CAST OF PLAYERS:
Debora Silkotch…………..Casey Gavin…………………………Human Psionic
Aron Head……………….Story/Setting/Everything Else…….Game Master
Casey’s first indication that she was alive was the miserable pain in her back, followed immediately by the gnawing pain in her shoulders, hips, and everywhere else. Not to mention a headache that would kill small children.
Her eyes blinked open. She could see nothing; there was no light source here. She seemed to be lying across a pile of torn metal and rocks. Did they … were they buried beneath what was left of the Machine and its chamber? That was technically good then, right? Felt like the whole damn thing had been reduced to a pile of rubble. Chalk up a win for the good guys.
Hurt. Everything hurt.
Slowly, carefully, she tried to move; partly just to see if all the moving parts still worked, and partly to determine whether she was trapped in the wreckage. She found that she was in good working order and mobile. Just more sore than any person ever ought to be.
:: Casey? :: It was Falco. He sent a pulse of emotion to her. He was thankful that she’d made it through.
The touch of his mind was a sweet, warm comfort; it soothed the horrific throbbing in her head a bit. She focused on him, tried to push all the pain into the background. ** Falco. **
:: It is done. Mardmor’s dream is in ruins. Humanity is safe. Thanks in large part to you. ::
Relief swelled in her at this confirmation of their success. They’d really done it — and actually lived to tell the tale! So far, anyway.
She felt pride from him, and a bit of astonishment. :: You are amazing. ::
A tender rush of pleasure washed through her in response to his praise. In truth, though, she didn’t feel amazing. She felt … unspeakably weary. Settling into the least-uncomfortable position she could find, she closed her eyes against the blank darkness and simply rested for a moment in the warm communion of their joined minds. ** We both did it. All of us, really — I hope the others made it to safety. **
:: I can sense a few of them. Not all. ::
Casey searched up through the wreckage, seeking familiar minds, and gathered a sense of Alseyne and Pip … and Yggthor and Korin. Not a “connection,” just a faint sense of their presence.
She frowned. Were the rest all dead?
She couldn’t think about it. She’d grieve for the dead and rejoice for the future of humanity later, when her head didn’t hurt quite so much.
Her mind drifted bemusedly through the night’s events; already it was starting to feel like some surreal nightmare. ** You know, last night when you said you and I are the same … I get that now. ** Fatigue and the cover of darkness lowered her inhibitions, allowed her to speak more freely than she could have in more a civilized setting. ** I just spent the most arduous night of my life fighting alongside a group of amazing people. Some Fae, a couple of weres, a vampire … good, brave folks, all of them. But after all I went through with them, their minds still felt foreign to me. Alien. At the end of the night, it was you I wanted to be with more than anything. You feel like … like home. **
There was a long moment in which Falco said nothing. But he didn’t need to. A wave of tender emotion flooded across her.
:: There are precious few of our kind, Casey. To be honest, most of us cannot abide each other. But when you are fortunate enough to find a … kindred spirit, there is comfort and peace to be found. I am delighted that I can be that person for you. ::
She smiled, reaching out with the telepathic equivalent of a friendly touch. Then she got shakily to her feet, wincing as her abused body protested the effort. Experimentally she tried to tap back into her healing abilities, to see if she had enough power left in her pounding head to restore herself.
She was spent. She might have had some additional reservoirs to tap, but it would require a substantial effort to plumb them.
She sent her perceptions out in all directions, trying to get a handle on her surroundings. Falco was about eight feet away. The chamber — an air pocket really — was completely sealed off. No exits.
** Have you met many others like us? ** Conversation distracted her from the rather oppressive blackness of the ruins. ** You must have come across a few in two thousand years. **
:: Oh yes. As a rule, we give others of our kind a wide berth. But there are a few that are friendly. ::
Casey moved carefully through the dark, feeling for a wall. ** Is that why you waited so long before you approached me? You wanted to know if I was friendly? **
:: I had not yet resolved on approaching you at all. But it had nothing to do with your friendliness. I was … conflicted. You see … I’ve grown quite fond you, Casey. I wasn’t sure if this life was something one should be exposed to. You can see why. ::
Casey sent her perceptions into the wall, attempting to gauge its thickness and determine whether her sword might be able to cut through it. Falco’s words, like the possible deaths of her comrades and the marvelous accomplishment of saving the world from goblins, were too difficult to completely process in her current state of head-pounding exhaustion. She knew they’d all seem very important later, when she was feeling human again, but right now finding a way out of this metal tomb before the air ran out was tying up most of her functioning brain cells. Lots of wreckage in and around … very thick. With some deep probing, she could probably identify a path of low resistance.
:: The vampires forced my hand, :: Falco remarked.
That drew a wry smile. Those vampires … they’d seemed so terrifying to her at the time. She’d been a different person such a short time ago.
“I’m not sorry they did,” she murmured aloud. “Not saying it’s been the best two nights of my life, but …. ” She searched for the words. “If it hadn’t happened I never would have known how … how strong I could be. What I’m capable of. It’s kind of been a trial by fire, but I wouldn’t undo any of it.”
:: Your strength is admirable. Most people would be babbling idiots after what you’ve been through. ::
She chuckled. ** Give me time; I’ll be babbling any minute now. Sooner if I stop to think about any of it. **
:: Perhaps we can get a bite to eat, a shower, and twenty hours of sleep between now and then. ::
** Amen, brother. **
She could hear him rising. :: You ready to go? ::
She walked blindly over to where she sensed him to be. ** I can’t find a way out. Can we teleport? I thought that was a sorcery thing. **
:: That’s next week’s lesson. :: She felt him turn. :: Today, we have friends. ::
She could hear a bit of debris clatter to the floor a slight, narrow ribbon of bluish light widened into a beam.
“You in there, boss?” She heard Cerberus ask.
“We’re right here.”
Several flashlight beams came through the gap that had been cleared. Three of the People came through, led by Cerberus.
Casey blinked, wondering why she hadn’t sensed any of them during her sweep a moment ago.
One of the beams came across Falco for just a moment revealing the horror of his flesh she’d observed before entering the Engine, and Casey winced sympathetically at the fresh glimpse of his injuries.
Respectfully, the beam was diverted elsewhere.
“Pana says hello,” The Mastiff offered to Casey. “And boy, she don’t like your elf friend very much.”
Casey laughed, more in relief than at the comment itself. “You’re a welcome sight, Cerberus.”
“Right back atcha. You and the boss know how to make some noise.”
Casey looked around at the tumbled wreckage of Mardmor’s Gateway engine, illuminated in the flashlight’s beam. “We did try,” she smiled. “Where is Pana?”
“Up the tunnel. Making sure nobody gets any bright ideas about starting another fight.”
“I think the fighting is done for the day,” Falco said. “I imagine the surviving factions have retreated to their holes to lick their wounds and plot their plots.”
“If you say so,” The dog-man said, slinging a long coat over Falco’s shoulders.
“I could go for some of that myself,” Casey nodded. “Wound-licking, plotting … sleep … food … shower … not necessarily in that order.” She paused, suddenly realizing that Falco was looking at a much less comfortable night than she was unless they could come up with a way to heal him.
** I think … ** She sent the thought directly to her mentor. ** Maybe some of the People could … loan you some strength to heal yourself before we try to go any further? We should ask them. **
He seemed reluctant. :: Yes. You’re right of course. :: He regarded Cerberus and the other two for a moment. Then, sharply, he drew a breath. At once, Casey saw his wounds mending — the worst of it appeared to heal and scar over … but he wasn’t fully recovered. At least his face was back together. Brr.
He’d taken just enough. Casey admired his self-discipline.
“Thank you,” he said to them.
The dog-men all nodded it off.
“C’mon, Boss.” Cerberus indicated the tunnel exit. “Let’s get out of here.”
Casey followed thankfully, eager to feel the morning sunshine on her face.