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
Mia Schubert……………….Marlboro…………………………….Satyr Changeling
Aron Head……………….Story/Setting/Everything Else…….Game Master
“Ok, let’s try Casey’s idea. We three … ” Alseyne indicated herself, Pip and the Nocker “… will try to knock the couplings loose as a final ploy to stop the firing if Casey can bounce us over to the Machine. You and Mac and the believer there …” she indicated Casey and McAdoo and Marlboro “… try to use the Well and see if we can’t get rid of some of the power at least. But before you do that, Casey, would you please see if you can find Andali’s mind down below? It could be she was knocked unconscious or something and we just didn’t see her in the grand melee.”
Marlboro made a face. “Hey now … I thought we all agreed … gotta get the others out. And belief works from quite a distance … just look at Santa!”
“Go believe elsewhere if you want, Marlboro,” Alseyne remarked flatly. “Just remember that doing that might put Andali at risk, because she’s got to be down below somewhere and if this thing goes off then she’s going to be fried as well. I thought you might want to be involved in trying to help keep her alive until we can ALL walk away from this.”
“Hey babe,” Marlboro replied, “Don’t start layin’ your seelie claptrap on me. ‘Dali knows that I would do anything for her … so go wave your flag somewhere else.”
“Thing is,” the werewolf interjected loudly over the Machine’s rising din, “last time I tried that I was pulled into the Well. Merle held it for JJ to reach in … I don’t know what’ll happen if I hold it and you leave your hand inside. “
Casey’s patience wore thin as the Gateway Engine pounded deafeningly toward apocalyptic release. “I wasn’t planning on sticking my hand into it. I wasn’t planning on having you hold it for me. I was planning on holding it myself and creating a closed circuit between it and the Machine.” She could practically feel their window of opportunity closing while McAdoo hedged and temporized like an old woman.
“I was telling you how it works, to the best of my knowledge. “McAdoo’s return was expressionless as he held out the tartan bag in one palm. “Believe me or not, you can try it your way … or not.”
“Thanks.” She accepted the bag, then hopped nimbly over the rail, plummeting down through the shaft alongside the Machine.
She dropped like a stone. When she reached the big flamey door, she slowed and landed on the narrow ledge.
The flames were bright and the heat tremendous. This was going to be tricky.
Holding the bag by its rim, she let it fall open. She glimpsed something within the pouch. Something … stirring?
If the end of her world weren’t looming so ominously she’d have stopped to investigate that. As it was she could only hope that whatever was in there would either enjoy a nice glamour bath, or not be the sort of something that would notice.
She settled herself into a seated position on the shelf. Maybe less chance of falling that way if things got disorienting. There wasn’t much room here, but fortunately Casey wasn’t as big as, say, Yggthor.
Wasn’t he yummy?
She’d never been so strong, so invincibly superhuman in her life before. It had felt so *good.*
She shook her head to clear it and got down to the business at hand. Leaning against the edge of the door, she slowly extended her free hand toward the green flames, and closed her eyes in concentration.
She knew she could draw the glamour. The trick was keeping it from getting into her own system on its way to the Well. Carefully, warily, she attempted to pull a tendril of green flame out of the door and into the Well.
:: What are you doing? ::
The voice broke her concentration. It was the voice from within the amulet.
Casey froze. Honesty was without a doubt the worst possible policy here, but no plausible lies were coming to mind.
There was no time to talk now anyway. She should just take the amulet out of her pocket and fling it down to the chamber floor. Or better yet, toss it into the flames. One more source of magic wasn’t going to get those difference engines computing any faster, and something dangerously powerful might be destroyed once and for all.
Casey found herself wondering whether the presence in the amulet was sentient enough to possess its own will.
An actual physical weakness washed over her at the thought of tapping into that much power. The soul-deep yearning was so overwhelming that she wasn’t even aware of reaching into her pocket until she found herself staring at the pulsating green stone in her hand.
Then her fingers tightened angrily around the amulet, and she tried to throw it into the flames.
And couldn’t. Simply could not make herself do it.
She shoved the amulet back into her pocket, ignoring the voice, ignoring the seductive siren call of stolen power, and got back to her attempt to drain the Machine into the Well.
As she returned her attention to the job at hand, she cried out at the stabbing pain suddenly constricting about her wrists and arms. Looking down, she saw an array of barbed tentacles spraying forth from within the pouch. Already, they were snaked around her arms. Three more flailed about reaching for her neck. They were pulling her … pulling her into the Well…
In her panic, Casey convulsively reached for the amulet’s power to help her fight off the creature.
Just in time she remembered that anything on Mardmor’s side of the war probably shouldn’t be given access to the Well.
Instead she attempted to telekinetically knock the tentacles away from her arms, but the barbs had anchored themselves through her bones. They weren’t budging.
She searched for the intelligence within the well. She sensed … force and power… This thing attacking her was animal, alien, ancient, and hungry.
A flailing tentacle snaked about her throat. She was drawn closer and closer to the mouth of the Well.
** CASEY! ** Alseyne’s mind screamed mentally towards the young psionic. ** Bran and Mac are BOTH on fire and getting ready to fall! Can you catch them? **
** Little busy at the moment… ** Casey could “hear” the strain and panic in her own mental voice. ** Be with you as soon as I can…. ** She telekinetically drew her weapon from its sheath, extended the blade, and slashed through the tentacles like a hot knife through butter. She cried out as the amputated barbed limbs retracted from her flesh and bones.
Panting with pain and haste, she closed the Well tightly, then shoved the pieces of tentacle off the ledge.
Capricious resource, this Well.
Maybe the glamour didn’t actually need to be transported away — maybe just draining it out of the Machine would give her comrades the time they needed to disable the cannons. After all, a large part of it must be made up of Fae souls, and those didn’t seem to be something the Machine could absorb by osmosis.
She stood, plucked her weapon from the air beside her and resheathed it, then stepped out away from the shelf to hover beside the door. Again she pulled a tendril of green flame from the opening.
The flame fought her. It didn’t want to come; it had a purpose and a will of its own.
Pressing forth, Casey grit her teeth, body trembling. A lone finger of flame was drawn out. She tried to dissipate it into the atmosphere of the chamber, but it instantly snapped back to the furnace like a rubber band.
Maybe there was some way to consume or destroy the glamour. Casey tried to remember everything she knew about the nature of Fae magic, which wasn’t much. Alseyne had mentioned earlier that its very existence was somehow dependent upon mortals, but she hadn’t elaborated and at the time Casey hadn’t thought the subject important enough to press.
Just now it seemed rather more important.
J. M. Barrie, she recalled thinking during the conversation in the taxi. Clap if you believe in fairies or Tink’s light will go out forever. Belief.
Could she simply refuse to believe in the Machine’s power, and render it powerless? Could it possibly be that simple?
Trouble was, she did believe. Mardmor’s Gateway Engine thrummed with power — radiated potency. How could she not believe in it?
She’d believed in Pip’s death, and and that wasn’t real. And Korin’s and Elijah’s and Pana’s, and here they all were. Hadn’t she begun to think that this was all just a dream, or another of Mardmor’s illusions?
Falco could sense her presence, but not the Machine’s. How could it exist if Falco couldn’t sense it?
Deceptions, illusions, snares and lies. Disbelief wasn’t so hard to come by after all.
She frowned at the roaring green storm within the door, then lifted her gaze to encompass the Machine itself. “You’re not real,” she muttered. “He couldn’t even torture me for real, and he’s going to build something like you? I do not believe it. He put you in our heads, made us stare at you until it felt like the end of the world, until our own awe and dread endowed you with power.”
She grasped another tendril of flame. “I’m all done clapping for Tink. You’re no more real than my severed fingers on the Workshop floor. You do not exist.”
:: Au contraire. :: The amulet spoke to her once again. :: The Gateway Engine is very real. It takes the real to bridge the fantastic to retrieve the dream. ::
Despite her disbelief, the construct remained. The tendril fought her, she couldn’t draw it forth.
“I don’t believe in you either,” she grumbled irritably to the amulet. Letting go of the flame, she frowned darkly into the wide door, refusing to accept defeat.
Fairy magic was utterly incompatible with her own form of power. Wild, undisciplined enchantment versus cold reason and logic. The Fae glamour was literally poison to her system.
So…maybe her power was poisonous to the Fae glamour?
That was new thought. She turned it over in her mind for a moment.
When McAdoo had forced his power upon her, it had felt like hot chaotic death to her. Maybe it was time she did a little forcing herself.