling the assault.
Will. It was her willpower versus the Goblin King’s. Clenching her teeth, she struggled to focus.
It was evident that Mardmor had been working to this end for a long, long time. He was completely invested in the successful ignition of his Machine. He would give his all for this. And Casey had been awakened to this world for such a short time. How could she stand against this mad Goblin King?
Blood ran from her nose. The cracking of the barrier breaking down from Mardmor’s onslaught was echoed in her mind. Her foe smiled, knowing that his victory was at hand.
Then Pana came beside her, leaning her head against the psionic’s thigh. Casey felt an infusion of strength, the malamute adding her will to the young woman’s own.
Casey’s hands twitched out, instinctively seeking contact with other allies. If her companions were to join their minds and determination to hers — if they could bring their combined strength of will to bear against Mardmor’s magics — surely then they could overpower and defeat him.
But even if she dared pull enough attention from her barrier to telepathically summon the others for help, they were already fighting for their lives. The only reason she even had this opportunity to combat Mardmor was because Korin and McAdoo were purchasing it for her with their own blood. The rest of her allies were likewise beset by the seemingly endless flood of goblin guards.
Falco … what she wouldn’t give to have him here with her now, lending his strength and experience to this duel.
He wasn’t, though. And even knowing that she was doomed to lose this battle — that her own fledgeling powers weren’t enough to defeat Mardmor’s — she threw every ounce of will she possessed into keeping the barrier intact for another moment, for a few more seconds, for one more minute ….
Where the hell was that stony troll guy that was so intent on taking Mardmor down? Now there was a fair bit of strength and determination she could put to good use.
As loudly as she could manage, never taking her eyes off of her smiling nemesis, she croaked aloud, “I need help here.” If the call wasn’t drowned out by the noise of combat, if anyone was able to respond, if she could manage to make them understand what was needed, it just might be enough to turn the tide in their favor ….
Furred ears twitched as the werewolf’s head came up at Casey’s weak call. He stepped further toward the psionic and looked over the rail to see Mardmor’s gesturing. “Bastard … ” and raising his gauntleted hand pointed down to the Goblin King. “Die.” A bright blue bolt of power erupted, crackling down toward Mardmor.
As it grew nearer to the Goblin King — and the Machine — it arced away from the villain and angled to the metal construct. Striking the black surface it glowed, warming, soaking up the blast.
The Machine thrummed!
Casey’s eyes widened in horror, her attention pulled just for an instant from her barrier to the quickening Machine itself.
The room shook. Alseyne rushed to look over the edge, staring down at the open door, the flames, the Redcap attempting to climb away from the door and the gloating Mardmor.
“Yessssssss!” Mardmor hissed with satisfaction. “Yes!” His power continued to roil and boil before him.
Casey cursed under her breath, renewing her efforts to resist the Goblin King’s assault on her shield. She wondered whether it even mattered anymore.
The pipework groaned. And groaned. The Redcap pulled herself up the narrow ledge of the open Machine doorway, shielding her eyes from the growing luminosity within.
The Machine trembled and vibrated.