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
As they reach the top of the Machine Casey moved everyone back over the rail, settling them and herself back onto the catwalk. Just as they touched down, one of the prisoners threw up, spewing sour bile across the deck.
Casey felt ten feet tall and bulletproof, intoxicated with potency, as if with a casual wave of her hand she could reduce Mardmor’s entire Gateway Engine to a heap of inert rubble. She turned to Alseyne and Pip … and her words of gleeful triumph died on her lips as she saw their hollow-eyed exhaustion. They looked half-dead on their feet. For the first time it penetrated her power-soaked mind what this link was costing them — she realized that their very lives were being drained from them through it.
Realized … and wanted to hold onto it anyway.
How else could she stop the Machine? How else would she be strong enough to save the world? Surely that was worth sacrificing a few lives for?
It hit her hard, then. She was using Mardmor’s own reasoning now: taking away others’ right to make their own choices, in the name of a ‘greater good.’ Sacrificing them to her cause, just as Mardmor would have sacrificed them to his.
With a cry of revulsion and grief, she jerked her hand away from Alseyne’s. Shifted away from the others, breaking the physical and psionic connection, nearly sobbing aloud as the mortal weakness returned to her weary body and soul.
“You guys okay?”
As Casey jerked her hand away, Alseyne fell to her hands and knees, taking shudderingly deep breaths of air, struggling to remain conscious. “Thanks, Casey,” she managed to get out. “For saving everyone.”
Casey shook her head, trembling at how close she’d come to spiraling completely out of control. “We’re not saved yet.” At how close she’d come to killing people who had trusted her, helped her. “If those cannons go off he’s won, dead or not.”
“One save at a time,” Alseyne panted.
Pip groaned, crossing to Alseyne, “What… pff… what was that?”
Yggthor knelt beside Wynne, the sluagh moaning. The troll offered explanation: “It was the work of a psychic vampire.” Big blue looked pointedly at Casey.
She flushed hotly, knowing the description fit and knowing there was nothing remotely helpful that she could say about it.
“My fault. Not hers,” Alseyne took the blame. “She had no idea it would affect her that way and we needed to get out of there.”
Yggthor grumbled, not satisfied — but let it go.
Casey scowled. Bad enough she’d nearly sucked the life out of four of her allies. Having them make excuses for her, as if she were a child who couldn’t be held responsible for her mistakes, was nearly as demoralizing.
Alseyne noticed the scowl, “I’m sorry, Casey. It really was my fault though. We didn’t test it enough and I didn’t warn them it would be so strong a draw. We’ll know better if we need to do it again.”
“It wasn’t a bad idea,” Casey pointed out. “It got us all away from the goblins and up here to where we might be able to stop this thing. I just need to learn not to let the power take over next time. If there is a next time. I wouldn’t really recommend it unless it’s a dire emergency.”
Slowly, Wynne came around. Alseyne checked Percyndi and the other prisoners to make sure they came through all right. She took a head count, then glanced around, frowning. “Did we lose Andali?”
Casey looked around, realizing that she couldn’t even remember when she’d last seen the Eshu. Had she been killed in the skirmish? Casey was sure she’d gathered all of her allies that had been on the catwalk, but she hadn’t seen Andali among the dead. “I don’t know. Maybe she fell over the rail during the fight?” She looked down toward the chamber floor, but found no sign of the blue elf.
“Casey…maybe take off the amulet now, alright? Just in case?” Alseyne made an attempt to stand up using her sword as a brace; Pip reached down and lifted her to her feet. She smiled gratefully at him, squeezing his hand in affection as she rose.
He provided a charming, though weary, smile. “I think I’m gonna sleep in tomorrow. How ’bout you?”
“Maybe even the day after,” she nodded, wearily passing a hand over her face.
Casey stood motionless. “My…the amulet?” Her fingers crept up to touch it. “But it’s useful, a source of information. We wouldn’t have known where to find the cannons without it.”
“Keep it in your pocket if you like. I’d just prefer that it not be around your neck potentially influencing you.”
Casey hesitated, then nodded reluctantly. She slipped the necklace off and shoved it carefully into the pocket of her leather pants.
“And Mac, do you think it would be possible to use that Well of yours to divert all this power in some way?”
The werewolf was crouched near Bran, where he was doing something with the pouch he called ‘the Well.’ “I don’t know. ” He held the pouch open over the General’s flaming head, but nothing happened. McAdoo peeked inside the open Well. “Come on. We need some help.” To Alseyne he added, “What power?” He peered up at the cannons. “Explosives could ruin the barrels!”
They were having to yell now to be heard. The Machine was banging out a lot of noise.
Alseyne looked around, starting to get some strength back. She called out loudly, “We need to make a decision here. Do we try to use the Well, knowing little about it and possibly having to pay a price we are unwilling to pay or do we try to find another way to disable these things?”
“Well, we better use Visa or Master Card,” Elijah smirked, “‘Cause the Well don’t take American Express.”
“I’m more concerned with it taking lives,” Alseyne answered soberly. “One in particular.” She glanced at Percyndi and then back up at the cannons, gauging their size. “Somehow, Pip my love, I don’t think we’re going to find bananas big enough for these tailpipes and even if we do, where is all the power going to go?” She sighed. “I’d envisioned possibly holding the Well in front of the cannon and seeing if we could shoot the power into the well but obviously that isn’t going to work.”
“How about blasting them with lightning?” McAdoo raised his left hand, the one with Oakenshields Gauntlet to point at the closest tube.
“Even if the magic from the blast doesn’t get absorbed, all that does is leave us with sawed-off shotguns instead of long-barrelled ones,” Alseyne responded.
“Maybe whatever they’re aiming at will be out of range? ” he tossed the question back.
Pip scowled at the Machine and the cannons. “What does it matter? It’s aimed that way. Seems to me a lot of effort has been coordinated to make some kind of blast to go out through the channel. If it goes just about anywhere else, we should screw the Goblin King’s plans.”
We could stuff them full of bodies,” Casey shrugged. “Heaven knows there are enough of those lying around. Not sure if that’d plug them tight enough, though.”
“Hey, hoss.” Elijah shook his head, “As one of the guys nearby that machine, I’d just like to remind you that explosion bad.”
Pip nodded. “As bad as it is, it’s not the worst scenario. Even if the subsequent explosion takes out all of Austin, that’s still better than the holocaust Mardmor was surely planning.”
Casey nodded agreement.
“I’ve already died once,” Elijah objected. “I ain’t interested in another go. You folks looking for a martyr, you best find yourself someone less charming. The ladies would miss me.”
Casey frowned, then indicated the channel with a jerk of her chin. “There’s the exit. Need a lift?”
“Now don’t be that way…” Elijah protested.
Pip interjected, “We do need an escape route. And maybe we don’t need everyone here for this.”
Marlboro spoke up, “Exactly! We’ll take the others and head on out … just as soon as I find ‘Dali …. ” The satyr looked around for his traveling companion.
McAdoo looked up. “I can get us out of here.. I think.”
“Good … just have to find ‘Dali … she has to be around here somewhere,” Marlboro muttered as he looks around some more.
“Any chance of us being able to maybe ground out some of the power?” Elijah suggested. “Bleed it into the walls maybe? Hell, it’s magic — maybe we can absorb some of it so it can’t fire?”
“I’ve always maintained that if you hit something hard enough,” Pip said, “You’ll figure out how it comes apart. Maybe we should just start wailing on it?”
“Stonewing’s Mual? ” McAdoo asked.
“What will happen to the power it’s built up then?” Alseyne asks.
Pip shrugged. “I never said it was a good plan.”