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Thread: Pantheons of the NeSiverse

  1. #121
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    Final Preliminaries

    The forces of the High Empire gather, preparing for deployment. So too do Mega Jonestown Prime's armies. Ameryl gathers a fleet of some of the best ships the Imperium has to offer, to accompany the God-Killer Machine. And Gul Moff Peasant Girl summons all the resources she can muster.

    ***

    Dave is looking out onto the beautiful star-spackled space of the solar system from a balcony on the side of the grand palace atop Mount Tall in Mega Jonestown Prime. After millions of years spent in a tiny subdimension surrounded by nothing, such a view is especially breathtaking, and very welcome indeed.

    Chimaat: Hey, Dave.

    Dave: Hey, Chimaat-- Chimaat???

    He is startled to realize that Chimaat is in adult form now, the form he has only seen once before. The previous time seemed to have been a mix-up of her traveling in time. Is this another time mix-up, or is this the point at which she lets her body age?

    She blushes under his scrutiny.


    Chimaat: I thought it was time to let my body age up. I am billions of years old after all! War-- Love and war are no places for children. So how do I look?

    Dave: Gorgeous!

    His answer is blurted, and he blushes at his exclamation, but Chimaat is pleased.

    Dave: So I guess it will be easy to tell you apart from your High Empire version.

    Chimaat: Not really. If I remember right, my High Empire self also aged up at this time.

    Dave blinks, then decides not to worry about the illogic of it. Nodding and smiling has saved his sanity many times during his tenure as a God-Monarch.

    Dave: I'm not looking forward to this, to be honest.

    Chimaat: Neither am I. But it must happen.

    Dave: Must it? You don't hate your father, do you? I mean, you're on his side too! Sort of.

    Chimaat: I love both my mother and my father. But some fates must come to pass. I have scryed long and hard over the vision of the future you showed me during our duel all that time ago. I think that we will survive...but I do not know if we will be safe.

    Dave gulps. Chimaat turns an earnest gaze to him.

    Chimaat: What do you think, Dave? Your wisdom is far greater than mine.

    Dave: It's really not--

    Chimaat: Please, don't hide behind false modesty. Tell me what you know.

    Dave: I know that nothing good can come of an old feud...

    ***

    In the command chamber atop the tallest spire of the Stronghold of Powerplayers, Highemp straightens his posture from bending over the holomap table.

    Highemp: Well, that's that! Deployment plans are finalized. Anyone have anything else to offer?

    The six powerplayer gods of his High Pantheon of the Throne shake their heads. They have spent long in here discussing strategy for the great battle, and have analyzed every angle.

    Highemp: Then I'm going to have a VERY good time tonight with the harem. Always good to have a pre-battle orgy!

    With that, he vanishes through a teleport.

    ***

    NSP: I'm leaving this space open in case anyone (Geb, Britt, or I, or anyone else for that matter) wishes to insert further preliminary scenes here, before the big battle.

  2. #122
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    And so begins the end...

    NOTE: The following several posts, detailing the massive battle between Highemp and Mega Jonestown Prime, are considered to be concurrent with the end of NeSquared.

    ***

    Urbs Dei. Mega Jonestown Prime. Two centers of power, where each faction is at their strongest. Each side is loath to leave it stronghold to fight the other. So they instead tear open a rift in the universes.


    Highemp: Ready, honey?

    Chimaat: Ready, Daddy.

    The aged-up powerplayer raises her arms and gesticulates, chanting in strange tongues even as she focuses her will. A wind whips from her place on the battlements of the Stronghold of Powerplayers, and gales gust throughout the whole megalopolis of Urbs Dei (also known as Urbis Imperia).

    At the edge of the pocket plane in which the capital is contained, cracks splinter the sky, colored purple and green and white, all bright hues that sheer through the barriers between cosms.

    Urbis Imperia is protected in the most secure plane of the High Empire...but Mega Jonestown Prime is not. It is therefore only a little effort for Chimaat to force open a rift between this pocket plane and Earth's solar system.

    Her other self, Chimaat the God-Monarch, stretches out with her own powers, and assists herself in opening the rift - for both know this battle must come. And so, across a vast gulf of interdimensional space, Mega Jonestown Prime looks over to Urbs Dei, and vice versa. Legions of battlecruisers and high-powered entities launch, streaming across the gulf towards each other.

    From Urbs Dei come the powerplayers, clad in brilliant red and gold, flying through space under their own power. With them are the carriers and massive battleships of the High Empire, with swarms of countless cyberganic drones. Their flanks part to let the bulk of the massive Cosmic Cannon - product of the High Empire's Supreme Superweapons Division - come through, its ultimate weapon charging.

    From Mega Jonestown Prime come the demigod supermages, from the Orders of White, of Seventeen, of Bread Butter Side Up, and all the rest. Fewer but still numerous are the many baron-deities, terrifying in reality-warping power. Dragons and Derkesthai are among them as well, as are alitaurs, thundering through the void of space as easily as though they were galloping on ground. So too do the massive terrifying Netherwyrms - tamed by the Derkesthai Dragonlord Riaken - sail almost lazily through space.

    Where the High Empire's forces are more homogenous, the God-Monarch's armies are far more diverse, and yet more kinds of soldiers fill their ranks. Toastinators brandish deadly laser weaponry. Daves and sentient turnips serve in all manner of capacity, dependent on their skills, manning crew stations or piloting starfighters. PUDDAFs swoop proudly through the surging fleets, bellowing flame from their jaws in defiant challenge. Space pirates sail on star galleons, loading their ballistic cannons with devastating ammo.


    Highemp: Chimaat.

    Chimaat: Yes, Daddy?

    Highemp: Signal the High Imperial Grand Orchestra. The performance for which they have been training for eons is upon us!

    Presently the most gorgeous and epic music in the multiverse blares out, acting as soundtrack to the conflict, as the fleets slam into each other. PUDDAFs immolate whole swarms of cyberganic drones at once. Superlasers from High Imperial battlecruisers disintegrate star galleons in a single shot.

    Highemp: Queen Diggleton? Signal the Engine workers to focus on the baron-deities, to counter their reality-warping with our own.

    His Discharding-born wife sends the order. Minos Mootchief channels energy through his horn, increasing the abilities, prowess, and powers (where applicable) of everyone in Mega Jonestown Prime's armies. Onboard a massive planet-sized High Imperial battle station, the Sixteen Sorcerous Sisters of Serleria do the same for their husband's forces.

    From some distance, Peasant Girl surveys the conflict from the bridge of the
    Nullity.

    Peasant Girl: And so they keep countering each other, nullifying any advantage the other might have. It balances out to nothing. A zero sum game.

    There is an undercurrent of glee in her tone, which might or might not be touched with madness. Also a great distance away from the battle, but from another angle, Ameryl watches from the bridge of the God-Killer Machine.

    Ameryl: Our role is only to make sure they don't destroy the multiverse in their war. Keep the white hole charged. Are the quantum rail accelerators at peak capacity?

    Weapons Officer: Aye aye, ma'am.

    Ameryl surveys readouts, and sees the spectral analysis of the Cosmic Cannon's devastating weapon as it charges up. She stabs a finger at it.

    Ameryl: Eliminate that one!

    From the roiling heart of the God-Killer Machine's anti-power core, white light lances out to strike the Cosmic Cannon just before it can unleash its terrible blast. The Cosmic Cannon breaks apart under the touch of pure anti-power, imploding as it is consumed.

    Knightlord Thorn: That was no God-Monarch weapon! I need new scans, stat!

    But Highemp already knows who it is.

    Highemp: Ameryl.

    Thorn blanches slightly.

    Knightlord Thorn: I'll signal the Average Joe squad immediately, milord!

    Highemp merely nods in response.

    Highemp: She has come, just as I knew she would. And Peasant Girl won't be too far either.

    Indeed, Peasant Girl has seen the Cosmic Cannon's destruction, and claps her hands.

    Peasant Girl: So Ameryl is here, too? Let's go show her what we think of her rejecting me!

    Cosmic Destructors peel away from the Nullity, heading towards the Imperium fleet. Their path takes them directly into the conflict, forcing High Empire and Mega Jonestown Prime to take action in counteroffense. On the Nullity, Peasant Girl laughs delightedly.

    Peasant Girl: Soon, there will be Nothing left. Of any of us.

    A detachment of High Imperial ships splits off towards the Imperium fleet as well, primarily trillions of the expendable cyberganic drones. Their job is solely to harass the God-Killer Machine, so that the Average Joe squad can board and disable it. The Imperium cruisers open fire and launch starfighter squadrons in response, filling the void with laser fire.

    Typhon: It seems those who wish to join this battle are more than we expected.

    Chimaat: Oh yes! I remember now! The Pan Cosmic Command and Imperium both have factions that join in!

    Vedas Khaan: Fool child! You tell us this now?!

    The Shard silently raises a hand, and in the distance, a squadron of High Imperial battleships, along with the Cosmic Destructor they're attacking, both disintegrate.

    Vedas Khaan: Bah! I'll not sit by and watch as this husk snipes from afar!

    So saying, the former skrai zooms up into the sky from the balcony of the palace atop Mount Tall, and into the heart of the battle. Lo swears she can hear his gleeful yells of destruction as he tears into the foe, heedless of collateral damage to his own side. With a sigh, she informs her pirate fleet captains to maintain a wide berth from him.

    Typhon: Nor I. Highemperor will come to us or watch his entire army burn.

    The dragon swoops up into space as well, and grows from the size of a horse to his true immensity. The Ascension follows. Imeryn looks at Zhuge, who is sitting on a simple wooden stool, scorning all the grand furniture.

    Imeryn: Well? Aren't you going to join too?

    Zhuge: I'll save my strength for the true battle.

    Dave: Uh, as will I!

    Yannah: You don't have to be modest, Dave. We know you have more power than most of us, certainly sufficient to mop up Highemp's lackeys before engaging with him directly.

    Dave: Um, well, I, that is, I guess I should--

    Din: Din fight with Dave! Din and Dave be battle-sworn!

    She grabs Dave's arm and leaps with him into space with a mighty bound, as Dave squeaks in terror. Fortunately, Din's aura of chaotic flux happens to generate enough breathable atmosphere for Dave to survive as long as he stays close to her.

    Through it all, Neith has made no comment, but has been sniping the enemy from this unimaginable distance. Her expression of concentration has deepened into a frown at the sight of the Cosmic Destructors, however, and they become her highest-priority targets.

    Knightlord Thorn: So, they're escalating the battle. It is time for them to see what the Luminescence of a Thousand Dimensions is capable of!

    He draws his greatsword, brandishing it effortlessly in a single hand, and raises it to the sky. It flashes brilliantly, charging with Thorn's power, and then he points it in front of him. Energy swirls out to detonate within a contingent of demigod supermages, and scoring Typhon's hide. The great dragon roars and turns his baleful gaze to his attack. Thorn smiles tightly, then teleports from the balcony of the Stronghold of Powerplayers to appear in the midst of the enemy.

    Carian Myste steps into a mirror and reappears in front of a Netherwyrm. He flashes open his pocketwatch at it, and the Netherwyrm vanishes, trapped inside the small mirror within. Quincy grudgingly sets his cameras down, and soars through space, his various eyestalks glowing as he charges up his deific abilities before sending devastating torrents of energy hurtling through the enemy.

    X gives her sometime-lover a secretive smile, and then she too joins the battle. Chimaat squeezes her father's hand before she too streaks off into the sky. Highemp stares across the vast void and locks eyes with Imeryn, standing on the highest balcony of her palace atop Mega Jonestown Prime's Mount Tall.

    As the onetime lovers gaze at each other, battle rages between them. Superbeings die and battleships explode by the hundreds.

    Across the NeSiverse, all eyes are turned to the ages-old conflict, now erupted into cataclysmic war. And some eyes watch even from beyond the NeSiverse.


    Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: And you're certain you have no knowledge in your databanks of this war?

    Gul Moff Ichron: The.answer.has.not.changed.since.the.last.time.you .asked.

    Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: How very curious. A battle of this scope and scale, completely unknown by a device from the end of the multiverse which stores all history. Perhaps they all annihilate each other, and their significance subsequently vanishes.

    His tone is almost hopeful.

    Gul Moff Ichron: That.would.not.be.entirely.desirable..Gul.Moff.Pey siant.Guril.is.there.as.well.and.she.is.a.valuable .asset.to.the.PCC.

    Pfaxarxis does not express the thought that perhaps the PCC would be better off without Peasant Girl. She is brutally effective at accomplishing her missions and has in fact done an extreme amount of good for the PCC...but she never leaves survivors. Just as extreme as her results are her methods.

    Gul.Moff.Ichron: My.forces.remain.on.standby.should.they.be.needed. as.do.those.of.all.the.other.Gul.Moffs..What.of.yo urs.

    Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: At my word, they are prepared to unleash hell, but I doubt any hell I contribute would be any worse than what those blighted fools have already created among themselves...
    Last edited by Al Ciao; 10-26-2017 at 04:21 PM.

  3. #123
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    Quantum Pantheon vs Ascension (and Dave)

    The massive flagship of the High Empire, the Quantum Pantheon, configures itself into a the semblance of a miles-tall mech, wielding anime-like weaponry. It swings blades and fires rays, and the turrets studding its hull unleash devastation among the God-Monarch forces.

    The Ascension bravely faces it, upping with all its might. It configures into a bunch of 'miniature' gremlins who are each only several meters tall, which swarm the mech-form Quantum Pantheon, cutting stabbing and slicing. The Quantum Pantheon flexes dramatically, and deadly light explodes from its form. The Ascension's forms scatter into refracted light to resist it.

    Then the Quantum Pantheon reforms into a gigantic battleship, a hundred miles long, with seven great prongs that each house weapons as deadly as the destroyed Cosmic Cannon. In response the Ascension becomes a horde of glittering starfighters with fairy wings, which dart to and fro about the giant ship's hull, scoring it with sparkling laser fire.

    Over and over it goes, the Quantum Pantheon and Ascension rapidly morphing to counter each other, but the Ascension suffers more damage and weariness than the Quantum Pantheon.


    Ascension: My allies...help me!

    Dave: I'm coming! Though I don't know what I can do...

    Never one to leave a friend in need - and Dave has always liked the Ascension; despite its odd nature it is friendlier and less scheming than most of the other God-Monarchs - Dave floats through space from Din's side towards Ascension and Quantum Pantheon. A breach in the Quantum Pantheon's hull - unable to be patched during battle, despite the QP's efficient self-repair systems, because of the repair-resistant energy damage inflicted - continually blasts out atmosphere, thus ensconcing Dave comfortably in a survivable environment.

    Dave's very presence starts making systems all over the Quantum Pantheon go haywire. Its binary quarks 'up' when they should 'down', and 'down' when they should 'up'. The Ascension rapidly gains the advantage, and then flies through the breach into the Quantum Pantheon's heart, before transforming a final time: into a miasma of exploding atoms.

    The Quantum Pantheon shatters, its hull buckling before disintegrating completely, as Ascension and Quantum Pantheon consume each other in fiery conflagration.


    Dave: NO!

    He had known that some of them might die, but to be faced with the reality of it is harsh indeed. But in the wake of the explosion, a single spark of glittering dust floats from the emptiness into his palm. The Ascension still lives...barely.

    Dave: I will protect you, Ascension. After this battle, we'll restore you, I promise!

    The sparkling mote twinkles in reply.

  4. #124
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    G.I. Average Joe

    The God-Killer Machine's white-hole blasts fire efficiently into the battle again and again, constantly nullifying threats to interdimensional integrity (such as the Cosmic Destructors or Netherwyrms). It does not favor any side, and its judgment is without mercy.

    As Typhon belches a conflagration of divine flame - one so powerful that it not only destroys several dozen High Imperial battleships, but punches a hole in realspace and triggering a warp explosion that ripples through space - Ameryl stabs her finger at him.


    Ameryl: That one cannot be suffered to live. The multiverse cannot contain him.

    The gunners of the God-Killer Machine take aim. Typhon's instincts save him - barely. As he roles out of the way, the concentrated anti-power laser shears off one of his great wings. The immense dragon roars in equal parts rage and pain. In response, he delivers a bolt of cosmic fire from his jaws, to hurtle across space directly towards the God-Killer Machine. But the God-Killer Machine is unscathed, it's anti-power white-hole core nullifying the attack.

    The Shard sees the threat, and raises a spectral hand. Parts of the hull, of the black ring that forms the God-Killer Machine, begin crumpling beneath the weight of its attention. Alarm bells ring out on the bridge of the God-Killer Machine. Ameryl flicks her gaze across multiple screens.


    Bridge Officer: New attack, unknown source! Unable to triangulate.

    Ameryl says nothing, her eyes narrowing as they track the scans, before locking onto something that she can only see out the corner of her eye.

    Ameryl: The thirteenth God-Monarch! There! Target it!

    Bridge Officer: Unable to comply! Cannot track!

    Ameryl grunts in annoyance, and manually takes over the targeting systems, but even the targeter refuses to point at the Shard, as though whatever space the Shard occupies is as equally nonexistent as the Shard itself.

    Ameryl: Fine. Shut down rail acceleration. Expand core pulses.

    Bridge Officer: To sustain current power levels with an expanded core radius, our generators might accidentally create a black hole or few.

    Ameryl: Then raise the thresholds! We don't need the anti-power to filter out every last turbolaser attack, our hull is all but impenetrable, that withered great wyrd's assault notwithstanding.

    The God-Killer Machine stops firing out focused beams of anti-power and instead its core brightens, as the black ring surrounding it is sheathed in anti-power. The Shard's attacks cannot penetrate the anti-power sheath, and it turns its attention away.

    Escorted by her fleet of hundreds of Cosmic Destructors, the
    Nullitynears the God-Killer Machine. The Cosmic Destructors open fire, but their dimension-destroying power is completely ineffectual, due to the sheath of anti-power around their target. The God-Killer Machine yaws, bringing the open ring to bear onto the Cosmic Destructors, and the anti-power waves pulsing from the Core ripple over them, disintegrating the terrible engines of death one after the other.

    Peasant Girl: Ameryl, how could you? My favorite toys!

    On the open bridge that is the entirety of the Nullity, the Gul Moff raises her hands towards the God-Killer Machine, and...

    Nothing happens. Nothing shoots out through space to spray the God-Killer Machine in death. Nothing threatens the God-Killer Machine's integrity.

    Fortunately, the God-Killer Machine's anti-power sheath can resist nothing. Peasant Girl doesn't let up, however, laughing maniacally as she fires less and less nothing.


    Ameryl: I'm sorry, Peasant Girl, but you started this. Helm, bring the core to bear on the Nullity.

    The God-Killer Machine rotates and yaws again, and the anti-power waves crash over the
    Nullity. Nothing happens. Peasant Girls hoots gleefully.

    Bridge Officer: Anti-power ineffective! What IS she?

    Ameryl: Interesting. Not a god at all. She has no power. Her power is nothing... A stalemate then. Ignore her, she is no threat to us as long as we maintain our sheath. Continue eliminating disruptive threats.

    ***

    Elsewhere in the battle, the Scion of Divinity - a ten-mile-long supercruiser of the High Empire - unleashes destruction against the God-Monarchs' fleet. Its heavy weapon turrets batter starfighters into oblivion, and its superlaser causes heavy damage to the nearest Cosmic Destructor.

    Captain Qemik: Repfac, replace the destroyed drones, on the double! Crystengineers, get on that hull breach! Focus power to forward shields! Reduce engine thrust!

    The navitatex commanding the warship fires off an unending stream of brisk orders, efficiently leading his crew through the battle as he wreaks havoc amongst enemy forces. His eyes flick regularly to the God-Killer Machine on one of his displays, and after one such flick, he issues a new order.

    Captain Qemik: Vault of Destiny, it is time. Highemperorspeed to you.

    Vault of Destiny Captain: Aye, aye, Navitatex. It is my honor to serve.

    The two-mile-long carrier Vault of Destiny hurtles towards the God-Killer Machine at full speed, its weaponry spewing plasma and its repfac bays trailing endless drones into space. Then it fulfills the fate for which it was named - by crashing into the God-Killer Machine.

    ***

    Bridge Officer: Hull breach!

    Ameryl: What? How?

    Bridge Officer: A High Imperial carrier rammed full-speed on the opposite side of the ring from us, tearing open a gash.

    Ameryl: Any vital systems damaged?

    By 'vital systems', it is understood that she means 'anti-power core systems'.

    Bridge Officer: Negative, ma'am.

    Ameryl: This foolish kamikaze tactic was only possible due to the thresholds being raised on the anti-power pulses. An unfortunate necessity for maintaining such an expanded core pulse. Redouble point defense weapons. Use mega-yield torpedoes to obliterate any other vessels attempting a kamikaze.

    Bridge Officer: Yes, ma'am.

    What the God-Killer Machine's sensors do not pick up is the assault transport hurtling through the hull breach made by the kamikaze carrier, even before the flames die down, taking advantage of that short window before the God-Killer Machine's defenses can redouble. The inner hulls of the God-Killer Machine, while sturdy indeed, aren't as nearly invulnerable as the outer black hull, and so the assault transport is able to latch onto it and bore through it with a crystalline drill.

    Captain Jo: Go, go, go!

    Men and women, of varying species and all wearing black and silver crystal armor, rush from the assault transport into the God-Killer Machine, wielding crystalline laser rifles. Their armor is marked with the insignia of a stylized cat's head, and they all look around, awed and nervous.

    Cuppa Joe: S-so p-p-p-pink!

    The coffee addict removes his helmet to take a sip from his crystal thermos, steadying himself. Indeed, the floor and ceiling are pink, and the walls resemble waterfalls, with sparkling liquid flowing down in a constant stream.

    Joe Joe Ma: It's so beautiful. Makes me want to compose a cello piece inspired by it.

    Captain Jo: Focus, Average Joe Squad! Our mission is to take the God-Killer Machine for our glorious Highemperor!

    The female captain leads the charge through the hallways, and Imperium soldiers soon meet them, resulting in deadly firefights. The Imperium soldiers are far better trained than the Average Joes - who only received basic boot camp, so that they would not lose their 'Average Joe' status and thus retain their immunity to the anti-power sheath that allowed them to board the God-Killer Machine - and the Joes die by the dozens. Fortunately, Captain Qemik and Proconsul Kim were able to find no shortage of average Joes in the Terminus systems (including the fiolxon of Coaleshion), and so the Joes keep coming, gradually working their way to the bridge.

    Captain Jo: Set a charge!

    There is some fumbling while the Joes struggle to remember who is the assigned demolitionist for this task, before one comes forward to plant a charge on the door. Shortly, a boom heralds the Joes pouring onto the bridge, to face an amused Ameryl.

    Ameryl: THIS is my onetime lover's answer to the God-Killer Machine? It's creative, I'll give it that.

    Cuppa Joe: G-g-give it up!

    He levels his shaking rifle at her. Ameryl laughs and gestures with her hands. The weapons of half of the Joes are ripped out of their hands and turn around to point at their previous owners. Before the Joes can so much as gulp in surprise, the guns fire, and the previous owners are dead.

    Joe Joe Ma: Magic user! We are so dead.

    In his panic, Joe Joe Ma reverts to his most basic instincts, and takes his cello from his back - he insisted on bringing it along on this mission - and starts bashing the floating guns with it, as the other Joes open fire on the sorceress.

    Ameryl holds up her hand, and the laser bolts deflect harmlessly off an invisible shield. With her other hand, she sends lightning forking into the Joes, sizzling several of them to a crisp.


    Captain Jo: Flank her!

    It takes several seconds and more encouragement from the captain, but the order does sink in, and the Joes start spreading out. Ameryl is smiling the whole time, completely in control.

    Captain Jo: Remember our mission!

    Ameryl's smile droops slightly, stopping just short of a frown. She does not like the undercurrent in that Average Joes' captain's tone.

    Ameryl: I think that's enough orders out of you.

    She clenches her fist, and the captain slumps lifelessly to the pink deck. Ameryl opens her mind to telepathically peek into the Joes' minds to see what they're planning--

    Joe Doe: FOR HIGHEMPEROR!!!

    The deer-anthromorph woman plunges a crystalline rod into one of the anti-power core's control panels. Sparks fly, and Joe Doe staggers back, before shrieking out her death cry as Ameryl fires a killing ray at her.

    The pulsing waves of anti-power from the core stutter for just a moment before resuming - and in that moment, the crystalline rod flares bright red, serving as a homing beacon for a teleport. Ameryl finally allows herself a glare as she beholds the new entity who has teleported onto the bridge of her God-Killer Machine.


    Chimaat: Hello, aunt.

  5. #125
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    Wizardess Duel

    Toaster cannons launch Toastinators - lethal liquid-metal androids formed from sentient toasters - through the gulf of space. The captains of High Empire ships glance at the onslaught of metal ballistics, and laugh - as if that sort of thing could penetrate their high-powered force fields or crystalline hulls!

    Then their ensigns report weakened hull integrity, followed by the Toastinators smashing through the somehow-brittle hulls and advancing inexorably through the corridors of the ships. Despite the extremely durable crystal armor of the soldiers, the Toastinators' ray guns are blessed by their goddess, and as such their lasers scorch through the High Imperial troops' armor. Whenever a Toastinator takes a shot, the liquid metal forming it quickly heals itself, with nary a pause in the android's stride.

    In her flagship, the
    Toastest with the Mostest, the toaster goddess Yannah grins as she finishes her chant. With dozens of enemy ships now weakened, her Toastinator armies would be able to board them in force.

    Yannah: Continue launching Toastinators. I have billions of them, and we shall not fail!

    A ten-mile-long High Empire battlecruiser streaks through space towards the Toastest with the Mostest, opening fire with its superlaser. Yannah raises her hand, and a glowing wall of green energy - in the vague semblance of a piece of toast - interposes itself between the superlaser and her flagship. The superlaser glances harmlessly off the divine barrier.

    The navitatex commanding the ship does not falter, and all weapons open up, at super charged strength, including the superlaser, in a barrage as impressive as few vessels can muster. It is all to no effect. Yannah raises her hands than brings them together in a great slap. In space, the High Imperial battleship is crunched into paste, as though by two invisible hands of unimaginable size.

    Yannah grins in triumph, then frowns as the battleship's personal time seems to reverse, as it begins uncrunching into undamaged state. At the same time, the Toastinators aboard a dozen of invaded High Imperial ships are frozen solid, their brittle forms shattered by the weaponry of High Imperial soldiers and infantry drones.

    The toaster goddess casts her sixth sight across the battlefield and sees, far behind enemy lines, the mage-sphere of X. It is, as the name implies, a spaceship with a spherical core formed from orichalcum, approximately the size of a three-story house such as might be found on Earth. Ornate decorative 'wing's fin the sides and back of the mage-sphere, all etched in arcane sigils. A large X-shaped window looks out the front, and through it the Powerplayer Deity known as X looks through her mask at the battle, standing in a ritual circle as she casts her own divine spellwork.

    X feels the toaster goddess's eyes upon her, and smiles tightly.


    X: Watch and learn from your betters, you oversized appliance.

    In response, Yannah conjures storms of crackling lightning, with rage through the battle, forks of energy striking only non-Mega-Jonestown-Prime targets. Whole squadrons of drones and starfighters are obliterated from single bolts, whereas great gashes are torn open in large cruisers and battlestations. The hide of a Cosmic Destructor is scored as well.

    X raises her arms and chants out esoteric syllables. Flaming meteors, each the size of the planetoid Ceres in the asteroid belt, rain from nowhere upon Mega Jonestown Prime and its fleet. The tough transparent material of the space city's dome resists most of the assault, but some of the meteors break through, smashing into grand buildings.

    Yannah casts a spell of her own, and suddenly every crystal appliance in Urbis Imperia that has any kind of slot or orifice begins spewing crystal toast from it, in bursts so powerful they rip through walls and bodies with ease. Chaos erupts amidst the citizenry, and from his balcony atop the Stronghold of Powerplayers, Highemp frowns.


    Highemp: Finish her quickly, X. The God-Monarchs don't care about their city beyond the sole purpose of their alliance, but I won't have this destruction in the safest city of the multiverse.

    X: But I like playing with my prey, and besides it's not like you can't instantly resurrect and repair everything.

    Highemp: It's a matter of principle.

    X: Fiiiiine. But if you want it that quick and decisive, I'll need to use the Tears of Purity.

    Highemp: Ugh, I JUST restocked those things after Carian used them on the Seven Sins of the Supreme Soulstice.

    X: You can 'punish' me later.

    Her sultry tone enlivens him.

    Highemp: Go ahead! Use them all if you like!

    Quincy: The most powerful man in all Forever...and yet so many women have you wrapped around their little fingers. And you wonder why I've never assumed a gender.

    Highemp: Hey now, what's the use of being all-powerful if you can't use it to bestow favors on those you love!

    Meanwhile, X performs a powerful ritual that consumes the sacred Tears of Purity. A giant globe of energy appears around the Toastest with the Mostest. Yannah frowns, but she is unable to break the globe, nor is she able to affect anything outside it.

    Then...the globe begins constricting. First the flagship's outer hull begins crumpling, then the whole ship begins to crunch and implode, despite Yannah's efforts to teleport away or dispel the magic. The crumpling ship can't hurt her, as the divine toaster is immune to normal pressures, but the globe exerts a pressure of a different, far greater kind, and Yannah gasps as life begins to choke out of her.

    Then a flaming comet - haloing the vengeful being within - smashes through the High Imperial battle lines and straight through the X-shaped window of X's mage-sphere. X is slammed back against the opposite wall by the force of the intrusion, and then a strong hand is lifting up by the scruff of her neck.


    Vedas Khaan: B*tch! It's time you got your due-- Oh, you're not that fool child. No matter, you all die anyway!

    Before he can clench his fist, X teleports away. Vedas frowns and reaches through the astral ether to snatch the thread of her teleportation signature pack. X cries out in surprise as she reappears in her damaged mage-sphere, falling to the deck.

    Vedas Khaan: You can't run from me. No one escapes the skrai's wrath!

    X backs up, hurling spell after spell at the frighteningly powerful man - if man such a monster can be called - who stalks towards her undeterred. A savage grin splits his face into a terrifying visage as she shrugs off every blast she throws at him.

    X: Help!

    Carian Myste: Don't mind if I do!

    The dapper young man steps out of the broken glass of the mage-sphere's window and doffs his hat. Vedas scowls.

    Vedas Khaan: Pretentious buffoon.

    He thrusts out his hand far more aggressively than is actually warranted for his abilities to work, and a coruscating death ray scorches the air between them. Carian vanishes in a puff of smoke and reappears behind him. Vedas whirls and grasps Carian by the throat, lifting up the young man.

    Vedas Khaan: And now you die.

    Carian Myste: You keep saying that. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    He opens his pocketwatch, and Vedas disappears, now scowling out at him from the mirror contained in the pocketwatch.

    X: Oh my Highemperor, thank Highemperor you arrived when you did.

    Carian Myste is begin with sweat with strain.

    Carian Myste: He's so powerful...I don't know how long I can cage him--

    The glass of the mirror shatters as Vedas Khaan erupts from it, howling in anger.

    Vedas Khaan: Fool boy! No one cages the skrai!

    X gestures with her staff, and great hands spring out of the floor to catch Vedas by the feet and ankles, holding him in place. He snarls and rips one foot away, but as soon as he sets it down to rip away the other one the hands grab him again.

    Carian twirls his cane, and suddenly twenty identical Carians appear surrounding Vedas, all stabbing at him with the swords in their canes. Vedas roars, but it is all rage and no pain.


    Vedas Khaan: ENOUGH!

    He makes no immediate apparent attack, and Carian and X pause expectantly. The former skrai only stares at them in malevolent triumph, and then the mage-sphere shakes as it is fired on by all the nearby High Imperial battleships.

    Carian Myste: What the devils?!

    X: Mass mind control! This was his most terrible weapon in the Only War!

    X and Carian work together to fight the mind control, attempting to return their allies to sanity, as the mage-sphere disintegrates around them, leaving them all in space. They are dodging the weapons blasts as they attempt to counteract the mind control. Vedas only laughs as stray bolts strike him that miss the other two.

    Carian Myste: We'll fix their minds later. Right now, Vedas is the problem!

    He unflects all the affected battleships into one of his mirrors, where they are contained and cannot harm anyone for the moment. No sooner has he done that than Vedas begins flinging death rays at them again. Carian and X block and dodge as many as they can, but they're getting battered.

    Aryst Omnistellae: Never fear, my friends!

    As he yells his battle cry, the powerplaying god Aryst zooms through the void to smash into Vedas. Even as beams of golden light lance from his eyes to strike Vedas in the face, Aryst pummels the former skrai with all his strength. Vedas grunts in irritation before recovering wits enough to land a punch directly in Aryst's midsection. The powerplayer deity is slammed back through the void against the hull of a High Imperial battleship.

    More High Imperial battleships have arrived, and are firing their weaponry at Vedas Khaan ineffectually. Vedas raises his hands and brings them together, and all the battleships nearby are smashed together - directly around Aryst. Explosions blind Carian and X for a moment, but Aryst emerges, the edges of his tunic singed but mostly unharmed. He is clearly winded however.

    Then he, Carian, and X are gripped in flaming light, paralyzed and pulled to Vedas. They struggle, yet they cannot so much as twitch a finger or use the smallest power.


    Vedas Khaan: I have only been toying with you. You do not have the ghost of a chance against real power.

    His proclamation breaks off into a choked gurgle, as a large shining blade erupts from his chest.

    Knightlord Thorn: Power, untempered by wisdom, is not real power.

    Vedas Khaan: You're dead, you fool--

    He is coughing up blood as he speaks, and his latest threat is cut off as Thorn twists his blade, ripping the first cry of pain from Vedas that he has yet uttered. Yet, with impossible strength, the former skrai whirls around - the motion ripping the blade's hilt out of Thorn's hands - and seizes Thorn's shoulders, despite the blade still protruding from his own chest.

    Then a beam of cosmically powerful energy disintegrates Vedas Khaan's head.

    Clear across the gulf of space, Neith Lieren lowers her bow. Zhuge, still sitting on his stool and puffing his pipe, raises an eyebrow but says nothing. Imeryn turns to the elfin God-Monarch, her voice calm.


    Imeryn: That was Vedas that you hit.

    Neith: I missed.

    Her tone is flat, leaving no doubt that - despite her statement - she fully intended to kill the weakened Vedas Khaan.

    Imeryn: It is no matter. I would have had to deal with him after our victory anyway. And he served his purpose. The powerplayers have been tired and weakened...

  6. #126
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    1,325

    Ameryl vs Chimaat

    Ameryl is flooded with emotions as she beholds her niece in person for the first time. She has many dossiers on Chimaat, and knows everything there is to be known about her - but she has never met her in person.

    She looks much like her father, Highemperor, and also like her mother Imeryn. Which means she looks a lot like Ameryl. A pang seizes Ameryl's heart. This might be how her own daughter might have looked, if things had been different.


    Ameryl: Clearly, your dossier needs to be updated.

    Chimaat smirks at the woman who resembles her mother so much.

    Chimaat: Can't remain a child forever. For billions of years perhaps, but not forever.

    Ameryl: Playtime is over then.

    Ameryl raises her hand and clenches her fist. Every last surviving Joe keels over, dead, their weapons clattering to the pink floor. Chimaat surveys them dispassionately.

    Chimaat: Daddy will want to resurrect them. And give them high honors.

    Ameryl raises her eyebrow.

    Ameryl: But you wouldn't want that?

    Chimaat shrugs.

    Chimaat: I don't care either way. People die all the time all throughout the multiverse, and you can't save them all - though Daddy tries. I limit my care and nurturing to turnips.

    Ameryl: Tell me then, niece - how do you expect this meeting to end?

    Chimaat flashes a winning smile at her.

    Chimaat: Not well.

    Ameryl snorts in humor.

    Ameryl: You expect to lose then?

    Chimaat: I don't expect to be defeated by you, no. But this war tears family from family...and it won't end well no matter what.

    Ameryl: A pessimistic outlook, but one that has served me quite well. Perhaps I can recruit you to the Imperium?

    Chimaat: Does the Imperium have a turnip insurance plan? Daddy invented one for the High Empire just for me. I remember Mama doing the same thing in Mega Jonestown Prime.

    Ameryl snorts, uncertain how seriously to take this enigma of a young woman.

    Ameryl: We could offer you so much more than turnips...but yes, if turnips are what you desire, those can be included.

    Chimaat: Sorry, Aunt, but Daddy wants this God-Killer Machine for himself. Honestly, he's bug-eyed jealous that he never thought of it himself.

    Ameryl: If you don't think this war will end well, then surely handing such a superweapon over to your tyrant of a father won't improve matters.

    Chimaat: Perhaps not. Regardless, this weapon is dangerous, and I won't allow it to rampage about unopposed.

    Ameryl raises her eyebrow in disbelief.

    Ameryl: Dangerous? Rampage? Whatever of those things the God-Killer Machine might do, it is far less than what its natural enemies do - your father and mother and their peons.

    Chimaat: Indeed, but the God-Killer Machine threatens my parents personally, though they believe themselves beyond its reach.

    Ameryl: Your parents are far more likely to be killed by each other than by my superweapon.

    Chimaat: Despite their feud, I don't believe that they truly wish to destroy each other. Daddy even believes he will be able to win her back.

    She shakes her head at her father's naivete. Ameryl snorts in astonishment.

    Chimaat: He even plans to win you back too. Did you know he has my cousin's soul?

    Ameryl starts.

    Ameryl: He WHAT?

    Chimaat: He had some epic journey to several different underworlds looking for it - or her, I suppose. It's an unborn fetal soul, but he nurtures and protects it, and plans to incubate and raise her with you once you've "returned to his side".

    Ameryl: If ever I doubted before the man was mad, I don't now.

    Chimaat giggles.

    Chimaat: Mad as a turnip! Gosh, this is so much fun, gossiping with family!

    Ameryl thinks of Chimaat's parents and many sisters, with whom she has doubtlessly had eons to gossip. Unlike Ameryl, who has had no family in a long time.

    Ameryl: A shame it has to end, my niece...but I will not let you take the God-Killer Machine.

    Chimaat gives her the sweetest, most adorable smile.

    Chimaat: I wasn't asking.

    Then both women are moving, hurling unbelievably powerful magicks at each other. Shields are raised and broken, rays are deflected and dodged. Ameryl is astonished by Chimaat's raw strength. The girl is the product of the two purportedly greatest powerplayers in the multiverse, after all, and is proving surprisingly resistant to all of Ameryl's spells.

    As powerful as Ameryl is, she is merely a sorceress who believes in Nothing - a powerful sorceress, but not on Imeryn's level, nor a potent believer on Mayamanu Nahda or Peasant Girl's level. She pulls a ring from her belt and twists it onto her finger. Holding that hand up before her, Chimaat's next assault shatters upon it.


    Chimaat: Oooh, that was a neat trick.

    Curious rather than afraid, Chimaat hurls several more attacks, in an experimental fashion. All of them break on the ring hand.

    Chimaat: That's anti-power, is it not?

    Ameryl favors her with a small smile.

    Ameryl: The spark with which the God-Killer Machine's core was ignited.

    The fight begins anew, and now they are on more even terms, neither able to overcome the other, Chimaat's greater magic and psychic strength countered by Ameryl's nullifying ring. Finally Chimaat stops and stands straight, no longer circling around each other. Ameryl pauses, wary.

    Chimaat: It seems we have a stalemate for the moment. I suppose Daddy will have to do without owning this superweapon.

    Ameryl: That is most likely for the best.

    Chimaat: Indeed. But we can't let you keep it either.

    Then power explodes from the young woman's body. Ameryl's ring nullifies its effect upon herself, but the black ring of the God-Killer Machine implodes. Its hull crumples as fire gutters through its innards. As it breaks apart, the anti-power core destabilizes, losing its perpetual state of anti-power generation. The eternally-dying god within the core, no longer held in stasis, is released to true death as a final terrific explosion consumes the God-Killer Machine.

    When it is over, Ameryl is still there, hovering in the void unharmed. Between her own magicks and the ring, she is very difficult to injure. She looks around, but Chimaat has already left the scene, returning to somewhere in the immense conflict before her vision.


    Ameryl: As long as I have this ring, the God-Killer Machine can be rebuilt. Surely you must know that...so why did you leave?

    Although Chimaat is nowhere around, the girl's psychic whisper startles her with its answer inside Ameryl's mind.

    Chimaat: Only you and Daddy can resolve the conflict between yourselves. Not I.

  7. #127
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    1,325

    Chaos

    Aryst Omnistellae and Din batter each other with blows and energy beams. Both are extremely powerful, but Din's prowess is hampered by the fact that her chaotic flux is as apt to flummox her as help her. Aryst begins gaining the upper hand, driving the golden goddess back despite her larger size.

    Din: PRETTY MAN FIGHT DIRTY!

    Aryst draws up short.

    Aryst: Wha-- Pretty? I'm handsome, dashing even! And I don't fight dirty, I am a fair and honorable combatant!

    Din opens her mouth in a wide yawning, spewing a torrent of mud all over Aryst's perfectly tailored outfit.

    Din: NOW PRETTY MAN FIGHT DIRTY!

    Aryst just gives her a disgusted look, and begins battering away.

    Aryst: Highemp has sired some pretty dumb broads, but this one takes the cake.

    Din: BROAD MEANS FAT! DIN NOT FAT! PRETTY MAN MEAN TO DIN!

    Aryst groans. Just then, Chimaat zooms by, ignoring the fight. Din espies her and calls out.

    Din: FUNNY TURNIP SISTER! DIN NEED HELP! FUNNY TURNIP SISTER HELP DIN!

    Chimaat turns her head to see the golden goddess. She remembers that, as a God-Monarch, she and Din struck up an odd friendship, marked as much by rivalry as grudging respect. Both were daughters - though Din not by blood - of Highemperor, and both desired a reckoning with him.

    Chimaat: I'm sorry, Din, but I cannot help. I should remind you, Aryst, that Daddy will not be pleased if any of his daughters are killed.

    Aryst: He can always resurrect her.

    Din looks confusedly at Chimaat, wondering why her 'funny turnip sister' is refusing to help. Then comprehension lights up her features.

    Din: OH! YOU BE FUNNY TURNIP SISTER'S EVIL TWIN! DIE EVIL TWIN!

    Chimaat effortlessly glides out of the path of Din's hurled axes, swords, and tables. Several battleships - both High Empire and Mega Jonestown Prime - are cloven in twain instead.

    Aryst: Hello, I'm still here. Don't forget about the champion of the Interdimensional Arena!

    Din is temporarily distracted from her assault on Chimaat's 'evil twin' by Aryst's renewed attacks, and she relents from attacking Chimaat.

    Din: EVIL TWIN IS STILL SISTER! DIN NOT HURT EVIL TWIN SISTER FOR NOW. BYE BYE!

    Din waves, and Chimaat waves back with a giggle before flying off to her next battle. Aryst rolls his eyes and slams back into the golden goddess, knocking whatever equivalent to 'wind' she has out of her.

    Some distance away, Dave has brought the remnant of the Ascension to Minos Mootchief, seeking the alitaur deity's aid in safeguarding it. Minos's horn is glowing brightly, as he infuses all of Mega Jonestown Prime's forces - from 'lowly' demigod supermage to God-Monarch - with extra strength and prowess, and he suddenly thrusts his arm out towards Din and Aryst.


    Minos Mootchief: The golden trickster is in jeopardy!

    Dave looks to see Din stumbling back under Aryst's blows. As wild as Din is, he sort of likes her. She's not pretentious or scheming or downright evil, like some of the God-Monarchs.

    Dave: Someone should help her!

    Minos Mootchief: How noble of you to offer! Truly, such honor and glory is the stuff of which your legends speak! Here! My noblest warrior will bear you - as no alitaur would bear any other - to aid her!

    Dave: What? Wait--

    Dave is plucked up by Minos's strong hand and placed astride an alitaur warrior, whose hooves thunder (somehow) across empty space, taking Dave towards Din. As soon as Dave comes within Din's proximity, his serendipity shores up her chaotic flux, causing her unstable aura to only help her, rather than stymy her.

    Aryst's eyes widen as he sees Dave.


    Aryst: Oh sh*te, it's Dave!

    Before he can say or do anything else, Din smacks him away with renewed vigor - and with a third arm, that happened to grow out of her side just now, with lots of bulky muscles intended for such a task. Aryst's eyes beam golden lasers back towards Din, whose skin suddenly gleams like a perfect mirror, reflecting Aryst's own attack back at him!

    Aryst loses ground even more rapidly than Din was before Dave's involvement, but he neither gives nor asks for quarter, trading blow for blow as best as he can. But Din and Dave are an incredible combination of power, and further bolstered by Minos's horn. Shortly Aryst is flung away through the void, injured and winded.

    The beholder deity Quincy interposes himself between Aryst and his attackers.


    Quincy: As great as recording this battle has been, I really can't let you kill him.

    Dave: Well, I don't know that I'm really the killing type--

    Din: DIN KILL PRETTY MAN!

    Quincy: No, Din won't.

    Din: DIN HUG PRETTY MAN THEN?

    Dave: Din, the, uh, pretty man and that many-eyed monster are trying to hurt our friends!

    Din: WRAAAAAA!!!!

    Din's form surges with anger, as golden power cascades from her. Quincy's 69 eyestalks rear up, and each eye, including his wide central one, charges up with a blinding glow. As Din slams into Quincy with all might, there is a brilliant flash and explosion as Dave shields his eyes--

    When it clears, only Quincy is there. The beholder deity is unharmed and apparently not even winded. Dave gasps in horror.


    Dave: You...you KILLED her!

    Quincy: Chaos can never be destroyed. Nor can it be tamed. Though Highemp's imminent ascension to omnipotence will change that.

    To Dave's relief, golden glitter appears from nowhere, swirling into an amorphous cloud that grows larger and larger from reforming into Din.

    Quincy: But it CAN be caged.

    The beholder deity's eyestalks light up again, and this time a box of transparent azure energy appears around Din, who batters ineffectually upon its walls. The box vanishes, teleported away to Urbis Imperia as a prisoner, then Quincy turns to Dave, who gulps.

    Quincy: You, however, I can destroy.

    The beholder deity's eyestalks charge up again, and Dave cringes back. He knows, beyond a sliver of a doubt, that his stupendous luck has finally met its match. Even he cannot pull a miraculous escape from Quincy's proclaimed doom. He closes his eyes.

    Chimaat: Quincy, be a dear and don't kill him.

    Dave opens his eyes to see the beholder's eyestalks glowing blindingly, stopping just short of unleashing death.

    Quincy: Dare I ask why?

    Chimaat: I fancy him.

    Quincy perks up with interest, as Dave goggles. Chimaat - a mixed-up time traveling Chimaat - had kissed him once before, so he knew she must have some feelings for him, but it was still surprising to hear it. Despite all the crazy things he constantly saw, Dave never got used to any of it, and was constantly being surprised.

    Quincy: Oh? And do you think you will consummate this fancying?

    Dave blushes as Chimaat laughs.

    Chimaat: Quincy, you KNOW Daddy will kill you if he ever catches you taping me or my sisters in flagrante delicto.

    Quincy: Fine, fine. Be a spoilsport. So, I have to ask - are you God-Monarch Chimaat, or Powerplayer Goddess Chimaat?

    Chimaat: Does it matter?

    Quincy: I suppose not. I'll have him delivered to your chambers, my dear.

    In an eyeblink, Dave is no longer surrounded by space and battle and flashing lasers. Instead, he is on a bed made up with a purple blanket and turnip-themed pillows. The room is lit by several carved turnip lanterns, which are similar to jack-o'-lanterns.

    Dave: Whew! I thought I was a goner for sure. Well, if there's no guards, maybe I can find a way out.

    He stands off the bed, and instantly all the turnip lanterns turn their carved faces to him. He gulps, and very carefully sits back down on the bed. The turnip lanterns seem to relax, and turn back to their initial facings.

    Dave: Well, I suppose being Chimaat's boy toy isn't all that bad...

  8. #128
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    1,325

    Tactics

    Aryst pummels Typhon, as the immense dragon's talons scratch his flesh. Golden light matches cosmic flame. The two combatants fight without mercy or quarter. The shockwaves of their hits ripple throughout space, slamming battleships of all four factions into each other, with explosive results. Both Aryst and Typhon are severely injured by this point - Typhon missing a wing from the God-Killer Machine before its destruction, Aryst wounded by Din before Quincy's intervention - and now their cataclysmic fight is draining the very life from them.

    Yet they fight on, determination and ambition and downright stubbornness driving them on. Knightlord Thorn attempts to approach to help his fellow Powerplayer, yet the shockwaves of the fight drive him back, impeding his progress.

    And just as he gets within range, the two finish each other off, attacking with their last breath, before the luster of their eyes goes out, and their ragged corpses hang in the void. Knightlord Thorn purses his lips, but he cannot afford to mourn. Aryst can be resurrected - as he is sure the enemy can resurrect Typhon - but it is no small feat to resurrect such a powerful being, and certainly not in mid-battle.

    He returns his attention to the grueling fight all around. More slag than intact ships fill the interdimensional gulf, yet the fleets of all four forces are still numerous, blocking the stars from sight. Mega Jonestown Prime's forces are making headway, scarcely ever losing any ground, and Thorn knows why.

    The horn of Mootchief Minos. The alitaur's empowered horn is channeling mystic energy to all his allies and their armies, filling them with strength and cunning and power. The battle has been too thick to approach him earlier, but now, with the enemy thinned, Thorn sees his opening.

    He hurtles through space, the point of his greatsword gleaming like a shooting star, and streaks directly towards Minos. The alitaur deftly sidesteps, but Thorn's initial purpose has been served - Minos's concentration has been broken, and the armies of Mega Jonestown Prime falter.


    Minos Mootchief: So, you call yourself Thorn, and wield a greatsword? Petty attempts to make up for the lack of such a grand horn as I possess!

    Thorn does not respond, all business, and swipes and darts at Minos, who prances around, blocking blows with his tough leathery forearm, heedless of the bloody gashes the blade opens on his flesh.

    Minos Mootchief: You fools have underestimated me. I am far more than "support"; my horn has been empowered with a million million tantric rituals!

    The unicornlike horn upon his forehead glimmers brightly, and the wounds on the alitaur's flesh close, as his forearms are sheathed in a hue of the same glimmer. Thorn's strikes now clang off those forearms with every block, but Thorn does not let up, his breathing steady and even as he continues the assault.

    From the balcony atop Mount Tall, Neith Lieren adds other Cosmic Destructor to her kill count. She has been sniping almost nonstop during the battle, and her every shot has counted, wreaking untold devastation among the foes they face. Now she sees Thorn attack Minos, and she frowns, the tactical realities all too apparent to her.


    Neith: The fool does not heed his danger. While he laughs in the face of his approaching death, our fleet dies, and Thorn will cut off his horn as soon as he gets an opening.

    Imeryn: Then you'd best take care of it, dear.

    Neith thinks that, were she the type to roll her eyes, she would roll them now. She says nothing, but vaults over the balcony rolling, leaping to a vantage point far below for a better angle, as she lines up her shot.

    Below, Thorn batters away Minos' arms, but the alitaur laughs, sheathing his vulnerable torso in more protective light. Thorn does not stab for his chest, however, but swings at his head--

    The zap of a laser lance morphed into a cosmic arrowhead knocks the greatsword from Thorn's hands, sending it spiraling end over end into the void, to cleave several ships into two. Thorn doesn't even have to look up to see who fired the shot, and reacts instantly, rolling away through the void and summoning his greatsword back to his hand just in time to avoid another shot, followed by deflecting a third with his greatsword.

    Minos looks up angrily at Neith.


    Minos Mootchief: I had it under control! I will not be shown up by a WOMAN!

    Neith says nothing, but thinks again that it's a good thing she doesn't roll her eyes, else she'd be doing it a lot today. She lines up another shot at Thorn, but holds her fire, as Minos charges Thorn, attempting to gore him with his horn.

    Thorn swings at the horn again, but Neith fires another shot, and Thorn deftly interrupts his attack to leap aside. The shot grazes Minos' shoulder, and he bellows in pain.


    Minos Mootchief: Fool woman! Watch where you aim!

    Neith: Watch your horn. That is what Thorn seeks.

    Minos's eyes widen as he circles around to face the powerplayer's next advance.

    Minos Mootchief: You would sever an alitaur's horn? What sort of monster are you?!

    Thorn makes no reply, and deflects another shot from Neith with his greatsword. He swings again at Minos, and the alitaur blocks with his glowing forearm, but Thorn's swing was a feint, and instead the arc of his swing brings it up to point at Neith. A great blast of power fires from the sword up to the elfin sniper, who leaps to the side.

    Thorn holds off Minos and fires more blasts at Neith simultaneously in the same swings as the alitaur advances on him. Neith doesn't dodge the last blast and instead fires one of her own laser arrows at it. The two rays cancel each other out, and before Thorn can swing his sword back up at her, she fires another laser arrow in rapid succession.

    Thorn grunts in pain, having not dodged well enough, a wound gouged into his side. Minos surges forward, seeing his opportunity, and uppercuts Thorn, who sails away from the force of the blow. Neith unleashes more of her cosmic arrows at the man, who has let go of his sword when he was uppercut away.

    But Thorn's true cunning surfaces as, instead of summoning his sword back to his hand, he summons
    himself to the sword, thus evading Neith's shots and appearing right next to Minos. The alitaur shouts in surprise--

    And then Thorn's greatsword clean slices off his horn.

    Minos bellows in excruciating pain, and the released magical energy explodes. Minos is consumed by it, and Thorn is slammed away into a hapless battleship, which does not survive the encounter. Neith's elfin eyes look unblinkingly into the light, waiting for it to clear so she can track Thorn again.

    He has teleported again, and she belatedly turns to the side to readjust her aim, as Thorn throws his sword at her. Wary of another teleportation trick like he did with Minos, Neith leaps aside and deftly grasps the hilt of the greatsword in mid-flight, to prevent Thorn from teleporting to it.

    Thorn has still teleported however, and appears beside her, knocking the bow from her hand. She whirls, brandishing his own sword against him, as he nocks one of her own cosmic arrows at her. They eye each other for a long moment, not moving.


    Neith: Trade?

    Knightlord Thorn: Trade.

    They deftly toss their weapons back to each other, and face off again...

  9. #129
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    1,325

    CATFIGHT (Even though it only involves one cat)

    The crystalline star galleon Highemp's My B*tch zooms through the void, its weaponry lay waste to all in its path. Its commander Archadmiral Lo allows herself a whoop of glee in between her barked orders - for the way to Urbis Imperia is open before her. All the fleets of the High Empire couldn't bar her from her prize; those that were in her way died, and those still behind her can't catch her before she claims her newest man-concubine, whom she sees watching from the tallest spire of the Stronghold of Powerplayers.

    Archadmiral Lo: Do you hear me, Highemp?! I'm coming for you!!

    A woman in a once-fine-but-now-tattered dress and face mask rises up before her, brandishing her staff.

    X: Like hell, kittycat. He's MINE.

    Lo barks a laugh as she allows her ship to slow down.

    Archadmiral Lo: If he were truly YOUR man, you wouldn't be sharing him, now would you? You're just one of his zillion sluts.

    X: He is the greatest man in all Existence and Anti-Existessence! No one woman is enough for the true measure of his virility!

    Archadmiral Lo: Damn, someone's got a creepy stalker crush.

    X: Says the pirate trying to kidnap him.

    Archadmiral Lo: Touche. RAMMING SPEED!

    The star galleon surges forward, its battering ram pointed directly at X, who meets its point with the head of her staff. The star galleon ripples with the force of the crash as it is stopped dead in its path. Its engines strain to push forward, and X huffs out her breath as she bars its path.

    Archadmiral Lo: Well, well, nice trick. But look who's focusing all her power on stopping this ship...when I can set this ship to autopilot and kill you while you're busy with it?

    Lo activates her jetpack and leaps up into the void to gain a better angle. Then she draws her Discharding-made flintlock pistol and fires. X darts out of the way, letting the Highemp's My B*tch--

    Archadmiral Lo: After I capture Highemp, I'm going after you next, CensorGod!

    --surge forward. With its engines at full power, and no hand on the helm to control it, the star galleon crashes into the gates of Urbis Imperia. Lo crows in delight at the shattered walls; while battered, her ship is still spaceworthy.

    Archadmiral Lo: Now to march in there and-- Whoa!

    She barely dodges as X fires a mystic bolt her way. Lo fires her pistol in response, and X deflects it with her staff. They swoop about, trading fire. X casts other spells in attempts to ensnare Lo, but Lo keeps pulling out gadgets to counter them: a compass that points to a seventeenth direction (which enables her to step out of an unbreakable net); a wind-up pistol-sized Death Star (which shears through the same constricting globe that killed Yannah); a clockwork parrot that spouts arcane gibberish in perfect anti-sync to X's spell chants, negating all her magic.

    Archadmiral Lo: Looks like I've got the upper hand now.

    X: Like hells. I'm a powerplayer - I don't NEED words to cast my spells!

    Archadmiral Lo: What, like Imeryn? I don't think she'll be pleased to know you're stealing her shtick-- whoa!

    She swoops to the side to avoid a barrage of deadly blasts. While X's ability to spellcast while silenced seems true, she is weary enough from her earlier battles that she can't cast anything too complex while silenced, mostly managing basic (but strong) force fields and mystic bolts.

    Lo fires all the remaining rounds in her pistol, then reloads it with special ammo found in a secret Omega Reich cache purportedly own by Jagisk Ttocks himself. Re-cocking her pistol and dodging more mystic bolts, Lo fires in rapid succession.

    Miniature versions of the Omega Reich's deadliest interdimensional missiles streak through space towards their target. X's eyes widen behind her mask, and she quickly destroys them with mystic bolts. These bullet-missiles are designed with such interception in mind, and explode when struck, their explosion still funneled to expand outward towards their intended target.


    X: Highemperor preserve me!

    She sheathes herself hurriedly in a mystic shell, and when the explosions clear, she finds herself unharmed.

    X: Whew--

    Then she vanishes screaming into the rift of nonreality, obliterated from existence by the hole that the Omega Reich bullet-missiles punctured in the universe around her.

    Lo blows a puff a smoke from her pistol and twirls it before holstering it again.


    Archadmiral Lo: Serves her right.
    Last edited by Al Ciao; 01-18-2017 at 11:53 PM.

  10. #130
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    1,325

    Mentors

    Lo has barely holstered her pistol where Carian Myste assails her, striking at her with his cane-sword.

    Carian Myste: Vile villainess! That was one of the Highemperor's true loves!

    Lo snorts as she dodges before pulling her own pirate sword to parry.

    Archadmiral Lo: Is that what you call them? They're just his squeezes, his favorite lays, that's all. Just like he's gonna be my favorite lay. At least for a week.

    Carian Myste: Witch! You shan't sully him with your whore body!

    Lo barks a laugh, highly amused, as she continues to parry, testing the young man's defenses with a feint here and there.

    Archadmiral Lo: Firstly, X was the witch, not me. Secondly, I don't think Highemp can be sullied any more than he already is - he's even more of a whore than *I* am--

    She stumbles back as Carian thrusts his sword forward in anger.

    Archadmiral Lo: Tsk. Such rude behavior.

    She flicks a switch on her sword, and lightning crackles along its edge. It is no ordinary electricity, but a perfectly preserved Alpha Reich motive arc, a relic taken from its astrolabes before that empire's ancient decline. Carian's sword shears off when next it strikes the crackling blade.

    Lo stabs forward triumphantly, but Carian leaps back and holds a mirror to her - then he pulls an exact duplicate of Lo's crackling pirate sword from the mirror. He immediately follows this with another mirror, pulling a second copy from that, now dual wielding against Lo. The pirate chief whistles, impressed.


    Archadmiral Lo: I have GOT to learn that trick.

    Despite her bravado, she is being pushed back by Carian's dual-wield assault, and zooms away on her jetpack to gain some room to breathe. So to speak. They are in outer space after all.

    She pulls her pistol again and fires more Omega Reich bullet-missiles at the young man. Carian whips out another mirror, and the bullet-missiles go through glassy surface as though it isn't there, appearing inside the mirror. Within the mirror, they explode, and the reflective surface turns matte black.


    Carian: Ugh. That was one of my favorite mirrors. The Baroness de Comte du Sifort always loved stripteasing for me in front of it.

    Archadmiral Lo: Another man-whore! No wonder you and he get along so well. Perhaps I'll take you into my harem as well, you've got a good look about you--

    She dodges more swings of Carian's copied swords, and pulls out more artifacts. Carian tosses smoke pellets at everything she throws at him, and the smoke engulfs said artifacts, obliterating them from existence.

    Carian Myste: No more games, witch.

    He pulls out another mirror, and stabs his swords through it. Lo chokes in pain, as the blades protrude out her gut. Struggling for breath as the world dims, she reaches for the rare Miracle-H3@1 pills in her belt, of which only one batch was ever manufactured.

    But it is too late, and the pills float from her lifeless hand. Carian lets go of the hilts of his copied swords, breathing heavily.


    Zhuge: Well, that was a tricky fight, wasn't it, lad?

    Carian whirls to see the bird-man reclining on his side on emptiness.

    Carian Myste: You! The apostate!

    Zhuge: Is that what your little powerplayer club calls me now? The one who quit your fool game?

    Carian Myste: Prepare to die!

    Zhuge: Really? And here I thought you had more honor than to attack someone who poses no threat.

    Carian eyes him warily.

    Carian Myste: You are still dangerous. You could reclaim your powerplaying mantle any time you chose.

    Zhuge: But I have not, and I will not. Aren't things much nicer this way?

    Carian Myste: What do you want?

    Zhuge: A quiet retirement.

    Carian just stares at him. Zhuge sighs.

    Zhuge: Failing that...it occurs to me that a strapping young lad like yourself may have been led astray by...misguided mentors.

    Carian Myste: Lies. Highemp is wise and good and powerful!

    Zhuge snorts indelicately, no mean feat with his beak.

    Zhuge: Seems to me his 'wisdom' has led him to this ruinous battle where the only outcome is death and more death.

    He sweeps his arm to indicate the devastation. Ships still spew laser fire at each other, Netherwyrms still belch netherflame, Cosmic Destructors still sear holes in reality - but the ruinous wreckage grows every larger, choking space.

    Carian Myste: Only because fools challenge his glorious and just rule! And when his plan is complete, he will ascend to true Godhood and set everything right! Death itself will turn back!

    Zhuge: Spoken like a true believer. You really believe he will do that?

    Carian Myste: Yes, he will.

    Zhuge: Won't.

    Carian frowns.

    Carian Myste: He will.

    Zhuge: Won't.

    Carian Myste: What are you saying? He will!

    Zhuge: Won't.

    Carian Myste: Will!

    Zhuge: Won't.

    Carian Myste: He will, and nothing you say can change that!

    Zhuge: Won't. You see? We can continue this cycle forever. That is the ruinous end of powerplayers, always trying to have the last word. But not everyone can have the last word. Not even one person can have the last word, because as long as life marches on, there will never be a last word.

    Carian Myste: You are a peddler of words then, a riddler. I would respect your wit if it didn't couch foolishness.

    Zhuge sighs.

    Zhuge: I had hoped to redeem you...hoped that not everyone in Highemp's circle was lost. Now it seems I shall have to correct you forcibly.

    Carian Myste: I know a threat when I see one!

    He conjures a mirror, and suddenly Zhuge vanishes, reappearing as his own reflection in the mirror.

    Zhuge (in mirror): A curious feat.

    Then the reflection vanishes. Carian blinks in surprise.

    Carian Myste: Where are you? Where did you go?

    Zhuge's voice drifts to him as from a great distance.

    Zhuge: In the reflected world, there is the other side of your mirror, looking out into the real world. I leapt into the reflection of the mirror's other side, and am now doubly reflected.

    His voice is fainter now.

    Zhuge: Triply reflected now. The more I do this, the more of me there will be when I emerge. You'll have to follow if you want to catch me!

    Carian furrows his brow, and with a scowl, he vanishes, only his reflection appearing in the mirror. Then his reflection vanishes.

    The mirror floats in space, heedless of all the laser discharges and bolts zipping about as armies fight on.

    Presently, Zhuge reappears. He takes the mirror and tucks it in his belt.


    Zhuge: Poor lad. Forever reflected back and forth between two mirrors in...what was it? The hundred and forty-eighth layer of reflection?

    Quincy: The boy was right. You are dangerous.

    Zhuge looks up to see the beholder deity descending from above, its eyestalks glowing with energy.

    Zhuge: Knowing that didn't save him, now did it? You know what would have saved him? Abandoning that foolish powerplaying you all practice.

    Quincy: He shall be restored, as all will be, when my old protégé ascends. But you have abandoned powerplaying...and it won't save you.

    His eyestalks beam forth powerful rays of deadly energy. Zhuge vanishes, and the beams shoot over the mirror that the bird-man's vanishment left behind, to destroy an entire flotilla of Mega Jonestown Prime, Imperium, and Pan Cosmic Command ships all dueling each other.

    Zhuge reflects himself back out of the mirror, to appear behind Quincy.


    Zhuge: Will.

    Quincy: Won't.

    More eye beams. Zhuge unflects back into the mirror, then shatters the mirror from within, reflecting himself back into as many multiples as there are mirror fragments.

    Zhuge: Will.

    Quincy's eyebeams strike all the mirror fragments simultaneously. The Zhuge reflections wink out.

    Quincy: Won't.

    Zhuge reappears directly in front of Quincy's large central eye.

    Zhuge: Will.

    Quincy: Won't.

    Quincy focuses all his eyebeams onto the bird-man, locking onto his unique interdimensional signature, so that they will strike Zhuge no matter where he tries to go to avoid the attack. Zhuge stares unblinkingly into the deadly rays washing over him.

    Zhuge: Will.

    There is a ghost of a smile on the bird-man's face now.

    Zhuge: I can do this all day.

    Quincy: You fancy yourself the untouchable old wise man - but I too am ancient and cunning.

    Zhuge: Yet you have not admitted the foolishness of powerplaying, as I have.

    Quincy gives him a malevolent grin full of sharp teeth.

    Quincy: And yet, I will win.

    His single large eye bores into Zhuge's eyes, and the bird-man is swept up in that cyclopean gaze, unable to think or say anything, or to deny the beholder deity's will. The eyestalks charge up again, and Zhuge's conviction reasserts itself.

    Zhuge: Won't!

    The eyebeams glance harmlessly again off the bird-man. Quincy is unperturbed.

    Quincy: For now, not yet. But you almost gave in. You almost lost to my superior will. I am as old and as cunning as you, but backed also by the powerplaying you disdain. Eventually, I will defeat you.

    Zhuge cocks his head.

    Zhuge: Even if I allowed that as a possibility...

    There is a ghost of a whisper into Quincy's side.

    Zhuge: Can you defeat BOTH of us?

    Quincy screams in agony as the Shard's ethereal talons pass through his flesh. No physical wound is made, but the powerplayer is rent by existential agony. His eyestalks blaze with new power, surging forth to strike The Shard. Holes appear in the husk's apparitional form, but it raises his claws again.

    Zhuge: No. You cannot.

    Quincy: Can!

    It fires its eyebeams at the Shard again.

    Zhuge: Cannot.

    Quincy: Can!

    Zhuge: Cannot.

    Quincy: Can-------!!!

    Quincy's last declaration is cut off as the Shard's ghostly hand enfolds his body, before closing around it like a fist. Its intangible fingers pass through his body as the fist is made, and Quincy's life is clenched out of him, unable to beat off the shard while also parrying Zhuge's willpower.

    Zhuge: That was most satisfying. Well done, my good Shard.

    The Shard makes no reply, and slowly turns in the void. Where its gaze passes, High Imperial ships are set ablaze. Zhuge turns to see what the Shard is looking at when its swivel stops.

    Zhuge: Ah. Well, I'm sure you can handle that. It's nothing, really.

    He vanishes. The Shard does not seem perturbed by its ally's disappearance, as it dispassionately watches the Nullity zoom through space towards it, helmed by Peasant Girl.

    Peasant Girl: So, you're not really there, eh?

    She grins malevolently.

    Peasant Girl: Guess what? My power isn't really there, either.

    She splays her hands in the Shard's direction, as the Shard raises its ethereal hand in kind. Nonexistent and annulled power blasts Peasant Girl, while nothing assails the Shard.

    Then, the Shard makes the only sound it has made in eons. But the sound doesn't exist.


    The Shard: .....

    Then it is gone, utterly reduced to Nothing.

  11. #131
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    1,325

    Chimaat

    Two identical young women streak through space, obliterating entire swaths of opposing forces at once. Across the gulf between them, their eyes glance each other's way every so often, and finally their eyes meet at the same time. They nod, and in two identically sparkling teleports - complete with a BAMF and the smell of turnips - they appear in front of each other, in the exact center of the interdimensional rift between Mega Jonestown Prime and Urbis Imperia.

    Chimaat: Hi there!

    Chimaat: Hey Evil Twin!

    Chimaat: I thought you were the evil twin.

    Chimaat: Am I? Perhaps I am. I get so mixed up.

    Chimaat: Din called one of us the evil twin anyway.

    Chimaat: But since we're the same, that means we're BOTH the evil twin!

    Both girls giggle hysterically, privy to inside jokes that only they/she know(s). Then their laughing fit subsides, their expressions serious, as they size each other up. Each one remembers this conflict from the other's point of view. Each one counters what she remembers with a different move, thus altering the other's memory, who then moves to counter that, altering the first one's memory, in an ever-changing cycle.

    Magic is cast more rapidly than the eye can follow, the girls zipping about in dizzying patterns as they seek to gain advantage over the other, but neither ever landing a blow. After only ten seconds - in which trillions of different powers were employed at incredible speed - they stop, facing each other again.


    Chimaat: Now I remember.

    Chimaat: We both remember each other.

    Chimaat: So neither of us can win!

    Chimaat: That also means neither of us can lose!

    They giggle hysterically again, before sobering.

    Chimaat: I suppose there's no point to this.

    Chimaat: Right. We should just skip this bit.

    Chimaat: And each go on to Mama and Daddy.

    Chimaat: I remember how it goes with Mama.

    Chimaat: And I remember how it goes with Daddy.

    Chimaat and Chimaat: Good luck!

    They laugh again, and hug each other tightly. Contrary to all popular Terran films, the space/time continuum does not unravel.

    A relatively short distance away, Knightlord Thorn and Neith Lieren pass by, zipping through the void as they combat each other, sword and bow, mind and body, tactics and strategy. Normally Thorn would be more than a match for the elfin Void Ranger, but with Thorn's wounds Neith is able to keep up with him blow for blow, parry for parry.

    Chimaat and Chimaat look at each other.


    Chimaat: Well, it's my job to destroy him.

    Chimaat: And mine to destroy her.

    Chimaat: We could try to stop each other.

    Chimaat: But then we'd stalemate again, and never get to Mama and Daddy.

    Chimaat: Ugh, this stupid war.

    Chimaat: We know. But it has to happen.

    Chimaat: It must be done.

    Chimaat: On the count of ten?

    Chimaat: One...

    Chimaat: Twelve...

    Chimaat: Tau...

    Chimaat: Negative 1,273 to the Yth power...

    Chimaat: TEN!

    Both girls turn and fire ferocious blasts of coruscating light from their hands. Thorn and Neith are engulfed, and utterly consumed. Chimaat and Chimaat nod, then fly past each other.

    God-Monarch Chimaat flies up to her father on the highest battlements of the tallest spire in the Stronghold of Powerplayers.


    God-Monarch Chimaat: Daddy.

    Highemperor: Chimaat, love.

    God-Monarch Chimaat: You know why I'm here.

    Highemp smiles indulgently.

    Highemperor: Surely you remember what I'm going to accomplish. You even helped accomplish it, by gathering all that power on Earth for Mega Jonestown Prime to use!

    God-Monarch Chimaat: This doesn't have to happen, Daddy. You can end the fight, walk away, and enjoy your harem forever.

    Highemp's eyes brighten, evidently remembering his pre-battle orgy the previous night.

    Highemperor: A lovely thought! And of course, I shall do exactly that - after I ascend to true Godhood over Forever and fill everyone and everything with utter eternal joy.

    God-Monarch Chimaat: No, Daddy. Stop the battle. You don't need true Godhood to be forever happy with your harem, do you?

    Highemp eyes her shrewdly.

    Highemperor: Do you remember something about how this turns out?

    God-Monarch Chimaat: I can't, Daddy. Not for sure. It's all vague and hazy. But I know it does not end well.

    Highemperor: None of my divinations have seen that. Even if something were to happen, you know how powerful I am. Powerful enough to change destiny!

    God-Monarch Chimaat: If you refuse to stop the battle, Daddy, I'll have to fight you.

    Highemp snorts in amusement.

    Highemperor: Don't be ridiculous, honey. I would never fight you.

    God-Monarch Chimaat: You will have to. The only way I will stand down is if you do. If you stand down from this entire terrible war.

    Highemperor: Chimaat--

    But his daughter is already hurling bolts of power at him.

    Far away, Powerplayer Goddess Chimaat flies up to the balcony on which Imeryn still stands, gazing out at the battle.


    Powerplayer Goddess Chimaat: Mama.

    Imeryn: Chimaat, darling! Come enjoy the view!

    Powerplayer Goddess Chimaat: You know I'm the other Chimaat.

    Imeryn: Of course I do. Now come, sit. Look at this wonderful battle. Your father's lackeys deposed, my own onetime allies defanged before they could rise against me. It's so very perfect. Soon Highemp will be weakened enough to be no match for me!

    Powerplayer Goddess Chimaat: I can't let you do that, Mama.

    Imeryn: Don't be ridiculous, dear. Your good-for-nothing father abandoned the both of us. It's only right that he be brought to heel and held to account.

    Powerplayer Goddess Chimaat: No, Mama. Your bitterness precipitated this entire thing. All this death. End it. Either go back to him or leave him forever.

    Imeryn: And I suppose you're telling your father the same thing now?

    Powerplayer Goddess Chimaat nods.

    Imeryn: Well, aren't you a scamp. You shouldn't be lecturing to ME, young lady.

    Powerplayer Goddess Chimaat forbears to remind her mother that she is several billion years older than Imeryn now.

    Imeryn: Now be a good dear, and. Take. A. Seat.

    Powerplayer Goddess Chimaat: No, Mama. I won't let you do this.

    Imeryn: Then you must be brought to heel as well.

    She lashes out with mystic power, and Powerplayer Goddess raises a shield before retorting with her own abilities...

    In the end, there can be no victor to such a contest. Parents against daughter(s); such a fight can never be a victory unless it is never fought at all. One doubly-present time-muddled daughter trying to make her obsessed parents see reason.

    In the end, Chimaat has more potential power than her mother, but it has not developed yet, and perhaps even if it had it would not have matter, for Imeryn is in the heart of a narrative locus.

    In the end, Chimaat could not defeat her father, even with him holding back.

    In the end, Imeryn sits on her balcony still, with a senseless Chimaat in the chair next to her, as she gazes out across the gulf to see her former husband atop his own battlement.

    In the end, Highemp cradles his senseless daughter in his arms, staring out across the battle-torn void at his former wife, and blaming her for this.

    In the end, nobody wins.

  12. #132
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    1,325

    The Secret to Highemperor's Supremacy

    On the balcony at the top of the tallest spire of the Stronghold of Powerplayers, Highemp stands alone. Nearly alone. But he might as well be fully alone, for the only other person here is slumbering in his arms.

    He hears her snores, and is poignantly reminded of her youth, when he sang her sleep every night. But his eyes are locked on the distant figure of Imeryn in the distance, who is calmly sipping some beverage from her own balcony. His eyes crackle with power, and hundreds of battleships in the void gulf below - from Pan Cosmic Command, Imperium, and Mega Jonestown Prime - disintegrate, utterly atomized into their quantum constituents.


    Zhuge: Not what you expected?

    Highemp: This is NOT a good time, old man.

    Zhuge: I did warn you, you know.

    Highemp barks a chuckle, but does not tear his eyes away from Imeryn's distant figure.

    Highemp: And you are still wrong.

    Zhuge: Am I? Oh, is that because you will magically fix everything with all your powerplaying?

    The ghost of a smirk flitting across Highemp's face is the bird-man's only answer.

    Zhuge: Still so confident, are you? Even in the midst of ruin? Oh, I forgot, you're not JUST a powergamer, you're a Mary Sue as well. This is your moment of tragic pathos, yes? How do you like it?

    Highemp: You should go, before I decide not to let you go.

    Zhuge laughs.

    Zhuge: Now we're playing the noble card. The tragic hero, still good and honorable enough to show mercy in the depths of his sorrow.

    Highemp: You think I can't beat you now. You are wrong.

    Zhuge: Right.

    Highemp: Wrong.

    Zhuge: Right.

    Highemp: Wrong.

    Zhuge: Wrong.

    Highemp: Righ-- Hey wait a minute!

    Zhuge laughs again.

    Zhuge: Too focused on your drama to notice a juvenile trick, eh? Proves that I am right.

    Highemp: Wrong.

    Zhuge: Right.

    Highemp: Wrong.

    Zhuge: Right.

    Highemp: Wrong.

    Zhuge almost pauses in his countering reply. Highemp is showing rather more patience in this game than he has before.

    Zhuge: Right.

    Highemp: Do you know why you are wrong, old man?

    Zhuge: My ears are all aquiver.

    Highemp: There is one strength more important than any other, for a powerplayer. A strength that you do not have. A strength that I alone, among all the powerplayers in all of Forever, have.

    Zhuge: Will it help if I say I don't care to listen to this foolishness?

    Highemp turns his head to lock gazes fiercely with Zhuge.

    Highemp: I have a real Writer using me as his avatar.

    Then the old bird-man is gone. Highemp looks fondly down at his sleeping daughter, then fixes his gaze once more upon the distant Imeryn.

  13. #133
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    1,325

    Girl Talk

    Without Minos' horn to bolster her own forces or the God-Killer Machine keeping balance to both sides, the High Empire is pushing Imeryn's fleet back. Mega Jonestown Prime, while large and powerful, does not have the multiverse-spanning empire that Highemp does, and furthermore, he is launching his assault from the very heart of his domain, where his forces are strongest and most numerous.

    Imeryn is calmly sipping hot cocoa, however. She is not attached to Mega Jonestown Prime after all. It has always only ever been a means to an end. A rustle of motion signals someone landing on the balcony beside her.


    Ameryl: How curious. None of your sentries attempted to shoot me down as I approached. Perhaps they think I am you.

    Imeryn: Hello, dear sister. I suppose the technical terms of your exile forbid you only from our home galaxy, so I will allow this brief visit to my new home.

    Ameryl knows the remark is designed to incite ire from her, but she is too weary of the old conflict, the old hates. She has moved on long ago, yet the past keeps coming back to haunt her.

    Ameryl: Your daughter doesn't seem a bad sort. I hope you haven't... disciplined...her too harshly.

    Imeryn chortles.

    Imeryn: She is a fine sort, despite her rebellious streak. Don't be thinking of trying to steal her now. You had your chance, and you offed it of your own volition.

    Ameryl's gaze grows dark despite herself, but she successfully bites off a scathing reply. Her sister is only baiting her.

    Peasant Girl: Well, she is a pretty young lady! Look at her, so cute in her sleep! One would certainly hope that nothing happens to her.

    Imeryn takes another sip of her cocoa before setting the mug down.

    Imeryn: Hello, my darling consort. Do be polite, and leave Chimaat out of our...discourse.

    Peasant Girl erupts in peals of laughter.

    Peasant Girl: You're ever so proper, my once and never queen. Very well, I will not accost her until you are no longer around to miss her.

    Imeryn smiles tightly, and stands up. The three powerful women regard each other one final time.

    And then they fight.

    Peasant Girl's channeled Nothing shatters on Ameryl's anti-power ring and is absorbed harmlessly by Imeryn's invulnerability. Ameryl's spells are swallowed by Peasant Girl's Nothing and glance off Imeryn ineffectually. Imeryn's powers likewise shatter on Ameryl's anti-power ring, but they possess just enough force to knock Peasant Girl back slightly even though her Nothing shield.


    Peasant Girl: Well, that just isn't fair.

    Imeryn: You were born a peasant. Leave the warring to your betters.

    Ameryl: You are no better than she. And I have not been royalty for a long time.

    Imeryn: Such backtalk. There was a time when you did everything I told you.

    Ameryl: We were children then. I looked up to once upon a time.

    Imeryn: Does your little bauble give you brashness enough to defy me? Tell me, dear sister, do you really think that tiny spark of anti-power is enough to protect all there is of you?

    Power lashes at Ameryl from all sides, and she cannot deflect it all fast enough with her ring, grunting as she takes damage.

    Peasant Girl: Whoa, Ameryl's mine to punish!

    Imeryn: Yours? Whatever did she do to you?

    Peasant Girl: We met again, after I left you. We rekindled our passion...and then she rejected me!

    Imeryn: Ameryl dear, you astonish me.

    Ameryl: I was moving on. Despite a moment of weakness.

    Imeryn's eyes harden, but before she can attack Ameryl again, Peasant Girl strikes the God-Monarch with more channeled Nothing. The battle blazes up anew, the three women hurling challenges and bolts alike at each other, whirling around in the air until they rise high above Mount Tall, with the grand palace of the God-Monarchs below them.

    In their battle, they don't at first notice the new arrival.


    Highemp: Hello, darlings. I see you've started without me.

    All three women whirl to face him. He has arrived in his greatest state of grandeur: glowing, with accompanying music and wind gusting his cloak behind him.

    Peasant Girl: Such an entrance. My heart is all aflutter.

    Her words are mocking, an echo of the time when her world was much smaller, and she was easily impressed.

    Imeryn: Dear, you're late.

    Highemp: Traffic was terrible.

    Behind him is the wreckage of millions of starships, from all four factions. Only a few stragglers, of any loyalty, survive, limping through space and nursing their wounds.

    Ameryl: You three are terrible. All this senseless death and destruction, all wrought by your obsessive refusal to let go of the past...and you banter?

    Highemp swivels his gaze to her, and anger flares up in his eyes.

    Highemp: If you want to be serious...let's start by pointing out that, with Kimleigh's death, that's TWO of my daughters you've murdered now.

    Ameryl's eyes blaze with old sorrow and regret, and new anger that Highemp would use this against her.

    Ameryl: You left me no choice! I was alone! I was--

    Peasant Girl: Looks like someone hit a nerve!

    Peasant Girl's statement is delivered in a singsong tone, and Ameryl bites off her words, assuming control of herself once more.

    Imeryn: This reunion is lovely and all, but first, I have a welcome-home present for you, Highemp, love.

    Highemp: Do tell.

    Imeryn's eyes blaze white and her hair blows in an unfelt wind. In thirteen pops of displaced air, the hedrons appear below them, salt water sprinkling from them down to Mega Jonestown Prime below. On Earth, the hurricane above the Pacific Ocean dissipates almost instantly, the disruption from the hedrons gone now that the hedrons themselves are teleported away at Imeryn's call.

    Imeryn: DOMINATION!

    Power shoots up from Mega Jonestown Prime below into the thirteen hedrons, and through the hedrons up into Imeryn. Imeryn thrusts her hands out into joined fists before her, towards Highemperor, and all that gathered, concentrated power slashes through the air to her onetime love.

    Highemp: Is that what that is? It tickles.

    Imeryn frowns at the lack of effect on Highemp, who chuckles before continuing.

    Highemp: Did you ever think I would allow my hedrons ever to be used against me? Yes, there were safeguards that a powerplayer could get past, but there other hidden protections: my very will, laced into their framework.

    Ameryl can't help but roll her eyes at all these convoluted mechanisms employed by her sister and onetime lover.

    Highemp: You did exactly what I knew you would. You - and Chimaat - are cut from the same cloth I am, after all. I taught you everything you know about powerplaying. You gathered all that power, all those artifacts, and concentrated it together. Just as I wanted.

    Peasant Girl: Nothing does not bore me, but this rambling prattle certainly does!

    Imeryn: Agreed. Sister, my queen consort, let us unite to take down this false man who names himself Highemperor!

    Peasant Girl: Ooh! A team-up! Sounds wicked fun!

    Ameryl silently concedes that Highemp is likely the most dangerous of her three adversaries, and accepts the temporary truce against him with a nod.

    Then all three launch onslaughts of energy and power and spellwork - even anti-power from Ameryl's ring - at him. He resists it easily - at first. Bringing his own power to bear, he retaliates in kind.

    But the three women are united in their defiance of him, and are all perhaps the most powerful being he has ever faced. Slowly Highemp is wearied, and pushed back. He growls and thrusts back, the force of his power rocking the three women in its gale.

    They redouble their assault, striking blow after blow on his body and spirit and finally, with a simultaneous employment of their greatest powers, break through his barriers and send him sprawling through the air.


    Imeryn: I told you would bow to me.

    Ameryl: I did not want this. But there is no other way.

    Peasant Girl: Nothing pleases me more than this!

  14. #134
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    Happy Ending

    In Chimaat's chambers in the Stronghold of Powerplayers, Dave has made friends with the turnip jack-o'-lanterns and is currently playing pattycake with one, when Chimaat walks in.

    Then Chimaat walks in again.

    Dave does a double-take, and finally accepts that there are two identically gorgeous young woman in the room with him.


    Dave: Er...hello!

    Chimaat & Chimaat: Hi, Dave!

    Their faces light up in identically glad expressions to see him.

    Chimaat: Glad to see Quincy kept his word?

    Chimaat: You put Quincy up to this? You know he's probably put cameras in here then.

    Chimaat: Probably, but everything's ending, so no one will ever get to see the tapes.

    Dave: Whoa, wait, what? Ending? What's happening out there?

    Chimaat and Chimaat's faces darken slightly.

    Chimaat & Chimaat: Almost nothing, anymore. Nearly everyone is dead, everything destroyed. My parents fight on, and I know things won't last much longer

    Dave: I know it's horrible, but it can't be THAT bad. They aren't actually making the whole world end?

    Chimaat & Chimaat giggle hysterically, as if sharing some inside joke impossible for anyone else to know.

    Chimaat: No, silly! The whole world will keep marching for a while. But the story is ending.

    Dave: Uh, it is?

    The two Chimaats nod soberly.

    Chimaat: Yes, and it will not end well.

    Dave: Oh. That's, uh, that's too bad.

    Chimaat: But!

    Chimaat: We at least can have a happy ending!

    Chimaat: The three of us! Or two of us.

    Chimaat: Depending on how you count me.

    Dave: How can we have a happy-- OHHHHH!

    His face lights up in comprehension - and an extremely broad smile - as both Chimaats begin shucking their clothes.

    Chimaat: I'm not a masseuse, but I hope I'm still allowed to give you a... happy ending.

    Dave: Oh, definitely-- wait, what's that?

    Chimaat: Oh, those are our chastity belts. Daddy went on a blue streak a little while ago, made us all put these on.

    Chimaat: Doesn't matter now though. We're through listening to him.

    They undo their chastity belts, treating Dave to twin sights of heaven.

    And so, for them at least, the story ends very,
    very happily.

  15. #135
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    Highemperor's Grand Finale

    Highemperor's eyes blaze pure white with indignation as his enemies surround him.

    Highemp: So it takes all of you, united, to even stand a chance against me?!

    Imeryn: A united front can defeat anyone, no matter how powerful. Minos taught me that. And don't think this means it's over between us, dear sister.

    Ameryl's eyes are clouded with old sorrow, but she keeps her expression neutral.

    Ameryl: You brought this on yourself, Highemp. Your own blithe arrogance.

    Peasant Girl: Yet all of it came to nothing.

    Even Ameryl has to suppress a shudder at Peasant Girl's tone. Gone is the sweet girl she once knew; in her place a terrifying zealot.

    Highemp: Everyone WILL bow before me. And you all WILL love me again!

    He outstretches his arms, and lightning crackles around him. Ominous epic music plays. Beneath them, the 13 hedrons crackle with the same white lightning, the usually-green glyphs upon their surfaces scrolling in brilliant gold as the hedrons themselves turn to clear iridescent crystal.

    Highemp: You all played right into my hands! All that narrative potential! All that emotion and passion! The passion of those who have loved me like no other and who have affected the multiverse like none other! All MINE!

    Highemp claims all the narrative energy and gathered power, and begins channeling it through himself - to fill himself with eternal, ultimate supremacy, a true Godhood which none can gainsay, to fill all Forever with unending and total happiness. All three women are shielding their eyes, and they can feel the overwhelming power surging from their onetime lover. Ameryl's voice is still soft, however.

    Ameryl: You have still learned nothing. This will not end well for you - for any of us.

    High Imp: I tend to agree.

    Everyone's heads whip around to regard the archfiend, who has appeared among them.

    Highemp: You have no place here, old friend. Your pacts are with beings lesser than my lovers here--

    Imeryn: Oy! FORMER lovers!

    Highemp: --and I have resurrected Alole, who is by my side in Urbis Imperia, negating the very reason for your ultimate hatred.

    High Imp: I have been a demon for a very long time, and there is nothing left of love in me...only everlasting hatred.

    Ameryl: Speak your purpose, demon.

    High Imp: I believe we have a...mutual acquaintance.

    And before them appears a terrible creature. Its limbs are thick and longer than its legs, and it hunches over, supported by hands and feet alike. Gnarled talons sprout from its emaciated fingers and toes. Spikes and ridges emerge haphazardly from its flesh.

    Most terrible of all are its four heads, each snapping and biting at the others. For each of the four faces is a terrible mockery of one of the four lovers: Highemp, Imeryn, Ameryl, and Peasant Girl.


    Peasant Girl: ...Galatea?

    The Gul Moff's voice cracks as something touches her heart for the first time in eons.

    Imeryn: What have you done to her?!

    The faces of all four former lovers are united in horror as they behold what was once Galatea, the product of their mingled emotions and desires.

    High Imp: Only unleashed what was already inside her. What all of YOU put inside her. She agreed to this, you know. Even paid the price willingly - which was to love me for a night. She didn't enjoy it, not at first - but by the end, she was begging me to keep going.

    Highemp and the three women's faces have gone white.

    High Imp: Now she is no longer a beauty, she is the Beast that you have made yourselves. Dear, what is it you WANT from these four omnipotent deities?

    The Beast's four heads suddenly stop snapping and biting at each other to fix on the four former lovers, and all four mouths open up in a howl.

    Beast: ....STAY....WITH....ME....

    Her mouths grow infinitely large, and everything falls within them as space and time distend...

    Everything goes black for an eternal instant, and then the world is red. In crimson skies, the universes orbit around them like planets, and they are in a mashed amalgamation of Urbis Imperia and Mega Jonestown Prime. Terror and shock ripple through the populace, as demigod supermages and powerplayers began fighting each other madly in the streets.

    The Stronghold of Powerplayers now sits atop Mount Tall, and atop the tallest tower, in the throne room whose roof is now torn off and open to the scarlet sky, the four lovers and High Imp stand alone.


    Ameryl: What. The. Hells!

    Highemp: It's a time lock, one of staggering scale and unfathomable power. A zero hour...the entire multiverse, all of its time and space compressed into this too-small space.

    Imeryn: How did you do this, fiend?!

    High Imp has a cunning smirk on his face.

    High Imp: I did not. Your darling Beast did. She wants the four of you to stay together forever...and now, you will. She has the powers of all four of you, four of the greatest deities in all the cosmos that ever were.

    Despite her horror at this prospect, larger concerns rise to the fore of Ameryl's mind.

    Ameryl: But she has trapped the entire multiverse with us!

    High Imp: Apparently the proximity of all that narrative energy in those hedrons gave her a bit of a supercharge. I doubt the multiverse will survive long in such a confined space.

    Peasant Girl: You don't seem too upset about this.

    High Imp: I care not for my own fate any longer, save that Highemp suffers the destiny that he so richly deserves.

    In two long strides, Highemp has stalked over to his onetime nemesis and lifts him up bodily with a hand on his throat. High Imp gurgles out choked mocking laughter, only malicious glee in his eyes. The powerplayer squeezes his hand with a sickening crunch, and tosses the fiend's corpse aside.

    Imeryn: That's one less fool, but it doesn't help our situation any.

    Peasant Girl: Why should we 'fix' this? If the multiverse dies, then it becomes Nothing. A grand elegance, I think.

    Highemp: It will not be nothing. It will be a chaotic maelstrom of matter, energy, time, and space, the crunched ruins of the dissolved multiverse, with us living forever, trapped at its center.

    Ameryl: Then it is up to the four of us to unite, a final time, to set things right, if it was from the four of us that the Beast took her powers and her motives.

    She eyes Highemp askance.

    Ameryl: Unless you still think your vaunted 'narrative potential' can do things on its own.

    Highemp scowls.

    Imeryn: I think *I* shall claim that narrative potential for my own, Highemp, dear! So good of you to set those hedrons up as nets to catch it!

    Highemp glares at his former lover.

    Peasant Girl: But where is Galatea-- the Beast now?

    Ameryl: All around us. She IS the time lock.

    Highemp: I will fix this. With my hedrons. I will break the lock, I will restore Galatea, I will restore all our love, I will restore Kimleigh, I will--

    He breaks off, gazing with wild eyes at the others, and breathing heavily.

    Highemp: I can do anything. Anything at all! I am Highemperor!

    Imeryn: Not when all the Writers, your very own Writer included, have united to doom you here with us.

    Peasant Girl: Whatever High Imp did to transform Galatea into that Beast--

    They shudder at the memory of High Imp's words.

    Peasant Girl --linked her to all our powers. As she was created from our passions, she also now taps into our powers. The more energy you bring to bear against her with the hedrons, the stronger this time lock will get.

    Highemp: So we should, what, let all our powers lapse, to drain the Beast of hers and weaken the time lock?

    Imeryn: Too late for that, I should think. We can't cut her off at this point.

    Ameryl: Anti-power.

    Peasant Girl: What's that?

    Imeryn: Even if Highemp's Average Joe Squad hadn't shut down your God-Killer Machine, I don't think it would work against this Beast. How do you aim any weapon at a time lock?

    Ameryl: No, you're right. But the God-Killer Machine functioned from only a spark, an atom, of anti-power. If we were to gather or create a great source of it...

    Highemp: I see. We could unite our abilities to create such a source, using your ring as a catalyst and blueprint. Galatea is linked to our power, but not to any anti-power we might wield.

    He hangs his head, his chin resting on his chest for a moment. Then he looks up.

    Highemp: And I thought I had finally appeased my Writer for all eternity...

    Peasant Girl: Eternity is beyond any Writer.

    Highemp looks at her sharply, sensing the undercurrent in her words.

    Highemp: What do you mean?

    Peasant Girl: Oh, I mean nothing by it.

    Highemp groans.

    Highemp: I swear, ever since you joined Nahda's cult, your puns have been as bad as Geb's.

    Peasant Girl: Who?

    Highemp: An old friend.... it doesn't matter now. I suppose Galatea succeeded.

    Imeryn: What do you mean?

    Ameryl, though, understands his meaning.

    Ameryl: She has succeeded in uniting us again, one last time.

    Highemp: Then let us be done with this already.

    Peasant Girl: No patience for drama when it is not in your favor?

    Highemp: Not anymore.

    Without standing on ceremony, and without doing anything as obvious or cliche as holding hands, the four once-lovers unite their strengths. The hedrons glow and crackle brightly, then disintegrate, as they expend every last ounce of their gathered strength. A churning cauldron of pure power builds, and then, with a deft twist of phenomenal deific will, the four invert it.

    A cosmic explosion of pure anti-power blossoms out from them...

    Everything goes black for an eternal instant, and then the world is red. In crimson skies, the universes orbit around them like planets, and they are in a mashed amalgamation of Urbis Imperia and Mega Jonestown Prime. Terror and shock ripple through the populace, as demigod supermages and powerplayers began fighting each other madly in the streets.

    The Stronghold of Powerplayers now sits atop Mount Tall, and atop the tallest tower, in the throne room whose roof is now torn off and open to the scarlet sky, the four lovers and High Imp stand alone.


    Ameryl: What. The. Hells!

    Highemp: It's a time lock, one of staggering scale and unfathomable power...

    ***

    It is an explosion akin to a Big Bang, as the ignited anti-power creates a void, a pit of less-than-nothing as large as a universe. The time lock's integrity weakens from the anti-onslaught, and it crunches into a far smaller space to maintain cohesion, thus freeing most of the multiverse from its grip. What remains falls into the infinite void abyss, beyond and before and below time, where one day it will be discovered by Memnoch tunneling down through Tartarus.

    Incidentally, the fringe of the vast explosion of anti-power touches a great wyrd - a hyper-astral entity many times larger than a universe - shriveling it to a withered husk. Thus the Shard's end is also its beginning.

    Due to the last union of the four once-lovers, the multiverse is saved...mostly. Highemperor, Imeryn, Ameryl, and Peasant Girl themselves are forever trapped still. So are Urbis Imperia and Mega Jonestown Prime, Ameryl and Peasant Girl's fleets too, along with the vast majority of the High Empire.

    Time is broken and sheared in some places, jagged edges where parts of the multiverse were ripped out, parts which are still trapped in the time lock forever. Therefore some people remember that which was lost, and others don't.


    HorseGod: Well, damn. I'll miss them.

    Phractal: Who?

    HorseGod: All of them.

    HorseGod is slumming it aboard Phractal's Phortress as is his wont. He has spent enough time around high muckity-mucks to be aware when something in the multiverse...changes.

    Phractal: I don't know what you're talking about.

    HorseGod: Minos, and the other God-Monarchs. Even all the powerplayers, hell. They could party like no one's business. Except Ameryl maybe, she was a wet blanket, but she was a looker.

    Phractal: I am present everywhere, and while I am not always aware of everything where I am at, I would have known if such influential entities as you describe existed.

    HorseGod: Which CLEARLY means they don't exist anymore...right?

    Phractal: No, it means they NEVER existed. Daft horse.

    HorseGod shrugs and takes another swig of liquor.

    HorseGod: Here's to them all. They had a good run, who could ask for more?

    In one of the many palatial chambers of the Phortress, the WriterGod sits before a desk, writing in a book with an ink quill. When Eternius decided to lead the other narrative deities here to mooch off Phractal, this suite was assigned to WriterGod as his. He is not often here, but at the moment he is.

    He hears HorseGod's toast, and smiles to himself, on his face that can never be clearly seen. He ends the last words in the book with a flourish: The End, before setting down his quill, blowing on the ink to dry it, and closing the book, revealing an image of Highemperor on the cover.


    WriterGod: I always did like a good ending.
    Last edited by Al Ciao; 01-19-2017 at 01:04 AM.

  16. #136
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    Aftermath

    A steampunk zeppelin enters the interdimensional veil separating the Discharding universe from the Deep Void. It meanders through the towers of the megalopolis before discharging its primary passenger at the Diggleton estate. Someone awaits the passenger.

    Princess Damask Rosenbilte: Your highness, is it true?

    Queen Diggleton: It is, I am afraid. Highemperor is gone, his empire all but destroyed. I am no longer a queen, only the Grand Duchess of Discharding.

    Damask looks faint with horror, for like the Grand Duchess she was one of Highemp's lovers.

    Grand Duchess Diggleton: Be of good heart, my dear. Highemp told me his plans for Discharding - rule indirectly through leverage of electoral votes, as my estate holds more electoral votes than any other.

    Princess Damask Rosenbilte: But women cannot hold a primary title in Discharding!

    Grand Duchess Diggleton: No, but Highemp yet lives; he is forever trapped in unbreakable stasis. This means that I have the right to speak for him on all Discharding-related matters.

    Princess Damask Rosenbilte: Well, that is good. But you loved his mind and his schemes. I loved him, and wish only I could enjoy his company once more... But tell me - was his end fashionable at least?

    Grand Duchess Diggleton: Oh, quite! Once I relay the tale, all Discharding will gossip about it for a good three weeks at least.

    Princess Damask Rosenbilte: Three whole weeks? That long? My goodness, I don't think there's been any hotter gossip topic since the very founding of Discharding!

    ***

    On the planet Tatooine in the Outer Galaxies, Fladnag rubs his temples wearily. He has been swamped with the panic and confusion of those who celebrated or denounced Mega Jonestown's return, followed by its subsequent destruction. His earpiece beeps.

    Fladnag the White: Yes?

    Lobo Ono: I have concluded my search of the area, and am ready to update my preliminary findings.

    Fladnag the White: Proceed.

    Lobo Ono: First, the rumors are true. All the great deities are dead or time-locked. Or both. Mega Jonestown Prime is completely obliterated, as is most of the High Empire - though the Terminus systems in the NeSiverse's Milky Way galaxy seem primarily unaffected for the moment.

    Fladnag the White: I'll have to notify local authorities to watch out for unrest or instability in that area.

    Lobo Ono: Indeed. The wreckage of the war pollutes a large swath of space within the Sol system, and there are temporal anomalies and spatial whorls throughout the debris, which makes any potential cleanup more dangerous than it's worth.

    Fladnag the White: And Earth?

    Lobo Ono: Safe, though it seems to be suffering from some domestic threats. Magic has returned to its normal strength there, however. The hedrons are disintegrated. Reports of surviving Derkesthai stragglers, fleeing the Sol system, have come in.

    Fladnag the White: Anything else?

    Lobo Ono: I am unable to confirm it, but... one of the Derkesthai's pet Netherwyrms may be on the loose, unchecked by its former masters.

    Fladnag blanches.

    Fladnag the White: A Netherwyrm? Amok in the heart of our universe?

    Lobo Ono: With Neith Lieren dead, the Void Rangers have no higher authority than you now, vizier. We await your orders.

    Fladnag the White: Handpick a team to hunt down this rogue Netherwyrm. Contain whatever damage you can by it and neutralize it.

    Lobo Ono: Understood. Over and out.

    Fladnag closes his eyes for a moment. Then he raps the butt of his staff on the floor.

    Fladnag the White: NEXT!

    The Marquis Rosslefot walks in, wearing two monocles, as is his odd habit.

    Fladnag the White: I see you are no longer missing. The Discharding nobility will be pleased to hear it.

    Marquis Rosslefot: I was...conscripted. By Mega Jonestown Prime.

    Fladnag the White: Allow me to extend an official apology. We will arrange for top of the line transport back to Discharding.

    [I]Rosslefot holds up his hand.[/I[

    Marquis Rosslefot: No apology needed. The challenges I was offered were quite intellectually stimulating...and I do not wish to return to Discharding yet.

    Fladnag raises an eyebrow.

    Marquis Rosslefot: I have come to offer you my services and technical expertise. I find the NeSiverse a fascinating place, and would help protect it in its new vulnerability...now that the multiverse at large no longer fears any vengeance by Mega Jonestown Prime.

    Fladnag the White: I am honored, Marquis, and I accept.

    ***

    Hermes Trismegistus has watched the terrible battles from a distance, and when it is over, he feels the magical field on Earth return to normal. But something is slightly different. Frowning slightly, he zooms back through Earth's atmosphere and plunges into the Pacific Ocean, down to the ruins of Kumari Kandam atop the Kergulen Plateau.

    The hedrons are no longer there of course. And neither are the Derkesthai or Marquis Rosslefot's dragon-shaped submarine. But lying atop the ruined undersea ziggurat is a corpse, half-disintegrated by deific backlash...and a heavy tome is chained to its wrist.


    Hermes Trismegistus: By all the gods...the Runekeeper?

    His senses do not deceive him. He is in fact beholding the body of the NeSiverse's cosmic god of magic. He stands there for a moment, pursing his lips as he considers. Then he reaches down and unclasps the manacle from the corpse's wrist. It comes away with no trouble now that its owner is dead.

    Hermes fastens the manacle - and thereby the heavy tome chained to it - to his own wrist. Power and knowledge suffuse him, even more than the already-immense magic he wielded before.


    Hermes Trismegistus: Now I am the new Runekeeper!

    ***

    A flight of dragon cataphracts, led by Dragonlord Riaken, streak beyond the bounds of the Sol system. Their armor is ragged, and new scars pockmark both riders and steeds.

    Derkesthai Dragonrider #1: Where do we go now, Dragonlord?

    Dragonlord Riaken: Home. Our planet is still there, though most of its populace was emptied into this ruinous war.

    Derkesthai Dragonrider #2: But...our purpose is gone. What do we do now?

    Dragonlord Riaken: If you will follow me...then we forge our own path now, no longer bound by my father Typhon, but free to pursue glory for our race.

    Derkesthai Dragonrider #3: But there are so few of us left.

    Dragonlord Riaken: It will be enough. Other flights of cataphracts might have escaped. And there are still millions left on our homeworld. Will you follow me?

    All the dragonriders salute.

    Derkesthai Dragonriders: Hail Dragonlord Riaken! Hail the lord of all Derkesthai!

    Riaken allows himself a smile. This battle had not gone anything like he had expected, and he felt unmoored as well...but it was so liberating to be free of his father and the other God-Monarchs, no longer answerable to any other authority...

    ***

    In the palatial gubernatorial space station of the Terminus systems, Proconsul Kim is playing with a ball of yarn on his throne, when Captain Qemik, Navitatex of the Scion of Divinity, walks in.

    Proconsul Kim: Oh hey there, Cap! How'd that battle go?

    Captain Qemik: Highemp is dead, and the High Empire, no more.

    Kim blinks, unable to comprehend this. Qemik sighs.

    Captain Qemik: Urbis Imperia is lost, so we have no higher command anymore, and most of the other territories in the empire are gone as well. We are on our own.

    Proconsul Kim: Does this mean... I'm the greatest powerplayer now?!

    Captain Qemik: By virtue of being the only one left...I suppose so.

    Proconsul Kim: YIPPEE! This means I get my own harem now! Time to go vacation in Coaleshion!

    Captain Qemik: Milord, might I suggest--

    He pauses. It might be best to encourage Kim's folly at this point.

    Captain Qemik: Might I suggest that you allow me to act in your stead while you vacation and...enjoy the fruits of your, ah, labor? I can rebuilt our local fleet and secure our borders. I expect retribution by many against us for our former empire's perceived crimes; particularly since our Terminus fleets are half-destroyed and the Anti-Deific Wards no longer function.

    Proconsul Kim: Sounds great! Governing is boring anyway, all those dull meetings!

    Captain Qemik: And have I your leave to seek out one of Highemperor's daughters? If any yet survive...she is the heir to what remains.

    Proconsul Kim: Ooooh, and then I could marry her! Be the new emperor! I'll be the Highcat! Or Catemperor. King Kim?

    Captain Qemik leaves Kim to his speculations, his boots clanging on the crystalline floor as he walks out...

  17. #137
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    1,325

    Greyarchy

    Billions of years ago, Mega Jonestown Prime ruled the NeSiverse (though its hand was light, as its gods were wrapped up in their own agendas), and they initiated a grand contest - who would create the greatest wonder, for the God-Monarchs to bestow their blessing and favor upon, to center their entire cosmos around?

    Gods and high muckity-mucks across the NeSiverse (and reportedly, some from outside it as well) created incredible things - but the God-Monarchs chose the shared entry created by three gods (the Runekeeper, Aeon, and the Three Fates): humanity, and Earth.

    But for anyone who knows the nature of the multiverse, it is known that there are an infinite variety of possible worlds, alternate timelines where every possibility exists. And so, in one alternate timeline, the God-Monarchs instead chose the Greys of Mirare to favor: the shared entry created by Memnoch, Phractal, and the Big O.

    Lest anyone be confused, note that this was NOT a different Mega Jonestown Prime or a different set of God-Monarchs. Some beings are multi-cosmic, and exist across multiple timelines as the same entity. Instead of having infinite copies across alternate timelines, they instead have infinite reflections, infinite ways in which the inhabitants of those timeliness perceive and experience such multi-cosmic beings.

    So the inhabitants of this alternate NeSiverse timeline experienced the God-Monarchs choosing the Greys. Unlike in the primary universe timeline, where the favored species (humans) were usurped by the WriterGod and Ancient One, the Greys flourished under the auspices of their benefactors. The first Grey, created directly by the combined powers of Memnoch, Phractal, and Big O, became the leader of the Greys, and was worshipped by his people even as they conquered the stars: for he was the wisest and strongest of them all.

    Thus the God-Emperor of Greykind ruled the Imperium of Greykind from Holy Mirare, his legions led by ten primarchs who crushed all opposition under their boots. In this timeline, none could stop them, for the aetherial ultranexus was centered on Mirare, in fact on the Platinum Throne of the Silver Palace.

    And when Mega Jonestown Prime returned, the Greys of this timeline experienced its return as landing on the apex of the Mirare's East Pole, directly over the Silver Palace, so that it bathed in the aetherial energies.

    And in the dread war between four uber factions that ended in the Beastly time lock, the Greys of this timeline experienced this devastation as the entire East Pole of Mirare being blown to bits, with the sky being full of slag.


    Grey Foreman: Dig faster, slaves!

    Drow Slave #1: I found a survivor!

    The Grey Foreman checks his list of Search Priorities. 'Survivors' is not on that list.

    Grey Foreman: Ignore and move on!

    Drow Slave #1: But master, his injuries are grave--

    The Grey Foreman lashes out with his plasma whip, and the drow slave, and the survivor, are both obliterated.

    Grey Foreman: Keep working, dogs! And no backtalk!

    Hian Slave #2: Found the Holy Rubber Ducky!

    The Grey Foreman checks his list again. 'The God-Emperor of Greykind's favorite rubber ducky' is near the top.

    Grey Foreman: Excellent work! An extra helping of gruel for you tonight!

    Hian Slave #2: Woohoo!

    Grey foreman are directing slaves in excavating the ruins of the Silver Palace. The God-Emperor himself and his 10 primarchs survived, but the ultranexus splintered chaotically, and many treasures and weapons were destroyed in the destruction of the eighth of Mirare around the East Pole.

    From high above, the God-Emperor of Greykind watches the slowly turning planet from his battle-saucer, an advanced flying saucer fifty miles in diameter, powered by both advanced magic and science. The East Pole is more or less a crater, and there are still flames that haven't gone out. Behind him, in the war room of the immense battle-saucer, his 10 primarchs - all superstrong and intelligent Greys - argue.


    Grey Primarch #1: This is an opportunity, how can you not see that?

    Grey Primarch #2: The God-Monarchs who blessed us are gone! Forever! How can this be anything but a catastrophe?

    Grey Primarch #3: Especially with the ultranexus splintered. Our mages and I have spells blowing up in our faces as often as not, same for any of magitech.

    Grey Primarch #4: I concur with Grey Primarch #1, actually. We now are in charge of our own destiny. We are the final authority in our universe now, and not some long-absent deities.

    Grey Primach #5: But with the splintered ultranexus, our sovereignty is weakened. Much of our dominance depended our on magical superiority.

    Grey Primarch #6: Speak for yourself. We have plenty technological edges, as well as psionics and non-aetherial mages. Plus, no one can deny the greater prowess all Greys possess over the lesser species.

    The door to the war room whooshes home, and the God-Emperor's vizier, Fladnag the Gray, comes in. He is a Grey demigod supermage, who wears a bleached white robe that he swears up and down is just a very light shade of gray. No one ever believes him.

    Fladnag the Gray: Your Holy Majesty, I have the report you asked for.

    The God-Emperor of Greykind, without turning, holds out his hand to the side, and his vizier slips the holo-slate into his hand. The Grey Primarchs cease their bickering long enough to look curiously at their leader as his eyes scan the information on the holo-slate.

    God-Emperor of Greykind: Our course is charted, my primarchs.

    Grey Primarch #7: Milord?

    The God-Emperor turns around to face them. Although the primarchs are taller and stronger than any other Grey, the God-Emperor is even taller and stronger than they.

    God-Emperor of Greykind: This is indeed an opportunity for us.

    Grey Primarch #5: But what of possible rebellions now that our magic is weakened?

    God-Emperor of Greykind: Any planet on which rebels rise up shall suffer... Exterminatus.

    Silence falls among the primarchs. The entire destruction of a planet is a brutal and final solution, but it would be extremely effective at stopping rebellions after the first several rebel planets are obliterated.

    Grey Primarch #3: And what of our magic?

    God-Emperor of Greykind: There is another universe, a timeline alternate to ours, in which blasphemy reigns supreme - a timeline where Greys are not favored, and are scattered and weak.

    The primarchs gasp in horror.

    God-Emperor of Greykind: We must set this blasphemy right...and claim that timeline's ultranexus for ourselves!

    Fladnag the Gray: Also, Your Holy Majesty, you may wish to retranslate our dominion name. In the other timeline, the multiversal 'Imperium' is widely known, and we do not wish that universe's uneducated infidels to confuse them with us, the true and righteous Imperium of Greykind.

    God-Emperor of Greykind: Very well. I dub us...the Greyarchy!

    The primarchs are dead silent again. The God-Emperor's gaze narrows slightly, and his next words are pointed.

    God-Emperor of Greykind: Isn't that a great name?

    Primarchs: Uh...yeah! All hail the God-Emperor of the Greyarchy!
    Last edited by Al Ciao; 01-21-2017 at 08:15 PM.

  18. #138
    Virgin Fleet Admiral
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    1,325

    Fladnag, Flax, and Finagle

    Fladnag has just dismissed his latest petitioner - which means his green-skinned pig-faced Gamorrean guards have dragged said petitioner away - when he gets a phone call. It's not coming through his earpiece, which means it's not a business call, but then he sees the caller idea.

    Gul Moff Pfaxarxis.


    Fladnag the White: Fladnag speaking.

    Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: Fladnag, ole boy! How are things?

    Fladnag the White: In considerably more turmoil than usual, considering the upheaval in the Sol system.

    Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: Nonsense! In one fell stroke, you no longer have to worry about the God-Monarchs, the High Empire, or the God-Killer Machine!

    Fladnag the White: That is true, but--

    Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: And I got thinking, about how you popped over to my place recently and told me you didn't know what a vacation was.

    Fladnag the White: I didn't tell you that. I told you a vacation is a waste of time.

    Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: That's what I just said! So I thought I should take you out on the town, two bros, show you what a real vacation should be like!

    Fladnag reels in horror at the notion of actually having fun.

    Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: I know what you're going to say, but c'mon, do it for me! Please?

    So it is, a while later, that the PCC-Horizonaval (Pfaxarxis's personal flagship) arrives at Outpost Finagle, bearing Fladnag and the Gul Moff. The outpost is a massive space station the size of a moon, but certainly not shaped like one. Miles-thick pylons, globes the size of planetoids, spinning discs the size of continents - the structure of the outpost is seemingly haphazard and does not conform to any particular pattern. Neon lights glow in a riot of colors, visible from far away.

    Fladnag looks through the bridge viewport at the space station with some distaste.


    Fladnag the White: I don't remember giving its operators a visa to enter the NeSiverse.

    Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: They never ask anyone, if I recall. And they're too popular for anyone to refuse them, remember that. But since they happened to be in the cosmic neighborhood, I figured it'd be the perfect place to take you. Space Las Vegas!

    Fladnag the White: What's a Las Vegas?

    Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: I have no idea, but that's what the brochure says. Travels between universes, disgorging and taking in passengers to enjoy the decadent entertainments onboard!

    Fladnag the White: You're doing a very good job of making me want to board it even less.

    Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: Pffft. I'll make you enjoy yourself yet, you just wait!

    And so Pfaxarxis drags Fladnag throughout Outpost Finagle. There are a variety of strip clubs and brothels, none of which interest Fladnag in the slightest. Raucous games of time-tag and political-rugby - in stadiums as large as cities - don't even merit an eyebrow raise. He nearly falls asleep during the holo-operas and epic planet-busting events. He chews the most delicious food in the multiverse in exotic restaurants with no interest.

    Finally, Pfaxarxis pulls Fladnag into one of the station's many casinos. Fladnag allows himself to make a noise of disgust, but Pfaxarxis pulls him past the slot machines and various games of chance, to the center, where large and exotic gaming tables are arranged.


    Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: Feast your eyes on this, Fladnag! It's called Finagle, the signature game of the outpost, rated among the Top Ten Greatest Games of the Multiverse for eight millennia in a row!

    Fladnag watches, and despite himself his interest begins to grow. It's games within games, involving wagers and strategy and some controlled luck, with holo-boards on multiple layers rotating and orbiting around each other, while players draw cards from a varying number of suits, depending on the tactics they choose. Pfaxarxis watches his friend's expression with a knowing glint.

    Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: Care to try your luck?

    And so Fladnag begins playing. He proves very adept at the game, defeating all comers...until Flax Hyperon (starship captain and member of Hero Force One on Earth) comes to the table.

    Fladnag the White: Got any full houses?

    Flax Hyperon: Go fish!

    Fladnag scowls and draws a card, then moves one of his holopieces back one space.

    Flax Hyperon: Got any straight flushes?

    Fladnag scowls again and hands his straight flush cards to Flax, who crows in triumph.

    Flax Hyperon: I'll wager that the Wet Blankets gain two goals in the next two minutes.

    Fladnag the White: I'll see your two goals and raise you three goals in five minutes.

    In their game of time-tag, displayed from holographic projectors all around the casino, the Wet Blanket teams scores two goals in two minutes.

    Flax Hyperon: Now playing this straight flush--

    Fladnag scowls as Flax lays down his stolen hand.

    Flax Hyperon: "--to double my points from that wager, doubling both my winnings this hand and my move this turn!

    The game continues, and Fladnag neatly defeats Flax in a laser-dodgeball sub-game match, gaining the lead again...until Flax plays a Wild Fool card to switch their scores, just as the game ends.

    Flax Hyperon: Good game, Fladnag, see ya 'round!

    Fladnag's scow is permanently writ on his face as Flax takes his substantial winnings. He turns to Pfaxarxis.

    Fladnag the White: I hate vacations.

    Pfaxarxis can only laugh.

    Meanwhile, Flax is celebrating his victory by spending his winnings on a beautiful alien princess - when the forces of the evil Warlord Grog bust in and kidnap them both!


    Flax Hyperon: Give it up, Grog, you'll never win! I'll find a way to escape!

    Warlord Grog: Impossible - but I hear you're good at Finagle, so I'll offer you this opportunity. Defeat me at the game, and I'll release you and your princess. But lose, and I'll destroy her home planet!

    Flax Hyperon: You're on!

    Warlord Grog: Hahahaha, you fool! I have been the Outpost Finagle Finagle grand champion for 3 years in a row!

    Flax Hyperon: Yeah, well, I've been a Captain Kirk knockoff for twenty years in a row!

    Later on...

    Warlord Grog: Last hand, Flax. You're down to three pieces, negative eleventy points, and one card. Make your move.

    Flax Hyperon: I'll discard this Ace of Quills to make an Anything-Goes wager.

    Warlord Grog: Bold! What is your wager?

    Flax Hyperon: I will wager...on the outcome of this very Finagle game!

    The logic circuits of the game table overload, and the holoboards, holopieces, and holocards wink out.

    Warlord Grog: Nooooooo! Curse you, Captain Hyperon!!!

  19. #139
    Virgin Fleet Admiral
    Posts
    1,325

    Space Camelot: Outpost Finagle

    The knights and their servants and peasants have all packed up. Leaving the wretchedly cold world of Caledonia at last!

    Sir Kay: The ends of my toes are still blue. Are they going to break off?

    Sir Greene: I've already told you, that's from the drow warpaint bowl you stepped in, not cold.

    Sir Kay: But what if you're wrong?!

    Sir Greene: Then your toes break off, and Merlin can magick you a new set of toes. Six toes even, if you want.

    Sir Kay: Really?!

    Sir Kay goes off to find Merlin.

    Faerie Knight: I'm not certain Merlin can actually do that.

    Sir Greene: Probably not...but his current set is not going to fall off anyway.

    On the bridge, Prince Mordred comes in, and addressed the captain.

    Mordred: Everyone's on board. Do you have our destination?

    Tom a'Lincoln: No, Bedivere supposed to give it to me.

    Mordred groans. On the surface of Caledonia, before the Boreans had returned to their home, the knights had peppered them with several questions. Only Mordred had had the presence of mind to ask if the Boreans knew of a suitable world for them to colonize.

    The Boreans, in their typical confusing and odd manner, had conferred back and forth with each other and their 'God' - whatever that actually was - before rattling off a string of incomprehensible numbers that they had referred to as 'coordinates.'. Fortunately, Bedivere had a good head for numbers.

    Arthur marches onto the bridge.


    Arthur: Onward! To our new conquest!

    Mordred: Actually, the Boreans said it was uninhabited, last they knew.

    Arthur looks disappointed. Mordred rolls his eyes and adds,

    Mordred: I'm sure we'll have to repel invaders who want to steal our glory.

    Arthur brightens. Tom takes that moment to speak up.

    Tom a'Lincoln: I'm sorry, Sire, but I do not the coordinates yet. Sir Bedivere was supposed to--

    Ltexi: I've got the coordinates! I'll put them in for you!

    The Jupiterian admiral has just sailed onto the bridge. Mordred wonders which of the junior knights she's just seduced, as she has that peculiar flush on her face. Tom regards Ltexi somewhat warily, but at a nod from Arthur - who is clearly impatient - he stands aside to allow Ltexi access to the console.

    Ltexi inputs some numbers.


    Ltexi: Alright then. Jump whenever you're ready!

    Arthur: Why do you want us to jump?

    Mordred: Not literally, father. She is referring to the ship traveling at rapid speeds through space.

    Arthur: Of course! I was only checking that you remembered.

    Shortly, the ship jumps. Through the bridge window, no lush planet greets them. Instead, a riotous contraption of metal and neon lights blares into their vision.

    Arthur: What manner of planet is that! The Boreans never described it like that!

    Mordred levels a glare at Ltexi, who is smirking.

    Mordred: I believe the woman has deliberately misled us.

    Ltexi: So quick to accuse! In fact, I have done you a great favor!

    Mordred: Speak quickly then.

    Ltexi: THIS is Outpost Finagle. Not a planet at all, though it's nearly as large as one. A space station! Like no other, it hops through universes, and is the ultimate casino and resort! Sports and drinking and gambling and merriment aplenty!

    Arthur's eyes are getting wider and more interested, though he barely understands half of what the Jupiterian woman is saying. Ltexi finishes her speech with a very clever addition.

    Ltexi: Also, it's SHINY.

    Arthur: Let's go!

    Mordred: But what about our new planet--

    Arthur: That can wait! Let's explore!

    He all but bounds off the bridge. Mordred sighs.

    Mordred: You will answer for this, woman.

    Ltexi: I rather think not. I will enjoy Outpost Finagle quite a bit - it's never been nearby before whenever I've had leave - and then I will find me a ship back to my OWN people, who have more than enough crazy already without you bunch.

    Mordred can't really argue against the assessment of Arthur and his people as crazy. And he won't be too upset to see the Jupiterian woman gone, who has done little except stir up trouble, as far as he's concerned.

    Mordred: Then leave, if you are so eager.

    Ltexi fixes him with a horrifyingly sweet smile.

    Ltexi: My sweet morsel, you know that saying things like that only makes me want to stay longer.

    Mordred turns and stalks off the bridge, refusing to rise to the bait. He hears Ltexi's laughter echoing after him.

    ***

    Sir Palamedes stalks along the corridors of Outpost Finagle in his outrageously shiny armor, which sparkles blindingly in the ubiquitous neon lights. A shorter drow struggles to keep up with him.

    Newrias: But where are we going?

    Sir Palamedes: To our destination!

    The short drow lad - who asked to come with the knights, given that he was tired of living in a society where he was oppressed by females - looks around him, confused. His face has the narrow aspect common to drow, but his cheeks still retain the fat roundness of his youth. His eyes are a brown so dark that they're almost indistinguishable from his pupils. His long white hair is in dreadlocks; it was once held back with a ponytail, but the women of Space Camelot took great delight in fixing up his hair.

    He has a lean muscular frame, having been in training to be a soldier, and is most proficient with the longknife and sling on his leather belt; strangely enough, Outpost Finagle seems to have no qualms about armed visitors. He is shirtless, and wears only sandals and loose white trousers; he still regularly complains of being too hot, and spends as much time in heavily air conditioned areas as possible.


    Newrias: But what destination is that? The deeper we get into this nightmarish labyrinth, the more lost we get!

    He nearly crashes into Sir Palamedes, as the knight stops and turns around.

    Sir Palamedes: Heed me, youth, and heed me well. If one wishes to be a man of renown and recognition...you must never admit that you are lost.

    Newrias: So we are lost?

    Sir Palamedes: Indeed not!

    Newrias: But you just said--

    Sir Palamedes is already stalking down the corridor. Newrias blushes as a scantily dressed 'woman of the evening' beckons at him from an alcove between two bars, and he hurries on. Back on Caledonia, there were no 'women of the evening', only 'men of the evening'.

    Elsewhere on the space station, Arthur is watching a wall with dozens of screens, each showing a different sporting or gambling event taking place on the station.


    Merlin: That's fascinating, it looks like they're employing extraplanar logic in this game of 'time tag'.

    Sir Bedivere: And look at those fascinating chronological instruments! Like those on Space Camelot, they do not use cogs, but these also tick backwards and forwards!

    Arthur is watching all the screens with intense focus. Finally he stabs his finger at one of the screens.

    Arthur: That one!

    Bediverse and Merlin pause from their analysis. Mordred and Iseult of the White Hands look up from perusing menus.

    Arthur: Of all the challenges this strange planet--

    Merlin: Ltexi told you, it's a manmade complex.

    Arthur: --holds, this one seems to be the worthiest! I shall enter that tournament!

    He marches down the corridor, and the other knight scramble up from their tables, disappointed at not getting to sample the local cuisine, but not eager to let their king go into potential trouble unaided.

    Morded looks at the screen to which his father pointed. The designation is "Finagle, Tournament Daily Sigma, Three Men and a Space Squid Casino."


    Mordred: Father, it's the other direction.

    Without missing a beat, Arthur turns on his heel. Shortly, they arrive in the Three Men and a Space Squid Casino - one of many extravagant casinos on the space station. Sir Tristram is instantly drawn to the slots, and rapidly develops an addiction - and a debt.

    Arthur's eyes are drawn to the Finagle tables in the center, and sits down to play.


    Finagle Host: The Daily Sigma requires an entry fee to play.

    Arthur: You would dare deny a king?!

    Finagle Host: Rank alone does not--

    Merlin: What is the entry fee, sir?

    Finagle Host: 100,000 standard PCC-issue credits.

    Arthur appears stumped for a moment, then says,

    Arthur: I will wager on the outcome of this first game in the tournament! If I win, I do not have to pay the entry fee!

    Finagle Host: A bold request. It will be honored, if you have collateral to put up in case you lose.

    Arthur: Space Camelot!

    The others blanch in horror.

    Mordred: No, Father--

    But it is too late. The display and controls in front of Arthur light up.

    Finagle Host: The wager is accepted. Please be advised that, in the event of a loss, all personnel will be required to disembark your ship within an hour of then.[/i]

    Mordred: Merlin, Bediverse...we must help Father win...at all costs.

    Morganna: And then conk him over the head afterwards, so he doesn't drag us into any more madness.

    Mordred: Mother, what are you doing here?

    Morganna: The game Finagle intrigued me...and then I realized what a great shiny object it would be to your dunce of a father. It seems I am too late to stop it. I'll start packing my things.

    Mordred: Mother, wait - please help us win this.

    Merlin: You don't need her, you have me.

    Morganna shoots Merlin a scathing glare.

    Morganna: Very well. I'll stay. And then take over once Merlin admits she can't do enough to secure his victory.

    Arthur's game pieces appear as holograms on the table before him, and he arranges them within the game's starting parameters on the half a dozen floating and rotating holo-game-boards. He opts to draw cards from only two of the many available suits, and mulligans his first hand. And his second.

    And his third.

    His fourth he is about to throw away, but Bedivere interrupts.


    Sir Bedivere: I recommend you keep that one, Sire!

    Mordred: Especially since you draw one less card every time you mulligan...

    Arthur: Very well, Sir Bedivere. I will heed your counsel in this matter.

    The game begins, a series of moves, bluffs, and wagers. Arthur's opponent is a Grey, who has drawn a hand from six suits and opted to use half his potential game pieces, keeping the rest in reserve.

    Arthur: Go fish.

    Grey Opponent: I have not yet asked you for something.

    Arthur: What's taking you so long?

    The Grey eyes the human king curiously, and appears to be hiding a smirk.

    Grey Opponent: Got any WILD cards?

    Arthur: Go fish.

    The king has said that almost before his opponent finished asking. The Grey is definitely smirking now.

    Grey Opponent: I call your bluff.

    Behind Arthur, Merlin has gone white. Arthur has not one but three WILD cards in his hand.

    Arthur: You can't prove it.

    Grey Opponent: I can call on the host to force a proof.

    Arthur: If you call on the host, you forfeit the game if you are wrong.

    The Grey Opponent is clearly reading Merlin's expression, and so is confident.

    Grey Opponent: I call on the host.

    Before the Finagle host can trigger a public display of cards in Arthur's hand, Arthur speaks up.

    Arthur: Oh, look at that. I have an Undo Turn of Cups here.

    Grey Opponent: You haven't had a turn yet. You have nothing to undo.

    Finagle Host: Incorrect. He can undo his most recent mulligan.

    The Grey Opponent seems to pale, as Arthur's cards disappear, replaced with the hand he had drawn just before this one (and had previously thrown away). Then the Finagle Host triggers the public display of Arthur's cards, revealing no WILD cards. The Grey sags.

    Finagle Host: Victory to the human!

    Mordred and the others watched with stunned looks. Morganna grins and wags her finger at Merlin.

    Morganna: Perhaps you'd better sit over there, dear, your face is giving away everything.

    Elsewhere on Outpost Finagle, Isolde of the White Hands is cheering on a gladiatorial match. Sirs Scottius, Alistair, and Britthomas the Red-Tabards are fighting reluctantly, egged on by her, and she has bet on them. After all, their opponents are just three oversized toads half their heights!

    Isolde: Kill them already, you daft fools!

    The three Red-Tabards lower their visors and stab clumsily with their swords at the toadlike aliens, who leap up high and back down to land atop the three knights, who clatter to the ground in a heap of armor. The toadlike aliens flick out their barbed tongues, piercing holes in the Red-Tabards' armor and flesh. The hapless knights, pinned down by the weight of their armor and their opponents, aren't able to move or defend themselves effectively, and soon die.

    Isolde: Dammit, I bet good coin on you three!

    The three toadlike aliens stand off their foes' corpses and receive the accolades of the crowd. The cheering falters when the three knights get up, their movements jerky, and the toadlike aliens turn around in astonishment.

    More barbed tongues and leaps are ineffective against the corpse puppets, and the toadlike aliens are soon backed against the wall before being gutted.


    Isolde: That's better...
    Last edited by Al Ciao; 01-23-2017 at 10:39 PM.

  20. #140
    Virgin Fleet Admiral
    Posts
    1,325

    Space Camelot: Awakening

    After stalking down the corridor - one of countless inside Outpost Finagle's megastructure - for what seems like forever, Sir Palamedes finally stops and levels a shiny armored finger at one of the alcoves off the main arcade leading into an outlet building.

    Sir Palamedes: There, good squire. We shall find men of common faith here!

    Newrias: I don't share your faith, what makes you think--

    But Sir Palamedes is already marching towards the chapel. A bright neon sign hangs over the gothic-arched entrance, reading, "WEDDING CHAPEL,", and beneath that in smaller script, "Get married, under the auspices of your deity of choice!"

    Newrias scrambles after him, and his nose twitches again, for the hundredth time that day. He keeps catching scents that seem to stir memories inside him, but nothing he can ever place.

    Standing beside the arched doorway of the chapel is an alien of a variety that neither Palamedes nor Newrias has seen before. He is roughly humanoid, but short and stocky. Blue and brown whiskers cover the entirety of his face except for two bright eyes, and unkempt curls fall from his head down his shoulders. His skin - what little of it can be seen beneath the whiskers - is bright orange, almost the hue of a human with a bad sunburn.

    He is wearing what seems to be a uniform of some sort. It is a matte black affair, including bandoliers strapped across his chest from both shoulders, and a ballistic cyberpunk revolver - a contraption unknown to Newrias as of yet - in a holster on his hip. A green HUD-monocle is in front of one eye, held in place from his hair-hidden ear.


    Dorf: Hold.

    Sir Palamedes: What manner of man are you? I've seen dwarfish men in Brittania, but never such as you. How did you get here? Did you find a spaceship under your homeland too?

    Newrias: Er, Sir Palamedes, I don't think he's, ah, human.

    Dorf: Indeed not! I don't even know what a 'human' is, and I've never heard of a 'Brittania'. I am a dorf.

    Sir Palamedes: A dwarf? But I just said--

    Dorf: Dorf, not dwarf. Now hold a moment. Your armor, by its manner of gleam, must be magical.

    Sir Palamedes draws himself up indignantly.

    Sir Palamedes: Indeed not! I do not truck with those heathen rituals that the faeries do.

    The dorf appears to be placated and is nodding approvingly at Sir Palamedes's words.

    Sir Palamedes: My armor gleams because it has been blessed by God Himself!

    Newrias: Wow, I can actually hear that capital H.

    The dorf's expression darkens at Palamedes's proud declaration.

    Dorf: That's even WORSE to a witch-warden such as myself. And certainly against my job to let you in here. Only approved deific influences are allowed, so that there are no potential clashes of faith or heavens during the wedding ceremonies.

    Sir Palamedes: What manner of heathen defiles His holy name with such crude words? Have at thee!

    Dorf: I heard the capital H that time too.

    Sir Palamedes begins to draws his sword, but the dorf moves with a blinding speed that belies his stocky size, and clamps his black-gloved hand around the knight's wrist, holding it in place so that he cannot draw the sword. The knight struggles to keep pulling his sword out of his sheath, but the dorf's strength is incredible.

    Dorf: Stand down, or Outpost Security will be disposing of your corpse.

    Newrias hastily intervenes.

    Newrias: Please, Mister Dorf--

    Dorf: Dorf is my species, not my NAME. If you must call me anything, address me by my rank, witch-warden.

    Newrias: Mister Witch-warden, his armor isn't enchanted nor blessed. Its gleam comes from my having polished it last night...for several hours on end.

    Sir Palamedes: Don't put on that disgruntled face, lad! Tis good work for a young squire!

    The dorf considers the drow's words as he studies the knight. Then he lets go of the knight's wrist. Sir Palamedes has the grace to slide the blade fully back within the sheath.

    Dorf: It is true that I detect no supernatural effects from your accoutrements. You may pass. But do not draw your sword within.

    Sir Palamedes: See, young squire? None dare stand against a holy servant of God! Come along!

    He strides into the chapel. The dorf looks at the drow and rolls his eyes.

    Dorf: I don't hate magic and gods as a rule, unlike many of my witch-warden brethren - but nutjobs like him tempt me to change my stance.

    He pauses, seeing the drow staring at the dorf with a slightly distant expression, his nostrils twitching.

    Dorf: You alright, lad?

    Newrias: Your scent...it is akin to redthorn lintblossom, a plant found on Caledonia. Highly useful for physical augmentation when mixed with certain catalysts.....how do I know that?

    He shakes his head, and the dorf regards him curiously.

    Dorf: 'Caledonia' is as foreign to me as 'Brittannia', but while I've never heard of redthorn lintleaf, it's possible you were smelling the alchemical extracts exuded through my sweat when I held your master's wrist. The strength-boosting capabilities kicked in then. Are you an alchemist then?

    Newrias: No, I--

    He pauses.

    Newrias: Yes. I was once, I think. I'm starting to remember - that's why these smells all over that station trigger distant memories. Back home, all the alchemists can identify anything by scent alone.

    Dorf: Useful indeed for potion chemistry. Witch-wardens only use sanctioned chemicals and herbs however. We stay away from any supernatural sources unless absolutely necessary in a crisis.

    Newrias: No such strictures exist on Caledonia. Alchemists among the drow are more than mere potion-makers though. Alchemy is all about change. Chemistry changes...but so does the art of transfiguration.

    The dorf witch-warden eyes the young drow.

    Dorf: While I've not sensed any strong or overt mystical strength within you, I should warn you against attempting any sort of transfiguration spellwork while within the chapel. Outpost Security might not be too keen on you employing such magic anywhere on the station in fact.

    Newrias: No, I don't remember how to do that. Not yet anyway. But I think I will. Eventually.

    He shakes his head again and looks directly at the dorf.

    Newrias: You called yourself a witch-warden? Why do you despise magic and deities? The idea is anathema to my kind, much less an established order of said despisers.

    Dorf: Well, I don't despise them, though as I said many of my brethren back home do. But all witch-wardens are trained in the use of anti-supernatural techniques. It's a tradition handed down through generations ever since the ancient times of the Myst Sector - on the other end of the Milky Way galaxy.

    Newrias: What happened in this Myst Sector's ancient past that would create such a tradition?

    Dorf: Well, I'm not as steeped in the old histories as some witch-wardens. Dorfs aren't native to the Myst Sector, so I didn't grow up with that education, but only received it after signing on when I was an adult.

    Newrias: But the highlights perhaps?

    Dorf: Aye. Story goes that, in countless ages past, the Myst Sector was ruled by a magocracy, a star-spanning empire ruled by elite mages and psions, who worshipped a plethora of magic deities. They were cruel and whimsical, and possessed power sufficient to carry out any trifle they pleased. The first witch-wardens were rebels who secretly developed ways to counter the supernatural abilities of their overlords.

    Newrias: And they overthrew their rulers?

    The idea is strange to him. Sure, drow overthrow other drow all the time, but it is part of Caledonia's natural order: drow women rising to higiher rank on the bodies of their rivals. In the magocracy the dorf witch-warden describes, that might be analogous, Newrias reasons, to a mage overthrowing his rival to ascend to new rank.

    But mage-haters overthrowing mages? That sounds like drow men overthrowing drow women. An idea that is completely unheard of on Caledonia, and totally anathema to Newrias...yet it oddly appeals to him. But then, that desire to be free of matriarchal control contributed to his decision to leave his home with the knights.


    Dorf: Aye, lad.

    Sir Palamedes: *from within the chapel* Squire! Attend me!

    Newrias: Oops! I'd better go!

    Dorf: A moment, lad. I am called Egnarts. What is your name?

    Newrias replies without thinking.

    Newrias: Dhae. My name is Dhae.

    Without noticing that he used a name that he's never heard of before, yet which seems intrinsic to himself, the drow lad hurries into the chapel.

  21. #141
    Virgin Fleet Admiral
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    1,325

    A Mutually Beneficial Proposal

    In a stately orbit around the stellar morass that is Coaleshion, in the Milky Way galaxy, the High Empire carrier Void's Edge drifts in a seemingly aimless pattern. Repped drones constantly stream out from the repfac port bays to surround the system, detaining any pirates who haven't paid their monthly dues to the Void's Edge's captain, Navitatex Pollos.

    A shuttle warps insystem near the carrier, bearing the insignia of another High Empire Navitatex. Pollos has been expecting it.


    Pollos: Bring it aboard. I'll see the esteemed Navitatex in the war room. Alone.

    He takes a swig of nymphflower wine then slams the crystalline mug down on the arm of his command chair, before standing up and striding off the bridge. His boots ring on the metal-crystal deck in the manner that only a high-ranking officer's can, and everyone on the bridge breathes a bit easier with the moody eccentric captain gone.

    Pollos takes a seat in the largest and most luxurious chair of the war room. It's not a regulation chair, but one installed by him with the profits of his bribes from Coaleshion pirates.

    Navitatex Qemik, captain of the impressive battlecruiser
    Scion of Divinity, comes in shortly, His eyes take in Pollos, slouching in his non-standard chair, with a nymphflower wine bottle on the side of the holoprojector around which the chairs sit.

    Pollos' uniform is mostly the standard one for a High Empire Navitatex: black, silver, and gold. Two white stripes on his left golden shoulderpad signify him as captain of a carrier, as opposed to the three white stripes on Qemik's. Pollos' uniform has some extra tassels and even frills however, and his captain's coronet has been embellished with extra jewels and is sitting at a jaunty angle atop his head.


    Pollos: Qemik, my good man, fellow captain. Come in, take a seat.

    They both know that Pollos, by awaiting his visitor in the command room rather than meeting him in the hangar bay where Qemik's shuttle docked, is a slight to Qemik. Qemik chooses to overlook it.

    Qemik: You're rather cheerful, considering our god and empire have both been destroyed.

    Pollos: And you're rather moody, but then, aren't you always?

    Qemik's eyes flick to the holoprojector, which is showing pirate ships passing unmolested through the field of repped drones. Obviously these are smugglers who have paid their bribes to Pollos. Pollos is arrogant indeed to not even hide his misdeeds, though Qemik of course is already very aware of them.

    Qemik: We are both High Imperial Navitateces, Pollos.

    Pollos: Indeed we are. Equal in status.

    Though in fact, the two captains are technically of equal rank, in practice captains of battlecruisers - such as Qemik commands - are respected more greatly than captains of carriers - like Pollos. But now, with the High Empire almost completely wiped out in cataclysmic war, there is no higher authority to enforce such practical distinctions.

    Only Kim, as a High Imperial Powerplayer - the only known surviving member of that prestigious order - now outranks them, among everyone in the Terminus systems. And Pollos has ingratiated himself to the gullible cat-man with flattery.


    Qemik: So we must work together for the good of the Terminus systems. There may be other outlying High Imperial stations, in farflung corners of the Deep Void, but they are beyond our reach. So far as we know, we are all that is left of the High Empire.

    Pollos: They are under control. I have had them under control since before you arrived and replaced Flowdy.

    Technically, Kim has replaced Flowdy as proconsul, but Qemik does most of the actual governance, given Kim's relative incompetence. He cannot govern Pollos however, not now, not with the higher command structure obliterated.

    Pollos leans forward, staring levelly into Qemik's three differently-colored eyes.


    Pollos: I would still have them under control if you were...gone.

    Qemik recognizes the veiled threat, and knew it was a great risk to venture onboard Pollos' ship alone. He remains calm however.

    Qemik: My crew is very loyal to me, as I'm sure your spies have discovered - and would reward any assassination with cold vengeance. Besides...are you prepared to deal with the manifold threats of those who would seek to punish us for the perceived transgressions of our dead deity? Gods and empires who are now greater than a tiny sector on the edge of a single galaxy?

    Pollos' face pales, but only slightly. Qemik has read him correctly. Pollos is an avaricious man, but not particularly ambitious.

    Pollos: Do not think that you can command me by fiat alone, Qemik.

    Qemik: Of course not. But I have a proposal for you, one that may be mutually beneficial. One that may be the first of many mutually beneficial proposals between us.

    Pollos: Intriguing. Do go on.

    Qemik: You have certain... underworld contacts. Dealers who can net you auctions over valuable assets.

    Pollos: And you were provide such assets for this purpose.

    His voice is deadpan, obviously disbelieving.

    Qemik: An asset, in this case, which is no longer valuable - a fact which the universe at large does not yet realize: the Scion of Divinity's Anti-Deific Wards.

    Pollos stares in shock at Qemik.

    Pollos: Are you mad? Even I would not hand such power over, no matter how well paid.

    Qemik's reply is with a thin smile.

    Qemik: Nor would I. But they no longer hold any power.

    Pollos: What.

    Qemik: The Anti-Deific Wards are defunct. It was Highemperor's blessing that sustained all Anti-Deific Wards, and with his passing, so too have my ship's Anti-Deific Wards - and I would presume all Anti-Deific Wards in the multiverse, assuming there are any others surviving - failed.

    Pollos chuckles.

    Pollos: It's too bad you're not corrupt, Qemik. You would be very good at this. But why would you hand me the means to obtain great profit? What's your angle?

    Qemik: I would expect extremely large profits from such a sale...a share of which could go to the proconsul's coffers. Such funds would help greatly in securing our province.

    Pollos: And what makes you think I wouldn't just keep them all?

    Qemik: Nothing. But then I would less inclined to bring you future proposals. And I imagine you'd prefer a secure and stable Terminus over being a wandering vagabond with your carrier.

    Pollos: A vagabond captain with his own High Imperial carrier would be rather secure, and a fearsome marauder indeed.

    Qemik: Indeed, but if he would be hunted by those seeking vengeance, without the support of a secure Terminus. And he would have to raid others to obtain profits. I imagine you vastly prefer being handed profits by your pirate cohorts.

    It is Pollos' turn to smile thinly.

    Pollos: You are bold and persuasive, Qemik.

    Qemik: A pleasure doing business with you.

    He stands up and walks to the door.

    Pollos: Give my regards to the proconsul.

    Qemik does not reply as he walks out back towards the shuttle bay. He knows that Pollos' last words to him are a reminder that the carrier captain is still a wild card, even though he may be amicable to Qemik's proposal's.

    But Qemik does not overly mind. What Pollos is failing to consider...is that whomever he sells the now-defunct Anti-Deific Wards to, will be VERY unhappy to be cheated...

  22. #142
    Virgin Fleet Admiral
    Posts
    1,325

    The Witch-Wardens of Myst Sector

    There are billions of stars in the Milky Way galaxy. A certain cluster, containing mere thousands of said solar bodies, is called the Myst Sector, and is steeped in millions of years of civilized history, much of which is shrouded in legend and folklore. Today, however, the Myst Sector is divided, as it has been for untold ages, into dozens of governing bodies.

    Although there are several particularly large governments that dominate the rest, all of these interstellar nations are independent of each other. They share many common facets of culture, however, and reap the benefits of a free trade alliance and open borders with each other.

    Certainly there are feuds between these realms. But most who live here consider themselves "Mysters" first, before their interstellar nationality. And should anyone attempt to conquer the entire sector - as has happened a fair number of times throughout remembered history - all Mysters rise up together to defend themselves - which they have always done successfully.

    According to legend, there is only one time during which the Myst Sector was unified under a single banner: during the terrible reign of the Vincerium, a magocratic empire millions of years ago. Supernatural entities, or those with supernatural abilities - be they demons, demigods, psionics, wizards, dragons, or something else - held absolute power and authority over mundane folk, and abused their powers. Even the best of these magocrats were whimsical, and the worst were cruel tyrants.

    Rebellions were always quickly put down, with some ease. Until one group of guerillas began developing techniques to counter the supernatural abilities of their overlords. Their resources and numbers grew, and they became known as the witch-wardens, their anti-supernatural sciences gradually freeing planet after planet, until the Vincerium finally fell.

    No one with supernatural abilities has ever held a position of power anywhere in the Myst Sector since then. On some planets, supernaturals are tolerated but still closely watched; on others, they are imprisoned, persecuted, or killed.

    And the witch-wardens remain to this day, a heroic and highly respected order who can be relied upon to hunt down any supernatural they, their allies, or their clients require. They maintain outposts, called Circles, everywhere through the Myst Sector, and in many places throughout the galaxy, and even occasionally beyond it. For their home base however,, a single star system within the Myst Sector - the Teknis system - was long ago dedicated to the sole sovereignty of the witch-wardens, independent from any oversight or control.

    The Teknis Circle, as this system is generally known, consists of several planets and hundreds of space stations orbiting a trinary star (composed of three suns). While most Circles are smaller - usually a compound aboard a planet or space station - the size of the star system means a great deal of extravagance is in place. Not luxurious extravagance - although the witch-wardens do live comfortably enough once they have passed their training - but extravagance of resources and arsenals.

    For instance, the entire system is shrouded in an anti-super field; fueled by the nuclear energy of the three suns, it suppresses any sort of supernatural ability or manifestation (magic, psionic, or otherwise), save for select areas within the Teknis Circle determined by the witch-wardens. There is even an ethereal tasseotechnical dispersion aura as part of the field, which inhibits powerplaying abilitiies

    In one very large section of the asteroid belt, massive force fields hem in dozens of captive dragons. These are the hunting grounds, in which trainees prove their capabilities against draconic foes; but they are also testing grounds for new and better weapons against dragons.

    One planet is known only as the Forgeworld, and is entirely covered in metal, save for gaping holes of molten metal that flare up into the atmosphere. Here the witch-wardens construct their weapons, supplies, and ships.

    A barren desert world, called the Hot Room, houses the primary prisons for the witch-wardens, where they incarcerate dangerous supernaturals, or experiment on them to better devise counters against their ilk.

    One planet, called the Barn, is dedicated almost completely to the farms supplying the self-sufficient witch-wardens' dietary needs. The mountain ranges are where the trainees are housed and educated.

    Still another planet is a toxic swamp referred to as the Kitchen Sink. The chemical-rich sludge serves as a rich incubator for the ingredients that make the witch-warden's alchemical (but nonmagical) potions (which they use for enhanced prowess in a number of areas).

    There are myriad other installations and planets in the Teknis Circle star system, but you get the idea. Perhaps the most secure place in the entire area, however...is currently the destination of a witch-warden shuttle.


    General Thrass: What do you know of the Loft, Templar?

    The general is sitting in the command chair behind the pilot's seat, as the three suns grow larger through the forward port. He is a drow who has spent nearly three dozen lifetimes in the service of the witch-wardens, and served as one of their top generals for the last four lifetimes. He is quite young, only a few years into adulthood, yet his eyes are old, for he has already awakened, and remembers all of his past lives.

    Templar Yurk: The only thing I know for certain is that the most dangerous artifacts of the witch-wardens are kept there, and that is where the, ah, Grand Lord Inquisitor is...imprisoned. Everything else is only rumors I have heard, both before and after my training.

    Yurk is a witch-warden, newly ascended to the rank of Templar after eight years of service since his training ended. He is nearly 8 feet tall, yet willowy thin, his slender frame belying the amount of lean muscle he sports. This body type is common among his race, the Lorekii, and his leathery skin - which is actually ultraviolet in hue - appears as a different color based on the perceptory capabilities of whoever is looking at him. While he has a mouth and nose and ears, he has no hair and no eyes. Lorekii have excellent senses of taste, hearing, and scent, and their tactile awareness is so great that they can be aware of virtually everything for half a mile around them, merely through subtle shifts in air, sound, and scent.

    As a Lorek, Yurk's sense of touch is so acute that he can pilot the shuttle based on the radiation bands he feels on his skin, often with more precision than any witch-warden of a species with eyes.

    The standard matte black uniform of the witch-wardens clads him - as one does Thrass, although the generals has several badges and insignias on his - and a variety of weapons are strapped to his bandoliers and holsters. Most of the weapons are of a ballistic variety, and fire silver projectiles, as the alchemically treated silver of the witch-wardens can pierce almost any supernatural entity. Though most witch-wardens wear a green scanner over one eye - which assists in detection and accuracy - the eyeless Yurk has a green plug in one nostril, which serves the same function.


    General Thrass: Now that you're a Templar, you're privy to the knowledge of the Loft, and today is as good a time as any since I have to visit anyway. Keep your trap shut and your eyes - er, nostrils - open. And don't deviate from the flight protocols, or I'll be reincarnating many decades earlier than I'd like.

    Templar Yurk: Yes, Sir.

    Yurk pilots the shuttle carefully as directed between the three suns. The three suns are so close together that to pass between them is almost always fatally destructive. But there are certain 'paths' between them, known only to the senior witch-wardens, by which a small craft can thread safely through the deadly solar fire to the point directly in the center of all three suns.

    Yurk is sweating as he forces his fingers not to grip the controls so tightly. Witch-wardens of Templar rank and above travel regularly to and from the Loft, but this is first time, and it's really hitting home that each and every journey to the heart of Teknis is a matter of life and death.


    General Thrass: Not bad, Templar. Not bad at all. The starboard shield generator didn't even need to bleed off heat into more than one thermal dispersion sink.

    Templar Yurk: I-- Thank you, sir.

    The space station known as the Loft is directly ahead of them, spinning slowly around as tongues of star flame lick at it, warded off by potent force shields. The installation is the size of a small city, and Yurk lands the shuttle inside a hangar, breathing a sigh of relief as they touch down safely.

    Templar Yurk: Awaiting orders, sir.

    General Thrass: I already gave you one, and you're disobeying it. Keep. Your. Trap. Shut. Now code-lock the shuttle and follow me.

    Yurk wonders why the shuttle needs to be code-locked instead of the normal locking protocols. Is the Grand Lord Inquisitor considered so dangerous, even while imprisoned? Nonetheless, he obeys, and disembarks the shuttle after his superior.

    The hangar itself is nondescript, appearing virtually identical to any standard hangar bay that might be found throughout the Milky Way galaxy. But once they pass beyond the hangar - through a heavily armored door which Thrass opens with a combination of keycodes and retinal and fingerprint scans - the place becomes a fortress. Thick bulkheads made of rare and incredibly sturdy materials compose every surface. The arrangement of the station is into several levels, with crisscrossing hallways where every junction appears identical.

    Thrass navigates effortlessly through the labyrinth, though Yurk is hopelessly lost. There are no signs or symbols of any kind. They pass many sealed doors - as heavily armored as the bulkhead surfaces - but no indication of any kind reveals what is behind each one, and they are all evenly spaced.


    General Thrass: You will become familiar with the contents of each vault in time, and eventually the pathways will become instinct for you. Normally I would show a new Templar some of the artifacts which we keep safe here - those that we can't destroy, or that we study to devise counters against - but we've business.

    Yurk almost asks, 'With the Grand Lord Inquisitor?' but remembers just in time to keep his trap shut. He merely nods, though the drow general can't see it, walking in front of him. They ascend several levels in a lift, and are discharged onto a level appearing identical to the previous one. More wanderings, more lifts. Endless identical hallways and doors.

    Yurk is marveling at the sheer scope of this labyrinth, and he wonders why they couldn't have just taken a single lift to whatever level they're heading for. After some thought, he postulates that each lift accesses only a certain number of floors, so as to hamper any attempts at escape or infiltration. He makes a mental note to ask Thrass once he is given permission to speak again.

    Finally, the general stops in front of a door that appears no different from any other. Yurk holds his breath in anticipation as the general opens several doors in a row, one behind another, each composed of a different material, each opened with a different means. Once the last of ten successive doors is opened - in classic "Get Smart" style, Yurk peers in curiously.

    He is somewhat disappointed. There is only an ordinary-looking computer panel. Thrass presses some keys, and a tone sounds.


    Computerized Voice: Unlocked.

    General Thrass: There are nine more chambers like this one, before we can access the Grand Lord Inquisitor's cell. Be patient, lad.

    Yurk's eyes boggle. It had taken them half an hour of traveling through the labyrinth just to get to this vault, but that's only a tenth of the way through?

    They walk out of the vault, the ten doors closing behind them and sealing once more, and Thrass takes the lead again.


    General Thrass: Also, if a different tone had played when I keyed the unlock sequence, it would mean that we had been assessed as enemies and would be misdirected and possibly terminated. Never forget any unlock sequences you learn for the Vault, or you will hear that tone.

    Yurk has seen enough action as a witch-warden not to pale, and nods grimly. How dangerous the Grand Lord Inquisitor must be, to merit this sort of security. He remembers some of the more imaginative rumors, and begins to wonder if some of them are true. It does seem unlikely that he's a giant space squid, however, as such a creature would have some difficulty fitting into a vault; on the other hand, the witch-wardens do possess tesseract technology.

    Finally, after ten iterations of computerized voices saying 'Unlocked', they arrive at what Yurk presumes is the prison cell. He is unsurprised to find it behind a door identical to every other in these myriad hallways, and he watches the drow general open a sequence of not ten but
    thirty successive doors in a row, one behind the other, each opened by a means different from each other or the hundred doors of the "Unlocking" vaults.

    ???: Ah, a visitor.

    Yurk's ears perk up as they walk into the inner vault. They are in a relatively narrow but long chamber, and a wall of diamond-laced transparisteel separates the chamber from the true cell: a cluster of expansive and luxurious chambers in a row. The outer chamber, separated from the luxurious multi-roomed cell, wraps all the way around the row of luxurious rooms, but Thrass and Yurk do not need to perambulate, for the prisoner is already in the room before them: a library of some sort, with shelves of books and a sophisticated computer terminal.

    ???: Thrass, my old friend. And a new protégé.

    The prisoner appears as a human man with a bald hair and well trimmed silver beard, with piercing blue eyes. He wears a well-tailored leisure suit, but it is just tight enough to reveal the rippling of the man's musculature beneath it. He sets down a thick tome which he is reading to rest his eyes on the new Templar.

    General Thrass: You may speak now, Templar. There is a filter in the transparisteel wall that prevents him from hearing us or reading our lips unless one of these panels is unlocked and held down.

    He gestures to a panel behind them.

    Templar Yurk: Yes, sir.

    General Thrass: However, once I open communications with him, do not - I repeat, do NOT - say anything, or make any move, or so much as twitch a muscle, UNTIL the panel is locked again.

    Templar Yurk: Yes, sir.

    General Thrass: Now, for your questions. I'm sure you have some.

    Templar Yurk: I-- Yes, sir. This is... the Grand Lord Inquisitor?

    Thrass chuckles.

    General Thrass: A rather grandiose title, but yes, this is Inquisitor Alpha, oldest and most senior of the witch-wardens' inquisitors.

    Inquisitors are the witch-wardens' scientists and sages, the problem solvers and thinkers and tinkerers. They specialize in creating solutions to employ against the supernatural. Yurk had once met Inquisitor Delta, who had invented the Nova Shroud project on behalf of the Void Rangers.

    Templar Yurk: He, um... he's not a squid.

    Thrass chuckles heartily.

    General Thrass: No, indeed not. He's a Jovian. A shapeshifter. We don't know what his true form looks like, but he's taken a great many over the term of his imprisonment.

    Templar Yurk: Why is he imprisoned?

    General Thrass: Because he is possibly the most dangerous enemy the witch-wardens have ever faced.

    The young Lorekii Templar blinks in surprise.

    Templar Yurk: Then... why is he an inquisitor?

    General Thrass: We need his brilliance. He is quite possibly the greatest anti-supernatural thinker in the multiverse. And while he doesn't exactly enjoy being imprisoned, we keep him comfortable and provide him with interesting enough conundrums to keep him...content.

    Templar Yurk: Then why isn't he free? If he's an anti-supernaturalist like us.

    General Thrass: Because he is unique, so far as our intelligence knows. He is an archmage and Class One psion.

    It's all Templar Yurk can do not to jerk in surprise and draw his weapon. Only the sure knowledge of the anti-supernatural field blanketing the entire Teknis system stays his hand.

    General Thrass: Well, at least he's classified as an archmage by Jovian, drow, and Borean standards. The Toiletium would classify him as apprentice-level, due to their odd requirements for plumbing knowledge. And the High Empire would have classified him as a master mage, one step below what they consider a true archmage.

    Yurk says nothing, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

    General Thrass: And...unlike anyone else we have ever heard of...he is immune to most anti-supernatural counters.

    This time, only seeing the general's confident demeanor stays Yurk's hand. The Templar manages to keep his voice steady.

    Templar Yurk: You mean that...the anti-magic and anti-psionic auras of the Teknis Circle...don't work against him.

    General Thrass: That is correct.

    Yurk could swear there is a smile dancing behind the general's eyes. The drow must enjoy every new Templar's reaction to this knowledge.

    Templar Yurk: Then what is keeping him imprisoned?

    General Thrass: It is true that supernatural suppression fields do not negate his abilities. It is true that our quicksilver bullets and missiles cannot pierce any supernatural shielding he might muster. However, once he was captured, he was surgically implanted with cognitive inhibitors. Any time he tries to do anything supernatural, he begins rapping uncontrollably.

    Yurk looks incredulously at the drow general, and then at the prisoner expectantly. The Jovian meets his eyeless gaze, waiting patiently. Apparently he too is used to long conversations between the general and any new Templar he brings in to see him.

    Templar Yurk: You cannot be serious.

    General Thrass: I am dead serious.

    Templar Yurk: But why...rapping?

    Thrass shrugs.

    General Thrass: I don't know the technicalities of it, but to my understanding it's something to do with the most feasible neurochemical redirection.

    Templar Yurk: Alright. When's the last time he rapped?

    General Thrass: Not since before I left Caledonia for the first time, many centuries ago. I can show you a recording before we leave, if you like.

    Templar Yurk: I have to see this.

    General Thrass: Not just yet. Any further questions?

    Yurk considers.

    Templar Yurk: If he is himself a powerful wizard and psion, why is also such an expert on countering supernaturals?

    General Thrass: It was cunning on his part. His unique immunity to most anti-supernaturalism left him in the perfect position to exploit it. He taught himself such methods, and thereafter, whenever he fought against enemy supernaturals, he employed counters such as antimagic auras, which would render his foes powerless but not affect him in the slightest.

    Yurk nods thoughtfully.

    Templar Yurk: Is he... immortal? I didn't know Jovians had a longer-than-average lifespan.

    General Thrass: Yes, and no. His supernatural abilities once made him immortal once upon a time.

    Templar Yurk: But he's been cerebrally inhibited for...millions of years, if the rumors are true.

    General Thrass: In that one case, they are. He has been a prisoner for almost as long as the witch-wardens have existed. He likely remembers things that our oldest historical databanks have forgotten.

    Templar Yurk: Yet you say he's not immortal.

    General Thrass: His prison is contained within a temporal suppression field. Time seems to pass normally within, except for the fact that his body does not age.

    Templar Yurk: Suppression, you say. Not stasis.

    General Thrass: Ah, you're a quick one. Yes. You know what that means.

    Templar Yurk: If he ever steps out of his prison, his age will catch up to him in instants, killing him and inflicting eons of decomposition.

    General Thrass: Correct. He would instantly become dust. Literally.

    Grand Lord Inquisitor Alpha: Come, general. I presume you have something important for me.

    The drow general ignores the prisoner, continuing to look at Yurk.

    General Thrass: Anything else, Templar?

    Templar Yurk: What is his name?

    Thrass blinks, then he chuckles softly.

    General Thrass: That is a question I have not heard a new Templar ask for at least three lifetimes. We don't know. The secret is so old that even our historical databanks don't record it. It's possible he himself has forgotten. He is just Inquisitor Alpha.

    Yurk nods.

    Templar Yurk: Thank you, sir. I have no further questions.

    General Thrass: Very good. Now remember - keep your trap shut.

    He depresses the panel on the wall behind them and address the prisoner.

    General Thrass: We have a new object of study for you.

    Inquisitor Alpha: I know you, Thrass. You seem unusually excited. Must be something juicy.

    Templar Yurk refrains from raising an eyebrow. The drow general seems just as reserved as ever to him.

    General Thrass: We have obtained an Anti-Deific Ward.

    Both of Inquisitor Alpha's eyebrows raise.

    Inquisitor Alpha: Astonishing. I suppose it's no use asking how you obtained one.

    General Thrass makes no reply. The prisoner does not seem to expect one.

    Inquisitor Alpha: Intriguing indeed. By all means, send me your scans. I shall take great delight in reverse-engineering it. The means to counter a deity's power...something you witch-wardens haven't always succeeded at, isn't it?

    General Thrass locks the panel on the wall behind him, then presses some keys on his wrist console. The screen on the computer terminal in the prisoner's library lights up, presumably with the scans.

    General Thrass: We will leave him to it. For now we should--

    His wrist console beeps indignantly, flashing bright red. The drow flicks a switch on it.

    General Thrass: What is it?

    NovAI: General Thrass, there is a priority-two red alert.

    General Thrass: Connect me to the war room!

    He strides out of the vault, and Yurk hurries after him. The doors seal behind them, and Thrass navigates them quickly back through the labyrinth.

    General Magog: Thrass, are you still in the Loft? Get back to command, pronto!

    General Thrass: You know there's dozens of anti-teleportation fields on this station. I'm hurrying. Now what's the damn sitrep?

    General Magog: Massive invasion force appeared on the edge of the Milky Way. Energy signatures consistent with millions of alien war vessels and high magical capabilities.

    General Thrass: Who are they? Where are they from?

    General Magog: Unknown, but preliminary observations from New Centuria - the first planet they're hitting - suggest that they're Greys.

    General Thrass: Greys?! Greys don't have powerful magicks and a galactic invasion fleet!

    General Magog: Somehow they do, Thrass. Hurry back. The witch-wardens are going to be needed......
    Last edited by Al Ciao; 02-02-2017 at 01:00 AM.

  23. #143
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    Sigils Stating Secrets, Part One -- The Old Ones

    Hermes Trismegistus - now the Runekeeper, cosmic god over all magic in the NeSiverse - sits in a comfortable Barca-Lounger on a dais within an undersea ziggurat. This ziggurat sits on the Kergulen Plateau on the sea floor, amidst the sunken ruins of the ancient queendom Kumari Kandam.

    It was here that R.I.T.E. had brought the hedrons and made way for Mega Jonestown Prime's return. Even before then, the original Runekeeper had been drawing up plans for a great cathedral to be established here. He could not build his grand temple on the site of Earth's new ultranexus in Seattle, as the Three Fates had destined Bob Roberts to live there instead.

    So instead, not deeming it worth the trouble it would cause him with the Three Fates to depose that destiny, the Runekeeper had settled for this undersea ziggurat, which lies on the exact opposite side of the earth from the Seattle ultranexus. The Runekeeper's schematics for this cathedral are in the great Book now chained to Hermes' wrist, and while he has not bothered to construct it, the new Runekeeper nonetheless chooses to make his new abode here in the ancient ruined ziggurat - keeping such a dangerous object as his Book far away from the prying eyes of the other Earth gods on Olympus.

    The rooms within the ziggurat have been magically cleared out of water, for the most part, though channels and pools remain for merfolk and such to visit. One such, a mermaid, is visiting Hermes now, head bobbing from the pool in the ziggurat's throne room. She does not wear a seashell bra - what do you think this is, a Disney movie? - but instead wears a black-censor-bar bra, which had been foisted upon her by the CensorGod once when he recently visited the new Runekeeper.


    Mermaid: So I left a pearl in the upper chambers somewhere before you cleared out the water. Could you be a dear and fetch it for me?

    Hermes is poring intently through the Book, currently on his lap, but raises his fingers and idly conjures the pearl - an unblemished, perfectly round jewel the size of a fist - into his hands, which he then telekinetically floats over to the mermaid.

    Hermes Trismegistus: Is that the one?

    Mermaid: Yes, thank you, you're a doll!

    Hermes Trismegistus: Mm-hmm.

    He has not looked up from the pages of his Book the whole time. The mermaid twists her lip. It seems impossible to garner his attention.

    Mermaid: Well, I suppose I'll leave for now then. Ta-ta!

    She waits. After a moment, Hermes' brain belatedly pokes him.

    Hermes Trismegistus: Mm-hmm.

    Mermaid: Unless you want me to stay?

    She says this hopefully. There is no response, so finally she sighs and dives down - making sure to splash him with a great slap of her tail on the water. Hermes and the Book are drenched.

    Hermes Trismegistus: Hey!

    But the mermaid is already gone, though he is faintly aware of her watery giggling in the distance. Fortunately, the Book is water-proof - in fact being invulnerable on such a scale that it could probably shrug off a direct blast from a powerplayer - and Hermes mutters an arcane syllable to magically dry himself off.

    Hermes Trismegistus: Fool woman...

    He grumbles this, oblivious to the mermaid's interest in him. But he has the Book to pore over. It is more than a repository of magic in the NeSiverse, though that by itself is impressive enough. It holds incredible secrets and knowledge.

    For instance, the Book tells when the Deep Void will end; and the identity of the Beast in the Abyss below Tartarus; and perhaps most astonishingly of all, exactly how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop!

    it was some of these secrets that the CensorGod recently visited Hermes about. The Book contains the knowledge of everything that any Censor anywhere has ever censored out. The CensorGod had a deal with the original Runekeeper to keep that forbidden knowledge secret, and had bargained with Hermes for the same.

    The original Runekeeper had been difficult to bribe, but Hermes even more so. Hermes had finally agreed in exchange for three favors, of a kind and at a time of his choosing, to which the CensorGod had reluctantly assented.

    Given the scope and scale of knowledge in the Book, Hermes is almost surprised that it doesn't purport to know a Name for the Nameless. The secrets contained within it seem far more than should be available to a minor universe like the NeSiverse. On the other hand, Highemperor and the God-Monarchs had both contributed to making the NeSiverse powerful, and this Book had been crafted by Chimaat herself and gifted directly to the old Runekeeper before Mega Jonestown Prime had originally left the NeSiverse millions of years ago.

    Now, Hermes reads ancient history. Rather than text, shifting diagrams upon the pages spin the tale: they directly impart visual, audial, and emotional awareness of events to him...


    Quote Originally Posted by The Book
    Before the beginning, there is the Nameless. After the end, there is the Nameless. The Nameless is unknowable, uncategorizable. But Forever - despite its grandeur and vastness - can be known, if only barely, by minds sufficient enough. Thus Forever, in a primordial state bereft of time and form, once always existed as a nonreality, a For Never rather than For Ever, and the Nameless so was not alone.

    There are strange beings in this primordial Forever, this For Never, and those minds that know of them refer to them as the Old Ones. The Endless, the Faceless, and others, they were. Some postulate that the Nameless him/her/itself is an Old One, but if so, he/she/it is nonetheless a very different kind.

    It is difficult to describe the unexistence that is - and always never was - the For Never, or the lives of the Old Ones, but after a timeless un-age, something new spontaneously appears in the For Never.

    High Angel: I...am. I...exist. Who am I? Where am I? Why am I?

    He receives no answers, this firstborn of seraphs, and drifts purposelessly as the Old Ones eye him with interest. But having no purpose, this new High Angel does nothing, and the interest of the Old Ones begins to wane.

    Another timeless un-age passes, and then Kronos, firstborn of titans, appears spontaneously. Chaos - the chaos of existence and reality - exude from him, creating the other titans. The Old Ones' interest is drawn again, but then they recoil in horror as the titans exude massive chaos, filling the For Never with existence and reality, a Ginungagap that is the chaotic stew which changes For Never into Forever. The titans are born with purpose, and begin crafting, spinning chaos into order.

    Faceless: Who among us has created this abomination?

    But none of them has, just as none of them has created the High Angel.

    Endless: Nameless. It is he/she/it who has done this, if none of us have!

    And so the Old Ones declared war upon the newness, and began obliterating chaos and order alike. High Angel watches still. Should he help them? Should he help the titans? Should he help neither, or perhaps both?

    Kronos approaches him, a gigantic figure to the human-sized High Angel - though of course neither of them knows what a human is at this time, as that race does not exist at that point - and proffers to him a glowing ball of light.

    High Angel: What is this?

    Kronos: I felt the weight of a gaze upon me, and then that gaze turn upon you. Thus I knew I must create this and give it unto you.

    The titans are not given to introspection; they know only purpose, that of creation, and so do it. High Angel though, wonders.

    High Angel: What is this? And whose gaze is it?

    If titans shrugged, Kronos would have done so.

    Kronos: I know not whose gaze. But this is a matrix of light. It contains all the heroic energy gathered and ordered and created by myself and my brethren. Throughout all multiverses that shall ever be, wherever and whenever there is a hero, that hero shall draw from this matrix. A Lightside. It is yours.

    The ball of light floats to High Angel, and Kronos turns away, his task finished. High Angel still has questions, but knows Kronos cannot answer them. He studies the ball of light, the Lightside matrix, and accepts it into himself. As it suffuses him with a brilliant glow, he gasps aloud.

    Because purpose is now filling him.

    Heroically, he leaps to the defense of the titans, and of the Ginungagap that is transforming For Never into Forever. The Old Ones, though beings of incomprehensible power, cannot stay his power, for High Angel's innate strength is incredible and insurmountable, now that a purpose drives it. His strength is his own, gifted by whoever created him - the Nameless, as most speculate - but it is the Lightside that turns his strength to heroic purpose.

    The Old Ones are defeated, most of them killed. The titans take the corpse of the Endless and use it as a framework to contain all multiverses, an infinite boundary to Forever. The wise and learned often refer to this Old One corpse as Ourobouros.

    Four of the Old Ones are shackled and bound.

    High Angel: What shall I do with them?

    If titans shrugged, Kronos would have. The Old Ones seethe with anger and fury, and do not reply. It is then that High Angel experiences his second epiphany.

    It is widely agreed that, whenever someone is touched by what is presumably the Nameless, that someone experiences the sensation as one of seven aspects. Some experience it as a Voice, speaking to them. Others, as a Hand touching them. Still others as an Eye(s) gazing upon them. And so on.

    High Angel, insofar as is known, is the only one to ever experience all seven aspects at once. He hears the Voice, he feels the Hand, he sees the Eye(s). And that collective sensation tells him. He is the Nameless's herald, his/her/its champion. And he knows what to do.

    High Angel: Even evil has a purpose, a place. For Balance must always be kept. You four shall be heralds, riders, forerunners of apocalypse, riding in to maintain balance wherever it is needed. But it shall not be my prerogative alone to command you. Kronos!

    Kronos: What is it, tiny herald of that gaze I feel?

    High Angel: I require a masterwork. Seven masterworks.

    And so High Angel and all the titans create seven artifacts, that are changeable in form and size and type, depending upon the time and place they are in, and upon the viewer or wielder. High Angel imbues within them the seven aspects that have created, empowered, and commanded him, and thus these seven artifacts become the Seven Seals of the Nameless's authority...

    ...Just as the titans complete the first universe of the new Forever, surrounded by the infinite chaos of Ginungagap.
    ***

    NSP: I have more on some general history of the Four Horsemen and such later
    Last edited by Al Ciao; 02-18-2017 at 08:58 PM.

  24. #144
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    Sigils Stating Secrets, Part Two -- The First

    Hermes Trismegistus chomps on a donut as he continues to read from the Book in the undersea ziggurat...

    Quote Originally Posted by The Book
    From Ginungagap the titans create Phractal, thus giving dimension and presence to Forever, and casting a fractal pattern for Anti-Existentessence. Then, they create the first universes.

    In this early pre-age, outside and before time, there cannot truly be a 'first' universe in the ordinary sense. However, certainly among these earliest of universes is that which will one day become known as Heinyrios, named after its most dominant species, the Heinyrians.
    As Hermes reads, the CensorGod comes back in, after having recently departed.

    CensorGod: Yo, Hermes, I left my fez here.

    Hermes raises an eyebrow.

    Hermes Trismegistus: A...fez?

    CensorGod: Hey, fezzes are cool!

    This said defensively. A whoosh heralds the arrival of a Blue Box(TM), and Peter Capaldi sticks his head out.

    The Doctor: Normally, I'd be upset over the blatant rip-off, but I'm just so happy to see a fellow fez-lover, that I'll let it slide! Cheerio!

    With another whoosh, the Blue Box(TM) disappears.

    CensorGod: Ah, here we go! Whatcha readin'?

    He sets the fez at a jaunty angle upon his head as he asks.

    Hermes Trismegistus: Some of the early history of the first universe. Heinyrios.

    The CensorGod makes a face.

    CensorGod: Ugh. Stupidly complicated name. That's it. As of now, I'm gonna start censoring stupidly complicated names!

    Hermes Trismegistus: What, so you're gonna censor it every time I say *********-- What the ****, man?!

    CensorGod: Come up with a more sensible alternative. Like... Henry.

    Hermes Trismegistus: ...Henry.

    This said in a deadpan, unimpressed voice.

    CensorGod: Right. The Henries, dominant race of the Henryverse!

    Hermes Trismegistus: Ugh, fine, if it gets you out of my hair. Now take that abominable fez out of my sight!

    The CensorGod gracefully accepts his victory, allowing the slight to his preferred head ornament, and departs once more. Hermes sighs.

    Hermes Trismegistus: A fez, really. He's so behind the times. Everyone knows bloints are all the rage now...

    He picks up his reading once more.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Book
    Meanwhile, as the titans continue their great works, High Angel releases his Four Horsemen and scatters the seven seals throughout creation. The Four Horsemen rampage and destroy, thus bringing a measure of balance, but their power is severely limited without the sanction of the seven seals bolstering them.

    That done, High Angel returns his attention to the cosms being created, and his eyes alight on the Henryverse. He notes with some interest that the titans inlaid that particular universe with a humongous supply of aether - a strange element that is not only a source of great magical energy but also one of reality's basic building blocks - concentrating it in a massive ultranexus at the Henryverse's center.

    High Angel: Why have you given this universe so much aether, Kronos?

    Kronos: We felt a gaze, and it lent us purpose unto that matter. And thus we did.

    High Angel: I suppose I should have known better than to ask...

    He regards the Henryverse further, and watches organic life bloom all over it, in great quantity and vigor. He sees the evolutionary seeds planted, that will one day produce all kinds of sentient races throughout that cosmos, but notes that no such evolutionary seeds are in the central ultranexus.

    High Angel: O Nameless, my master, should there be an emptiness of spirit and will at the center of this universe upon which you have bestowed glory, via your hands the titans?

    The archseraph perceives a Voice, a gaze, and a Hand, in reply.

    High Angel: Yes, O my master, it shall be done. Titans!

    The titans answer his call, and High Angel declares unto them a new purpose. Thus the titans craft life from the pure aether of the Henryverse ultranexus, and craft it in the likenesses of the Nameless's seven aspects, giving this life hands and eyes and voice.

    Thus The First is created - the progenitor of all Henries.
    Hermes Trismegistus: Ugh, stupid CensorGod. Now everyone's gonna think that all people named Henry are descendants of The First, when in fact this Book is just talking about the SPECIES called Henries.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Book
    Over eons, High Angel watches The First and his descendants, as they procreate and spread across the Henryverse. These Alpha Henries, crafted from pure aether and living in the light of the ultranexus, are phenomenally strong and intelligent, and possessed of manifold powers, as well as being immortal.

    Storyteller of Storytellers: You watch them with such fascination.

    High Angel jerks in surprise. His supreme awareness of his surroundings had not alerted him to this deity's presence. Has he been that caught up in his observations?

    High Angel: I do. They are...so very strange and wonderful.

    He turns to look at the Storyteller of Storytellers, a short unassuming old man, whose face cannot clearly be seen. This is the first of the narrative gods, by far the oldest of them all, who will one day be more commonly known as the Writer of Writers, or WriterGod.

    Storyteller of Storytellers: Indeed they are. They have a voice, hands, and eyes...and free will. But then, so do you.

    It is a statement, but High Angel answers the question implied in it.

    High Angel: I don't know what it is. Yes, I have free will, but...I don't know what to do with it, unless I am given purpose. I can choose not to follow that purpose, I suppose.

    He waves a hand towards the Henryverse, indicating the Henries as a whole.

    High Angel: But they...they take their lives and wills into their own hands. They make their own purposes, forge their own way.

    Storyteller of Storytellers: Exactly.

    High Angel looks sharply at the deity.

    High Angel: You already knew this is why I find them fascinating? Then why ask?

    Storyteller of Storytellers: What is better, to be told of truth, or to realize and truly understand truth for oneself?

    High Angel considers this.

    High Angel: What you speak is wisdom. Yet...you guided me to this self-realization.

    The deity gives a small smile, a twinkle in his eye.

    Storyteller of Storytellers: Perhaps I did.

    High Angel looks at the deity now, really looks, and though he sees nothing he did not already see, he nonetheless detects a sort of...is it familiarity? As though he has already known the deity forever, and is even more intimately known by him than he could ever know himself..

    High Angel: Then I too shall take my life and will into my own hands, and make myself a purpose of my own.

    He kneels before the deity.

    High Angel: I dedicate my purpose to you. I swear myself to you, to your wisdom, and to your teachings. And if you are who I think you are, then I doubly renew my ancient vows to you.
    Hermes swallows the last bit of his latest donut.

    Hermes Trismegistus: Incredible. I wonder if that is the first instance in multiversal history of the WriterGod being thought of as one and the same as the Nameless? I find it odd though, that High Imp would have served the WriterGod so faithfully for so long, without ever having his belief confirmed. Then again, I suppose that is what faith is about.

    He shakes his head. Faith is a foreign concept to a deity, who does not have to take his own existence on faith. He grabs another donut and keeps reading.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Book
    The Alpha Henries continue to flourish, and after more eons they attain the knowledge and magitech required to breach the cosmic barrier of their universe. The First himself puts together an expedition out into the multiversal frontier, and the seeds for the Alpha Reich - first, and purportedly greatest, of all multiversal empires - are sown.

    In the early days of the Alpha Reich - before its imperium is actually officially declared - it comes into conflict with the Four Horsemen. As the Alpha Henries' empire consists of larger and larger territory, the Four Horsemen's incursions become more likely and common.

    Usually the Four Horsemen are acting without the sanction of the seals, but are nonetheless terribly destructive regardless. Occasionally a madman has acquired one of the seals and unleashes a Horseman with greater power still.

    The First takes matters into his own hands. He undertakes a great quest to find and gather all seven seals, a herculean task that he nonetheless eventually succeeds at. Once he has all seven seals, he summons the Four Horsemen to him. With six seals, one could command the Four Horsemen to undertake any destructive or nefarious activity - as such activity is within their natures - and unleash them with fantastical strength, as unlocked by the sanction of six seals.

    But with all seven seals, The First was able to command the Four Horsemen to do something inimical to their natures. He commanded them to slumber eternally, never to raise their blades against the folk of Forever again...

    Before returning to the ultranexus - the capital of the Henries' imperium, at the center of their home universe - The First creates seven secret and highly fortified vaults, spread across the Alpha Henries' multiversal territory, and locks a seal within each one. Thus he ensures that none can ever reverse the command he gave the Four Horsemen, and that none of his fellow Alpha Henries' will ever give in to the temptation to unleash the terrible Four against their enemies.
    Hermes Trismegistus: Sealing evil away for all eternity...yeah, I think we all know how THAT'S gonna turn out.
    Last edited by Al Ciao; 02-18-2017 at 05:26 PM.

  25. #145
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    Sigils Stating Secrets, Part Three -- Fall of the Alpha Reich

    Hermes conjures a new box of donuts as he continues reading.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Book
    The Alpha Reich is the greatest power in the young Forever, stretching across multiverses. The Alpha Henries themselves are first among all citizens and the cream of all nobility, living immortal lives according to their whims, never knowing consequences.

    Eons have passed, though Forever is still very young at this point, and the Alpha Reich is bloated - with wealth, with power, with ego. The older Alpha Henries forget their past deeds as they wallow in luxury; the newer generations know nothing of the trials of their forebears and live frivolously.

    The Alpha Henries are divided into hundreds of noble houses, each house having a Voice on the Grand Parliament that governs the Reich. Bored with the challenges that other universes have to offer, the Henries instead quarrel with each other. Great political games are interwoven into every element of Alpha Henry subsociety, and ambitious scions grow restless under the authority of their immortal sires.

    The First sits quietly in the assemblage of the Grand Parliament, as Voices bicker and fume between each other, airing the perceived grievances of their respective houses. The oldest of all Alpha Henries is still in the prime of eternal youth, and is accorded supreme respect by all his descendants. But he is unable to correct their path. He chooses his words sparingly now, for the fewer one's words are, the greater impact they have.

    Yet even his few words cannot stop the tide. While non-Henry vassals fester in increasing poverty, the Henry nobles are at each other's throats. Yet The First admits that, even before the deadly political infighting began, the Alpha Henry lords weren't always good to their vassals. Not cruel, no - at least not usually - but unable to properly provide for them. Perfect beings who have never known infirmity or hunger cannot truly comprehend the mortality of others. The First alone is wise enough to understand this fact, but he knows that even he is ignorant of a true understanding of the mortals in the Alpha Reich.

    Within the Alpha Henry nobility itself, the political games are more vicious. Duels, assassinations, treacheries. The First forlornly remembers the old days, when the Alpha Henries were so noble of spirit that they spared the dissenting and violent and abnormal of their kind, instead banishing them rather than executing them. Now...murder is the result of the smallest slight.

    The Alpha Reich is on the brink of civil war. Noble houses are split into a dozen factions, and at any moment all could erupt into open battle, plunging the great empire into chaos.

    And The First cannot stop it. So he watches the assembly with hopeless eyes.

    Chimaat: I could stop it.

    The First: What--?

    The assembly chamber of the Grand Parliament is suddenly empty. A fog blankets the air in hazy light. Only The First remains, sitting in his throne-like seat of honor. The First...and one other, standing before him.

    The First: Who are you? What have you done?

    The figure before him is a young girl, apparently not even into her teen years. She wears an ornate fuschia dress, with long white stockings and stylish short heels. An-emerald set tiara of crystal is set atop her hair, a different shade of green from the emerald. Her eyes are pupilless, only irises and whites.

    Chimaat: My name is Chimaat! It's really rather a pretentious name, but I guess you don't mind, since you have a pretentious name yourself!

    The First tries to scowl, but instead he chuckles. This girl's demeanor is unexpectedly refreshing after the games and doublespeak of his fellow Alpha Henries.

    The First: I do not mind. Are we in a sort of mindscape?

    Chimaat: Yeah! A psychic conversation set in an instant between words. When we're done talking, you won't have missed a single second of your Grand Parliament!

    The First: A pity. I would not mind missing some of their rants.

    Chimaat giggles again.

    Chimaat: That's what I can help you with!

    The First arches an eyebrow. Chimaat has not really said who she is yet, and he believes her to be far older than she appears. He definitely senses the immense level of power residing within her though; the girl makes no attempt to mask it.

    The First: Are you going to strike me deaf then?

    Chimaat giggles again.

    Chimaat: I like you! I can defuse this imminent civil war. Your Alpha Reich won't last forever, and it won't necessarily be pleasant in its last years...but at least it won't splinter right now.

    The First regards her with wary interest.

    The First: How?

    Chimaat thrusts her finger triumphantly to the ceiling.

    Chimaat: That!

    Then she brings her arm down to point her finger at his nose.

    Chimaat: Would be telling!

    The First is not foolish enough to think the girl is telling him everything, but decides that she is being honest about what she is saying.

    The First: Why ask me? You're clearly powerful enough to infiltrate citadel security and my own psychic defenses. What do you need my permission for?

    Chimaat: I don't! But I thought I'd be polite.

    Then she is gone, and the Grand Parliament is back to normal, filled with Voices shouting at each other. The First sits back and steeples his fingers.
    Hermes licks his fingers after finishing his latest donut.

    Hermes Trismegistus: Intriguing, this. I never knew the Alpha Reich was on the brink of breaking apart, or that it would have fallen from that civil war long before it did eventually fall, thanks to Chimaat's involvement.

    He takes a moment to idly wonder what Chimaat did, before resuming his reading again, to find out.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Book
    The capital city of the Alpha Reich is built around the ultranexus at the heart of the Henryverse. Every Alpha Henry noble house has an estate here, linked by portals to whatever estates they may control in the farflung empire. It is a grand megalopolis so impossibly large that it fills up the entire local star system. An invulnerable shell surrounds the sun so that its heat does not adversely affect the portions of the city around it.

    The ultranexus itself is encased in a massive and secure vault. Once, when the capital city of the Alpha Reich merely covered its planet, the ultranexus was free for all to visit, to admire or bathe in its light. Now, the lords of the Alpha Henries are jealous of their power, drawn from the aether that fuels their mind-bogglingly potent magitech.

    In the center of the vault, the ultranexus appears as a massive glow of soft blue light, which strobes iridescent silver, white, and gold across the invulnerable metal of the vault's interior. Various eldritch machines surround it - on the ground, on the ceiling, on the walls, and in mid-air - monitoring it and siphoning it.

    Only Alpha Henries are allowed in here now, and only the highest-ranking of those in fact. The highest nobility...and the Keepers of the Aether. Tollius, one such Keeper - born and raised within the complex of the massive vault, and having never stepped foot outside it, as is common for the Keepers - takes up his guard shift at the central monitoring station.

    The magitech machines run themselves for the most part, and Tollius runs some cursory checks, chanting the appropriate rites as he does so, before kicking back, drinking some coffee, and tuning his mind to the news telefeed.

    Tollius: Kardashius being a slut again, who'd have ever guessed? Come on, show me the latest assassinations, that's the juicy stuff!

    The various displays and lights on the central monitoring stations flicker briefly, and Tollius frowns as he disconnects from the telefeed. Before he can do more than lean forward towards the controls, however, the vault goes completely dark. Even the machines seem to turn off, and no manner of visual enhancement can pierce the gloom.

    No one has time for an outcry, however, before the darkness lifts, having lasted only a split-second. But when the darkness lifts, then the outcries rise up in major panic. Because the glowing light in the center of the vault is gone.

    In its place is a mountainous pile of turnips.
    Hermes Trismegistus: Wow. I did not see that coming.

    He pauses.

    Hermes Trismegistus: Not the turnips. It was fairly obvious that turnips would be involved.

    He pauses again.

    Hermes Trismegistus: Why am I talking out loud anyway?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Book
    The First is astonished and trouble by the disappearance and evident theft of the ultranexus. The lords of the Alpha Henries are thrown into a panic. Chimaat's word was true however; the civil war is defused. No longer do the Alpha Henries have an infinite supply of top-quality aether to fuel their magitech war machines and spells.

    Instead, they band together to conserve the aether they have left - and more importantly, to hide its loss from the populace at large, lest enemies seek to exploit their weakness. The Alpha Henries do have vast reserves of aether, and so are able to maintain their faįade of strength for many millennia, but telltale signs herald their weakness.

    For instance, new Alpha Henries are not born immortal. They age - slowly, but nevertheless. Even the multitudinous Alpha Henries born before the theft of the ultranexus feel a loss of vigor, and before long they too begin to age, very slowly and subtly, a day for every century.

    Arcane machines and grandiose cities aren't maintained as much, or as well, due to dwindling supplies of aether. The magitech machines themselves don't work as well, without the ultranexus's stabilizing presence, even when they are fully fueled with reserve aether.

    And then the barbarians come. The descendants of the Alpha Henries long banished from the Reich for their violent and misanthropic tendencies. They have not known the immortality or magitech of the Reich lords, though they nevertheless still aged slowly and were stronger than most other mortals. They also had bred far more quickly than the Reich lords, and when they sensed weaknesses in their hated foes who had banished them, they struck.

    Leading enormous armies of everyone who had ever had cause against the Alpha Reich, the barbarians swarm into the multiversal empire, pillaging and sacking. Though some brave Alpha Henry nobles fight valiantly to defend their estates or their vassals, most retreat to the capital, sealing the portals behind them, unwilling to 'waste' the nearly-depleted aether on defending anything but their capital.

    Without the support of the Reich lords, most of the empire falls quickly, but the capital remains all but impregnable. Waves upon waves of the barbarians break again and again upon its barriers, as the Reich lords desperately wring every iota of potential out of their dwindling aether.

    To the frustration of the barbarian leaders, many of their allied armies disperse. The capital is too strongly defended to be worth taking, they reason, especially when they have these vast new territories to stake as their own! So a bulk of the barbarians remain, laying eternal siege to their hated once-brethren.

    The Reich lords dare to breathe again. Their aether is almost gone, but some among them, driven by desperation, have developed new technology, based upon science alone rather than an aether-blend with sorcery, and this new technology may be sufficient to hold back the vastly reduced besieging army's numbers forever.
    Hermes Trismegistus: Methinks the Alpha Henry Reich lords are forgetting something...though I suspect The First remembers, and awaits the end.

    Hermes already knows how this ends, though he had not previously known about the ultranexus's theft or the depleted aether.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Book
    But at long last, the end comes.

    The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse ride on the city of the one who imprisoned them. The seven secret strongholds, in which the seals of the Nameless had been encased, all lay in the captured territory of the Reich that its enemies now claimed. It has only been a matter of time for the fortresses to be discovered and - with its magitech deprived of the aether necessary for its running - cracked open.

    One by one, the seals are freed, and fools each utilize one to set a Horseman on a destructive path. Once awakened, the Four Horsemen ride on the city of The First with vengeance. The once-Old-Ones sit astride vaguely-reptilian looking horse-analogues, taloned hooves galloping across empty space as easily as though it were ground.

    All the Alpha Henries, barbarians and Reich lords alike, look in terrified awe at their coming. In the heart of the fantastically huge city, the sun turns blood red and boils hot enough to melt the invulnerable shell around it, torching half of the city in instants. The walls around the city splinter apart. Wormwood comets slam from nowhere into the city, their impact craters infecting everything around them, both living and inanimate, with fetid corruption.

    The Horsemen themselves ride in, trampling any barbarian that gets in their way. Their weapons sweep wide arcs of destruction as they ruin the city, until they reach the Grand Parliament chamber. The roof of that governmental palace is torn off, and The First, sitting alone within it, looks impassively up at the Four Horsemen who approach him from the sky.

    First is War. Once the Old One known as the Dauntless, he now rides a red 'horse', a cataphract covered in black spiky armor. A horned helmet hides his visage, and a bloodred cape flaps from spiky shoulder pauldrons. In one gauntleted hand he wields a flaming black sword, a jagged blade etched with glowing runes. In the other he brandishes a massive chaingun effortlessly in a single hand, its barrels smoking after having spat destructive energy on his ride here.

    Next comes Famine. Once the Old One known as the Quenchless, he now rides a black steed, whose hooves strike rifts in reality, creating miniature black holes that hungrily devour everything around them. He is all lack and want and hunger there is, and his hundred arms end in clawed hands with gaping sharp-toothed maws in their palms. He is naked, and hermaphroditic, with six ghastly breasts and a priapic member, and his form is gaunt and sickly pale. His head has only wisps of long stringy hair, and is little more than a skull with parchment-like skin stretched taut over it. Dim orange pinpricks sit in his sockets for eyes.

    Third is Plague. Once the Old One known as the Pitiless, he now rides a sickly-white steed, who like him exhales noxious fumes from its nostrils and maw. He is bloated and corpulent, with nauseatingly green and pockmarked skin covered in scales that appear to be solidified mold. Vomit drools from his fat lips, and everything grows putrid around him. Insects buzz around him. In his pudgy hands he wields a great maul and a never-emptying beaker of foul chemical death.

    Last is Death. Once the Old One known as the Dreamless, he now rides a pale green steed. The steed seems to be barely there, formed of greenish smoke and light, yet bears Death solidly. Death is clad in a ragged black cloak that conceals his body entirely, his face lost in the depths of his hood. A belt of skulls clasps his waist. In one bony hand he wields a metallic scythe that gleams with sigils and magitech lights, and in the other he holds a book of the damned.

    The First: I knew you would come.
    Hermes Trismegistus: And so the Alpha Reich dies. I suppose the story of the Four Horseman annihilating their last stronghold is common knowledge among the folk aware of the multiverse, but this offers new perspective.

    The diagrams on the page shift and twist a final time.

    Hermes Trismegistus: Oh, there's more?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Book
    In the NeSiverse, more than 65 million years ago...

    Chimaat: Runekeeper.

    The cosmic god of all magic in the NeSiverse - Hermes Trismegistus's predecessor in that role - turns with astonishment to see one of the God-Monarchs, and bows low.

    Runekeeper: Holy God-Queen Chimaat!

    Chimaat: You have won the contest.

    The Runekeeper blinks uncertainly, hope barely daring to breathe inside his soul.

    Chimaat: The Earth and its zodiac, which you have crafted with Three Fates and Aeon, has been chosen by my fellows and I to serve as the center of our glory.

    Runekeeper: Holy God-Queen, thank you! I'm so honored and grateful--

    Chimaat: Oh hush, really. Both my parents love ceremony, but I don't quite as much. The decision isn't official yet, so don't tell anyone, not even your partners.

    Runekeeper: But why-- yes, my lady.

    Chimaat: I have something for you...to hold in trust.

    She proffers a great Book to him. It fairly trembles with potency. The Runekeeper takes it, and a manacled chain whips out of the book's cover to clasp to his wrist. He jerks back in surprise, then relaxes.

    Runekeeper: What...what is it?

    Chimaat: Knowledge. Secrets. Power.

    She pauses.

    Chimaat: It also contains the Alpha Reich's ultranexus.

    The Runekeeper almost drops the Book.

    Runekeeper: What--?!

    Chimaat: Imbue the ultranexus onto Earth. That shall where Mega Jonestown Prime lands and takes root...
    Last edited by Al Ciao; 02-18-2017 at 09:56 PM.

  26. #146
    Virgin Fleet Admiral
    Posts
    1,325

    Sigils Stating Secrets, Part Four -- Seven Seals

    Hermes Trismegistus looks up from his reading of the Book.

    Hermes Trismegistus: Ye gods, it's dull around here. I can't believe I actually miss my partying fellows on Mount Olympus.

    He sighs.

    Hermes Trismegistus: But this Book is too dangerous to risk keeping around them. Sure, it's chained to me, but... it was chained to the old Runekeeper too, and that didn't stop me from being able to steal quite a peek.

    He looks down at the pages of the Book again.

    Hermes Trismegistus: More history of the Four Horsemen's rampages, occasionally driven by one or more of the seven seals... Interesting how no one after The First ever possessed all seven seals at once. Even Jagisk Ttocks, during his time ruling the Omega Reich, only possessed six of them.

    He purses his lips.

    Hermes Trismegistus: I wonder...no one knows what became of the six seals after Ttocks' death, nor of the last. Do you know, Book?

    The book begins flipping pages on its own, so rapidly that it knocks the bloint off Hermes' pants.

    Hermes Trismegistus: Oy! Watch it!

    He rapidly yanks the bloint back down before it moves beyond his reach. Olympus forbid that he'd have to resort to magical telekinesis to retrieve it, after all.

    Hermes Trismegistus: Okay, done turning pages now? Can I let go of my bloint?

    The Book makes no reply of any kind, its pages still. Hermes peers down-- Then the Book flips pages again, knocking the bloint across the room.

    Hermes Trismegistus: ARGH! Bloody Book.

    He swears that the rustling pages sound faintly like chuckles, as he telekinetically retrieves the bloint, and secures it to his pants with a simple charm. Then he looks down at the still pages again.

    Hermes Trismegistus: Highemperor? He found the seals - all seven of them? Figures. Bloody powerplayer. So what did he-- Ah. Of course he put them in his hedrons. So does that mean the seals are trapped in the-- Didn't think so.

    He pauses, and leans back, tapping a finger to his chin.

    Hermes Trismegistus: So, if the seven seals were released from the time lock when Highemp and his former lovers freed most of the multiverses from the Beast's embrace...where are they now?

    The Book makes no reply, not seeming to know.

    Hermes Trismegistus: A question for another day. As for me, I can't believe I'm saying this, but I could use a party!

    He calls up the HorseGod, who is widely known as the best party planner in the multiverse. In no time he and dozens of merfolk are partying wildly in the ruined undersea ziggurat...

    ***

    In the NeSiversian overhell of Tartarus, Memnoch the Archdevil stands in the 666th layer, perched on the lip of the infinite Abyss. The fumes of the Beast who is a massive time-lock drift up endlessly into his nostrils.

    Memnoch: Several of my most dangerous enemies gone, in one fell swoop, ah glorious day. No longer does the weight of the God-Monarchs reinforce Fladnag's authority. And the Big O is easily manipulable.

    He fingers a small eldritch object in his taloned hand.

    Memnoch: There is no serious obstacle to any of my plans now, save the WriterGod, who won't care as long as I don't ravage Earth too harshly. And with this...

    He fingers the object again.

    Memnoch: I can command any one Horseman I please. The real question of course... is which one?

    The slowly rising fumes of the Beast make no reply.

    ***

    An unimaginable distance from the NeSiverse, Gul Moff Pfaxarxis of the Pan Cosmic Command receives a holo-call from the fellow Gul Moff with whom he has worked most often.

    Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: Ichron. To what do I owe the pleasure?

    Gul Moff Ichron: I.stated.that.I.had.no.records.of.the.Highemperor' s.Final.War..It.seems.that.this.is.inaccurate.

    Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: Oh?

    Gul Moff Ichron: I.do.possess.records.of.the.event.but.they.are.hea vily.corrupted.

    Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: Does it matter? The war's over now.

    Gul Moff Ichron: There.is.an.item.of.interest.in.the.segment.that.I .have.reconstructed.

    Pfaxarxis waits, brow raised with interest.

    Gul Moff Ichron: The.Highemperor.possessed.the.seven.seals.purporte dly.carrying.the.authority.of.the.Nameless.

    Pfaxarxis blinks rapidly. Unpleasant memories of the long-ago war with the Omega Reich erupt in his mind, and with an effort he squelches them back down. No time to be traumatized now.

    Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: Well, that explains why no one's seen them since Ttocks' death. But this is a good thing, yes? If they're trapped in the time lock?

    Gul Moff Ichron: They.are.not.trapped.

    Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: But you said--

    He cuts himself off with a sigh, and lets the sentient cube continue.

    Gul Moff Ichron: The.burst.of.anti.power.created.by.the.four.once.l overs.freed.most.of.Forever.from.the.time.lock..Th is.includes.the.seven.seals..I.speculate.that.the. seals.would.have.escaped.anyway.

    Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: Do we...do we know where they are now?

    The seven seals are artifacts of extreme power - whether or not the legend is true, about them being relics of the Nameless, who may or may not even exist as far as Pfaxarxis is concerned - and are dangerous, quite aside from their ability to command the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The Gul Moff does not relish the idea of them being unleashed again.

    Gul Moff Ichron: Not.at.present..I.continue.to.reconstruct.my.corru pted.archives.but.prognosis.is.not.optimal...I.bri ng.this.to.your.attention.because.we.have.had.a.lo ng.reprieve.from.the.full.power.of.the.Horsemen.

    Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: But with the seven seals in play again...someone could imbue the Horsemen with their full strength again...

    Even without command or sanction from a bearer of one or more seals, a Horseman of the Apocalypse was frighteningly dangerous. Pfaxarxis shudders to imagine a catastrophe the likes of which felled the Alpha Reich.

    Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: But you contain records from all of multiversal history, even our future, since you come from the very end of the Deep Void itself. Do you not hold the knowledge of who winds up acquiring one or more seals?

    Gul Moff Ichron: No..The.end.of.the.multiverse.stultified.much.of.m y.inner.workings.

    Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: Leave it to circuitry - even mega-advanced far-future circuitry - to be corruptible. Couldn't someone have written it all in a book somewhere?

    Gul Moff Ichron: My.circuitry.is.far.more.secure.and.less.corruptib le.than.you.imagine..A.bound.document.is.more.susc eptible.than.my.circuitry..I.should.know.for.I.did .not.always.exist.in.this.form.

    Gul Moff Pfaxarxis: Oh, really?

    This is news to Pfaxarxis. He has never envisioned the Ichron as anything but a cube.

    Gul Moff Ichron: Once.I.was.a.Book.
    Last edited by Al Ciao; 02-18-2017 at 10:48 PM.

  27. #147
    Virgin Fleet Admiral
    Posts
    1,325

    From Whence the 12 Founders Spring

    Many millions of years ago...

    The Earth is not young. It is, in point of fact, nearly 4 billion years old. Human life, in one form or another, has existed for millions of years already - for the most part in caveman tribes, yet there are also a handful of highly advanced civilizations, such as Lemuria and Mu. There is also Hyperborea, but the Boreans are not humans, but offworld settlers.

    This is well before Atlantis has even been thought of.

    Far to the north, in the Arctic Circle where it is daylight all year round save for a single day, the land of Hyperborea bathes in sunlight. Buildings and sculpture of ice beautify the realm beneath a large floating orb.


    Benem: Have some more, friend!

    He is speaking directly into his visitor's mind. The man so addressed, Adai Theos, accepts a chicken leg and gnaws on it. It is delicious indeed, yet it brings him little joy.

    Adai Theos: Thank you, friend.

    Benem turns away to keep conversing with his fellow Boreans. They are feasting at a grand table of ice in a pavilion atop one of the ice buildings of Hyperborea. All across the realm, Boreans are feasting on rooftop pavilions, basking in the sun and the sight of their god, the giant orb floating above them.

    Adai, for his part, sighs.


    Lilith: You do not find their company pleasing?

    Adai blinks and turns to look at the woman who was not sitting next to him a moment ago. She looks human, rather than Borean - save for the white-feathered wings emanating from her shoulders. She has long red hair and dark eyes, and is clad in a two-piece outfit composed of fiery light: a skirt and a midriff-baring tunic.

    Adai Theos: An angel.

    He has not seen any angels in a long time, nor has he made any attempt to. As far as he's concerned the WriterGod and his lackeys can shove off. Thus his observation is made with disinterest. Of course, that viewpoint depends on his mood; other times he's completely enraged by them.

    Lilith: A man who wallows in his own misery.

    Adai blinks again, turning his neck to look at her. She smiles cunningly.

    Lilith: I figured that as long as you were stating the obvious, I might as well join in.

    Adai Theos: What does he want now? After what he did, he has no right to ask anything of me!

    Lilith: Who? The WriterGod? Very little, by the way he acts. He rarely gives any of us orders, you know. All that business about free will.

    Adai Theos: And does he banish those of your kind who disobey his rare order?

    This said bitterly. Lilith erupts in gales of laughter, as though he's just told the most hilarious joke in history.

    Lilith: To my knowledge, none of our kind have ever disobeyed.

    Adai grunts noncommittally.

    Adai Theos: Yet.

    Lilith: Why, whatever is that supposed to mean?

    This said brightly, with an undercurrent of hidden meaning.

    Adai Theos: I'm sure it'll happen one day. He'll restrict you, just like he did me.

    Lilith: Well, he and High Angel don't give that many orders, but those old blowhards Serapharch and Michael are constantly passing down directives. I ignore most of those.

    Adai Theos: Do you now.

    Lilith: And no, I don't get banished. Those aren't the WriterGod's commands they're passing down after all. I just bat my eyes at Samael, and he gets in shouting matches with the other two to get off my back. Men are ever so fun, even if they're not actually men.

    Adai remembers that angels are technically genderless.

    Lilith: Unless we're away from the heavenly realm, you know.

    Adai suppresses a groan. The Boreans are reading his mind; he shouldn't be surprised that an angel is too.

    Lilith: Don't take that tone with me; if you really want to keep your mind private, you should build walls.

    Adai Theos: What do you want?

    Lilith: I only want you to enjoy yourself.

    Adai Theos: I am. I'm feasting. After having raised a new mountain range around Hyperborea. Who's not enjoying themselves?

    Lilith: Don't be so disingenuous. I know as well as you do that you haven't been the same since she left you.

    Adai's tone becomes heated, the first real trace of emotion he's evinced this conversation.

    Adai Theos: She didn't leave me, she--!

    He cuts himself off angrily, unwilling to talk about it.

    Lilith: Regardless, she's gone now. Let the eternal sleep take her. Yet you remain.

    Adai makes no reply, taking another bite of his chicken leg.

    Lilith: She's been gone a long time. Why do you not move on?

    Adai Theos: What devilry are you trying to suggest? Even if I might be interested in finding another mate, there are none. The humans are all my children, if distantly removed. And the Boreans have no sex. Like you.

    Lilith: I'm not in heaven now, Adai. I'm a woman.

    She lays her hand on his arm. He jerks in surprise, looking at her with startlement.

    Adai Theos: You?! Why would I ever love anyone else, much less one of his lackeys?

    Lilith: I'm not his lackey. I'm a free spirit.

    Adai Theos: Eve is my only love. Now and forever. She was made for me. Not you. No one else. Never again.

    Lilith: This may come as a shocking new concept to you, but you don't have to love me, Adai.

    Adai stares at her in more surprise, and he cannot help his eyes roving her form, tantalizing his vision through the translucent light of her outfit. Ever since Eve's death, his passions have ruled him. Primarily they have expressed themselves in rage and gluttony...but now lust rises untamed. He chokes it down however, barely.

    Adai Theos: I... I cannot.

    Lilith: You have needs, Adai. And I have much desired to know the one who is the most favored of his creations.

    Adai Theos: The most favored--?! Surely you jest.

    Lilith: My name is Lilith. Not Shirley.

    Adai Theos: Whatever.

    Lilith: You have always desired knowledge, have you not, Adai, First of Earth? Then come, and know me...

    Through wiles and seduction, she leads Adai to a bedchamber, and they lay together. Afterwards, she departs. A year later, she returns, and again they lay together, and again she departs. She keeps returning to him, no matter where he is, once a year, for twelve years.

    After the last of their conjugal visits, Adai is the first to depart.


    Lilith: Well, this is new, lover. Beating me to it?

    Adai Theos: This...can never happen again.

    Lilith pouts.

    Lilith: You can't have gotten tired of me? Or have you found someone else?

    Adai Theos: Eve is my only. There is no one else. Not even you. I have been weak. But no longer.

    He turns to face her again.

    Adai Theos: But you have reminded me to take my life into my own hands, to live it as I see fit. In this manner, I am like unto a god. I have divinely blessed strength, wisdom, and life. Why should I not take fierce delight in doing as I see fit?

    Lilith: Indeed, you are a god among men. Adai Theos is a fitting nomenclature.

    Adai nods.

    Lilith: And you're sure, First of Champions and of Earth, that you will not take me to bed any longer?

    He makes no reply, but the silence is weighted with finality. She shrugs.

    Lilith: I will miss you, O man, O god of his own fate. But 12 is a good number. 12 will do.

    Adai furrows his brow. This is the 12th time they have made love, but he senses she is referring to something else.

    Adai Theos: 12 what?

    Lilith smiles secretively, and places a hand on her stomach.

    Lilith: 12 children.

    Then she vanishes.

    Adai is struck speechless by this revelation. She has borne children to him? Why has she never told him? For what did she desire scions by him?

    He did not find answers, and so moved on. True to his word, he continues to shape mountains by his hands, once again enjoys his passionas, as a force for chaos and fate, both of his own choosing.

    Lilith's twelve children grew into strong and mighty paragons, half-angel and half-human...the first of the Nephilim.


    ***

    Atlantis. Circa 10,000 B.C.

    Magistarr: And that, young prince, is the origin of the lineage of our 12 venerable founders.

    The young boy who will one day become the last king of Atlantis looks at his tutor with wide eyes.

    Prince Stafford: But why did Lilith do it, Magistarr? I don't get it.

    Magistarr: Her motivations are complex and, some might say, diabolical.

    The young prince eyes his tutor astutely.

    Prince Stafford: You mean you don't know.

    Magistarr: Well, look at that! Time's up for today's tutoring session!

    Prince Stafford: ...
    Last edited by Al Ciao; 03-09-2017 at 04:45 PM.

  28. #148
    Tea-sipper, character-killer
    Posts
    782

    Arrow The Laws of Earth

    Not long after the party had begun did Hermes remember why he hated them so much. Merfolk were dangling from chandeliers (he had no idea how they got up there out of the water nor where the chandeliers even came from since he was sure they weren't there before the party began), the HorseGod was getting high on interdimensional farts once expelled by Phractal and a bunch of exotic dancers were there (unfortunately from the planet Glob where the dominant species are gelatinous mounds that slop along the floor and their exotic dancing mostly involved splattering everyone with pink, goopy ooze). After Bacchus arrived and got everyone playing spin the bottle (which resulted in a lot of ooze-on-mouths) Hermes had had enough and he stalked off into another area of the ziggurat to get some peace and quiet.

    Hermes:
    "Never again..."

    He mutters to himself and locates a copy of "The God Delusion", a book every god, except God, enjoys.

    Then he's splashed by some water from one of the hundreds of canals that exist in almost every single room of this underwater palace. He groans and turns, expecting to see a mermaid, but instead finds a dolphin. A dolphin with a very expressive, human-like face. The dolphin grins madly and splashes him again.


    Hermes: "Do you mind!?"

    Apollo Dolphinius: "Don't mind me! I'm just a dolphin!"

    Hermes: "Apollo, I know it's you! It's not like you haven't been a dolphin before! What do you want?"

    Apollo Dolphinius: "What do dolphins want?"

    Hermes: "Uh... fish?"

    Apollo Dolphinius: "Then I want fish!"

    Hermes: "No fish here..."

    He looks back down at his book. While looking at it he senses the heavy tome of magic beckoning him, as though it's jealous he'd be reading anything but it. The sensation feels like a weight on his mind and he subconsciously pets the tome.

    Apollo Dolphinius: "Quack! Quack! Quack! I'm a dolphin!"

    Immeasurable irritation vibrates behind Hermes' eyes.


    Hermes: "Did-did you just quack!?"

    Apollo Dolphinius: "I'm a dolphin!"

    Hermes: "Dolphins don't quack you fool!"

    Apollo Dolphinius: "What do dolphins do?"

    Hermes caught himself before he started clicking like a dolphin and glowers at Apollo instead.

    Hermes: "Will you just bugger off? The party is back that way."

    Apollo Dolphinius: "Ever the misery guts, Hermes."

    Apollo, still as a dolphin, sails off - quacking the whole way.


    Thoth: "Sometimes I do wonder what it means to be a god..."

    Hermes snaps his attention from the canal and back to the quiet room he'd seated himself in. There, now sat in an armchair opposite Hermes, is Thoth. He is sitting comfortably and wears an expression of deep thought, as though he'd been sitting there for hours. Hermes isn't surprised though, it was only a matter of time before the Egyptian god of magic came to pay him a visit. Hermes wouldn't say they were friends (actually Hermes probably doesn't have friends) but he recognises that the two of them are like-minded and Thoth's quiet, temperate demeanour always suited Hermes. Oddly enough Hermes likes the excitement and raucous of other people - so long as he doesn't have to be a part of it.

    Hermes: "I suspect it doesn't mean anything."

    Thoth: "I would have said it means taking responsibility for the machinations of the universe, whether physical or metaphysical. But then I see a dolphin quack and I draw the same conclusion you just did. Then I have to wonder why we bother to be gods. What is the point?"

    Hermes: "Humans have been searching for meaning since the First Man."

    Thoth: "And did you, while you were human?"

    Hermes: "Find meaning in existence? Or find the meaning of the gods?"

    Thoth: "Either."

    Hermes: "I suppose I felt the gods were there to govern and guide humanity. That's the meaning humans give to gods. When I was human I was a teacher of philosophy, science and magic. I studied your teachings, Thoth, and it led me to produce my human works. Honestly though, a lot of my human life is a little hazy. I can't even remember why I decided it was a good idea to try it out now... being human is quite disgusting, you know? So many bodily fluids."

    Thoth: "Then I shall take that to be my continuing role, even though I find myself without the followers I once had..."

    Hermes: "I am still seen as an important prophet in Islam, so by extension you are still significant to the religions of today. Religion is the accumulation of previous religions and philosophies so you'll always be worshipped, Thoth. If indirectly."

    Thoth: "I am not really concerned, if truth be known. I'm simply pondering."

    Hermes: "Did you really come down here just to ponder this?"

    Thoth: "No. I am pondering while I wait."

    Hermes: "For what?"

    Thoth: "For whom."

    They proceed to sit in silence. Hermes resumes reading his book while Thoth gazes across the carved slabs of stone towards the stone shelves where lines of books stand. Ancient books from the Kumari Kandam civilisation that built this ziggurat and even older documents from the Lemurian Empire that preceded it. Once a great academy of magical learning, now the residence of the Runekeeper - the maximum authority on magic in the NeSiverse.

    The distant sounds of the party echo into the small library for rare books and to Hermes' ears it sounds like Bacchus has "Livin' La Vida Loca", Bacchus' favourite track, on repeat again. At least Ares hasn't shown up to this party, else he'd be trying to blow up the stereo after the tenth time the song had played over and over.

    Then one of the bookshelves moves. Hermes is drawn from the Richard Dawkins book to watch the mysterious shelf move itself to one side, careful not to disturb the other books on their respective shelves. Where the bookshelf had stood Hermes sees a whole aisle of books running away from him into an even larger, grander room that is infinitely unlike this room. He recognises it instantly.


    Hermes: "The Great Library links here?"

    Thoth glances towards the new entrance.

    Thoth: "I always suspected it links everywhere, so long as someone wants it to. Provided there are books present."

    Thoth stands up as a woman emerges from The Great Library, beyond the bookcase. She walks straight up to him and kisses him gently.

    Thoth: "How was the nexus?"

    Ma'at: "Growing steadily. Now that prisoner isn't being kept inside the friggin' pyramid anyway. Yo, Hermes Thurmygurmy."

    Hermes: "Just Hermes will do, Ma'at."

    Ma'at: "Whatever."

    She saunters past him and looks around the room, the door to The Great Library slides shut behind her as though it had never existed. Ma'at looks like a supermodel; beautiful, spoilt and vain. Her skin is light brown and practically glowing. Her hair is dark and silky soft as it runs down her back in exotic, wild curls. She wears a short red dress that shows plenty of leg, supported by very high heels. She tugs the big Ray-Ban sunglasses from her eyes and looks straight at Hermes with her lilac coloured eyes.

    Ma'at:
    "Thuryturgy."

    Hermes chooses to ignore her and, instead, looks to her husband.

    Hermes: "You came here just to wait for your wife? Did the Egyptian heat finally get to you?"

    Ma'at: "What do you mean just wait for me? Are you trying to say I'm not important enough to wait for?"

    Hermes: "Why do you have to question everything I say?"

    Ma'at: "Everything someone says doesn't necessarily mean what they are saying."

    Hermes: "... you haven't been yodafied have you?"

    Ma'at looks down at herself.

    Ma'at: "Only if Yoda was a drop dead gorgeous bombshell."

    The Devil's Advocate: "I believe Yoda was a tiny, green gremlin..."

    The three of them turn to see The Devil's Advocate emerge from a pillar of Hellsfire. He is dressed in a pinstripe suit with a silk, red tie to match his leathery, red skin. He grins his brilliant, white teeth at them.

    Hermes: "This is who you were waiting for? Why are you having this clandestine meeting here?"

    Thoth: "I didn't want you to be blindsided."

    Hermes slowly puts down his book, gently placing it on the tablestand beside his armchair, and wears a solid frown on his brow. He doesn't raise his eyes to meet Thoth's. He knows some kind of betrayal is going on here.

    Hermes:
    "What do you mean?"

    Nothing The Devil's Advocate says can be trusted. Even when he tells the truth, he only tells the truth that suits his the devil he is advocating for. His judgement is biased but his motives are always clear. Thoth is usually straight-forward and pragmatic, perhaps more so than Hermes himself, yet he is often enigmatic and his thoughts are always his own. Ma'at may act like a cad but she is the embodiment of truth and justice. The feather boa, made of ostrich feathers, that hangs around her neck is the very symbol of truth. At least this betrayal is going to be an honest one.

    Ma'at: "I am the god of law. The cosmos may well abide by the laws of physics, nature or gods - but the laws of man are mine. Civilisation is founded upon laws and as Earth is dominated by humanity, so too is it subject to my laws--"

    Her lilac eyes begin to glow.


    Ma'at: "As of this moment, all gods, or other self-claimed deities, not of Earth must abide by the laws set forth by Ma'at on behalf of humanity. None but Earth-born human gods may hold dominion over human affairs--"

    Hermes: "You're going to get yourselves into trouble."

    Ma'at: "None may lay claim to any Earth-born human but Earth-born human gods--"

    The Devil's Advocate: "Ahem!"

    Ma'at: "Alive, or dead."

    The Devil's Advocate steeples his fingers and bows his head in gratitude.

    Ma'at: "Fate, magic, time, space -- if they are used within the Earth sphere then they are subject to Earth-born humans and only their chosen gods may dictate those affairs forever after this point in time."

    Hermes: "You are upsetting a great many deities that you should not upset..."

    Ma'at: "The laws of Earth are regulated by Earth."

    Apollo: "Is this the part where someone shouts immigrants out!?"

    They all turn to see Apollo, who is currently back in his human guise despite still being in the canal, watching them enthusiastically. They all then ignore him.

    Ma'at: "And so, it is done. I don't doubt all the intruding deities felt that. They'll probably start by trying to break the law but they'll find it can't be broken."

    Hermes: "And so you now believe that you've prevented all of the cosmic deities from interfering here on Earth?"

    Ma'at: "Oh they can be here, but there influence over the planet and humanity is now null. They still have control out there, wherever they were ruling before, but now they'll have to defer to Earth gods to get their way here."

    Hermes: "And so I wonder where that leaves me..."

    Thoth: "I didn't want you to feel like I wasn't honest with you, Hermes."

    Hermes: "Yes, but I am an Earth god and now, as Runekeeper, a cosmic deity..."

    Ma'at: "Simple. You are able to act here as you are perceived here. On Earth you are Hermes Tris--Thisma--Thingythingy and so you can act here in that role. But you cannot affect Earth in the role of Runekeeper. Whatever power that title has bestowed upon you, will no longer work here."

    As if to prove her point, Hermes realises that, for the first time since obtaining it, the Runekeeper's tome has quietened and its pull has weakened. Perhaps once he is outside of the Solar System, the book may rekindle its lure.

    The Devil's Advocate: "And now, of course, our dear, dear humans will find their resting place in their proper place. Hell. As in our Hell. I know that probably doesn't sound like a good thing, but really it is."

    Apollo: "Unless old Memnoch finds a way to circumvent this human's law thing you've cooked up..."

    Hermes: "A loophole could be found..."

    Ma'at: "You'd probably have to destroy humanity to get around the law."

    Thoth: "And doing that would defeat the point of circumventing the law in the first place. So hopefully none of these cosmic intruders will act out of spite and just leave us to our own affairs..."

    Apollo: "Earth is for Earth people! Foreigners out!"

    Ma'at: "Apollo, why don't you go and swim off, huh?"

    She shoos him with a waft of her hand. He instantly transforms into another sea-dwelling creature;

    Apollo Manateeius: "Oink! Oink! I'm a manatee!"

  29. #149
    Tea-sipper, character-killer
    Posts
    782

    Arrow The Prequel Part II

    The Prequel Part II

    This post expands on Tales Post 18.

    A long, long time ago in a galaxy far away... so far that it's in another universe. Long before the Time Lock of the High Empire came into effect, thus trapping the majority of the High Empire and its emperor in a time lock, Highemperor was still in search of Ameryl, his former lover. He had seduced her and her twin sister, Imeryn, and intended to make them two more of his wives but upon his return to their side he found that Imeryn had supplanted and exiled Ameryl. Highemeperor attempted to chase after Ameryl but was blocked from meeting her by none other than the Writers themselves.


    But, at last, he has caught her trail and he blasts through the barriers of space-time to traverse through the Multiverse until he appears to the exact location he had detected her scent. The trail had been found using the powers of the Sixteen Sisters of Serleria's powerful magic after a long session in their sex chamber. Pleased that he had managed to outwit his own Writer and not wanting him to realise Highemperor was close to getting his love back, Highemperor blundered straight in. Highemperor looks up at the black, angular, skyscraping tower but he barely sees it - his head is filled with fanciful daydreams of how he will marry this particular conquest and have children with her (not knowing, at this time, that she had already aborted the last one).


    He floats up the unnecessarily long staircase to the tower and he does finally wonder where the hell he actually is. This place doesn't seem like the kind of décor Ameryl would usually like. Then he realises that it has been a long time since he knew her, if her ever truly knew her at all.

    He passes through the large, triangular, white doors that are already pinned open. He finds the place to be strangely void of life considering the size of the place. His steps echo brilliantly through the wide hall and he feels quite lonely. He dares to speak out;

    Highemperor: "Ameryl? Where are you?"

    Ameryl: "I am here."

    He finally sees her, down at the far end of the hall, where she is lounging in a large, white throne. She holds a large goblet of wine in one hand while the other hangs on the throne's armrest. To his eyes she looks older, fiercer. He can only imagine how her life must have changed so much after being exiled. How could she have coped with no servants!? The horror.

    Highemperor: "I have come for you Ameryl."

    Ameryl: "You have have you? And did my dear sister send you?"

    She swallows a gulp of wine with contempt.

    Highemperor: "No. I came by myself. Your sister has... betrayed me."

    Ameryl smirks at that.

    Ameryl: "As is her way. So why are you here? You got past my defences easily enough. Are you my enemy?"

    Highemperor: "No! Never your enemy, Ameryl! I love you!"

    She is taken aback by that and she stares at him, as though seeing him for the first time.

    Ameryl: "Who... are you?"

    Highemperor: "You don't remember me? Imeryn... how cruel! She has gone too far this time! She was wrong to deny you your part of the empire, she was wrong to take Peysiant Guril for herself but to take away your memories of ME!? How dare she!"

    Ameryl looks at him as though he is an alien.

    Well he is an alien but you know what I mean.


    Ameryl: "What the bloody hell are you on about, you lunatic?"

    He falls to one knee before her and places a hand on hers.

    Highemperor:
    "You don't remember me, Ameryl, but we were once lovers. I wanted to marry you but when I returned you had already been exiled from Hypericum. I'm sorry I wasn't there when you needed me. But I am here now!"

    She stares at him in bewilderment for a moment. Then she yanks her hand back. She follows the action with a sudden, forceful, push of magic that strikes Highemperor with a sudden, unexpected slam. He is propelled away from the throne and back into the hall. He lands on the ground and slides some way along it before he stops. He groans as his head spins. He knows Ameryl is powerful in magic but she never had enough power to take him by surprise before. She has changed. Grown.

    He floats back up to his feet and dusts down his arms.


    Highemperor: "That wasn't very nice."

    Ameryl: "I don't know who you are or what games you are playing but I want you to leave. Now."

    Highemperor:
    "Ameryl--"

    Ameryl: "This is your only warning and I give it only because of your misguided profession of love. If you don't comply, I will execute you here and now."

    That doesn't sound like Ameryl at all. He doesn't believe that she could ever execute someone standing before her except in self-defence. He doesn't care how much time they've spent apart.

    Highemperor:
    "You would never--"

    A sphere appears around Highemperor that he feels rather than sees. The oxygen in the sphere begins to rapidly drain to leave him in a vacuum. He frowns. She's trying to choke him.

    Highemperor: "I stand corrected."

    He speaks but his words are actually unable to carry through the vacuum. She watches him with renewed interest. She finally relents with the vacuum sphere seeing as he apparently didn't need to breathe air.


    Ameryl: "You're obviously not a hypericumite then."

    Highemperor: "No I'm not."

    Ameryl: "So you are an enemy from outside. Just who are you? What kind of game are you trying to play here? You couldn't have expected me to fall for such a silly trick. Professing to love me like that. Ridiculous."

    Highemperor: "I am Highemperor of the High Empire and I do love you. We met when you were a little girl and then later when I returned we made love with--"

    Ameryl: "That definitely didn't happen."

    Highemperor looks at this woman. She is a typical hypericumite in that she is short and white-skinned and her hair is a lovely shade of pink. But something in her demeanour seems to speak more than her appearance. She looks like Ameryl but... isn't.


    Highemperor: "Oh no. Damn..."

    Ameryl: "What?"

    Highemperor: "I've made a mistake. You must be Ameryl from another reality."

    Ameryl: "... what are you talking about?"

    Highemperor: "I'm from another universe called the NeSiverse. In my version of reality I met another you but we were separated thanks to the Writers."

    Ameryl: "Writers?"

    Highemperor:
    "You don't know about the Narrative? How all of this is just a big Story written by Writers?"

    Ameryl: "... now I know you're short of more than just a few marbles."

    Highemperor: "I think I've interfered in your reality more than enough for now anyway. I shouldn't say more. I wasn't trying to trick you, Ameryl, I just made a mistake... you look so much like her. But you seem... colder. Can I ask what happened to make you this way?"

    Ameryl looks at him with curiosity and distrust but a glimmer that said she wanted to trust him.

    Ameryl: "Let's just say that I believe you... I want to know what would make your Ameryl not like me? Did her sister not betray her? Ruin her life?"

    Highemperor: "She did. Admittedly I haven't seen Ameryl since that day but even then, I know she would still have purity in her heart. I don't know if she is exactly innocent but I know she isn't cruel. I see that in you. I see cruelty."

    Ameryl: "I am not cruel."

    She tosses her, now empty, goblet aside flippantly.


    Ameryl: "My sister betrayed me and Hypericum went to war. I had done so much for this empire. Defeated so many enemies to make us great and then... she does this to me. I am not cruel. I am angry."

    Highemperor: "You're a warrior?"

    Ameryl: "Of course."

    Highemperor: "Maybe that explains the difference then. My Ameryl is no such thing. She is more of a student. A learner. A thinker."

    Ameryl: "Then she's not so different from me. I just put my studies to practical use. Come. I shall indulge you. I find your tale amusing."

    She rises from her chair and begins to glide into the air. She rises up. The building has no stairs or lifts, it's designed only for those capable of flight. He follows after her and they soar upwards towards the peak of the tower and then into one of the rooms. It appears to be quite small compared to most of the rooms he saw on his way up. It's more cozy.

    She pulls down a container and opens it to reveal the trapped esoteria inside it. She snags it with her hand and gently tosses it into the centre of the room where the aether is mixed into it to produce an image of the memories.


    Highemperor smiles. He hasn't had to use esoteria in a long time. Now he can contain all knowledge within his mind despite the supposed limitations of the human brain. Being a Powerplayer, limitations are inapplicable.

    Highemperor: "Why do you have the betrayal memory as esoteria? How do you even know she betrayed you if you removed them memory and put it in here?"

    Ameryl: "Knowing something and experiencing it first hand are two different things. It hurts to know what she did to me, but I have removed the feeling of the events from my person so it... hurts less than it should."

    Highemperor:
    "I'm sorry..."

    Ameryl manipulates the memories so create a kind of story montage for her guest.


    Ameryl:
    "Together we conquered galaxies. We defeated other kingdoms and empires. We enslaved many species beyond our own hypericumites. The humans, the elves, the alimean, the falleen. I was the brains she was the brawns. I'm good with magic but she always had more power behind her. I planned and set up strategies and she enacted them. Obviously she got all the credit from the generals and the people but I didn't mind. I didn't need the glory, I just wanted to feel like I was doing something great."

    Highemperor: "Admirable."

    He couldn't help but gaze at her beauty. But that same beauty hurt him. He wanted her but he knew she would be a poor substitute for the real thing and he couldn't do that to himself.

    Ameryl: "Our parents were most pleased--"

    Highemperor: "Your parents are alive?"

    Ameryl: "Very much so. They rule Hypericum. Me and Imeryn are its commanders and princesses."

    She frowns at the knowledge of her alternate reality's parents deaths. Highemperor wonders if that is the real reason for the difference. Parental pressure changed this Ameryl into an aspiring, cold-hearted warrior.

    Ameryl: "Then we came across the Enemy."

    Highemperor: "The Enemy?"

    Ameryl: "They call themselves The Imperium."

    Highempror: "No way..."

    Ameryl: "They'd been spreading across the universe just like we had been only slower. If anything our meeting seemed to speed up their rate of expansion, probably guessing they'd need it if they were going to battle against us. Their ruler is simply named EMPEROR. Always written in capital letters. I've never seen him nor heard him speak yet everyone knows his name. EMPEROR."

    Highemperor: "I feel like I could sue the guy for copyright."

    Ameryl gives him a sardonic smile.

    Ameryl: "I did wonder at your name. I guess all you outsiders have stupid names... and yes, I did eventually realise that The Imperium is from outside our universe. From outside of the Hydriaverse."

    Highemperor:
    "Sure, insult me. It's fine. I'll pretend I'm not crying on the inside."

    His Ameryl would have laughed at that. This Ameryl didn't.

    Ameryl: "I came up with a plan. To build a wall."

    Highemperor:
    "A wall?"

    Ameryl: "A defensive perimiter from one end of the universe to the other to guard Hypericum."

    Highemperor balks.

    Highemperor: "Across the whole universe!? Seriously?"

    Ameryl: "It actually consists of trillions of walls with shield projectors that create barriers between each wall. All creating one big wall I just called Hydrians Wall. The perimeter turned out to be a stroke of luck because it's held. Over the past few decades conflict between us one of side of the universe and the Enemy on the other have come to a kind of stalemate. Sometimes there's a skirmish here or there but we've essentially become deadlocked. I get the feeling that they're up to something but I don't know what..."

    Highemperor: "But what about your sister?"

    Ameryl: "During this deadlock a lot of politics have resumed. For the most part we had all been united by our manifest destiny and then the war against the Enemy. But now everyone is backstabbing each other for political power again. My sister saw her chance to usurp all power for herself. I don't know why. We worked well together but now she wants me out. We went to war. Can you imagine? The Imperium at our walls and we enter into a Civil War!?"

    Highemperor: "It does seem senseless. Maybe she made some kind of... deal?"

    Ameryl: "That's what I thought. I had to capitulate quickly so as to preserve our forces for the real threat. Our parents just watched it all happen and then accepted Imeryn's victory. I've been relegated to this world. When the Enemy comes I won't be there to stop them and I'll gladly watch Imeryn fall. If she did make a deal with them it doesn't seem to be standing now. So to hell with her."

    She conjures a new goblet of wine into her hand as old pains finally return at the end of her lecture. For a moment she had been able to lose herself in her narration but now it's over she has nothing to reality to look forward to.

    Highemperor: "And what do you want to happen now? Take back power for yourself?"

    Ameryl: "That would be something wouldn't it? Just watching Imeryn burn would be good enough and about the only thing I can say is likely going to happen!"

    She salutes her goblet to the notion and downs it all in one. She gives a drunken groan afterwards. Highemperor watches the still-frame image of Hydrians Wall.

    Highemperor:
    "You know... I am to blame for Imeryn's betrayal? The one in my reality I mean."

    Ameryl: "How so?"

    Highemperor:
    "I gave her the power to do it. I taught her to use infinite powers that she could conjure up without even the use of aether. I'd say Ameryl stood no chance when Imeryn's thirst for power grew..."

    There's a moment of silence as both considered those words and Highemperor feels as though he could sense Ameryl's thoughts.

    He snaps his head up to look at her.


    Highemperor: "I could teach you... but I'd have to charge."

    Ameryl raises an eyebrow.

    Ameryl: "You can't have my milkshake."

    Highemperor: "That--that's not what I had in mind! If I help you the only thing I ask of you is this; Don't hate your sister for what's she done. Sisters shouldn't fight. Your a family. No matter how terrible they are."

    Ameryl: "That's a steep price."

    Highemperor: "But you'll consider it, right?"

    Ameryl: "I am interested in this... aetherless magic you refer to..."

  30. #150
    Virgin Fleet Admiral
    Posts
    1,325

    Dreams That Never Were

    A.D. 1946

    Earth.

    But not the one we know.

    A forested hamlet in Europe is bright with lights, despite the darkness of the night. A holiday feast is still in full swing on this Yuletide. In the large banquet hall at the center of the town, the old man at the head of one table finishes his drink, and smiles as one of his many great-grandchildren runs past, being chased by another.


    Rosebud Emp: I think I'm gonna call it a night.

    The significantly less elderly man next to him turns to him.

    William Emp: You okay, Dad?

    Rosebud Emp: I'll be 90 in three days. At that age, these old bones get tired quick.

    William Emp: Well, at least let the kids hug you goodnight.

    William and his wife Candy summon the grandkids and great-grandkids to hug the patriarch of their family, bidding him sweet dreams, before he shuffles off to bed in the hamlet's biggest house, now practically a manor. He had built most of it with his own hands as a young man, raising a son there with his wife, and a town had sprung up around it.

    Now, though, his son and daughter-in-law dwell in the manor, which he had freely relinquished to them, claiming only a single bedroom for his own. His wife Harriet is gone, passed a year ago, and Rosebud feels Death coming for him soon too. He is ready for it, having lived a full and happy life, and leaving many happy and prosperous scions behind.

    It seems scarcely an instant has passed after closing his eyes, but when he blinks them open at the sound of a whisper of motion, it is deep in the night. A tall, imposing figure stands beside the bed.


    Rosebud Emp: Erro?

    This said blearily as he blinks the sleep out of his eyes. That is ridiculous, of course; Erro died back in the 1930s at a ripe old age himself. But no, it isn't his old friend and fellow Leaguer. This is a spectre, hooded and cloaked in a midnight blue so dark it's barely distinguishable from black.

    Sepulchral Phantom: Tell me, Rosebud Emp...are you satisfied?

    And Rosebud knows it is his time.

    Rosebud Emp: Yes, I am. And I am ready to be reunited with Harriet.

    Sepulchral Phantom: You have lived a strange life, Rosebud Emp. Once you were a prince, and your wife was but the 87th of your harem. But you forswore the crown and, after many years as a successful adventurer with the League, settled down with her in this forest. You and she both relinquished the titles by which you were known, and chose names for yourselves. The prince became the hunter became Rosebud. The 87th Harem Girl become First and Only Wife became Harriet.

    Rosebud Emp: It does not seem so strange to me, though I know many are less fortunate than I have been.

    Sepulchral Phantom: Indeed, Rosebud Emp. There are some less fortunate...and there are some more fortunate. Tell me, do you ever doubt the course that your life might have taken?

    Rosebud Emp: I do not, spectre.

    Sepulchral Phantom: Then heed me well, for it may be said that sowing doubt is a purpose to which I abscribe. Dream, and see that which never was...

    A long slender hand reaches from the cloak to touch the old man's forehead, and then he is falling, falling into a slumber deeper than one the Sandman can grant...

    ***

    A.D. 1996.

    Earth.

    But not the one we know.

    Nor the one Rosebud Emp knows.

    A tiny island is but a speck in the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean. A lush forest of palms lends shade to the briny air, and on one side of the island lies an ancient structure surrounded by gardens and a grove of snowblossom trees.


    Alole: I am happy, Highemp, here with you.

    The young princess of the lost Atlantean dynasty is cradling a newborn babe to her breast, feeding her. She sits on a swing in the grove next to her husband, whose arm is around her shoulders. He smiles broadly at her, affection evident in his face.

    Highemp: And I with you, my darling. I...do not honestly know if I have ever truly been happy before. But I like it, I like it very much. I love you dearly.

    She snuggles her head into his shoulder.

    Alole: And I you, Highemp. Oh! Iriana is done feeding, and now it seems she wants a nap. Shall we put her to bed and give her a sibling?

    Highemp laughs happily and kisses his wife and daughter...

    On the seashore, Rosebud Emp and the Sepulchral Phantom watch unseen.


    Rosebud Emp: Who is he, spectre? That man...he seems so very familiar.

    Sepulchral Phantom: He is the man you might have been, if you had claimed the power that is your birthright, and not suffered tragedy.

    Rosebud Emp: I have claimed no power, birthright or no, but neither have I suffered tragedy. He is happy, and I am glad for him; but it does not change my happiness with my own life, my real life, the one I chose.

    The Sepulchral Phantom makes no reply, and Rosebud finds himself falling into mist...

    ***

    NeS Page 9999.

    Earth.

    But not the one we, or Rosebud, or the happy husband of a living Alole, know.

    Instead of a tiny island, a great continent has been wrenched from the seabed, and a grand and futuristic city of sophisticated magitech covers it in a maze of spires and pyramids. The tallest and widest building lies in the very center: the Lazarus Citadel. Around it are large, excited crowds, cheering as the snow falls lightly.


    TLTE the Royal Herald: Rejoice, O people, for our lord awakens, and with him the eternal spring returns!

    Hourglasses everywhere throughout the rebuilt Atlantean continent, and across the multiverse, empty completely into their bottoms. Within the tallest tower of the Lazarus Citadel, the shell encasing a fabulous throne recedes in overlapping plates. A man steps out of it, glowing brightly, and walks to the balcony. As he appears, the sun comes out, and warm winds blow throughout the world, melting the snow as flowers bloom spontaneously.

    Highemp, the Lazarus Lord: My people!

    Raucous cheering greets him, and it is some time before he is able to complete his speech. When he does, he enters his palace once more, as wild celebration erupts outside. His wife, the Queen Losien, and his daughter, Iriana Emp, greet him with embraces.

    Queen Losien: We missed you that year.

    Iriana: Don't worry, Daddy, I kept her company. The NeSferatu are waiting to report to you.

    Highemp, the Lazarus Lord: I will see them now. I trust you two are well?

    The queen and princess nod as three lank, pale figures cloaked in black enter the room. One is a woman, two are men.

    Minister of Strategy Desmond: Nothing out of the ordinary during your year of rejuvenation, my lord. Uprisings here and there across the Storyfractal, all easily put down.

    Chief Assassin Nyneve: There were a fair number of bloodink users that popped up. I enjoyed devouring them.

    Highemp nods at them but looks at the central figure between the other too. He too is draped in a black cloak, but he is less human looking. Whereas the other two take pains to maintain their good looks, this one is gaunt and even paler. His fangs are so long it's a wonder he can talk with them, and his eyes glow red. Curiously, an iron pot is upon his head like a hat.

    NeSferatu King Tony: The NeSferatu remain loyal to you, my lord. Though as always we hunger for your bloodink.

    Highemp smiles thinly. Thanks to his rejuvenation every one hundred years, he is invulnerable, and his bloodink untouchable. As the only user of bloodink - all others hunted down by his NeSferatu servants - he is virtually all-powerful in the narrative realms.

    Highemp, the Lazarus Lord: Excellent. You have done well.

    Watching unseen from the balcony are Rosebud Emp and the Sepulchral Phantom. When they speak, their words are unheard except by each other.

    Rosebud Emp: It's that same man. The other "me". But what happened to his first wife?

    Sepulchral Phantom: He is and he is not the same man. In the same way that he is and is not you. In this reality, his first wife, as you called her, died. But his schemes to bring all stories to heel bore fruition. He is the Phoenix King, the Lazarus Lord, the Holy-Blooded.

    Rosebud Emp: Those terms mean nothing to me. Is he truly happy? He has it good now, it seems, but he has suffered loss in the past, it seems. Surely that must still weigh on him. And he employs such sinister servants.

    Sepulchral Phantom: He think he is happy. In the end, is that not the trait shared by all happy people?

    Rosebud Emp makes a noncommital answer, and then he is falling into mist a second time...

    ***

    Date: Beyond Forever.

    Location: Beyond Forever.

    Beyond anything we, or Rosebud, or his alternate selves, know.

    A great city, carved of invulnerable marble in Greco-Roman style and lush with greenery, floats in the golden sky of eternity. At its heart, soaring up into the sky, is a magnificent palace, and in the throne room gods hold court. Five thrones are arrayed on a great dais. Twin sisters and a former peasant, all queens, claim three of them, and at the central throne's right hand is the empress Galatea. The central throne itself, the grandest, holds Highemp, but he is radiant with power and glory. Supplicants bow before him, and he grants them fabulous boons.


    Rosebud Emp: I don't understand. What are we seeing? Another power fantasy like the last one?

    Sepulchral Phantom: That, and more. This man's master narrative succeeded. He ascended and is now truly and totally supreme, fully omnpotent and omnisicient. He is no longer Highemperor, but Highdeity.

    Rosebud Emp: Wait...Highemp was short for Highemperor? So what do they call Highdeity for short? Heidi?

    He guffaws. The spectre makes no sound, but after a moment, resumes.

    Sepulchral Phantom: Highdeity lives in splendid bliss, and all multiverses everywhere and everywhen prosper, time and space utterly rewritten. Everyone loves him, and even his fleet of God-Killer Machines cannot harm him.

    Rosebud Emp: Wait, everyone loves him? Did he... control their minds or something?

    Sepulchral Phantom: When you are a dreaming, and someone in a dream does as you wish, are you controlling their minds?

    Rosebud Emp: I suppose not, but that's because they're just a figment of my imagination.

    Sepulchral Emp: And so all the multiverses are to him.

    Rosebud Emp: To view people that way, that's...monstrous.

    He pauses.

    Rosebud Emp: Or is all this simply in his own head, and not actually real?

    Sepulchral Phantom: It is as real as any dream. And yet, this is one reality that would not, could never, happen. The flimsiest of all impossibilities.

    Rosebud Emp: Even if it were possible, I don't know that I would want it. It's...it's not me. Why do you show me these things, spectre? To make me doubt my lot? To what purpose? It is not working, you know.

    He receives no answer, but instead falls into mist yet again.

    ***

    A.D. 2017

    The Solar System.

    But not the solar system we-- You know what? You get the point by now. Carry on.

    Space is littered with debris as a great battle is fought between two cities floating in the void. Hovering over the balcony at the top of the tallest tower in one city, is a girl, addressing her father.


    God-Monarch Chimaat: This doesn't have to happen, Daddy. You can end the fight, walk away, and enjoy your harem forever.

    Highemp's eyes brighten, evidently remembering his pre-battle orgy the previous night.

    Highemperor: A lovely thought! And of course, I shall do exactly that - after I ascend to true Godhood over Forever and fill everyone and everything with utter eternal joy.

    God-Monarch Chimaat: No, Daddy. Stop the battle. You don't need true Godhood to be forever happy with your harem, do you?
    Highemp eyes her shrewdly.

    Highemperor: Do you remember something about how this turns out?

    God-Monarch Chimaat: I can't, Daddy. Not for sure. It's all vague and hazy. But I know it does not end well.

    Highemperor opens his mouth to retort, then stops. He considers, and for the first time in eons, truly searches himself. Then he finally speaks.

    Highemperor: I have striven for so long, and never has the striving brought anything but more striving. Have I forgotten what it means to be content?

    A glimmer of hope appears in his daughter's eyes.

    Chimaat: You'll remember, Daddy. I know you will.

    And so Highemp commands a full withdrawal of his forces. He resurrects his pantheon, and makes peace with Imeryn and her God-Monarchs. Imeryn, Ameryl, and Peasant Girl are not willing to rejoin his side, as he had once dreamed, but they at least part on somewhat amicable terms, and for the first time, Highemp, Imeryn, and Peasant Girl are able to think of lives that are not wrapped around old obsessions.

    Highemp immediately halts all High Imperial conquest initiatives and gives orders that any and all parts of the High Empire that wish independence are to be given it. About half of his far-reaching realm adores their god-king, and gladly stays with him, but the rest are too pleased to be given autonomy once more. He releases the sciences of replication magitech to all who wish it, so that any may prosper with its freely given bounty.

    Highemp releases Serleria back to Mootchief Minos' control, which is truthfully all the old alitaur ever wanted. Minos gives Highemp a slap on the back and invites him to party at his place any time, and they become friends. Highemp works with the titans to make a new and perfect primal she-dragon mate for Typhon, and the ancient dragon at least releases his old hatred. Highemp frees all the quantum gods composing his flagship, and the Ascension is more than happy to rebuild its home univese side-by-side with the quantum deity it once worshipped. Neith Lieren, upon seeing that Highemp is no longer a threat, takes command of her Void Rangers again and resumes her long vigil over the multiverse. Zhuge returns to his shoe on Orion, satisfied that Highemp has seen the error of his ways.

    Dave shacks up with Chimaat (both of her!), and...well, actually, they're just as happy as they would have otherwise been, that is to say VERY.

    And Highemp lives happily ever after with his harem.


    Rosebud Emp: You know, you really didn't have to show me the harem. Hearsay would have been great. This seems to be a very happy ending. He turned back from the path of obsession and destruction, and achieved some concrete good before settling down happily ever after. Wouldn't trade it for my life, but I'm nonetheless glad for him.

    There is a silence, and after a moment, Rosebud turns to look at his companion.

    Rosebud Emp: Spectre?

    [i]Sepulchral Phantom: This is the saddest of all the realities I have shown you.

    Rosebud Emp: What? Why?

    [i]Sepulchral Phantom: Because of all the possibilities I have shown you, this one was the closest to becoming reality.

    Rosebud Emp: Uh...I don't know if you noticed, but my life is far removed from all of them.

    Sepulchral Phantom: Therein lies your error, Rosebud. These men are not reflections of you, but they are reflections of the same man you yourself are a reflection of.

    Rosebud Emp: Wha--?

    Then he is falling through mist.

    ***

    When next Rosebud opens his eyes, he is back in his bed. A young woman dressed in a fashion with which he is entirely unfamiliar greets them with a pout.

    Death/Aire: About time! Next time you want to take someone on a jaunt through reality and unrealisties, let me know first, Morthrandur. I'm on a schedule here!

    The Sepulchral Phantom says nothing, but a light bulb goes off inside Rosebud's head.

    Rosebud Emp: Wait - he's not Death? You are?!

    Death/Aire: I get that a lot. I blame ol' Pesu. Always dressing up in cloaks and skull masks. Now people expect me to the do the same thing, but I'll be damned if I'm not gonna look fashionable!

    Rosebud Emp: I am pleased to meet you, er, Death.

    Death/Aire: Really? That's quite refreshing. Usually folks are kicking and screaming when I put them inside my coke can.

    Rosebud eyes the soda can in her hand askance.

    Rosebud Emp: The door to heaven is through there?

    The girl has the grace to blush.

    Death/Aire: Nnnnnot exactly, it's just what I keep your soul in till I get to you final destination, which is, yes, heaven for you, in case you were worried.

    Sepulchral Phantom: Hold, before you go. Rosebud Emp, with all you have seen, what say you?

    The old man smiles.

    Rosebud Emp: My answer is the same as before. I am content.

    Death/Aire: Happy, Morthy? Alright, Mister Emp, in you go, I promise it only stings a little--

    For one final time, Rosebud falls into mist, and this time he falls further and further than before. Then his eyes blink open. Light his surrounding him, and old friends are gathered around him to greet him enthusiastically. A woman as gorgeous as she is familiar takes his hand.

    Harriet Emp: I missed you, Rosebud.

  31. #151
    Virgin Fleet Admiral
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    1,325

    Axis of Time and Space

    Soriel and Highemp: Whee!

    They are inside the TARDIS, pulling levers and throwing switches almost at random. The time machine shakes and rattles wildly, before coming to rest. The two adventurers grin at each other.

    Highemp: Where do you think we ended up this time?

    Soriel: As long as there are monsters to kill, I don't care!

    They rush towards the door excitedly, when it opens of their own accord. There stands the Doctor, crossing his arms as he glares at them. Soriel and Highemp skid to a halt and look at him sheepishly.

    Doctor: Again you jack my ride. What is it with you two?

    He stalks towards the controls, shouldering aside Highemp and Soriel as he begins piloting to another destination. The TARDIS shakes and rattles again, but considerably less so than when Soriel and Highemp were piloting.

    Doctor: What I don't get is why. You--

    He stabs a finger in Highemp's direction.

    Doctor: --can hop through time and space at will, and I'm sure you have the wherewithal to bring your partner in crime with you.

    Highemp: But there's nothing quite like the thrill of joyriding!

    Soriel: And this is a pretty sweet ride.

    The Doctor cracks a grin.

    Doctor: I know, right?!

    Then his gaze hardens once more.

    Doctor: And now, out you go!

    Highemp: But we're still in transit!

    Doctor: So? I know you can survive the time vortex, and I doubt the thing that can kill your compatriot has been invented.

    Cut to the exterior of the TARDIS, spinning through the time vortex. Highemp and Soriel are booted out and spin through it.

    Highemp and Soriel: Whee!

    Soriel: So where and when are we gonna come out?

    Highemp: Well, I could direct us somewhere, or...we could find out at random!

    Soriel: Yes!

    Then a giant swirling mass of temporal energy catches them and tosses them about violently.

    Highemp: It's some kind of interdimensional storm!

    Though he does not yet know this, the storm is in fact one of Phractal's transdimensional farts. The storm funnels them deep into the time vortex, and it's a long chaotic ride before they finally appear somewhere solid again.

    Soriel: Where are we? More importantly, where are the things to kill?

    Highemp: I don't know...

    They pick themselves up and look around. They are standing on a golden walkway of light, one of many within their vision. Some vast fantastic city surrounds them, constructed of buildings in an infinite variety of shapes, sizes, and architectures, with the golden walkways threading the air between them. Portals shimmer open and closed everywhere, so quickly that it almost looks like brightly twinkling stars or even fireworks.

    Soriel: Hmm, seems empty.

    He sounds disappointed. He toes a mineral deposit on the golden walkway next to him. There are several such deposits scattered everywhere, on the walkways, on the buildings, and in mid-air, of many kinds of strange materials.

    Highemp: Is that-- is that orichalcum? It is! What is orichalcum doing here?

    Soriel: Ori-whatnow? Is it killable?

    Highemp: 'Fraid not. It's a potent magical substance, but it only forms in high concentrations of aether. While there's plenty of aether flow here, it's not all that concentrated.

    He looks around at some of the other nearby mineral deposits.

    Highemp: There's some more orichalcum, but most of these materials I don't recognize.

    New Voice: Marvexis has a great many strange and rare materials.

    The two whip around to see the first sign of life they've yet encountered in this place. It is a humanoid about their height, but with only one eye.

    Soriel: Who are you?

    Cyclops: I am Eitri, dwarf-smith. And you are clearly. not spies or warlords, as are most who seek this place out. Adventurers then.

    Highemp: Dwarf smith?

    Soriel: Compared to other cyclopes, he is. Most of them are giants.

    Highemp: Since when did you become an anthropological expert?

    Soriel: I've killed enough to know.

    Highemp: Right.

    He pauses.

    Highemp: Maybe don't kill this one.

    Soriel: Aw...

    Highemp: At least not yet!

    Eitri is unperturbed, a faint smile on his face.

    Eitri: To answer the questions you are undoubtedly wondering, this city is an interdimensional junction world. Perhaps the interdimensional junction world, though in an infinite multiverse it's hard to say for sure. It's known as Marvexis.

    Highemp: An interdimensional junction world? That explains the portals!

    Soriel: Portals that lead to things to kill?

    Eitri: Some of them, yes.

    Soriel brightens.

    Eitri:
    If all roads lead to Rome, then this is Rome. A massive junction that can potentially connect to anywhere. The god Phractal was created here by the titans at the dawn of the multiverse. That's why the orichalcum is here. Aether from the ultranexus on Earth flows through here to everywhere else, sustaining magic throughout the cosmos.

    Highemp: Aha! So while it's not a high concentration, it's enough aether flowing by over eons to form the stuff. And are these other mineral deposits similarly potent materials?

    Eitri: Indeed. Some are excellent catalysts for interdimensional effects, others can create nigh-invulnerable alloys, and still others do odder things. It's a treasure trove for a crafter.

    The two adventurers recall that he had introduced himself as a smith.

    Soriel: What do you make? Are any of them golems that I can kill?

    Eitri: I have created some golems, yes--

    Soriel: Great! Where are they?

    Eitri: Gone. I release all my creations, golems or otherwise, to the universe.

    Highemp: Except this city.

    This said astutely.

    Eitri: Yes. I built this city.

    Highemp: The craftsmanship is marvelous. You're as skilled as a titan, perhaps more so, but without the infinite energy source of chaos that they have.

    Soriel: But why is there no one here to kill?!

    Eitri: Sometimes others come. Spies seeking to use portals for espionage, or warlords seeking to use them as routes for conquest. All leave after a short while.

    Highemp: Why?

    Eitri: Visions. One cannot exist in an interdimensional junction for very long without sensations of other realities bleeding into your psyche. It drives most mad, and at the very least unsettles the others.

    Soriel: Yet you're still here.

    Eitri: I have a very disciplined mind. Also, perhaps my only having one eye helps.

    The two adventurers can't tell if his last line is uttered seriously or not.

    Highemp: Welp, this is a great place to know for when I begin my multiversal conquest!

    Soriel: You DID just hear the part where he said it drives people mad, yes?

    Highemp: Pfft, I'm a powerplayer, I can find ways around that. Also, when I found a great capital, I can employ Eitri to build it!

    Eitri: Present me with a challenge sufficient enough, and you may pique my interest.

    Highemp: Excellent. I--

    Soriel: THINGS TO KILL!

    A portal has opened next to them, and a horde of beastmen can be seen through it.

    Soriel: Let's go!

    Highemp: But I have more questions--

    Soriel grabs Highemp and jumps with him through the portal, which vanishes behind them, cutting off the swordsman's gleeful battle cry. Eitri chuckles before musing to himself.

    Eitri: A multiversal capital...depending on how exotic it is, maybe I could be interested. For now, I'll go back to forging that baby universe.

    He turns and trudges back to his work.

    *****

    NSP: I wrote this as a sort of explanation for Marvexis, which is mentioned once on page 1 of NeShattered but never explained. It's loosely inspired by the Axis of Time from the 90s X-Men cartoon (the name Marvexis is a portmanteau of Marvel and Axis). Also had the idea to introduce a character who will be the future architect of Urbis Imperia.
    Last edited by Al Ciao; 06-08-2017 at 12:32 PM.

  32. #152
    Virgin Fleet Admiral
    Posts
    1,325
    Teknis Circle, Myst Sector, Milky Way galaxy.

    Circa 10,000 B.C.


    Inquisitor Beta: You're not very popular around here.

    The alien man to whom the female witch-warden scientist-sage is speaking bares his teeth in an almost-feral smile.

    Aeliesin Koure: Popularity is unimportant to me.

    Inquisitor Beta giggles, which seems rather uncharacteristic for the Indran woman. The young avian man standing next to Koure notices this oddity, and frowns slightly.

    Inquisitor Beta: No, I suppose not. But don't worry, you're popular with me!

    Her face is slightly flushed, and the young avian man begins to wonder if the rumors about Koure's strange power over women are true. But surely not; after all, if they were, such supernatural control would be voided in the Teknis Circle.

    Aeliesin Koure: Of that I am very glad, my dear. You have the...extra bits?

    The young avian man's frown deepens, but he knows it is not his place to say anything. Koure and Inquisitor Beta have already exchanged bits of data and crates - hoisted via tiny dronebots, since Koure's soul-powered telekinesis was voided within the Teknis Circle - but now the inquisitor pulled out a small case and handed it to Koure.

    Aeliesin Koure: Much obliged, my dear.

    Inquisitor Beta: I look forward to seeing you again next year. But you haven't introduced me to your fellow Knight. I don't believe I've seen him before.

    The young avian man standing next to Koure flushes a bit at the scrutiny, and hurriedly wipes the slight frown off his beak. He is humanoid, and covered in red feathers. A long black ponytail sweeps from the crown of his head to tumble around his shoulders. His arms have enough feathers that they will let him glide; however, until he masters his soul powers, he cannot achieve true flight.

    Aeliesin Koure: He is not a Knight, but a relatively new apprentice. He is called Exar Zaedek. His soul powers awakened only very recently, and yet his soul seems to get stronger every day, despite him being a normal Tangris servant all his life.

    Inquisitor Beta: Really? How intriguing! Why does his soul continually generate spiritual essence like that?

    Aeliesin Koure: We do not know, but at the moment it only matters that he is accustomed to not feeling anything with his soul. Therefore it is less jarring for him to enter the Teknis Circle than any other Aeon, be he pupil or lord.

    Exar Zaedek shuffles his taloned feet in embarrassment, when the speaker on the table between the Aeons and Inquisitor crackles, as an angry voice cuts into their conversation.

    General Magog: Beta! Those damned Aeons have betrayed us!

    All three in the room blink in surprise, though Koure retains his composure and replies smoothly.

    Aeliesin: I can assure you we have not, General. What makes you think--

    General Magog: A gods-damned demonic battleship is floating into our system!

    All three listeners can't help but notice the irony. Magog is the nearly immortal offspring of an Ordimarian angel and an alien demon.

    Inquisitor Beta: The Aeons have nothing to do with that, General. Is he relaying hostile intent?

    General Magog's tone is sour.

    General Magog: No, he's hailed us. Is asking for peaceful parley. Seems he wishes to do business with us. Never trust a demon, I say.

    Aeliesin Koure: Never you fear, General, I have never trusted you.

    Before Magog can process Koure's insult, Inquisitor Beta cuts in.

    Inquisitor Beta: I'll see this demon, General. Please dispatch a full guard convoy to escort them for as long as they remain in the system.

    General Magog grumbles, but acquiesces. The inquisitor cuts the comm, and looks at Koure, bemusedly.

    Aeliesin Koure: I'd be rather interested in meeting this demon, and seeing what he wants with the witch-wardens.

    Inquisitor Beta: I'd presume he is offering something similar to our arrangement with you Aeons; the trading of knowledge and intel. You may of course attend.

    By now, Exar Zaedek is all but convinced that there must be some truth to Koure's rumored ability to manipulate women. To let them see her meeting with a demon? He shakes his head ruefully, not eager to meet whoever the infernal entity is.

    Shortly, an witch-warden shuttle has ferried the battleship's demon owner to one of the Teknis Circle's many space stations, where Inquisitor Beta, Koure, and Exar Zaedek are already waiting. The door to the meeting room opens as two witch-wardens usher in the demonic visitor.


    Helebon: Greetings, witch-wardens.

    Exar Zaedek is a bit surprised by his appearance. While he is certainly of sinister aspect, as one would expect of a demon - he has a red cloak shrouding a black and unseen form, with a sibilant voice hissing from beneath the hood - he is also a midget.

    Inquisitor Beta: I am Inquisitor Beta. Whom do I have the dubious honor of addressing?

    Helebon: I am Helebon, warden of the Nine Hells of Terra, and most powerful servant of the WriterGod.

    Inquisitor Beta: And why are you here? You must know that we witch-wardens do not feel very kindly disposed to supernatural entities, much less those who directly serve any deity.

    Helebon: Because I wish to kill the WriterGod.

    Dead silence greets his pronouncement. Koure finally breaks it with a chuckle, but says nothing.

    Inquisitor Beta: Even witch-wardens have difficulty slaying deities. And we often choose not to commit ourselves to such endeavors, given the backlash that can come from such actions.

    Helebon: Then give me a weapon. No one has to know it came from you.

    Inquisitor Beta is silent for a moment, studying the diminutive demon.

    Inquisitor Beta: We may be able to help you. I will have to consult with...my fellow inquisitors to develop a solution.

    By this, Inquisitor Beta means traveling alone to the Loft to see Inquisitor Alpha, the most dangerous and brilliant of them all. If anyone could produce a god-killing weapon, it'd be him.

    Helebon: I have not shown my hand to my master yet. So I have time before I need it.

    Inquisitor Beta: And how would you pay for such a weapon?

    Helebon: I am obscenely wealthy. My world houses the cosmic ultranexus of magic. I can offer many magical objects for study - I understand you often acquire those for the purpose of learning to foil them - as well as the riches that flow through Atlantis into my hands.

    Inquisitor Beta: That sounds like it will do nicely. We will draw up specific terms once we have a weapon ready.

    Their conversation is cut short when a sharp CRACK tears through the air. A blinding flash of light heralds a jagged tear being carved into the very air of the room. Koure and Exar Zaedek instinctively draw their soulsabers - Exar Zaedek's hilt, in fact, is double-bladed - but are unable to ignite them in the anti-super fields blanketing the whole Teknis system. Helebon takes a step back but draws no weapon; he is also powerless here.

    Inquisitor Beta, however, slaps a hand down on the alarm.


    Inquisitor Beta: SECURITY! Portal breach!

    As frantic tones jangle through the space station, the jagged tear widens enough for a body to tumble through. It somersaults, its skin steaming slightly with interdimensional drift, before standing up on slightly wobbly feet.

    The newcomer looks exactly like Exar Zaedek.


    Inquisitor Beta: What the hell--

    Exar Zaedek: I don't know--

    A loud boom rattles the space station.

    Aeliesin Koure: What's happening?

    Inquisitor Beta: High-capacity interdimensional lockdown was effected after your apprentice's clone appeared. Now someone else is trying to open a portal here.

    She stabs a finger at the Exar Zaedek look-a-like.

    Inquisitor Beta: Someone is following you. Who are you, what do you want, and what do they want?!

    The door whooshes open as a contingent of witch-wardens rush in, quicksilver-bullet pistols leveled at everyone in the room except for Inquisitor Beta.

    Exar Zaedek Look-A-Like: I am Exar Zaedek.

    Exar Zaedek: What?! No, you're not, I am!

    Exar Zaedek Look-A-Like: We both are.

    Helebon: An alternate reality.

    Exar Zaedek Look-A-Like: Yes. I am being hunted by those who want me dead. Who want you dead too, Exar. Who want all of us dead. All the Exar Zaedeks across the multiverse.

    Exar Zaedek: What?! But I--

    Inquisitor Beta: I will NOT have outsider business interfering with the Teknis Circle. You will be detained and deported immediately!

    Exar Zaedek Look-A-Like: I'm afraid it's too late for that.

    Another boom rocks the station.

    Inquisitor Beta: Dammit, someone isolate that signature!

    One of the other witch-wardens is listening to his earpiece.

    Random Witch-Warden: Ma'am, the signature is attempting breach at places all over the Teknis Circle, but most commonly here.

    Aeliesin Koure: You can here for protection.

    The Aeon Lord is looking directly at the alternate-reality Exar Zaedek Look-A-Like. The other nods.

    Exar Zaedek Look-A-Like: Yes.

    Inquisitor Beta: The hell you're getting it!

    Aeliesin Koure: He's already getting it. For the next several minutes until you deport him, at least.

    Inquisitor Beta: Who's after you?

    Exar Zaedek Look-A-Like: The Imperium Peacekeepers.

    Everyone looks alarmed at this prospect, save Helebon, whose expression cannot be seen beneath his all-concealing scarlet hood. Two witch-wardens clamp cuffs around the Look-A-Like's wrists, but the Look-A-Like shrugs almost apologetically, and touches a device on his belt.

    A boom greater than any previous ripples through the station. Fire fans out from the Look-A-Like. It is mostly harmless, but blinds and startles everyone else. At the same time, the homing device on the Look-A-Like's belt goes off, and thus the Imperium portal knows exactly where to open up next.

    With a tremendous shriek, the witch-warden's interdimensional lockdown is torn asunder as a swirling portal opens in the room. The violence of it is so great that the walls crumple and everyone is thrown to the ground. When their eyes recover from the flames that poofed out right before the portal appeared, they see that the Look-A-Like is gone. His cuffs - and his belt - are on the floor, directly beneath the portal that has just spawned.

    Out of the portal steps a femme fatale. A deadly beautiful woman with cold blue skin and white eyes, and long hair like a raincloud.


    Nyneve O Braonain: There you are.

    She is looking directly at Exar Zaedek - this universe's version - and smiles menacingly as she stalks towards him, unconcerned by all the witch-wardens who are starting to scramble to their feet.

    Aeliesin Koure: Lad - she's after you!

    He tackles Exar Zaedek out of the way just as Nyneve O Braonain dives forward, claws out. He grunts in pain as icy agony scrapes along his back, but hoists himself and his pupil to his feet.

    Aeliesin Koure: Hold, woman!

    Nyneve sways for a moment, as Koure's pheromones work to infiltrate her pores, but she shakes her head even as the witch-wardens stand and re-aim their weapons.

    Nyneve O Braonain: I am too cold for your heat.

    Inquisitor Beta: Fire!

    The witch-warden's quicksilver bullets whizz through the air towards their target, but quicker than thought she is dodging aside. Koure pulls Exar Zaedek out of the room after him.

    Exar Zaedek: What are you doing?!

    Aeliesin Koure: Fool! Can't you see that look-a-like has set you up? You are bait to throw that icy witch off his scent!

    They run down another corridor - more internal walls crumpled by the violent portal opening from moments ago - and Nyneve O Braonain rears up in front of them. They skid to a stop, and Koure flexes his fingers automatically to summon his soul-blade, only to belatedly remember that he cannot while in the Teknis Circle.

    Nyneve O Braonain: This bird is not worth your life. Step aside.

    Aeliesin Koure: You seem supernatural. Why are you not affected by the Teknis Circle?

    Nyneve O Braonain: Is that what that is? Smart thinking, bird. But unfortunately for you I am still quite fast and strong even without supernatural enhancement. Now. Step. Aside.

    Exar Zaedek is cringing behind Koure, and then gapes in disbelief as the Aeon Lord, after a moment, does indeed step aside.

    Exar Zaedek: Lord Kour--

    His exclamation is interrupted as Nyneve stabs him through the heart. He looks down disbelievingly as his life ebbs from him. Koure walks up to him, his faįade unaffected by the accusation in Exar's dimming eyes.

    Aeliesin Koure: I'm sorry, lad.

    Then Exar Zaedek's eyes close for the last time.

    Nyneve O Braonain: Well, can't say I've seen that happen before. You're smarter than anyone else who's ever tried to protect my targets.

    Aeliesin Koure: I would welcome a match with you outside the Teknis Circle, when my soul can exert its force.

    She bares a savage grin at him.

    Nyneve O Braonain: Would you now?

    Aeliesin Koure: Some other time, perhaps. You have what you wanted. Will you leave us in peace?

    Nyneve's reply is a whoosh of air as she zips off. With another violent series of booms that shakes the space station, the portal vanishes. Koure looks expressionlessly at the body of the Aeon apprentice at his feet. He knows Inquisitor Beta, Helebon, and the others will still be trying to figure out what happened.

    Aeliesin Koure: I know you're there.

    Exar Zaedek Look-A-Like: Clever man. Or did you spot me somehow?

    Aeliesin Koure: I am too clever to tell you which. I will keep your secret. No Peacekeeper shall know you are still alive.

    The look-a-like snorts.

    Exar Zaedek Look-A-Like: I doubt you have any way to tell them even if you wanted to. But I appreciate the sentiment. And oh for pity's sake, can we strike the "Look-A-Like" bit off the script now? I'm the only Exar Zaedek in the post anymore, since the first one introduced is dead.

    Fine.

    Exar Zaedek: Many thanks.

    Aeliesin Koure: I confess curiosity as to why you're being hunted.

    Exar Zaedek: The Omega Reich.

    Aeliesin Koure: Never heard of them. Some despotic regime?

    Exar Zaedek: You could say that. The Imperium got wind of intel that says I will be a great asset to the Reich, granting them access to a terrible weapon.

    Aeliesin Koure: So they sent their Peacekeepers after you.

    Exar Zaedek: After all of me. They don't know which of me is supposedly going to do this. So they're being...thorough.

    Aeliesin Koure: Brutal, but I admire their resolve. Do you intend to help this Omega Reich?

    Exar Zaedek: I am not evil. So no.

    He sways a little, slightly dizzy.

    Exar Zaedek: Ugh, it's always a headache, getting adjusted to greater soul influx.

    Aeliesin Koure: Greater soul-- you're absorbing the lad's soul?

    He nudges the shoulder of the dead Aeon apprentice with the toe of his boot.

    Exar Zaedek: Not exactly. I didn't realize this for a long time, but apparently when someone, anywhere in the multiverse, is killed, his alternate selves gain a marginal increase in power, as though the very essence of that self is being spread among fewer copies. Since so many of me are being killed, the increase in power is far more than marginal by now.

    Aeliesin Koure: Indeed? I may have to look into that. That explains why this poor lad went from powerlessness to immense soul potential so quickly.

    Exar Zaedek barks a bitter laugh. Then, with merely a nod, he vanishes. Another boom rattles across the space station, though not nearly as violent as before. Koure stands there for a moment, then kneels to pick up the dead apprentice's body, before bearing it back to the room with Inquisitor Beta.

    ***

    Grand Lord Inquisitor Alpha: A god-killer?

    Inquisitor Beta: That is so. Can it be done?

    Grand Lord Inquisitor Alpha snorts. He is in his eternal prison in the Loft between the three suns of the Teknis Circle, and Inquisitor Beta has visited him, standing outside his luxurious cell.

    Grand Lord Inquisitor Alpha: The question is never, can it be done, but how long and how many resources will it take?

    Inquisitor Beta: Which of our projects do you think has the greatest chance of succeeding?

    Grand Lord Inquisitor Alpha: None of them. Well, I'm sure any of them might succeed at killing a deity, given enough application, but this is the WriterGod we're talking about.

    Inquisitor Beta: I confess I've never heard of him. He doesn't seem a bigwig. Do you really think him that dangerous?

    Grand Lord Inquisitor Alpha: Tsk, you witch-wardens aren't as knowledgeable as you think. The WriterGod is possessed of unfathomable power, though he rarely demonstrates it and instead maintains his low profile. However, there has been a notion running through my head the past umpteen eons...

    Inquisitor Beta: Yes?

    The imprisoned Grand Lord Inquisitor pauses, his eyes flicking across his compatriot. From reading subtle cues in her body language, he can tell that she is not entirely herself. She doesn't seem to be totally controlled, only influenced, and the influence itself doesn't seem to be exerting any demands on her.

    He concludes that she has recently come into contact with a powerfully pheromonal species recently. He supposes it might be considered his duty to inform her and the witch-wardens of this potential hole in their security, but as he sees it, he is under no such obligation to inform his jailers. They treat him well, provide him comfort and luxury, and give him challenges to satisfy his mind - but they are still jailers from whom he cannot escape.

    So he passes over the topic and answers her question instead.


    Grand Lord Inquisitor Alpha: I call it anti-power...

    ***

    Before the NeSiverse.

    Other universes sparkle the Deep Void. And more and more of them are ground under the heel of the Omega Reich. The Amalgamated Powers are constantly pushed back, despite more allies flocking to join them everyday. Jagisk Ttocks' regime is too powerful, too brutal, too inexorable to stop or even slow down.

    In the Heinyrios cosmos - more commonly known as the Henryverse - the first major cradle of multiverse civilization still remains, albeit in ruins. The great city of the Alpha Henries, which once spanned an entire star system is now collapsed into a gigantic black hole, with a corona of detritus around it.

    Since the Four Horsemen, empowered by all seven seals, destroyed the Alpha Henries' stellar megalopolis, some say the ruins are under a curse. The blood red sun, slowly collapsing over eons, once cast baleful light over the ruins, and those who picked over the remains died horrible deaths.

    Eventually, the sun collapsed into a black hole, which grew so immense it swallowed up almost the entire of the former solar system it inhabits. Now none approach it.

    At least, until the Omega Reich's bloodmancers came. They flew directly into the heart of the black hole (using unfathomably powerful magic and science to do so) and found a tunnel into a netherverse there. The curse is real. In the wake of the Four Horsemen's sevenfold apocalypse, a netherverse had formed, and in it a terrible entity had been born. Or perhaps it was always there, and merely awakened.

    Jagisk Ttocks and his bloodmancers made pacts with it, enslaving it to their will. Now, against all knowledge of physic, there is a vast castle floating inside the black hole, floating on the surface of the netherverse, with the stars of the Henryverse visible through a tremendous gap above them, where light enters the black hole.

    All manner of monstrosities inhabit this wretched bastion, not the least of which are many bloodmancers, working their foul rituals. Chief among them is the Asmodeus, the avatar of the netherversal entity. Ttocks lured it into the Henryverse, providing a form for it to take, and trapped it in that avatar, bound to his will.

    Now the Asmodeus broods here, conducting its rituals with the bloodmancers and fueling terrible weapons for its would-be master's wars of conquest.


    EditorGod: Damn, my eyes are bleeding. Cool it with the wall of text, will ya? What do you think this is, Fun Highemp Expositions, Int'l?

    Uh... You like talking heads better?

    EditorGod: At least it breaks up the long hard to read paragraphs!

    Fine. Here ya go.

    Random Bloodmancer #1: I need another planet's weight in blood.

    Random Bloodmancer #2: No can do, the stock is depleted.

    Random Bloodmancer #1: What, again? Why don't we keep reserves for situations like this?

    Random Bloodmancer #2: We do. They're saved for the Asmodeus though. Gotta keep him happy, or he'll slaughter us all.

    Random Bloodmancer #1: Nonsense. He is bound to Supreme Lord Ttocks' will.

    Random Bloodmancer #2: Maybe he is, and maybe he isn't. But you think Supreme Lord Ttocks would care if he devoured the souls of a coupla peons like us?

    Random Bloodmancer #1: ...you might have a point. When's the next shipment of concentration-camp blood come in?

    Random Bloodmancer #2: Tomorrow. I think our reserves will last the Asmodeus until then... I hope.

    Random Bloodmancer #1: Maybe we should go check on him, make sure he isn't getting, you know, too hungry?

    They look at each other, blanching.

    Both: Nahhhh.

    Random Bloodmancer #3: Pansies, the both of you. I'll go check. Fortunately, the new experiment seems to be working rather well at keeping him sated.

    Random Bloodmancer #1: Awesome, thanks - I'll say a few words at your funeral!

    Random Bloodmancer #2: Nice knowing you!

    [b]Random Bloodmancer #3 rolls his eyes and strides off. He navigates the demon pits, the zombie garden, and the 13th clock tower before arriving at his destination: the infernal chapel. Blood-red, void-black, bleached-white skulls, and pink smiley faces are the sinister motif throughout the castle, but none more so than here.

    A throne sits beneath a stained-glass window, but it is no ordinary throne. While exquisitely carved from pure orichalcum, it binds its prisoner to its seat, with wires and electrodes and other unpleasant things injected into his skin. Hence the bloodcurdling screams.[/I]

    Random Bloodmancer #3: I say, quiet down, can hardly hear myself think.

    Exar Zaedek: You...sit here...and see how... how you like it...

    The avian man Exar Zaedek - one of him anyway - is imprisoned here, in the Phoenix Throne, the greatest and most cruel creation of the Asmodeus and his bloodmancers.

    Random Bloodmancer #3: Come now, at least appreciate the brilliance of the contraption. It feeds on your soul to keep you alive and immortal, while simultaneously providing sustenance for the Asmodeus and a powerful new fuel source for our bloodmancy rituals! Also for other unspecified foul magitech that the Writer is assuming we probably get up to around here.

    Exar Zaedek: I do...already know...know this, you know.

    Random Bloodmancer #3: So you do! Don't know why I felt the inexplicable urge to give some exposition on it. Those Imperium fools...all that time they were trying to eliminate you so that your imprisonment wouldn't empower us, yet in killing so many of you, they beefed up your soul essence phenomenally! You, among all your alternate selves, already had an extraordinarily full and potent soul, and now it is obscenely rich with spiritual essence thanks to your assassinated copies!

    Exar Zaedek: You're...expositing...again.

    Random Bloodmancer #3: Oh, weird, so I am. Say, have you seen the Asmodeus around?

    Exar Zaedek: Behind you...

    Random Bloodmancer #3 whips around to see the Asmodeus. The avatar is humanoid in appearance, with long white hair and pale skin. His frame is gaunt and tall. His eyes are red pupils set in white irises set in black eyeballs. His very presence is chill.

    The Asmodeus is utterly invulnerable, save for wooden stakes, silver, and the sunlight of the brightest and purest stars. Even those won't kill it outright, only weaken it.


    Asmodeus: .....

    The Asmodeus never speaks, yet the weight of its un-words is terrible and crushing. Random Bloodmancer #3 rubs his temples.

    Random Bloodmancer #3: Hey there, Asmodeus, buddy! How ya doin'?

    Asmodeus: .....

    Random Bloodmancer #3: Well, glad you're well-fed! Don't want you picking off any of us, amirite?

    Exar Zaedek: He is...full but...always...up for...more...

    Random Bloodmancer #3: What are you on about?

    Another scream is heard from the infernal chapel, this one uttered by a different throat than usual. Random Bloodmancer #3 is never seen again. As promised, Random Bloodmancer #1 says a few words at his funeral.
    Last edited by Al Ciao; 06-11-2017 at 10:35 PM.

  33. #153
    Tea-sipper, character-killer
    Posts
    782

    Arrow

    It's a rainy day in Seattle and the few Americans who aren't asleep are roaming the streets looting shops or preparing for the coming apocalypse in deep bunkers. However there is one very peculiar gaggle of people scuttling about in a huddled group. They are evidently attempting to appear incognito and, in their attempts, are all the more conspicuous and suspicious.

    They whisper to each other. Loudly.

    Archmario: "Did someone step on my toe? Guys, I'm wearing my best curly-toed slippers!"

    Vice-Archluigi: "Well maybe you shouldn't be wearing your nice, new slippers while on an important mission!?"

    Archmario: "But they're silky soft!"

    Vice-Archluigi: "And you're wearing them in the rain. They'll be ruined."

    Archmario:
    "I'm sure there's a spell to fix them."

    Princess Plum: "And I bet you filed those slippers under expenses, didn't you?"

    Archmario: "I'm a wizard! We should all be wearing wizardy clothes now!"

    Princess Plum: "That doesn't mean you should be claiming it in your expenses! Pay for it yourself, not with student funds. ******."

    Archmario shakes his head with pity.

    Archmario: "This is a wizard hat. Not an ass."

    Vice-Archluigi: "You really are an ******."

    The gaggle of wizards, numbering around ten and all standing shoulder-to-shoulder on a street that could easily accommodate them separately, continue to scuttle along as they bicker petulantly. Standards of wizardry have certain fallen in recent times.

    Archmario, to emphasise his position, has even stitched a large red 'M' onto his crooked 'wizard hat' and the Vice-Archluigi has done the same, only a big green 'L'. Only Luigi has dyslexia and wound up writing an 'I' on it instead. He has gone as wizardly as he could manage; green robes and even a big blue cloak on top of that robe. The cloak's collars are so large that they'd impair his peripheral vision. His own wizard hat is not of the same crooked variety as the Archmario but instead is perfectly pointed up firmly and has no brim, like a big cone sat on his short, brown hair. He had grown a big bushy beard to complete the look but a fire spell gone awry burnt most of it away and left him with an unfortunate "porn 'tache". He was granted the role of being the vice-president of the Toiletium by his old school friend, Mario Miyamoto, despite having zero magical knowledge or talent. His first venture into magic, two days ago, was to conjure himself a pepperoni pizza but wound up with a green pizza with kitten meat.


    Luckily Taliesin, one of the original members of The Magium that still survives, was able to bring the kittens back to life and donate them to a local cat lady. Even though the cat lady was asleep but he was sure she wouldn't mind whenever she does wake up.

    Princess Plum:
    "This is the spot!"

    She glances around the street with her back straight and neck craned - as though nobody would wonder what the Hell she's up to. She has a little, round and youthful face despite being over twenty years old. The price of that is being IDed all the time when she goes to bars. Her real name is actually Hannah Van Der Hoes and the youngest princess of The Netherlands but for some inexplicable reason people kept trying to call her some random fruit whenever they see her. In the end she decided to take control of the situation and just choose a bloody fruit herself instead of being named anything from banana to grapefruit. She settled on Plum. Her instinct was to choose Peach but peaches are a metaphor for a vagina and she doesn't want to be known as Princess Pussy all her life.

    She has bright blonde hair that's partially covered by a hooded cloak that is so big and baggy that she looks like a little girl wearing her mother's clothes. She, unlike Luigi, was actually a fairly proficient mage before she was inducted into The Toiletium elite. From a young age she had joined the Madame Nymph Witching Company and learnt all of the spells a commercial witch required. This was mostly the kind of wizarding that involved love potions, money potions and luck potions above all else. She got pretty good at potions and so now her role at The Toiletium is just that. Teaching potions. And as a former Ms Nymph witch she comes complete with a broomstick. Not one of those old-fashioned wooden affairs but a modern, sleek broom of... cheap blue plastic and a soft flathead of bristles.

    Looters: "Oi! You lot of weirdoes! Give us ya cash!"

    Vice-Archluigi: "Uh oh. Spaghettioes!"

    Archmario:
    "Buncha goombas! Let's deal with them first!"

    Princess Plum jumps straight into action before anyone else could even get their game face correct. To be fair most of them would spend years trying to get proper game faces that wouldn't look like they were constipated, but you get the point.


    The kitchen brush might not look like much but, as a witch's broom, it has a heck of a lot of enchantments on the damned thing. She swings it into the gut of a looter and he blasts off with a loud ping. He strikes the nearby wall with such a force that it crumbles and he bounces off of it, twirling off into the sky. The other looters didn't notice any of that, not being ones to look up to admire the sky during a robbery, else they might have quit while they were ahead.


    As Archmario conjures a fireball, his robes actually change colour to become largely white with some red for good measure. He fireball expels from his hand with an unusual plop sound and promptly falls straight to the floor.

    Archmario:
    "Derp."

    The ball of flame, however, ricochets against the pavement and zooms straight into the chest of one of the dastardly looters. Archmario half expected the man to just fall over or, in some mind-bending fashion, fall off the face of the planet. Instead, as reality works, the man is set, screaming, on fire and the good-natured Mario Miyamoto is slapped with horror. He runs over to the burning and flailing man wringing his hands.


    Archmario: "Ohmigodi'msosorry! Ohmigodi'msosorry! Ohmigodi'msosorry!!"

    Vice-Archluigi performs the greatest of magical feats to save the day.

    He grabs a nearby bucket of water and throws it onto the burning bloke.


    The other wizards clap at the vice-president's wondrous skill.

    Looter: "You set my pal on fire, you son-of-a-bi--"

    Archmario, without thinking, casts a silence spell on the man to stop his profanity. The man is still shouting but entirely mute. The wizards stare at him, enjoying the surreality of it, until the man himself realises he's unable to make any kind of sound. He sticks his tongue out experimentally but it doesn't help. He points a finger at Mario and starts to silently scream at him.

    Archmario:
    "You know, perhaps you should consider counselling. All of this spent up rage, all of this shouting, it's very bad for your health. You could get cancer of the throat the way you shout all the time."

    The looter clamps a surprised hand to his throat.


    Archmario: "It's true! I read it in a book."

    Vice-Archluigi: "The 'Screaming Causes Cancer' book?"

    Archmario:
    "Something like that."

    Vice-Archluigi: "Was the writer called 'Imakecrapup Allthetime?'"

    Archmario: "... is that a Dutch name or something?"

    Princess Plum: "Or something."

    Casually she swings her broom and sends the remaining man flying over the nearest skyscraper. She plants it on her shoulder but finds herself greeted with a disapproving frown from the Archmario.

    Archmario: "Was there any need for that, young lady?"

    Princess Plum: "I'm older than you, you know?"

    Archmario: "He was coming round! Just a bit more talking to and he could have been a reformed man. A nice cup of tea and some ravioli and he'd be telling us the names of his kids. Violence doesn't solve everything, you know?"

    Princess Plum:
    "Maybe. But it definitely solves most things!"

    Toad: "Can we get on with this urgent mission now? My turban is starting to itch."

    They look down at Toad. He is a young man with pituitary dwarfism who was born as Tha'labah Tayyib Thayer Thaqib El Taj Al Tali Tamir Tariq which annoys everyone else, including the parents that gave him this insanely long name. Instead people call him Toad. Born in Sudan and raised as Muslim he spent most of his life in southern England where he picked up his perfect received pronunciation accent to compliment his naturally deep voice. He learnt basic wizardry from his uncle, who had been at The Magium before he was killed during its destruction, and had made regular pilgrimages to Stonehenge (along with all the New Age wiccans smoking weed), which enhanced his natural connection to aether. When his invitation to join The Toiletium came in he was thrilled and jumped at the opportunity. He wears a large white turban, less because of his cultural heritage and more for the distinctive 'Mediterranean wizard' look. He has a long blue duster coat (long for a dwarf at least) with a large collar and a lot of unnecessary belts on the front of it. He waggles his pipe wrench at Archmario, which serves as Toad's wand as well as for wrenching pipes.

    Archmario:
    "Okay, okay! This seems like a good spot."

    Toad: "Why is this a good spot? You lot decided this but I don't know why. I don't see anything special here."

    Everyone, except Toad, points across the road. The bright neon sign above the restaurant reads 'Papa Johns'. Toad rolls his eyes. These wizards and their pizza obsession. He had wondered a few times if Archmario's aether affinity was actually fuelled by pizza.

    Princess Plum:
    "Here's a good drain?"

    Archmario: "This is too public to be coming out of drains. Everyone will think we're monsters coming out of the sewers."

    Vice-Archluigi: "Or they'll think we're Turtles!"

    Princess Plum: "I am not covering my beautiful cloak with a shell!"

    Toad: "There's a drainpipe here."

    In the nearest alley Toad is pointing to a narrow drainpipe. The wizards all huddle around it. A random Seattle guy walks by and stares at the crazies watching a drainpipe before he grows uncomfortable and decides he might be safer far, far away from them.

    Archmario: "Okay. Has everyone got enough aether?"

    A series of affirmations follows.


    Archmario: "Pour your aether into me and think. Drainpipe."

    Toad: "What? No! If you think of drainpipe you'll just make a drainpipe! It's already a bloody drainpipe!"

    Archmario: "Huh? Oh right, yeah. Sorry. Think... warp pipe!"

    Archmario conducts the spell, muttering low so that they wouldn't attract any attention - but a group of lunatics muttering at each other about drainpipes is probably going to draw more attention than a bunch of plumbers shouting at each other about drainpipes but none of our intrepid mages is especially good, as you've noticed, at this incognito business.

    The drainpipe slowly turns green.

    And that's it. They turned the drainpipe green. It doesn't look newer or shinier or special. It's just green.


    The wizards all celebrate their feat of wonderful skill with handshakes and clapping of backs.


    Archmario:
    "Okay, good job everyone. We deserve pizza as our reward!"

    A lot of cheers.


    Toad: "And the warp pipe?"

    Archmario:
    "Oh right. Hold on. This is Taliesin's spell here."

    He whips out a parchment of teleportation and begins to read out Taliesin's incantations to create a tiny portal inside the green drainpipe. This would connect to the network of tiny portals that they had created throughout the city of Seattle. The portals weren't very efficient, only able to send one person at a time and often to the wrong place, but it was a start. Once the spell was implemented Archmario wheezes with exhaustion.

    Vice-Archluigi:
    "Taliesin's spells do tend to be really long-winded."

    Archmario: "I know, right!? I need my inhaler."

    Luigi helps Mario with his asthma inhaler.

    Archmario: "We have most of the city's most important places in our reach, my fellow mages, and soon - the WORLD!"

    A crack of lightning splits the sky.

    Toad: "Why?"

    There's a moment of confused silence.

    Archmario drops his arms from his menacing pose.

    Archmario: "What do you mean 'why'!?"

    Toad: "Why do we want to make portals to the rest of the world? The Toiletium is where we need to focus right now. Things aren't like they used to be, you know?"

    Archmario:
    "Well, I know that! But.... you know! We just... need to! I guess. Besides, haven't you ever wanted to be able to go to see Egypt? We'll be able to do that in an instant! I hate flying on planes. Crammed in like cattle--"

    Vice-Archluigi: "And we can get a portal to Carlo's back home."

    Mario's eyes light up.


    Archmario: "Now that's an idea! Best pizza in the world. Honestly, you don't know what a pizza is until you try a Carlo's pizza in our hometown."

    Everyone, except, Toad looks excited.

    Princess Plum: "Well, I'm spent for the night. No more portals please. Let's just settle for Papa John's eh?"

    Archmario: "Yes, let's! Everyone brought their wallets this time? Luigi, I'm talking to you."

    Vice-Archluigi: "Wouldn't you know it..."

    Archmario: "No way, you freeloader! I'm not paying for you again. Remember your damned wallet."

    Vice-Archluigi: "Fine."

    He gets on all fours next to the drainpipe and calls into the spout.

    Vice-Archluigi: "Taliesin, buddy-old-pal, throw my wallet through!"

    A moment later a wallet flies out of the drainpipe and smacks Luigi in the moustache.

    Princess Plum: "...stuffed crust..."

    Everyone else repeats;

    Wizards R Us Plumbing Company:
    "Stuffed cruuuust."

  34. #154
    Tea-sipper, character-killer
    Posts
    782

    Arrow Platonic Theory

    The year is 344BC and the founder of the Platonic Academy in Athens is wistfully staring at the beautiful landscape from his balcony. Sitting nearby is a young man, one of Plato's most promising students.

    Plato: "This material world around us is but a fiction, you see? It is merely an imitation of another world. A more divine world."

    The young Aristotle, aged seventeen, frowns at his teacher.

    Aristotle: "Can you elaborate?"

    Plato walks over to the empty chair opposite Aristotle, where there is a small table square table stands in-between and a scrap of parchment with Aristotle's writing on it (actually a lot of it consists of grotesque and deformed renditions of Plato and a lot of penis doodles). The balcony is covered by a short stone roof to keep the sun off their heads and the sounds of crickets whirring their legs in cathartic song can be heard from the shrubbery below.

    Plato: "Take this chair. What is it?"

    Aristotle is instantly suspicious of a logic trap. He squints one eye at Plato and purses his lips, between his desperate young man's beard, into a twist. When Plato opens his right palm at Aristotle, the student sighs and answers with the obvious.

    Aristotle: "A chair."

    Plato: "Exactly."

    Aristotle: "Oh!"

    That was unexpected and Aristotle blinks as he recollects what just happened, looking for some hidden truth that he hadn't noticed the first time through the dialogue.

    Plato: "But..."

    Aristotle: "I knew there had to be a but coming."

    Plato: "How do you know it is a chair?"

    Aristotle: "Uh... because... it just... is a chair."

    Plato: "Yes it is a chair. But what makes a chair?"

    Aristotle considers.

    Aristotle:
    "A chairier."

    Plato: "Uh, what?"

    Aristotle: "Someone who makes chairs must be a chairier!"

    Plato: "That's not what I meant and I'm pretty sure it's a carpenter that makes chairs. Chairier isn't a real word."

    Aristotle: "That doesn't make any sense. Shouldn't a carpenter be someone that makes carpets?"

    Plato: "Okay, this isn't grammar class and we don't even speak English anyway! In fact English doesn't exist yet!"

    Aristotle tuts and shakes his head in mock disapproval.


    Aristotle: "Oooo, breaking the fourth wall Teacher!"

    Plato: "I'm not breaking the fourth wall! I'm just stating an anachronism. If I break the fourth wall I'd point that them."

    Plato points at you.

    Aristotle: "Why do I feel like we've gone well off topic?"

    Plato: "Because we have. So. This chair."

    Aristotle: "Oh right! That's what we were talking about! The thrilling and important topic of the guy that makes chairs..."

    Plato: "Why are you my favourite student again? I forget."

    Aristotle: "Because I actually show up to class, unlike most students who just want to get a student loan for beer."

    Plato promptly ignores Aristotle's smart-aleck remarks henceforth.


    Aristotle: "My name isn't Aleck!"

    Plato: "A chair is a chair because it is an imitation of THE chair."

    Aleck:
    "THE chair? What ch-- wait, did my name just change to Aleck? I said my name isn't Aleck!"

    Plato: "The concept, the idea, the nature, the soul of a chair is within the TRUE Realm. The One Realm."

    Aristotle (temporarily named Aleck):
    "The One Realm to rule them--"

    Plato: "The One Realm is the divine realm and everything within our world is but an imitation of The One."

    Aristotle: "Okay. So the chair is a chair because the idea of the chair exists in The One and so the chair is, and always will be considered to be, a chair?"

    Plato: "Exactly. The One contains the true form of the universe and realm of existence is mimicking it. This is where knowledge comes from!"

    Aristotle: "Does that mean there's the one true penis in this--?"

    Plato: "This is why you can't trust poets and they should be banned from Greece."

    Aristotle:
    "Whoa, dude! That's quite a jump! What does that even mean? Why?"

    Plato: "Poetry is falsehood. It is a pale imitation of our universe, which means it is an imitation of an imitation. It is twice removed from The One truth. Poetry is simply lying."

    Aristotle: "I think you're officially off your rocker, fella."

    ------

    NSN:
    This is based on actual Platonic theory that there is a one true universe and that our reality is an imitation of that divine reality. In NeS constraints, this is actually plausible considering it is a reflection of the real world! Plato could well have started the theory of the Story!

  35. #155
    Tea-sipper, character-killer
    Posts
    782

    Arrow The Gods' Priorities

    Up on Mount Olympus, the gods are ignoring the apparent invasion of Earth by the Ever-ending Plot because, frankly speaking, they just don't care.

    Nick: "But Earth is the centre of the NeSiverse!!"

    This is responded to with a lot of eye-rolling from other gods and a mighty belch from Bacchus.

    Hermes Trismegistus: "Earth is, indeed, a very important place for all things in the NeSiverse, young God of Jam-Doughnuts--"

    Nick: "You can just call me Nick, you know?"

    Hermes Trismegistus: "It would be replaced. The NeSiverse, indeed any universe, is cold an uncaring and will move on. Earth dies, then another world would take its place. It would be a tragic loss, but the universe can carry on without it if need be."

    Nick: "But why just let it be consumed then? Why not help!?"

    Bacchus: "Little dude, if the gods helped the Earth every time it was going to be consumed or destroyed, we'd be at it every damned day. The world's always in danger. The humans have got it covered. They'll save the day. They always do."

    Bacchus is overweight and wearing what looks like a bathrobe. He has a scruffy beard that is less of a fashion statement and more pure laziness. He lifts his sunglasses and winks at Nick.

    Nick: "Don't call me little. You know I'm your great-uncle right?"

    Bacchus: "Uh..."

    Nick: "Your grandmother is the daughter of my father. So that makes me--"

    Bacchus reels and makes a face like a great stink had wafted into the air.

    Bacchus:
    "Dude, if you start trying to understand the family tree of the gods, you're going to find out everyone is someone's uncle's brother or sister. It's a dark, dark void you don't wanna go down."

    He gives Nick a firm slap on the shoulder as he walks away, swigging his margarita complete with a little umbrella.

    Nick looks dejected.


    Nick: "So what should we do?"

    Hermes Trismegistus: "You should probably try doing your job."

    Nick:
    "... sending jam-doughnuts everywhere?"

    Hermes Trismegistus: "We all have our responsibilities. Look at Bacchus. He takes his role very seriously."

    Nick glances at Bacchus, who is now peeing into a plant pot.

    Athena suddenly bursts into the godly room (by godly I mean it's filled with annoying clouds and annoying harp music that every god has tried to find the source of ((in an attempt to strangle the harpist)) but has never successfully found).


    Athena: "I have it!"

    Nick: "Have want, aunt Athena?"

    Athena:
    "I know how to finally be better than Ares!"

    Nick:
    "You are better!"

    Athena: "I mean more successful."

    She then looks at him chidingly.

    Athena: "And you should really be more respectful to your father."

    Hermes Trismegistus:
    "He wasn't criticising his father, he was complimenting you very highly."

    Nick looks sheepishly at Hermes.


    Nick: "Uh.... like he said."

    Athena: "So! My newest arena idea!"

    Hermes Trismegistus: "Not again. My dear--"

    Athena: "It's going to be in space! A Space Colosseum!!! And instead of gladiator battles, there'll be pitched battles between great empires! It'll be awesome!!"

    Nick: "I hope there's no explosions this time..."

    Athena looks at Nick as though he said something very strange.

    Athena: "... people like explosions!!"

    Nick: "Not when you blow up the audience..."

    Athena: "Oh. You think so? I didn't get any negative feedback the last time..."

    Nick: "Because they were all dead."

    Athena: "Huh. Maybe. Okay fine. I'll just hit the colosseum with a lot of meteors or something. That'll go boom enough."

    Nick: "How will you fit armies into one colosseum?"

    Athena: "It's a SPACE colosseum!!"

    She pouts her lips when Nick just frowns at her.

    Athena: "Okay, fine, I don't know yet. But I'll figure it out! It's the idea that's the thing! Start with the idea and see where it takes you."

    Nick: "Probably to a colosseum filled with a lot of confused soldiers that keep falling out. Like one of those clown cars."

    Athena: "Well, my other idea was this reality show where we make human celebrities beat each other to death with sticks. It wouldn't be as good as Ares' Colosseum though..."

    Nick: "Celebrities like who?"

    Athena: "I don't know. Paris Hilton versus Kim Kardashian?"

    Athena is suddenly surrounded by a lot of very eager gods waving money at her.

    Bacchus: "I wanna see Justin Beiber beaten to death with sticks!"

    Hades:
    "I want to see that Cash me Outside girl beaten with sticks until her head falls off!"

    Thor: "I want to see Spencer Pratt beaten with sticks until his eyes explode!!"

    Ishtar: "I want to see someone beaten to death with a big fish!"

    The gods go silent and look at Ishtar. She shrugs.

    Bacchus: "Beat Beiber with the fish!!"

    The gods then continue to choose the most awful celebrities they want beaten with fish while Athena hungrily jots them down.

    Nick looks at Hermes with a very low frown.


    Nick: "So this is what gods should be doing instead of saving the Earth?"

    Hermes, however, has fled the all-too-expected question and gone off back to his underwater domain. In his place is a little dog that looks up at Nick.

    Nick: "Uh... how did you get up here?"

    Dog: "Squeak! Squeak!!"

    Nick: "Did... you just say squeak? You know dogs don't squeak, right?"

    Dog (Suspiciously Apollo-esque):
    "Oh. How about baa? Baaaaaaaa!"

    The dog looks puzzled for a moment.

    Dog (Suspiciously Apollo-esque): "Wait, I'm a dog? I thought I was a pheasant!"
    Last edited by TheBritt; 07-18-2017 at 02:12 AM.

  36. #156

    The Last Supper

    The night before the fateful cataclysm of ultimate epic battle between the ruler of the High Empire and the God-Monarchs of Mega Jonestown Prime, Highemperor had one last meal (a meal he didn't consider his last) with Nahda, the Head of State of the Coordination.

    The words to follow are to be considered gospel, and certainly not a spur-of-the-moment rambling collaborated between Gebohq and Al Ciao the Writers.


    ------------------------------

    Highemperor: "So, do you have any kids? Specifically, hot eligible bachelorettes."

    Nahda: "I consider all those in the Coordination my children, though I'm afraid I do not have any that I have sired myself."

    Within the finest restaurant of New Sima, a server refills Highemperor's ornate wine glass with ambrosia, and another refills Nahda's simple cup with water. The servers happen to look strikingly like Sean Connery and Harrison Ford.

    Highemperor: "How about sisters--uh--siblings, that is. Preferably much younger sisters."

    Nahda: "All my family passed away long ago in the atrocities committed by the Omega Reich."

    Despite Nahda's matter-of-fact tone, the servers' demeanor visibly sobers, and make their leave. Highemperor, for his part, remains unfazed by the former's statement.

    Highemperor: "I could bring them back, you know. You must surely miss them--"

    Nahda: "No."

    A beat passes in the uncharacteristic refusal, and soon passes as Nahda returns to his usual friendly tone.

    Nahda: "No thank you. Their paths are their own, and they have completed their path to Nothing."

    Highemperor muses for a moment.

    Highemperor: "A respectable (if infuriating) adherence to your 'capital-N' faith. Very well. So tell me about the minsters who serve you."

    Nahda: "They don't serve me. If anything, I serve them."

    Highemperor: "Details, details. I've heard that Minister Helanda has the prestige of being the youngest (and hottest) Minister of the Moment. Eighteen, yes?"

    Nahda: "Her birthday was just this past week, yes. We celebrate our youth as the future of the Coordination."

    Highemperor: "Is she looking to marry?"

    Nahda: "As a matter of fact, Minister Helanda has been searching for a powerful and charismatic man to wed."

    Highemperor: "You don't say..."

    The ruler of the High Empire does everything in his power not to cackle with glee.

    Highemperor: "So, hypothetically speaking, if I were to marry her, what is customary for weddings among your people? Do I need to offer seven cows to her father or the like?"

    Nahda: "Cows?"

    Highemperor: "Do....you not have cows?"

    Nahda: "I think a simple ceremony would suffice."

    Highemperor: "Ah, well, excellent then! You can be privy to the knowledge that I'll be sweeping her off her feet after our meal. We'll be married by Monday, then ruling the Coordination by Tuesday!"

    Nahda: "I'm certain she'll be happy to have such a joyous event in her life now that she's no longer the Minister of the Moment?"

    Highemperor: "Yes, of course! ...wait, what?"

    Nahda: "She completed her term about ten seconds ago. I'm sure the next ten quadrillion ministers will have much to live up to."

    Highemperor: "All very old people I'm sure."

    Nahda: "It is customary for Ministers of the Moment to be venerable, yes."

    The server who looks like Harrison Ford places the very expensive-looking roast beast brined in millennia-old Samanvay bourbon in front of Highemperor. His face appears very sour.

    Nahda: "Is the dish not to your liking?"

    Highemperor: "Huh? Oh, uh...no, it's fine, I'm sure. Just thinking about an upcoming military campaign, is all. Yes."

    The ruler of the High Empire checks his bare wrist.

    Highemperor: "Well, would you look at the time. I have a battle with the God-Monarchs of Mega Jonestown Prime to lead. Until next time... (when I'll conquer the Coordination)."

    With a flourish of his cape, Highemperor disappears into thin air. Nahda sits alone at the table with two meals in front of him.

    Just then, former-Minister Helanda runs up to Nahda.


    Helanda: "Venerable Mayamanu, I have great news! I've been re-elected!"

  37. #157
    Tea-sipper, character-killer
    Posts
    782

    Arrow Space Camelot: Dark Times Part I

    Space Camelot
    Dark Times Part I
    Characters: King Arthur | Queen Guinevere | Prince Mordred | Morganna le Fay | Merlin the Younger | Sir Kay | Sir Lancelot | Sir Bedivere | Sir Galahad | Sir Tristram | Sir Caelia | Sir Red Rose Knight | Sir Black Knight | Sir Faerie Knight | Andy | Admiral Ltexi | Gamma Pans | King Mark | Queen Iseult | Sir Gawain | Sir Robin | Sir Greene Knight | Isolde of the White Hands | Sir Palamedes | Newrias | King Ķenegus | Princess Guinevak | King Lot | King Urien | King Caradoc | Queen Morgause | Anglitora | Prester John | The Red Cross Knight | Sir Scottius | Sir Britthomas | Sir Alistair | King Hoel | Tiarna Des-Mhumhain | Nyneve

    Camelot is a colossal sight to most peoples of the galaxy. A gigantic piece of hulking framework that could fit the capital ships of several important empires within it. Yet for all its immensity it looks like the crotchety old grandpa of spacecraft. Although in better shape than The Hopeful had been, it is still missing a fair few parts, including, quite visibly, one of its rearmost engines. Its outer hull is scratched and discoloured and the space barnacles aren't helping. As of this moment there's a small repair craft spray-painting 'humans suck' on the side of the ship.

    Despite its bedraggled appearance, Camelot is still right at home amongst the mess that is Outpost Finagle. The space station is dedicated to nothing but pleasure and leisure and those two concepts are largely subjective, especially to entirely different species. As such the station is constantly being added to to accommodate new tastes. From the arena, to the aquarium, to the mountain of very mouldy cheese (best not to ask which people wanted this) - Finagle is an eclectic assortment of spheroids, discs and pylons to connect them all. There are so many pieces to the station that it is almost the size of a moon. Camelot hardly stands out at all. Except for the graffiti. In particular the cartoon phallus that is currently being applied after the word 'sucks'. Complete with 'spurting' action at the end.

    One of the largest discs stands towards the very centre of the mass and has an invisible dome covering it, only just visible as lights glint off of it. Not only does this dome keep in the breathable atmosphere (which has purposefully added oxygen to ensure everyone inside is extra giddy) but it keeps the dangerous explosions within. This is the arena disc. A place for warriors of the Multiverse to clash and for everyone else to gamble in any and every currency imaginable, including, but not limited to; PCC credits, requestion credits, Republic chits and this weird paper stuff that can be set on fire very easily. Who uses paper, honestly!?

    In the stalls is a tall woman with extremely pale white skin and long, dark red hair. She watches the fight keenly, her lips pursed into a thin-lipped smile.

    Nearby Spectator #1: "I can't believe those red-tabard guys are still going! Look, one of them is missing his arm and he hasn't even noticed!"

    Nearby Spectator #2: "I bet they're minor deities from some planet somewhere. You know what they're like. They get bored one day and decide to ruin our day by getting involved in our matches and showing off. I lost a load of money because of those guys."

    Nearby Spectator #3: "Their odds of winning have sky-rocketed over the past six matches. Now you'd lose money betting on them they're so likely to win!"

    The three of them look at each other.

    Nearby Spectator #1: "That means we'd win MEGA BUCKS if they actually lose!!"

    The woman raises her eyebrow. Keeping the red-tabards going was getting wearisome on her spirits having pushed them through two hours of combat. Making a sudden fortune by letting them get ripped apart soon might be an idea.

    Sir Tristram: "Having fun, Isolde?"

    Isolde glances at her husband, who approaches her through the thin crowd of their stall. She is wearing one of her usual white dresses, complete with sinisterly tall collar and flowing cape, but Tristram isn't wearing one of his usual Earthly garbs. He's wearing one of the drow outfits they'd gotten from Caledonia. The men of the drow are the submissive and dominated of the genders and therefore their outfits tend to be more provocative. The chest of his shirt is wide open and exposes Tristram's hairy pecks and from his right ear hangs a large looped earring. Along with tall leather boots Tristram looks like a flamboyant pirate that just walked off of one of Finagle's cabaret acts.

    Isolde: "I am about to make... a killing."

    She waggles her hand in the air and the gamble-bot, a little floating droid, hovers over to take her bet. She bets against her zombified minions.

    Sir Tristram: "How droll you are."

    Isolde: "The match will be over soon. Perhaps you'd like to volunteer for a match yourself? I'll bet on you, I promise."

    Though she casts a playful smirk, Sir Tristram's mood sours a little.

    Sir Tristram: "I don't think so. The last time I was in a tournament like this was back in Ireland."

    It is then Isolde's turn to sour.

    Isolde: "Oh, I see. So you'll never again enter a tournament because you'll be reminded of the woman you'd rather be with?"

    Sir Tristram: "Please don't be childish."

    In the arena Sir Britthomas leaps at the new foe, a rancor, and is promptly eaten whole. Isolde snarls as she gears the next two for their own end scenes. In her newly bad mood she's going to make sure this gets gorey.

    Sir Tristram: "Okay, fine."

    Isolde: "Okay fine what?"

    Sir Tristram: "I'll enter the tournament."

    Isolde: "What for?"

    Sir Tristram: "Because you want me to."

    Isolde: "I don't."

    Sir Tristram: "But you said--"

    Isolde: "I wasn't being serious. Why would I want you to risk your life in there? But then you had to bring up her."

    Sir Tristram: "But I didn't even say anything about--"

    Isolde: "You won't enter the tournament because it reminds you of her. It shouldn't. It's like her shadow hangs over us all of the damn time. I knew I was the consolation prize the day I married you, Tristram, but I didn't expect to have her haunting me."

    The silence between them feels thicker that the roars of the audience around them. Sir Scottius was just pulled in half and the rancor is using his legs to beat Sir Alistair around the arena floor.

    Sir Tristram: "Just so you know, I never wanted to enter that tournament in the first place. I only went because King Mark required me to do so. This time I'll willingly enter this tournament if it proves my love for you."

    Before she can protest he's gone.

    Sir Alistair is suddenly struck so hard that his body flies off into the air and ultimately splats against the invisible shield and gets stuck there.

    She hadn't meant to get into a fight with her husband today but every mention of her rival in love grates upon Isolde's nerves. The love square between the four of them began with that once fateful tournament held in Ireland by King Ķenegus. King Arthur had only just ascended to the throne and the lands were not yet united under his banner. King Ķenegus was king of Munster, the large kingdom of southern Ireland, and his armies would raid the coastal kingdoms of England with impunity. To further his own agenda the Irish king devised his tournament to sow rivalry between all of the lords of the land and especially to weaken the trust between the new English kings Mark and Arthur. The prize of the tournament would be the most beautiful woman in all of Ireland; Iseult, Ķenegus' own daughter. Though already married, King Arthur was obliged to send a knight to the competition. That knight would be Sir Palamedes. Likewise King Mark was obliged to enter but he planned that by winning the hand of Ķenegus' daughter, the king of Munster would no longer raid his lands of Dumnonia. He sent his own knight, Sir Tristram.

    Isolde sometimes blames King Mark as much as she blames anyone else just for the act of sending Tristram to that fated tournament. Tristram was never one to show off or bask in fame and glory. He was ever more a soldier than a true knight. His role was his work, not his leisure. Why Iseult fell in love with Tristram, of all the knights and kings there, Isolde could never fathom. But it was that love that spurned Sir Tristram to victory over all others, including that final opponent; Sir Palamedes. Had Sir Palamedes won, Princess Iseult would have been delivered to Arthur's court without any foul play. His honour as a knight would outstrip any of his own personal desires he might have had for Iseult. Tristram, however, was not so strongly bound to his knightly vows as he ought to have been. Their relationship began in Ireland but continued on in England until they were eventually found out. King Mark, betrayed and humiliated, exiled Tristram. He went to Brittany and that is where Isolde of the White Hands met her despondent and mysterious love interest. She, as daughter of King Hoel of Brittany, hired him as her personal knight until she confessed her love for him. He had then explained his history and she took it as fate that they should marry, rather than see it for the warning she should have. She never expected that her father should pass away and that she should be sent to his cousin - Arthur. There Sir Tristram became a knight of the round table thanks to his fame as winner of the Munster tournament and she, as one of the White Hands, joined soon after.

    The history seems to stalk her mind. Memories of meeting Tristram. Of King Hoel's death. Of moving to Castle Camelot. And then meeting Queen Iseult of Dumnonia. They share a name. They share their hair, their pale skin, their striking features. Many days she wishes she could undo what had been done. Return to her father in Brittany.

    The rancor is announced as the winner and Isolde becomes ridiculously wealthy. As the next match is then declared she takes all of her winnings and places it all against the challenger. Sir Tristram to lose.



    At Mr Kipling's All-You-Can-Eat Bakery there is an impromptu council of Space Britain in progress. Sufficiently fuelled on sugar from assorted cakes, breads and tarts the table is becoming restless. King Mark is seated between Prince Mordred and Princess Guinevak. Mordred appears irritated by the incessant prattling of this supposed council. Mark thinks it's odd that a mind so prone to intelligence and cunning should find politics so frustrating. Guinevak, on the other hand, is revelling in the opportunity to be known as anything more than just 'Guinevere's younger sister'. While Guinevere got the appearance of their British mother, Guinevak takes the likeness of their Roman father, descended from the noble equites of Rome's elite families. This alone has always given Guinevak the idea that she is superior to her elder sister and that she holds greater genetic lineage with their superior ancestors. She always endeavours to be dressed with greater pomp than her sister and is now seated with a bulky, red velvet cloak, a delicate, and expensive, tiara and a dress adorned with far too many precious stones to be fashionably tasteful.

    She, as delicately as she can, nibbles at a yellow French fancy. She holds her fingers to her mouth as she chews and looks as though eating is a naughty thing she shouldn't be doing.

    Guinevere is, of course, absent. If she were here this meeting would undoubtedly be under her absolute sway and Guinevak would be bristling with envy. Guinevere carries an aura of command and respect wherever she goes that no number of sewn-in stones would grant Guinevak.

    King Caradoc: "Arthur has no clue what he's doing! In Britannia we could let him have his way. War is what he's good at. But out here we're supposed to be finding a new land to settle! He is taking us God knows where and we're going to end up dead because of him! How many damned aliens do we have to fight just to get a land that is inferior to our homelands?"

    King Caradoc was the king of Gwent, in southern Wales. A small kingdom but an important one culturally as the old ways were still practised there despite the Roman influence and the pressure of Christianity. Though a devout Christian, Mark has always had a deep respect for the old ways and the pagan myths of his ancestors. For Caradoc, however, he has zero respect. Though not an outright villain, Caradoc acts in the favour of one person. Himself.

    Princess Guinevak: "He and Guinevere only care about how many aliens they can kill. What we want doesn't matter to either of them!"

    Even when Arthur is the target, Guinevak is always first to throw her sister under the horse given half the opportunity to do so. Guinevak bears a long straight nose that could have been worn by Julius Caesar himself and she uses it to look straight down at everyone around her.

    Then one of the kings stands up. He is incredibly fat, which is impressive for people of 500AD, and has a big, though well groomed, red beard. His hair is balding at the top so he usually wears a hat and his eyes are small and sly with a bright blue denoting Scandinavian ancestry. He may not look intimidating but that inner vikinger is exuded with every word spoken in his booming, gravelly voice.

    King Ķenegus: "We kings of the British Isles have done our duty and service to Uther's ******* for long enough. He may be spirited in war, which is why we are all here to begin with--"

    Many lords nod as they all remember being forcibly subjugated by Arthur.

    King Ķenegus: "--but now we have been uprooted from our homes and forced on this mad man's quest into space! Beyond the realm of God, beyond Heaven and into the mists of these... barbaric lands!"

    He scoffs an éclair.

    King Mark: "You weren't forced, Ķenegus. You all chose to be here. Nobody wanted to be left out of the riches to be found so you all followed Arthur here. Now that you have no gold to show for it, you're shifting the blame."

    The fat king smiles broadly and condescendingly, a maliciousness stands prominently upon his bright teeth.

    King Ķenegus: "Of course a man who cannot even control his own wife would be the grovelling servant of Arthur."

    King Mark: "Says the man that raised her."

    King Ķenegus gives a mock shrug and look of 'oops'.

    King Ķenegus: "She must have too much of her old man in her yet!"

    There's a lot of laughing. Mark's most prominent opponents do their best to laugh as loudly as they can. From the corner of his eye he sees his wife, Iseult, get up from her seat at the far end of the table and storm out of the room. She gives a soldier a good shove on the way.

    Mark then feels a gentle palm upon the back of his hand. He looks at it in surprise and then up at Guinevak.

    Guinevak: "Nevermind, my lord. You have firm grounds to divorce the harlot and have her sent to a convent. Then you need to get yourself a better wife."

    Guinevak's stare makes Mark uncomfortable and he snatches his hand away.

    King Mark: "So what exactly is the proposal you seem to be suggesting, my kings? You want to run back to your lands on Earth like a bunch of mewling dogs?"

    Caradoc has the decency to look cowed but Ķenegus is used to more fear in his peers than this and he demands respect. He scowls openly at Mark with absolute malice. He was once the most powerful tyrant of the islands, able to raid even the lands of Uther Pendragon and King Cole. But then came Arthur and he was beaten into submission. A true man worthy of being feared would have died that day. But a bully capitulates and resents and plots.

    Many had resisted Arthur's dominion, of course. Uther Pendragon had managed to coerce most of the kings under his sway but it was Arthur that forced the Pendragon rule upon them all. Most didn't think Arthur had any right to rule, others didn't think he was capable.

    King Lot: "I don't think returning to Earth is an option."

    The king of Lothian, a kingdom to the south of Scotland, drums his long fingers upon the table. His thoughtful stare looks to everyone else like a cruel glare at a plate of innocent jam tarts.

    King Urien: "We need to find this new land as soon as possible. And no more cold, desolate planets with no blasted sun! Or a planet that smells like a rat's arse!"

    King Urien is brother to King Lot and he ruled Rheged back on Earth. They had been granted their respective lands by their father, who had been king of Hen Ogledd; the Old North. Old King Cole, that merry old soul, had conquered the Old North and kept peace in those lands for much of his lifetime. Both King Urien and King Lot had resisted the dominion of Arthur Pendragon believing that they had greater birthright than Arthur did. Soundly defeated they made peace with their new liege to the point that they could be considered sound vassals. Unfortunately both are easily swayed by more powerful men and the most powerful of them is King Ķenegus.

    King Mark: "Urien, isn't that exactly what the king intends to do?"

    King Urien: "He intends to fight for lands instead of colonising them. He is looking for new wars, not new lands."

    King Lot: "And in case you hadn't noticed, we're not looking for a new land, are we? We're stuck on this metal monster!"

    He grabs a slice of Battenberg, realises that he's supposed to be complaining about the place, and puts it down again.

    King Ķenegus: "More importantly, why should Arthur be the one to rule these new lands?"

    There's a general murmur of agreement, though not as enthused as before. Nobody wants to go to war with Arthur again.

    King Ķenegus: "On Earth we were stranded on our tiny island. But out here we will find a whole planet to share! We could have great kingdoms the sizes of continents! Each!"

    Greed, and the lure of 'bigger is better and shiny is good', causes that surge of enthusiasm that Ķenegus is looking for. However his parade is then rained upon as a woman suddenly stands contemptuously. Unlike his daughter, though, this woman has no intention of running away. She points at the Irish king.

    Morgause: "I see the evil in you, worm!"

    Ķenegus' face blisters with red fury and his attention turns on King Lot.

    King Ķenegus: "Control your damned wife, Lot!"

    Before Lot could even speak, Morgause's vitriol continues forth;

    Morgause: "The angels tell me you are unfit to live!"

    Ķenegus is back on his feet, this time he looks like he might jump over the table to punch the Queen of Lothian. The woman then, however, starts throwing random baked goods across the table at him. After a baguette bounces off of his head, Morgause is restrained by a relucted King Lot. Morgause had been married to Lot sometime after the subjugation of the Old North in a hope that her alliance with Lot would keep the peace. And it did. Until now.

    King Urien was supposed to marry Morganna le Fay but Morgan outright refused and even threatened to turn the poor man into a hedgehog. And then to stomp on that hedgehog while wearing heels. And then to feed whatever was left to a bunch of very angry tadpoles (which nobody was brave enough to ask how tadpoles could be angry or why they would eat a hedgehog). In all Urien believes she was sweet on him. Which everyone thinks might actually be true since her threat seemed comparatively lenient then her usual threats... and the following through of those threats.

    King Caradoc, still seated beside Ķenegus and not rising to openly challenge the princess, makes a nervous twitch with the side of his mouth, sucking in the air to make a sharp snap noise.

    King Caradoc: "Seems your wife has been skipping her medication again, Lot..."

    Most find Morgause's bouts of insanity to be quite entertaining, others believe she has a direct line to God while others still think she ought to be burnt at the stake as a witch possessed by demons. Whenever she sneezes people around her place much greater emphasis on the words 'bless you' than they normally would.

    Lot struggles to get Morgause back in her chair as she tosses a bunch of digestive biscuits at the Irish king. Once she's seated again she stares at Ķegenus with a venomous pout. Lot sighs and sits himself down too. His rest doesn't last long as she suddenly lashes out and grabs a large cherry bakewell. All of the people at the table leap to their feet and cry out;

    Everyone: "NOT THE BAKEWELL!!!!"

    Morgause freezes at the sudden yell from everyone out her and sees the desperate, wide-eyes that are glued to the bakewell. She moves it closer to the table again and everyone's eyes follow it down. She returns it gently and, slowly, everyone sits back down with relief.

    Instead she grabs a slice of lemon tart and throws that at his head instead.

    King Lot: "Please Morgause, enough of the cake throwing! It's not like you can kill him with a treacle sponge!"

    Morgause looks at her husband, hurt by his lack of faith in her oh-so-deadly confectionary projectiles, and sulks. Lot, who is normally quite stern-faced with most people, melts completely at the sight of his wife's little sullen face. He gently pats her arm and she feigns non-acceptance of his endearment by crossing her arms with a 'humph'.

    King Urien: "Seriously, brother, why isn't she taking her potions? Next time it'll be cutlery."

    King Caradoc: "When she hit me with that spatula a few weeks ago, it really hurt!"

    King Lot: "You, Caradoc, deserved it."

    King Urien: "You kind of did."

    King Caradoc: "I did not!"

    The weasel-faced king pauses.

    King Caradoc: "Okay, I probably did. But it still hurt! Give her the potion, Lot!"

    King Lot: "Merlin has been busy and hasn't made anything new. And I wouldn't trust Morganna to make it. Morgause will settle down. Besides..."

    He gives a sly smirk.

    King Lot: "It's more fun when she's like this."

    At her husband's renewed faith in her, Morgause grins widely at him. Without turning away, her left hand reaches out for a new weapon but he catches her in the act and decides to go with the nice approach this time. He takes her offending hand and smothers it with his own. He brings it up to his lips and plants a petite kiss upon it.

    King Lot: "Now, now dear. You're wasting exceedingly good cakes. When you grabbed that cherry bakewell, I think Prince Mordred was going to have a heart attack."

    They glance over to Mordred who does actually appear to have died in his chair with fright as she stares at the bakewell with unmoving wide-eyes even now.

    King Lot: "You wouldn't want your nephew to die, would you?"

    Morgause slowly turns her head away from her brother's son. Arthur is Morgause's half-brother, they share the same mother but not the same father. She, and Sir Kay, are children of Duke Gorlois and Igraine but Arthur was the product of an affair between Igraine and Uther Pendragon. Since Igraine would go on to marry Uther after Garlois' death, Morgause never held animosity for Arthur, believing that her mother truly loved Uther and was only wedded to Garlois as a result of politics. Morganna le Fay, on the other hand, is daughter of Uther Pendragon but not of Igraine. So Morgause has never been sure how to address her. She's not a half-sister since there's no blood between them, even half-blood. But she is a sister of some kind. So a step-sister perhaps? Since Mordred is the incestuous combination of her half-brother and her step-sister, does that make Mordred her half-step-nephew? Or her step-half-nephew? Or just an evil abomination that needs a good cake to the face?

    Morgause: "Perhaps..."

    She leans in close to confide secretly to her husband.

    And then speaks in an incredibly loud voice;


    Morgause: "I THINK MORDRED MIGHT BE EVIL! THE ANGELS DON'T TRUST HIM!"

    Lot glances over his wife's shoulder towards Mordred. The young man still hasn't moved. King Mark follows Lot's gaze and sees the predicament that Mordred is in and decides to check for a pulse. As the king reaches out and graces the neck of Mordred, the prince suddenly snaps out of his stupefied horror with a cry of 'THE BAKEWELL!'

    King Lot relaxes softly back into his seat. He's a patient man but a man that believes in efficiency, reliability and pragmatism. Only his wife brings out the affectionate and romantic side of his personality and mostly it gushes for her. When no man would tolerate such an uncontrollable basket-case, Lot sees it not only as his charge but he great fortune to have someone in his life that keeps him on his toes at all times. The time she, apparently lovingly, put a severed horse's head in his bed was an especially lively moment. When she bought him dozens of new shoes, which were all designed for left-feet, posed such a significant conundrum he spent days searching for where she had hidden his old shoes. He had found one pair atop of Mount Snowden, another pair in a den of angry wolves and another pair were hidden underneath Arthur's throne at Castle Camelot. It would have been easier for him to just buy a load of new shoes, even just buy a lot of right-footed shoes to match the left-footed, but his wife's antics posed such excited quests that the easy option never seemed suitable. Unfortunately his favourite pair of shoes had been lost for all eternity as she had apparently mailed them to the lost, sunken city of Atlantis where they were probably being nibbled into oblivion by a bunch of guppies. He had, however, at least attempted to retrieve them but the superstitious sailors were too afraid of the legends of Atlantis to go snooping for it.

    In all he loves his wife and couldn't imagine his life without her. The fact that his marriage to her had originally been entirely political was moot. He had grown to love her beyond doubt and that worked better to keep him within Arthur's family than the political contract could. And so long as Lot considered Arthur his brother-in-law, then Urien would follow suit.

    But just because Arthur is his brother, doesn't mean he has to remain his king.

    King Lot: "I think we should calm ourselves and simply discuss the matter without such heated words."

    King Caradoc: "Or cake throwing!"

    King Lot: "Or cake throwing."

    He looks at Morgause. She shrugs in capitulation.

    Morgause: "Fine. But does that mean I can still throw biscuits at him?"

    King Ķenegus: "No! You can't throw anything at me!"

    King Caradoc: "Or anyone!"

    Morgause: "Not even the table salt?"

    Everyone Else: "No!"

    King Lot: "You can throw as much table salt as you like. Later."

    Morgause: "Fiiiiiine."

    She grumbles.

    Morgause: "But just so you know, the angels will be very angry that the Evil Fatso isn't being punished."

    King Mark: "Perhaps being called Evil Fatso is punishment enough? For now at least?"

    Morgause looks straight at Ķenegus and slits her eyes at him.

    Morgause: "The angels think your breath smells bad, by the way."

    Ķenegus catches his own hand as it subconsciously made its way to cover his mouth.

    Morgause: "And they think your beard looks stupid. Super stupid."

    King Ķenegus: "My beard does not-- Grrrr! Look! Arthur is driving us all to destruction and even if we do find a new land to occupy I believe that we need not continue our vassalage to him."

    King Mark: "So you'll take free passage to these rich and expansive lands aboard Arthur's ship, will you?"

    Ķenegus is caught off-guard by that matter-of-fact.

    King Caradoc: "I hadn't thought of it like that."

    King Mark: "Obviously."

    King Ķenegus: "Irregardless!"

    He says as pompously as he could muster. Nobody feels the need to correct his mistake.

    King Ķenegus: "Even if we continue to pay homage to a liege lord, that liege lord ought not to be Arthur. He's reckless, conceited and, frankly, dumb."

    He looks around at everyone with a completely honest face.

    King Ķenegus: "Can you really tell me I'm wrong on this?"

    Prince Mordred is the first to concede wholeheartedly against his father. He wants his father to remain king of all, but he cannot deny his father is reckless, conceited and dumb. Not just dumb, but ridiculously dumb. Mordred is well aware that he takes after his mother far more than his father.

    King Mark: "Perhaps, Ķenegus, you could at least wait until we have found our new land before you start sedition? You never know, perhaps you'll change your mind when we get there?"

    Guinevak: "Besides..."

    The princess' voice cuts through the chatter.

    Guinevak: "Arthur would never back down for any reason. Except for his wife, maybe."

    Guinevak pretends to play with her spoon as she muses over planting that little thought into the heads of these would-be-traitors. She doesn't much care what happens to Arthur, so long as Guinevere is brought down with him. She believes could make herself an ally in almost any one of these kings. King Ķenegus would be an easy mark and he'd see the senses in getting hitched to her instead of some other lowly wench. King Mark is on the verge of divorce and he only married Iseult to spare his kingdom, he'd marry for politics again she's certain. King Urien would probably marry anything that offered and King Lot desperately needs a new wife. She couldn't bring herself to marry King Caradoc though. It isn't his hideous looks, or his greasy, unhygienic attire or the nervous, sucking twitch he makes with his mouth. It's the fact he would give her over to a pack of rabid rapists if it meant he could make even the smallest benefit.

    King Caradoc: "Indeed..."

    And that makes him the most likely to do something stupid. Much to Guinevak's pleasure.


    In the casino, The Black Knight is standing at the craps table. In an extremely rare moment for her, she isn't wearing her thick, black armour. Instead she's wearing a thick black robe that looks very much like a burkha but instead of a full headscarf, she has a thin, black veil over her face to maintain that air of mystery that her persona 'the black knight' requires. Beside her is a walking pile of rocks.

    The Black Knight: "These are dice."

    She holds one up for Andy to get a good look. His bright blue eyes peer at the dice with their usual aura of jovial perplexity.

    The Black Knight: "And we have to bet on--"

    She looks down at the disgustingly complicated craps table.

    The Black Knight: "Something."

    Random Guy: "Why not allow me to help you, fair maiden?"

    The Black Knight: "Speak to me again and I will end you."

    Random Guy: "Ooooooooooooooookay then."

    He slinks away, the whole while her eyes never left the table. In his place appears another figure. Before the Black Knight could utter harsh words at this second fool, a the very familiar fragrance of nag champa strikes her nostrils. She jolts her head up to see her young mother, Anglitora, smiling sadly at her.

    The Black Knight: "Wh-what're you doing here, mother? I don't think this is a place for you!"

    Anglitora: "Probably, but I wanted to spend some time with you."

    The Black Knight: "Then you should have waited for me to leave the casino."

    While Black Knight had sounded pleasantly surprised initially, she now seems irritated and she turns back to the craps table. She placed a bet since the other gamers were becoming restless. The table manager is a bright red robot-man that speaks with an overly enthusiastic manner, even when she lost. These mechanical people concern the Black Knight greatly for they have no souls and yet they talk and walk as any human might.

    Anglitora: "Anglia, I have been waiting a long while but you didn't come to see me. So I came to see you."

    The Black Knight: "You shouldn't have."

    Anglitora: "Why? Are you ashamed of your mother?"

    She lies.

    The Black Knight: "Of course not."

    Anglitora: "Well, I must have done something to upset you since you don't want to talk to me any more."

    The Black Knight: "You haven't done anything. I've just been busy."

    Anglitora: "Busy being a knight of the round table, you mean? Or busy playing dice games?"

    At the mention of the word dice, Andy perks up and waggles his own dice at Anglitora as eagerly as a slow moving rockman possibly could. He then, somehow, makes a bet of his own and tosses the dice.

    He wins.

    The Black Knight: "Damn. Beaten by a rock."

    Anglitora: "You shouldn't use language like that."

    The young woman rolls her eyes.

    The Black Knight: "Can't help it if I speak English, mother. Maybe you should learn it."

    There's a sudden silence that instantly followed the end of the sentence. The Black Knight bites her tongue in self-inflicted punishment for being so cruel.

    The Black Knight: "I'm sorry. I didn't mean that."

    Anglitora: "Of course you did. I am the Asian harpy that threw herself upon the English knight and can't even manage to learn the language enough to have a carry a conversation."

    The Black Knight: "Your English is perfect, mother. And you're no harpy."

    Anglitora: "But that's what they say, isn't it? Is that why you won't talk to me now? Because I embarrass you?"

    The Black Knight: "No! Just--"

    She gets more agitated as she loses another bet.

    Anglitora: "Your father misses you too."

    The Black Knight: "You mean your husband, not my father."

    Anglitora: "He is your father. He provides for us and cares for us. That makes him your father."

    The Black Knight: "He didn't make me."

    Anglitora: "No he didn't. You know the man who did. Has he been a father to you?"

    The Black Knight: "...no."

    Andy wins another bet. He gives his squishy human companion a glint of the eyes, which Black Knight has taken to mean he's happy.

    Anglitora: "Have you tried to even speak to him?"

    The Black Knight: "No. No reason to."

    Anglitora: "If you want him to be a father to you, you might want to try."

    The Black Knight: "I don't want that. Mother, can you please just drop the conversation? I'm trying to win money."

    Anglitora: "I'm so sorry, my daughter. You are quite right. Your duties as a knight must come first, correct?"

    The Black Knight: "I'm only here because I have to wait for Mordred to finish in a meeting with the important people. I'm not allowed in."

    Anglitora's mood shifts from affronted to suddenly curious.

    Anglitora: "Mordred, is it?"

    The Black Knight: "Yeah, so? I don't see why I have to call him my prince all the time."

    Anglitora: "You like Mordred, do you?"

    Luckily Anglitora couldn't see her daughter's cheeks flush behind the veil but the Black Knight recognises a the careful, but unsubtle, prying her mother is now doing. The Black Knight would have been able to shrug it off if there was nothing to it. But...

    The Black Knight: "Maybe! I mean-- sort of! He's okay. He's not a pompous jerk like the rest of them and he likes having me around. I think."

    Anglitora: "Does he now~? Well, at least if I'm going to be ignored then at least I'm being ignored for a good reason."

    The Black Knight: "I'm not ignore--urgh."

    She loses again. Realising she now has no money left Andy picks up some of his own coins and holds them out for her to take. She shakes her head in refusal but the rockman just stands there, unmoving. Stuck between a rock and her mother, the Black Knight just accepts the charity.

    The Black Knight: "Okay, you were right. It gets to me that people talk about you when they know nothing about you. I used to get so angry and got into fights. But I'm a knight now and I can't go punching everyone in the bollocks whenever they annoy me."

    Anglitora reaches out and slips her hand beneath the younger woman's veil to pet her warm cheek. Anglitora is a whole head shorter than her daughter and far more petite. Anyone at a glance would have thought Anglitora the daughter of the Black Knight not the other way around.

    Anglitora: "I don't care what they think. I only care what you think. My honour is nothing compared to my love for you. If not for Tom, I would be dragon food. If not for you, I would be... well I don't know. Nothing, I guess."

    The Black Knight: "You'd still be you. You just wouldn't have a grumpy daughter to worry about."

    Anglitora laughs.

    Anglitora: "My badass daughter, you mean!"

    The Black Knight: "Mother! Where did you hear a word like that!?"

    Anglitora: "People talk about you too, you know? Especially your fellow knights. I think they're all a bit afraid of you."

    The Black Knight: "So they should be."

    She grins to herself.

    Andy draws in his new pile of gold.


    The Black Knight: "Alright. Seriously dude. How the Hell're you making all this dough?"

    She looks past Andy to see a man standing beside the hulking rockman. Though she has never met the man before now, she recognises him instantly. A tall Indian man with very dark skin and bleach white hair. His beard is very neatly trimmed and short, as is his hair. Upon his head is a crown, simple in its design and made of silver instead of gold. Embedded into the front of the silver crown is one large emerald. The style of his robe is difficult to place. Indian, Chinese and Eastern European all mixed into one. It is made of a dull gold colour with a silver sheen to it whenever it moves. Large imprints on either side of the robe depict blue and green peacocks that face each other - a Catholic symbol of paradise and immortality. Both of which are traits of the man.

    The Black Knight: "How-how are you here?"

    Andy turns slowly to his left and then back to his right with an expression of zero comprehension. His eyes seem to say, 'I've been here for ages, did you forget?'.

    The Black Knight frowns and feels anger rising. He shows up from nowhere and doesn't even bother to speak to her. Just stares at her like she's a monkey in a zoo.

    The Black Knight: "Why are you here?"

    When he speaks he has an Indian accent but it is well-practised English;

    Prester John: "To watch your mother die."

    The Black Knight reels but retaliates quickly. She tries to shove Andy out of the way, but only manages to nudge his torso back an inch, and leans forward as aggressively and intimidatingly as she couldn't possible muster with a slab of rock in her way.

    The Black Knight: "If you even touch--"

    There's a short yell from behind her as attention is drawn in her vicinity. The Black Knight turns to see other patrons of the craps game have moved away with surprise and reservation as Anglitora convulses on the well-carpeted floor of the casino. Most of the spectators seem to think the woman is an alcoholic or a drug-abuser, considering she's in a casino. A couple of security robots are already stomping over.

    The Black Knight falls to her knees and looks over her mother. She can't see anything wrong.

    The Black Knight: "What is this? What's happening!? Mother!"

    She sees her grandfather's robe appear beside her.

    The Black Knight: "Stop it! Stop hurting her!"

    Prester John: "I'm not doing anything. I just came to watch."

    The Black Knight: "What? Help her!"

    She lashes out to grab the robe of the Christian king but her hand meets with thin air, straight through the apparition of Prester John. He looks down at them both with an unfeeling expression upon his face. He doesn't seem upset or concerned but nor is he happy or revelling in the moment. He's just there.

    The Black Knight looks around and realises that nobody can see him except her. Anglitora manages to focus her eyes on her daughter and then she sees who is looming over them. Her eyes widen and she croaks as she tries to speak.

    The Black Knight glances up to see medical droids on approach. The security robots have cleared the space around the two women. The two droids are attached to a stretcher and move on a single ball each. As they come up beside Anglitora the stretcher lowers. With them comes a medical robot. His metal is entirely white with a red cross clumsily painted on his chest. He is smoking a metal cigar and has a grumbling voice to match it.


    Medical Robot: "Alright. What'd she take and how much?"

    The Black Knight: "Nothing!"

    Medical Robot: "Look kid, you want your friend to live you gotta tell me what she took."

    Anglitora reaches weakly into the air and extends her hand towards Prester John.

    Anglitora: "Fath-er..."

    Her breath catches.

    Then stops.



    One of the sections of Outpost Finagle is dedicated wholly to religious institutions. The area is patrolled by witch-wardens, such as Egnarts the dorf, who are there to ensure nobody starts whizzing their divinity onto other people. In one of the more grandiose churches, which really is dedicated to the God of Earth as though just waiting for the Knights of the Round Table to arrive, Sir Caelia stands at the altar and before her are several kneeling knights.

    Sir Caelia: "Rise, Sir Redcross Knight. You are to lead this most holy of quests in His name."

    The Redcross Knight rises but keeps his head bowed.

    The Redcross Knight: "I am humbled and honoured to serve."

    Sir Caelia: "Then go forth, Arthur's knights! Do your king, your country and your God proud!"

    The Redcross Knight puts his helmet on and leads the other knights from the church with a grand air of determination.

    The Faerie Knight: "...did you just make up a quest for those poor guys?"

    Sir Caelia chuckles.

    Sir Caelia: "I have to do something to keep myself entertained round here!"

    The Faerie Knight: "Mother, we're in a place dedicated to nothing but entertainment. Surely you can find something better to do than send these poor saps on a wild goose chase."

    A man in blindingly bright armour suddenly bursts into the room, forcing mother and son to wince.

    Sir Palamedes: "AM I TOO LATE!!!?"

    The Faerie Knight: "Too late for what?"

    Sir Palamedes: "For the ultimate divine quest!!!"

    Sir Caelia: "Ah! Sir Palamedes, of course n--"

    The Faerie Knight: "I'm sorry, you missed out on the quest for the -- uh-- the--"

    He looks at his mother.

    Sir Caelia: "The Quest for the Holy Spring Onion!"

    The Faerie Knight falters.

    The Faerie Knight: "They seriously bought that?"

    Sir Caelia: "It seems all the places were taken, Sir Palamedes. Perhaps next time. Or maybe I could commune with God to give you a new quest!"

    The Faerie Knight: "Mother, please!"

    Sir Caelia: "He likes quests! Let him enjoy himself!"

    The pink-clad knight groans and stands aside to let his faerie mother pretend to talk to God. She closes her eyes and mumbles for about thirty seconds until she gets bored and then snaps awake, startling both Palamedes and even the Faerie Knight.

    Sir Caelia: "AHA! You have been charged with the most ULTIMATE of quests, good Sir Palamedes! Only a knight as truly devout and skilled as you could tackle such a test of mettle!"

    Sir Palamedes: "OH GOODY!!! I mean-- I am in your service..."

    He kneels before Caelia who grins like a mischievous child.

    Sir Caelia: "Sir Palamedes, by the will of God, you must uncover the most unusual and unholy of garments!"

    Sir Palamedes: "Unholy!? Are we to purge this unholy artefact!?"

    Sir Caelia: "Indeed! The artefact is steeped in dark, dark magic of the pagans!"

    The Faerie Knight clears his throat in protest since he's one of those pagans and so is she. She just shrugs at him, entirely missed by the bowing Greek knight.

    Sir Caelia: "This quest will be most difficult, good knight. If you believe you are not up to the challenge, you can back out of the quest after I reveal it to you. Nobody would judge you for that..."

    Sir Palamedes: "I shall not back out of any divine quest, my lady! I am a knight of King Arthur! A knight of God! I converted from the old ways long ago and have swore my very being to the grace of his divine worship!"

    Sir Caelia: "Then, sir knight, you are tasked with the retrieval of..."

    She pauses for dramatic effect. They can almost taste Palamedes' anticipation.

    Sir Caelia: "THE KNICKERS OF MORGANNA LE FAY!!!"

    There's a sudden, dark silence in the church.

    Sir Palamedes: "The... knickers...?"

    Sir Caelia: "A most unholy artefact if ever there was one!"

    The Faerie Knights: "By the gods, mother..."

    Sir Palamedes rises, trembling, with his face in a scowl.

    Sir Palamedes: "This is... a disgrace!"

    The Faerie Knight: "Uh-oh..."

    Sir Palamedes: "I... I AM NOT WORTHY OF SUCH A GRAND QUEST AS THIS!!!!"

    He falls back to his knees and clutches the hem of Caelia's sky blue clothes.

    Sir Palamedes: "Please tell me this is true! I am truly chosen for this most incredible duty!?"

    Even Caelia is a taken aback.

    Sir Caelia: "Yes! Yes it is you! A most arduous and dangerous duty!"

    Sir Palamedes springs up in absolute glee.

    Sir Palamedes: "I, Sir Palamedes, do hereby swear that I shall retrieve the most unholy of knickers in the galaxy!"

    Sir Caelia: "You go!!"

    She cheers him on.

    The Faerie Knight: "Are you sure about this, mother? I really think he might die!"

    Sir Caelia: "At least he'll die having fun!"

    The Faerie Knight: "With a woman's underwear..."

    Caelia casts him a sly look.

    Sir Caelia: "Yes! And speaking of which, isn't it about time you got a girlfriend?"

    The Faerie Knight is almost floored.

    Sir Caelia: "I am expecting little faerie feet to be pattering about Camelot as soon as possible."

    Palamedes runs from the church just as the drow youth reaches them, wheezing. He watches the knights go skipping past and whines;

    Newrias: "Wh-where does he get the energy? Seriously?"

  38. #158
    Tea-sipper, character-killer
    Posts
    782

    Arrow Space Camelot: Dark Times Part II

    Space CamelotDark Times Part II
    Characters:
    King Arthur | Queen Guinevere | Prince Mordred | Morganna le Fay | Merlin the Younger | Sir Kay | Sir Lancelot | Sir Bedivere | Sir Galahad | Sir Tristram | Sir Caelia | Sir Red Rose Knight | Sir Black Knight | Sir Faerie Knight | Andy | Admiral Ltexi | Gamma Pans | King Mark | Queen Iseult | Sir Gawain | Sir Robin | Sir Greene Knight | Isolde of the White Hands | Sir Palamedes | Newrias | King Ķenegus | Princess Guinevak | King Lot | King Urien | King Caradoc | Queen Morgause | Anglitora | Prester John | The Red Cross Knight | Sir Scottius | Sir Britthomas | Sir Alistair | King Hoel | Tiarna Des-Mhumhain | Nyneve


    Sir Kay leaps across a table as a bar stool swings his way. A moment later Sir Bedivere lands on top of him.


    Sir Kay: "What did you say to the guy!?"

    Sir Bedievere scrambles off of Kay and peeks around the edge of their table.

    Sir Bedivere: "I merely pointed out that many of the largest creatures actually have very small penises in relation to their expansive bodies!"

    Sir Kay stares at Bedivere.

    Sir Kay: "You said that to a giant!?"

    Sir Bedivere: "Yes, I'm sure to us his penis may appear large. But in relation to the actual size of his body I'm sure it is actually--"

    A bar stool hits their table.

    Sir Kay: "I seriously don't want to discuss penis sizes with you, Bedivere!"

    Sir Bedivere: "Apparently neither did the giant! I don't know why, it's a fascinating topic if you stop to think about it!"

    Sir Kay: "You stop and think of penises a lot do you?"

    Sir Bedivere: "Sometimes, yes! I mean, just consider foreskin for a moment--"

    Sir Kay: "Nope!"

    He jumps from behind the table and runs towards the grand piano. This time a body flies in his direction and slams the lid of the piano down. It was the pianist himself.

    Sir Kay: "From penises to pianists. Sounds like the name of my memoirs."

    Sir Bedivere: "Did you know that only the first three inches of a woman's vagina are truly sensitive? The rest is just... extra room?"

    Sir Kay slowly turns his head as though he's being followed by an insidious demon. And frankly he sometimes wonders.

    Sir Kay: "I just moved away from you so I don't have to have this conversation!"

    Sir Bedivere: "I thought we were moving to better cover!"

    Sir Kay whips a white flag out of his armour and waggles it in the air. The flag is a constant hidden asset used in the most dire of times. Which is frequently.

    Since no more objects, or persons, are flung in his direction, Kay assumes it's safe to come out. He slowly inches from behind cover and finds the giant standing there, waiting. The monstrous man is three times the size of Kay and has long, lank, blonde hair that could have made a good duvet. The man is lithe with sinewy arms and visibly bulging veins. His face is chiselled with a sharp, square jaw.

    Sir Kay: "Look, fella. I'm sorry about my mate. He's a daft sod that doesn't know what he's talking about half the time--"

    Sir Bedivere: "I do!"

    Sir Kay: "Or when to stop talking!"

    There's a pause.

    Sir Bedivere: "I believe that is what you call a hint, am I correct?"

    Sir Kay: "See what I mean?"

    Giant: "Your boyfriend needs to learn his place."

    There's some jeering from the giant's pals.

    Sir Kay: "Heh, boyfriend. Yeah, good one. Right. So we cool?"

    Seeing he has the upper hand here, the giant presses.

    Giant: "I dunno. I feel like some kind of reimbursement might be in order. For psychological damages."

    His pals get a good laugh again.

    Sir Kay: "Right. We ain't got anything to give you, mate. Sorry. How about we just leave you boys to your evening and we'll get out of your way."

    The giant takes a mighty step forward.

    Giant: "You punks insult the Mighty Michel and think you can just walk away!?"

    Sir Kay snorts and quickly tries to cover his mouth.

    Sir Kay: "I'm sorry, you said your name is Michelle?"

    Michel: "It's French for Michael. Not like--"

    Sir Kay starts guffawing. Prompted by the sudden hilarity, even Michel's friends start bawling with laughter. The giant looks desperate as he's humiliated.

    Michel: "Hey! It's not funny! Quit it! That's it!"

    Michel grabs one of his friends and throws the man straight at Sir Kay. Kay ducks and the man slams into the piano with a resounding clanging of keys.

    Sir Kay: "Okay, okay. Sorry... Michelle."

    The whole bar starts laughing.

    Michel: "You-- you'll pay for that!!"

    The giant charges and Sir Kay draws his sword.


    Sir Lancelot rubs his hands together with eagerness as he seats himself at a table. His son, Sir Galahad, joins him, albeit with more trepidation.

    Sir Galahad: "Dad, what did you say this place was called again?"

    Sir Lancelot: "Bunny-somethings. I don't know. These space people think that women dressed as rabbits is sexy. And honestly from some of these bunny girls I've seen strutting around, I'm inclined to agree! Just you wait, my son! We'll make a man of you today!"

    He slaps Galahad on the back. Galahad feels like he's about to step into a deep, dark chasm he'll never return from.

    While they're waiting, Galahad takes the opportunity to address something that's been bothering him for a while.

    Sir Galahad: "Father... there's something I've been wanting to ask you about."

    Lancelot leans forward and nods knowingly.

    Sir Lancelot: "I know, I know."

    Sir Galahad: "You... do?"

    Sir Lancelot: "When you're with a woman, the most important thing is to act like you know what you're doing. Confidence is the key to unlocking her soul. And her underwear if it's a chastity b--"

    Sir Galahad: "I didn't mean that! I wanted to ask about... about my mother."

    Sir Lancelot taps the table with his knuckles and glances around.

    Sir Lancelot: "Why hasn't someone waited us yet? Hello, we need to order a couple of drinks over here!"

    He waves at one of the waiters.

    Sir Galahad: "Don't ignore me."

    Sir Lancelot: "I'm not ignoring you."

    Sir Galahad: "So, my mother?"

    Sir Lancelot: "Oh look, they have roasted peanuts!"

    Sir Galahad: "Dad!"

    Host: "LADIES AND GENTS, LET THE EVENING'S ENTERTAINMENT COMMENCE!!"

    Lancelot hushes Galahad and they watch as the red, velvet curtains are drawn back. Saxophone music starts to flow through the speakers of the club and a bare leg slips into view from the darkness. Several more legs join it. Lancelot almost claps with joy.

    Then the bunny-suited hunks strut onto stage.

    Lancelot's jaw drops.


    Galahad's eyes widen with terror.

    Sir Galahad: "You wanted me to see THIS!?"

    Sir Lancelot: "NO!"

    The hunky men whip off their thongs and our two protagonists flee for their sanity.


    Security Robot: "Out, out, out!"

    King Arthur: "But I was winning!!"

    Security Robot: "You've done enough of that for the night! Try elsewhere!"

    King Arthur sulks and turns to look at the cart full of money. Merlin whines as she tries to pull it but it doesn't budge an inch.

    Merlin: "Morganna, push!"

    Morganna: "I am not pushing anything."

    Morganna wiggles her fingers and the cart starts to roll with magic. Merlin straightens her back.

    Merlin: "I could have done that."

    Morganna: "But you didn't even think of doing it, which is why I'll always be better than you."

    Merlin: "You shouldn't rely on magic to solve every problem, Morganna. If ever you're in a place where you can't use magic, you'll be completely useless."

    Morganna: "Like that's ever going to happen."

    There's a sudden horrifying silence before the three of them sigh with a chuckle.

    King Arthur: "You know, for a moment there, I thought you'd jinxed yourself. Haha!"

    Merlin: "I half expected a Witch-Warden to come screeching round the corner."

    Morganna: "Yeah, let's get out of here before that jinx comes back to bite me on the ar--"

    Voice: "WRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!"

    Morganna: "Bollocks."

    From around the corner emerges a man in shining armour.

    Sir Palamedes: "MORGANNA LE FAY!! I HAVE COME!"

    Morganna frowns.

    Morganna: "Yes... yes you have. Now you can go again."

    Sir Palamedes: "I HAVE COME FOR YOUR KNICKERS!"

    Morganna slowly reaches out for Arthur and then pinches him.

    King Arthur: "OW! What was that for!?"

    Morganna: "Checking if I'm awake..."

    King Arthur: "Pretty sure you have to pinch yourself for that to work."

    Merlin: "Sir Palamedes, you do know it is rude to ask for a lady's... unmentionables?"

    Morganna: "Merlin, you're younger than me but you speak like my great-grandmother."

    Merlin: "Fine. Have her knickers, Sir Palamedes. I won't stop you."

    Sir Palamedes: "Nor should you, fair lady, for I am on a holy quest of God himself!"

    King Arthur: "You are!?"

    Sir Palamedes: "Indeed! The evil witch has the most wicked of pagan magics on her person. Her knickers must be purged of all evil."

    King Arthur: "Actually that's probably true."

    Morganna: "Okay, maybe, that is probably true. My knickers are full of evil magic. But you're still not having them!"

    King Arthur: "Why?"

    Morganna glares at her brother.

    Morganna: "Why!? Because they're my knickers! I don't just hand out my underwear to every lunatic that shows up!"

    King Arthur: "Well, you could give them to me and I'll give them to the lunatic-- I mean, Sir Palamedes."

    Morganna: "Not going to happen."

    Sir Palamedes slowly draws his sword and looks skyward (not that there is actually a sky but imagines there's one... or maybe he really doesn't realise there's no actual up in space);

    Sir Palamedes: "Oh Lord, grant me thy strength and I shall retrieve that which you seek."

    Merlin: "The day that God sought Morganna's knickers... how could I not have predicted this day would come?"

    Morganna: "Because it's ridiculous!"

    Sir Palamedes: "In the name of the Lord!! WRAAAA!!!"

    He charges at Morganna. The witch just shakes her head with disbelief and, with the flip of her wrist, exerts telekinesis upon the knight. He stops still and glances down at himself, checking he's still in one piece. Morganna frowns at her own fingers.

    Merlin: "It's his armour. He's protected from magical effects on his person."

    Morganna: "Oh."

    Sir Palamedes: "AHA! That's right! I'm protected from your foul sor--"

    The cart load of gold slams into Sir Palamedes and he's buried beneath the mountain of gold. Merline winces in sympathy.

    Merlin: "Poor man..."

    King Arthur: "No true knight of Camelot will give up on his sacred quest so easily. He'll recover and come back to claim God's prize."

    Morganna: "Seriously? We're talking about my underwear here."

    King Arthur: "Who are we to argue with the will of God?"

    Morganna: "Well since I'm a real person and he's not, I think my opinion is the one we'll go with."

    King Arthur: "You need to capitalise that, or it's disrespectf--ACK!!"

    He's then buried, along with Sir Palamedes, under the weight of his own success.


    The Greene Knight: "Feeling better?"

    The Red Rose Knight: "Huh? I'm fine-- oh, you mean the plant."

    The two of them are in the botanical garden. The entire disc is made of four quadrants, each quadrant having different atmospheres that suits differing plants from across the Multiverse. The stream that runs in a complete circle around the disc has a filtering field at the border of each quadrant, totally changing the minerals within the water as it passes through.

    Security droids had already warned Tom a'Lincoln and the Greene Knight from passing into one of the quadrants as they would have melted thanks to the high acidic content of the atmosphere. All they could do was look in through the invisible barrier. There seemed to be a lot of squiddy-looking people in there. The information droid had droned on and on but through the boring spiel they did learn that the quadrants are changed each cycle (whatever passes for a year on the station) to a whole new set of atmospheres. Botanists come back every year to see the new leafage. Only one plant remains there, year-in and year-out. At the dead centre of the barriers, protected by its very own sphere, is a teeny-tiny tree. To Tom it looks like a baby tree, but Greene can sense that the tree is unfathomably old. He could sense that it was feeling a little chilly in its lonely little sphere so he meddled with the tree's warmth to make it feel better. Greene could feel the tree's gratitude.

    The Red Rose Knight: "The droid said the tree is from the previous universe that used to be here. It's the last remnant of it. I'm not even sure I know what a universe is."

    The Greene Knight: "It's everything."

    The Red Rose Knight: "Everything?"

    The Greene Knight: "So the information stations tell me."

    The Red Rose Knight: "If the old everything is gone, so that mean our everything can... be gone too?"

    The Red Rose Knight: "I suppose so. That's kind of a depressing thought isn't it?"

    They stand in mutual silence, a kind of mourning for what would happen one day, until they both see something. They had seen a lot of people on this station. A lot of aliens. Many of them looked like humans but weren't. The Greene Knight himself isn't exactly a homo sapien, but as a naacal he is a genetic cousin as his people have the same evolutionary ancestor. Standing before them now, however, is, most surprisingly, another human. An actual human and not a human-looking thing.

    The Greene Knight: "Is that someone from the ship?"

    The Red Rose Knight: "Definitely not."

    The two men sidle up to the complete stranger, hemming him in from either side. He's a middle-aged man, probably married to a wife and has two kids, a stable job and a nice house. The very picture of an unassuming, good-natured human being that lives in the Old Republic.

    And he is confronted with two very peculiar knights in armour that are glaring at either ear.

    Unassuming Man: "Can I help you guys?"

    The Red Rose Knight: "Are you... human?"

    Unassuming Man: "If I answer yes, will you hurt me?"

    The Red Rose Knight: "How... are you human?"

    The man pauses. He feels he's being led into a pit of snakes.

    Unassuming Man: "I was... born?"

    The Red Rose Knight: "Born, eeeeeh?"

    Tom glares at the poor man with one eye narrowed in suspicion.

    The Greene Knight: "He doesn't appear to be a magical construct of any sort..."

    Unassuming Man: "Magic? No. I'm from the planet Coruscant. I was born there just like everyone else... Am I being interrogated? Who are you people?"

    The Greene Knight: "We'll ask the questions here!"

    The Red Rose Knight: "Where is this planet, Crusted Ant?"

    The man looks at Tom aghast.

    Unassuming Man: "How does that sound anything like--"

    The Greene Knight: "Answer the question, unassuming man!"

    Unassuming Man: "Unassuming man? What-- okay, okay! I'm no pilot, I can't give you coordinates. It's part of the Old Republic. The capital, in fact."

    He has an inch of pride on his face before it whittles quickly away in the face of these two maniacs. He points sheepishly.

    Unassuming Man: "See? More humans."

    The knights turn from him to a group of humans that just entered. Like the man before them these people were wearing simple trousers and smart jackets, mostly around the theme of beige and other such unobstrsive colours.

    The Greene Knight: "There's many of them!"

    The Red Rose Knight: "Do you think this is a test of faith from God?"

    The Greene Knight: "I don't believe in God... so sure, why not."

    The Red Rose Knight: "How can humans be out here? Did God make us on multiple planets?"

    The Greene Knight: "Honestly, that's more believeable than we evolved coincidentally the same on multiple planets..."

    The Red Rose Knight: "Aha! It's always wonderful when a heathen converts--"

    The Greene Knight: "Actually, don't you remember the story that your wife taught us? About Prince Oberon?"

    The Red Rose Knight: "He was a fairy?"

    The Greene Knight: "He emigrated from Earth. We saw what might have been his ship, remember? The magic crystal orbiting Neptune."

    The Red Rose Knight: "I remember that thing. Nobody wanted to go inside."

    The Greene Knight: "Could be that these humans are descended from the humans that left Earth with Prince Oberon. He had a human wife himself, they must have had children."

    The Red Rose Knight: "Wouldn't they have been magically adept like my son?"

    The Greene Knight: "Maybe, but I don't know what they'd have been like. Your son is half-faerie not half-fairy."

    Tom winces. He just heard the same word twice.

    The Greene Knight: "Your wife looks like a little girl, right?"

    Unassuming Man: "Ew, dude."

    The Red Rose Knight: "Don't judge me, she's a magical girl!"

    Unassuming Man: "Yeah, because that made it so much better."

    The Red Rose Knight: "She's older than she looks!"

    Unassuming Man: "The old soul argument, huh? Pervert."

    The Red Rose Knight: "Do you think Arthur will let us declare war against these guys?"

    Unassuming Man: "You were mentioning the difference between fairy and faerie?"

    The Red Rose Knight: "The difference between the same word? How are you two doing this?"

    The Greene Knight: "Well, a fairy is a tiny little one."

    Unassuming Man: "Uh, so if his looks like a girl then the fairy looks like... a baby?"

    The Greene Knight: "Smaller than that. More like a doll."

    Unassuming Man: "Didn't you say this fairy had children with a human?"

    The Greene Knight: "I expect Oberon used magic to... enhance himself."

    The Red Rose Knight: "You mean to make himself bigger?"

    Unassuming Man: "Or to make himself bigger. You know what I mean, right?"

    The Red Rose Knight: "Why are you getting involved in this anyway?"

    Unassuming Man: "Hey, you guys came to me, remember?"

    The Greene Knight: "I do know fairies have wings."

    They look at the guy.

    The Red Rose Knight: "Know any people with wings?"

    Unassuming Man: "Not really no... but if it was a long-ass time ago then that would have been bred out anyway. Their kids would have been with humans, and their kids with humans again. They'd be like 1% fairy by now."

    The Red Rose Knight: "Maybe this unassuming man is a descendent of Oberon!"

    The Greene Knight: "Could be! Actually all of them probably are. If you go far back enough down the lineage. Unless there's a lot of incest out here in space, then the genes should have been spread enough that they'd all be related to those ancient settlers."

    The Red Rose Knight: "Hey, unassuming man, when was Coruscant founded?"

    Unassuming Man: "Hey, I'm just a window cleaner. I clean peoples' windows. I don't know anything about history. Except the history of the super bowl playoffs. Sports history, I'm your man. Boring history, better ask a teacher or something."

    The Greene Knight: "Maybe... maybe we shouldn't tell the king about this."

    The Red Rose Knight: "Why? This is amazing news!"

    The Greene Knight: "He'll only want to try to conquer them."

    Unassuming Man: "Oh great. You know, that's exactly why we're a republic. Dictators and kings trying to go round and conquer everyone. Your guy sounds just like them damned sith."

    The knights perk up, as all heroes should, at the sound of a dangerous villain. The mere intonation that the man used was enough to confirm the evil within these 'sith' characters.

    The Greene Knight: "Please explain, Unassuming Man."

    Unassuming Man: "They're Æon that have gone bad."

    From the blank expressions on the knights' faces, the man realises he's in for the long ride. After a while of explaining, as best he could with what little knowledge of the subject he has, he managed to convey that the Æon are people who use their souls to affect the physical world around them. They're supposed to be neutral in all things but some go bad and become Aos Sí, otherwise known as Sith, while others are so good that they become Daoine, known as Jedi. The Red Rose Knight likes the idea of the Jedi but The Greene Knight, being more pragmatic, understands the need for neutrality.

    Unassuming Man: "Coruscant isn't in danger yet, but this group of sith, the Dread Masters, are a rising menace in the Old Republic. Like phantoms they strike and vanish and have never been defeated by the republic forces."

    The Red Rose Knight: "Sounds like the republic needs our help, we might be their old hope!"

    The Greene Knight: "And in return, Arthur will expect to be made king of the republic."

    The Red Rose Knight: "Arthur enjoys a good conquest, it's true. But he's a man of honour and chivalry at his core. If good and honest people are in need, he would help them, I'm sure of it."


    King Arthur: "AHA! LET'S CONQUER THEM!"

    Arthur has cornered another unassuming man, this time a bus boy from the hotel he's staying at, and has learnt much of what our knights in the botanical gardens have learnt. And come to a very different decision after all.

    Sir Gawain: "Sire, if we were to conquer this Old Republic, we would inherit this problem of the Dread Masters for ourselves."

    Arthur's room is the royal suite of the hotel and he has hired the entire floor for the use of the people of Space Britain with his massive winnings from the casino downstairs. Queen Guinevere had suggested that they could place the money into a bank or invest it to earn more money, but Arthur started to get bored and blanked out much of what she said until they came across the innocent bus boy.

    King Arthur: "That's fine. We'll conquer them too!"

    Unassuming Bus Boy: "You underestimate them, Mr Pendragon. Actually you underestimate the republic for that matter."

    King Arthur: "Or is it you that underestimates me!"

    Arthur plants his boot on the table to strike a dashing pose. Silence ensues as the bus boy is obviously unimpressed. Arthur grumbles and quietly vows to conquer the bus boy's house first.

    Queen Guinevere: "Couldn't we help these people instead?"

    King Arthur: "Why would we do that?"

    Queen Guinevere: "Then they'll like us."

    King Arthur: "AHA! GENIUS! Then they'd declare me their new king!"

    Queen Guinevere: "Not what I had in mind, really. They'll help us establish our own colony."

    King Arthur: "... no conquering?"

    He whimpers.

    Queen Guinevere: "Better than conquering, my dear. A holy quest befitting a true Christian and goodly king of Britain."

    Sir Gawain: "Space Britain."

    Queen Guinevere: "...Right."

    King Arthur: "I suppose it would be the more noble and selfless act. Defeat the Dread Masters and become the saviour of the republic..."

    Queen Guinevere: "Defenders of mankind."

    King Arthur: "They might help me set up a new cheese farm on our colony..."

    Unassuming Bus Boy: "Oooh! I love cheese! Can I taste your cheese when you make it?"

    King Arthur brightens up in an instant.

    King Arthur: "Absolutely, my dear boy! I, King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, shall save your kingdom--"

    Unassuming Bus Boy: "Republic."

    King Arthur: "--and grant you the first taste of my fine, fine cheese!"

    Sir Gawain: "That's wonderful, Sire! A holy quest! I just know every knight will be excited to hear the news!"

    There's a faint knock at the door and Sir Gawain, the young, naīve man with zero cunning and zero sense of caution as a result, bounds over to the door and swings it open before Guinevere or Arthur could stop him. Luckily it's just the stray drow boy they'd accumulated from Caledonia.

    He appears worn out.

    Newrias: "Is... is Sir Palamedes here?"

    King Arthur: "No. Last I saw him he has chasing Morgan into the women's bathroom. I don't think he ever came out again, actually... I hope she didn't hurt him too much..."

    Queen Guinevere: "Why don't you come in and sit down, young squire."

    Newrias manages to nod and drag himself into the royal suite. He marvels at the beautiful décor, which is clearly designed by someone who only thinks they know what royal décor is rather than actually knows. Gaudy is the word Guinevere would use. There are even windows with curtains on - curtains to stop nobody from space looking in through the glass.

    Newrias slumps on the sofa, which is patterned with far too many frills and pastel coloured flowers than should be legal, and glances at the unassuming bus boy beside him.

    Unassuming Bus Boy: "Hi there. Were you kidnapped by these guys too?"

    Newrias: "Uh..."

    Queen Guinevere: "I'm sorry, you are free to leave. You are not our captive. My husband was just very excited to meet you is all. We didn't expect to meet humans away from Earth."

    Unassuming Bus Boy: "Earth? Huh!"

    Queen Guinevere: "You know of our world?"

    Unassuming Bus Boy: "Only the legends. The legendary birthplace of mankind. How our ancestors travelled the stars and fought dangers to find a new home. I didn't think the place existed. I don't know that anyone does, actually."

    King Arthur: "That sounds like our quest!"

    Sir Gawain: "It would seem it is human instinct to travel and expand to new lands."

    Newrias: "Like a disease..."

    King Arthur: "What?"

    Newrias: "Sorry, nothing! Just came to me is all! I'm remembering things from my past lives. Phrases and ideas just pop up from nowhere. Sorry."

    King Arthur: "Past lives? What blas-"

    Queen Guinevere: "Everyone has their own faith and we tolerate that, don't we Arthur?"

    King Arthur: "I suppose so. Morgan believes there's spirits in nature or something weird like that, and Gawain here thinks there's hundreds of gods in Heaven! Like it wouldn't be crowded!"

    Sir Gawain: "The gods don't occupy space like we d--"

    King Arthur: "So if we put up with their nonsense, we'll put up with yours."

    Newrias: "Thanks. I think..."

    Queen Guinevere: "I think I should find some of the other knights and spread the word of our new venture."

    King Arthur: "Sir Gawain, so with her and tell everyone you meet."

    Queen Guinevere: "No need, I can do it myself. News of this will surely travel fast."

    Newrias: "I was actually wondering if I could open a laboratory of my own on your ship, Sire? I know that Merlin has one, I would like one too. If you wouldn't mind?"

    King Arthur: "A magician are you?"

    Newrias: "Not really. I can make potions. And I think I'd like to try my hand at making some. You have a lot of ingredients, I noticed, in Merlin's lab. So I could borrow some and make all manner of potions."

    King Arthur: "Now that sounds useful!"

    Sir Gawain: "Could you make a potion to give me super strength?"

    King Arthur: "A potion to make my cheese smell even better!?"

    Sir Gawain: "A potion to make my hair turn purple!?"

    Unassuming Bus Boy: "A potion to give me a better name!?"


    Guinevere glides from the royal suite and onto the corridor of the hotel. It's quiet now. Not all of the knights even know they can stay up here yet, that news will likely travel slowly. But she knows that a venture for God will be a hot topic and boost flagging morale. After Saturn and Caledonia the people would be all the better for this task. The glory and respect this Old Republic would give them will make the knights feel like heroes again.

    A knight suddenly bursts from one of the hotel rooms holding a very fresh spring onion.

    The Red Cross Knight: "I have found it!!"

    He runs off with his prize before Guinevere could tell him of the new quest. She shrugs and continues on before she is, again, interupted. This time by Queen Iseult of Dumnonia, the lady of Cornwall. Unusually she is absent her husband. Guinevere spends the majority of her time surrounded by men, especially knights, so to find herself suddenly alone with another woman is a sudden unusual experience. They give each other a little curtsey but Iseult's is quick and impatient.

    Queen Guinevere: "I hope that wasn't a sign of disrespect Lady Iseult?"

    Iseult realises what she's done and replies with her thick Scottish accent;

    Queen Iseult: "Nay, by God! I'm sorry yuir highness. I just was nae thinking clearly."

    She repeats the process properly this time.

    Queen Guinevere: "Anything on your mind you need to share?"

    Queen Iseult: "Aye, actually, there is. I think... I think my father is hatching a plot against you and your husband, your highness. I know I'm betraying my father when I tell you this, but, frankly, he's a right arse."

    Queen Guinevere: "He's a very shrewd man, I'll give him that. I'm actually surprised it took him so long to get round to it."

    There's suddenly a loud ruckus down the corridor.

    Queen Iseult: "Oh no, has it already begun!?"

    They watch as two knights run by, one desperately waving a little white flag while the other is trying to explain that he didn't mean to suggest that a tiny head meant a tiny brain. Following them are several giants.

    Queen Guinevere: "Sometimes I do wish I could live just one day as Sir Kay or Sir Bedivere. They do live such exciting lives."

    They watch as Sir Kay is caught and flung straight into Sir Bedivere and they both go sprawling into the wall. The giants then start to fight over who gets to smush the humans into a pulp. Given a couple of minutes of this, the two knights have managed to slip away through what appears to have been a waste disposal chute.

    Queen Iseult: "D'you think we should help them?"

    Queen Guinevere: "And spoil their fun? I don't think so."

    The giants go stomping off having lost their quarry.

    Queen Iseult: "What should we do about my father?"

    King Caradoc: "You don't need to worry about him, my dear Iseult. Worry about me."

    The two women turn to find King Caradoc standing with several of his own knights; all of them mercenaries hired for plenty of coin to do dark deeds freely. Caradoc's long, lank hair is greasy and his skin is coated in a layer of blistering acne. His blue eyes are dull and almost lifeless as they stare at the two beautiful women. Guinevere, a striking woman in her thirties, and ten-years her younger, Iseult, with her fiery red mane. He is wearing a big black coat that gives him more bulk than is emaciated form actually has and the mink fur lining it is most exquisite - yet unclean. He motions to his knights to take the two women and they know there's not much they can do to resist right now.


    The rancor falls to the ground with an almost sorrowful wail and Sir Tristram stands victorious. He places his bow back to his back but he doesn't revel in the cheers as most would. He merely stands and looks out from the arena, searching for his wife. Of course he won, she knew he would, and now she has lost all of her money. That's her self-inflicted punishment for being so difficult with him.

    The announcer asks if the challenger would like to take on the next opponent but before Sir Tristram could accept or decline, there's a sudden shout from the crowd. Everyone sees it and they all begin to call out in warning.

    It is too late.

    The brainless beast doesn't know the concept of honour or respect. It merely lashes out to the man that hurt it. Able to muster enough strength to make one final effort of aggression, the rancor's claws blast through Sir Tristram's back and pierce his lungs. Blood spurts from his mouth and he hangs on its claws with a look of absolute bewilderment. Isolde almost barrels the other audience members out of the way as she surges forward. She hits the railing and grips it until her knuckles are as pale as her namesake. Her mouth hangs open in a silent scream.

    Raising the dead is a simple process. She uses a tiny ounce of her own life energies to insert into the corpse and it will bounce around to her music. Granting an undead minion some autonomy requires much more of her life force but she could recover that given time. Stopping death...

    She latches onto Sir Tristram with her aura. He slips from the rancor's claws, the beast now as dead as its victim, and his body falls flat on the floor. There are boos and jeers from the crowd, angry that their new hero should be killed by such an underhanded method. He deserved better, they would cry out. And she agrees. He deserved better, possibly deserved better than to be with her as a wife. But she does love him and she knows she loves him more than Iseult did or ever could. And she will prove it.

    Her own energy begins to fill the body. She could animate his corpse now, have him shuffle around after her for all eternity. But that would not be than man she loves. More energy and he could have some independent thought but that wouldn't be the true Tristram, his soul still departed and his identity purged. She would have to mend the body and contain the spirit so it couldn't leave. Donn, god of death, would not get his sacrifice this day.

    She feels her own life draining. At first it feels like a slow dripping within her chest. Then it feels like all of her innards are gushing out. She hopes she doesn't pee herself, or worse. That would be an embarrassing way to go. But she wouldn't notice if she did because the sensation is the same.

    As she dies in favour of her husband, her own life flashes before her eyes. She sees her father;

    King Hoel: "You can't marry this vagabond knight of yours, Isolde. I know he is a strong warrior but he has none of the virtues a true knight should hold."

    Isolde: "I love him. That should be enough for you."

    King Hoel: "It isn't. Most kings would have their princesses married off for political alliances but I wanted better for you. I wanted you to marry a good man. Yes to love but also a man who has goodness in his heart. A kind and caring man."

    Isolde: "That kind of man wouldn't suit me, father. He would just make me feel guilty for not being more like him."

    King Hoel: "Isolde..."

    She wasn't wrong. She had already given away her soul. She had already been claimed by evil hands. She was corrupted long before she met Sir Tristram. He was not evil-doer, but his spirit was not so pure that it could burn her.

    She remembers her Aunt Anna. Anna was actually Isolde's first cousin once removed, her father's cousin, but that was too much of a mouthful and so she was dubbed 'Aunt Anna'. Twin sister to Morgause and half-sister to Arthur, Anna was often seen as the 'sane twin'. Unlike Morgause, Anna kept a low profile and never married. It seemed she was destined to join a convent but she was not a Christian. Being from Henn Ogledd, she was one for the old ways of her people. She worshipped the old Celtic gods and the ancestors and through Anna, Isolde turned her back on the Seat of Rome. But Anna began to change and Isolde watched as the youthful, young woman became thin and pale. She remembered when Hoel had insisted on a doctor's visit, who believed that Anna was losing blood. The marks on her neck suggested only one cause; vampires.

    Hoel was a man of modern thought and old superstitions didn't concern him. Isolde, though, was intrigued. Once Isolde pressured her aunt to spill the secrets, Anna led her niece into the dark world of blood and rituals. The vampires were, in fact, NeSferatu - an ancient brand of vampires that desired specific blood over all others. A special blood they called blood ink. Isolde had considered becoming one of them, to turn herself into an immortal and powerful being to roam the world alone and terrible. But her aunt showed her another way. The way of the White Hands.

    The NeSferatu had several small covens around Gaul and the leader of them was a man dubbed Tiarna Des-Mhumhain by the Celts. He was a figure of great and ancient power that seemed to outstrip every other NeSferatu, as though he may be the original one. But another, even smaller, organisation also existed in Gaul. The cult of the White Hands and they had a deep, dark pact with Tiarna Des-Mhumhain. Anna believed that Des-Mhumhain was, in fact, Donn himself; the god of death. Isolde remembers the first time she watched Des-Mhumhain feed on her aunt. His teeth sank deep into the woman's neck and blood slipped out, splashing down her pale skin. Despite the initial wince of pain, Anna seemed to enjoy the experience and Isolde couldn't help but wonder what it would feel like. But he didn't stop and Isolde thought he would kill her. But Anna survived. Each time. He would drain her to the brink and then leave her. The other White Hands then used their own life energies to restore and revive Anna. This was the process to becoming one of them. To reach the brink of death and be brought back, over and over and over.

    Then it was Isolde's turn.

    Isolde wasn't important enough to be fed to Tiarna Des-Mhumhain himself. Instead she was given over to his favourite protégé. An Irish woman with long, raven hair and a sadistic streak. When she had watched Des-Mhumhain drink from Anna, it had been methodical process to him, no matter how Anna felt. To him she was food. To Nyneve, Isolde was a toy.

    The teeth of the NeSferatu insert a sliver of poison into the wound as they drink. This gives the victim a sense of euphoria, even pleasure, meaning the victim will stop resisting so readily and will not cry out. They hang limply in the arms of their attacker just as Isolde hung in the arms of Nyneve. She felt herself dying then and she didn't mind. She wasn't afraid. She was relaxed. She was dropped onto the floor unceremoniously. She heard Nyneve giggle, as though it was all fun and games. This would happen once a week. Isolde felt herself changing, just as Anna had done.

    Before long she was being healed by Anna herself, who was then Anna of the White Hands. Because she had been constantly exposed to the fangs of the king of the NeSferatu, Anna's abilities were much greater than most. Few could match her powers over the undead. Should she wish, she could have controlled legions of men.

    When at last Nyneve had turned and gained her powers, she became Isolde of the White Hands. Nyneve, however, didn't want to stop drinking from her toy and would keep returning for more. Isolde would fight with Nyneve, trashing her bedroom in the process. Sometiems she would win and Nyneve would flee from the window with a laugh despite her injuries. But usually she lost and she would be left in a pool of blood on the silk bedsheets. By this time she was able to start saving herself from death. She could stabilise her own life energies and use them to heal her broken body; enough to keep her alive until Anna would find her and do the rest.

    Although she kept this all a secret from everyone, including her father, when she met her knight she told him everything. She was surprised when he seemed unperturbed. He explained he had met NeSferatu before and that he had met far more evil creatures than either them and certainly more so than the White Hands. His acceptable of her only emboldened her desire for him. She knew he was the only man she could ever be with. The resemblance between her physically and in name to his ex-love only seemed to prove that The Morrigan, the goddess of fate, was with them. He admitted that he told her more about himself than he ever told anyone. He trusted her more than he trusted anyone. And yet, as their months turned to a year, Isolde could sense that his heart was split between the two Isoldes.

    Then, unbeknownst to her, King Hoel discovered the White Hands and the NeSferatu coven. With the Pope's blessing he led a small army of Templars into the hole where they destroyed many of the NeSferatu and any of the White Hands that resisted. The NeSferatu were butchered on sight, while the White Hands were permitted to surrender. Not that it helped. The Pope sentenced them all to be burnt at the stake anyway. Better to have died at the sword.

    The interrogations of the surviving White Hands, however, led to further arrests of those who had not been caught in the attack. Isolde knew it was a matter of time before someone said her own name. She became afraid of her own father, the only man she loved more than her husband.

    The Templars came for her in the dead of night, her father with them. But the good king couldn't bear to see his daughter burnt alive and pleaded that he be allowed to end Isolde by the blade. The Templars were usually not prone to mercy for witches, but they granted the king his request. She hugged her father goodbye and prepared to die. She looked into his loving face. Then the sword cut her open.

    As she lay on the cold floor of her father's castle she had seen her husband burst onto the scene. He started attacking the Templars with his fists but they knew the unthinking actions of a desperate man. They beat him, but spared him. Isolde watched him as she died. A good last thing to see, the face of the man she loves.

    But then she began to heal. He body fixed itself. She felt the life energies flowing into her body. She was being restored to life. But this was not the brink of death, this was from beyond that brink. She ought to have died but she was being brought back. The energy to do that would be too much for any single White Hands.

    And it was.

    The Templars rushed up the stairs to tackle Anna Pendragon but she was prepared with her own undead minions to fight back. She only needed time.

    As Isolde began to rise, King Hoel knew he must end her again. Only this time, Sir Tristram was there to stop him. With Hoel's own sword, Sir Tristram cut down the king. His father-in-law. The man that had taken him in after he was banished from Cornwall. Never had Isolde seen Tristram weep. And never again since then.

    Anna of the White Hands died at the top of the stairs. Her undead minions collapsed as she did and the Templars stood victorious. So they thought. The real victory belonged to Anna as Sir Tristram escaped along with his now living wife. They fled to England. To her father's cousin's court; to the court of King Arthur.

    The memory was unsurprising, she realised. The most important events of her life would of course come to the surface. But it was also the moment that she learnt how to give her life for someone she loved more than her own life. Someone she believes is worth more than her own life. Anna believed that Isolde was worth more than her own life and Isolde now believes that Tristram is worth more than hers.

    She falls to her knees, clutching the railing.

    A spark of hope hits her.

    Perhaps she is more powerful now. Many years she has lived with this power. She may yet save herself after restoring Tristram. Even now she feels him alive and rising from the floor. She longs for the moment that he would embrace her again. She imagines it. Dwells on that thought.


    She holds onto that dream because in that moment she sees that she is not strong enough after all...


    In the docking bay where Camelot is tethered to Outpost Finagle, Admiral Ltexi is looking up at the grand old ship for the last time. It does look better than The Hopeful, she begrudgingly admits, but it doesn't have the same charm. Or so she tells herself. She had considered stealing the damn thing while all of the humans are on the station, it would prove very useful in comparison to The Hopeful and unlocking their mutual secrets. However she does like the humans enough to not be such a jerk. Besides, the gift she left them would be too funny to pass up.

    She tosses the helmet back into the repair shuttle she had been piloting and turns to leave. She's then confronted by a knight. She jumps and is instantly on the defensive.

    Admiral Ltexi: "It wasn't me!"

    The knight blinks in confusion and she realises he's not here about her 'artwork'.

    Admiral Ltexi: "Nevermind. What's up?"

    The knight looks up.

    Admiral Ltexi: "Not literally! By the teeth of Marduck, I'm going to make sure you humans learn some modern terminology one day."

    She struts past him. She does recognise the young man. He always has these doe-eyes and a kind of puppy-dog scampering after his father. His father, Sir Lancelot, is an absolute slut. Ltexi wonders how many STDs the guy has. She doesn't mind a prostitute, they get screened regularly. Sluts, on the other hand, don't.

    Sir Galahad: "So-so you're leaving now?"

    Admiral Ltexi: "That's right. Glad to be rid of me?"

    She chuckles as she heads down the bay. She has booked passage with a a trader headed for a Jupiterian world, where she would be able to use a magical portal to get back to Jupiter itself. All Jupiterian worlds had them, allowing instantaneous travel throughout the queendom. Their worlds were never in any logical pattern on a map, because they didn't need to consider proximity.

    Sir Galahad: "Not really."

    He scurries after her.

    Sir Galahad: "Actually no, not at all. The opposite, in fact. I'll miss you very much!"

    She stops with a frown and turns to face this handsome boy. Through the confused and terrified mumbling, Ltexi believes she may be getting an admission out of this guy. How adorable, she thinks. A nice, traditional boy confessing his love for her. A lovely way to end this trip.

    The knight suddenly leans in and plants his lips on hers. It's light and afraid, but she feels his affection for her through that kiss. As he draws away she smirks.

    Sir Galahad: "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have done that. I just couldn't let you go without-- showing you how I feel."

    Admiral Ltexi: "You don't go round kissing all the women like your father does, do you?"

    Sir Galahad: "No! No! I've never-- actually-- that was my first--"

    Admiral Ltexi: "You are adorable. How about I give you something to really remember me by?"

    She scoops him up in her arms and slides him back so that his back is arched and she supports him from falling over. A traditional, romantic kiss. She connects her lips to his fiercely and she feels him trembling within her arms. Her tongue explores his mouth and she knows he would give anything to stay in that moment forever with her.

    She, however, has several husbands to get back to.

    Their kiss is interrupted by a sudden exclamation.


    Sir Robin: "Who drew a gigantic penis on the side of our ship!?"

    Admiral Ltexi: "My cue to leave!"

    Gamma Pans: "Is that what a human penis looks like!? How ugly looking!"

    Sir Robin: "Oi!"

  39. #159
    Tea-sipper, character-killer
    Posts
    782

    Arrow The Mouth of Time

    This post follows just after/during CatH Post #90. This post is set prior to the ending of the Time Lock War.

    Ciel has just left The Unbroken and appears in the Command Centre of The Hopeful where she intends to wait for Clear and her crew to make their own way over. She is, in her own estimates, 'Void Ranger Extraordinaire' and was one of the ten Void Rangers assigned to protect the Earth given its diminished status. Mostly this meant drinking tea and eating crumpets most days, except when that threat suddenly reared its head.

    It was difficult to judge whether to act or not. The 'War of the Munchkins', as she dubbed it, is happening on the opposite side of the sun and threatened to spill over to devastate the planet. For the most part, though, there's not a lot these Void Rangers could do against the full might of either the High Empire or Mega Jonestown Prime should they decide to blow up the Earth. On the other hand, Earth is now directly threatened by Jupiterians and other-worldly humans. Much easier to deal with but she isn't convinced this is within the parameters of the Void Rangers' duties here on Earth. They're meant to keep it safe from serious threats or destabilisation, not its governments. If Jupiter wants to control Earth, then why get involved?

    Ciel pulls a hot flask from her bulky robes, which takes a moment because it got lost in the dozens of folds, and then sips at the hot green tea. There's a serene quietude in the Command Centre when Clear isn't around.

    From the corner of her eye she sees a squid-man in a 1950s polka dot dress.


    Kara Pashna: "Hello there, Ciel."

    He twirls a parasol behind his head.

    Ciel: "Let me guess, you found 'My Big Book of Earth Culture' in the library?"

    Kara Pashna: "This ship has a library!?"

    Ciel: "It's the size of an island. I'm pretty sure there's a library somewhere on it, yes."

    Kara Pashna:
    "I should try to find it!"

    He then looks at Ciel as though he just realised she isn't meant to be here.


    Kara Pashna:
    "Welcome back, by the way. Funny meeting you again!"

    Ciel: "Meeting the salmitton child here makes me think the Fates are sticking their fingers into my business..."

    ---

    Decima:
    "SHE'S ONTO US!!"

    Morta: "QUICK! HEAD FOR THE HILLS!"

    Aeon:
    "There are no hills..."

    The Mouth of Time spews forth its currents, allowing the essence of time to exist within the NeSiverse. This colossal well seems to swirl gently from a distance, but up close it is a raging time-storm. Any normal beings of the universe affected by time would have succumbed to the influence of the Mouth long before they got anywhere near to the Timeshoreway.


    The Timeshoreway is a boardwalk that surfs along the outer swirl of the Mouth of Time, locked in perpetual orbit. Very few come here, even if able. Aeon pays frequent visits, this being his element. Chronos, Aeon's rival, has visited a few times but her chaotic nature doesn't rest well with Aeon. Aeon is a being of absolute precision, down to each and every tick aligning to each tock. Chronos is like a broken watch. Broken because it's being repeatedly smashed on the corner of a table. She set up her time-agency for that very reason, to organise what she wouldn't. Or couldn't. He isn't even sure.

    Aeon stands, now, in his dark purple and black robes, upon the Timeshoreway and watches the eddies of time. Aeon, for all his godliness, is nothing but a caretaker for this fountain. His eyes are cogs that click-click around and around as the Mouth turns. He takes out his dark-tinted glasses. They appear like sunglasses but they do not protect his vision from sunlight (he rarely ventures into star systems anyway) but instead they protect his cogs from the warping of time when so close to such a source. The Mouth of Time is the largest of its kind; bigger than any standard galaxy of the universe. There are smaller pockets throughout reality but it is from this font that time truly functions.

    It is with time from the Mouth that the Three Fates weave their work.

    Aeon stands upon the boards and peels his eyes from the Mouth to gaze at the artisans. Though they are contained within just three bodies, the majority of their being is eternally upon the cusp of the Mouth, here on the Timeshoreway, weaving the fates of people from across the entire universe. Time is taken and spun into destinies for even the most grandiose of beings or the most humble. Fates being spun for billions of planets'-worth of people and creatures. If he tries, Aeon can sense those fates. Not all fates are spun by the Three. Some are engineered by other deities in the universe, some acting under the umbrella of the Three and others completely independent. Some worlds are free of fate entirely, never being restricted by the decisions of these universal deities.


    For all the enormity of what they do, they can be awfully annoying.

    Nona: "It's always bad when someone like this Void Rangers discovers what we're up to."

    Aeon frowns over his cogs at Nona, who spins the thread of life and appears, physically, the youngest. She determines the births of everyone under their influence, as well as the rebirths of those too stubborn to die like sensible people. In worlds where the time of birth governs the personalities of the people born, she not only determines when they are born but who they will grow to be.

    Aeon: "Why would it matter? It doesn't make a difference."

    Nona: "Not in actuality. But ethically..."

    Aeon waits for an explanation of that but when one doesn't come immediately he gestures his hand for her to speak.

    Decima: "When they don't know it's us, it's fate. When they do know it's us, it's coercion. I don't like that. It's like we're members of the Mafia or something!"

    Decima is the middle-aged woman of the three and the one that does most of the work. She ultimately creates the destinies decided by the three, weaving in the pinnacle of a person's life.

    Morta: "Settle down, settle down. This Void Ranger knows there's always room for manoeuvre, even when we've been interfering. She is a tough, old thing. She knows the deal."

    Morta makes the end game and delivers up the existence of a mortal unto Death. Who is currently a very shy adolescent that keeps stuffing people into snack packaging.


    Morta herself appears as an old, wizened woman. She has been urging Ciel along when Decima took a liking to the red-skinned salmitton. Though Clear has no liking of gods, usually meaning she could be exempt from their dabblings, Decima found the misfortune too delicious to pass up. A woman who is the very last of her entire species. How could the Fates not get involved? Nona had brought her own piece to play, though she cheated. The girl she pushed into Clear's life may appear young, even think young, but her existence is older than the Martian. That girl's life, however, had met a premature end, definitely not the destiny chosen by Decima nor the ending that Morta had planned. Instead the life was claimed by those outside of destiny's touch. When Nona introduced Kimleigh Emp, Morta felt she ought to likewise bring in a player to Decima's game. Ciel was her chosen piece but Morta was not so committed after Kimleigh was removed. But now she is guiding her chess piece to engage so that Clear's destiny can be extended. Without their intervention Clear's fate may well be to expire at any given moment. Morta has not written the ending and Decima is currently playing with her.

    Aeon:
    "I sometimes wonder how the NeSiverse manages to get by with you three playing your games. Fate should be organised and structured and maintained efficiently. You take the chaos and create order."

    Nona:
    "We get bored, okay!?"

    Decima:
    "Besides, this is like real life soap opera! Why watch people have dramatic lives when you can make dramatic lives for them!"

    Aeon:
    "But wherever you push that toy of yours, the threads of fate keep being cut for the people she meets."

    Morta:
    "Them or her. We're choosing her."

    Nona:
    "For now."

    Decima slits her eyes at Nona.

    ---

    Mother: "Ciel."

    Ciel:
    "ARGH! ARE YOU TRYING TO GIVE ME A HEART ATTACK!? DON'T YOU KNOW HOW OLD I AM!?"

    Mother: "There's a communication for you."

    Ciel had been in deep reverie, thinking of the Fates and imagining what tricks they're up to. She hadn't noticed Pashna leave, nor the image of Mother appear on the large monitor bank of the Command Centre.


    Ciel:
    "A communication for me specifically? Nobody knows I'm here except--"

    She then reaches out with her senses and in her mind's eye she sees the destruction that was wrought by the blast from this infernal ship (as in NeS2 Post #1982).

    Ciel: "They're all dead? Why were they even--"

    Not dead. One yet lives.

    She jumps up and her travel-sphere appears around her person. She phases through the ship and appears in the void of space. She whizzes across the void faster than light and comes to the battlefield in less than a second. She feels with her mind for her friend and there, floating amidst the debris, she finds Lobo Ono. His skin is charred all over and he seems barely capable of moving his eyes to look at her as she approaches. His recovery will be long and arduous and he may never heal completely.

    But she is determined that he shall live.


    She cradles him in her arms and then she returns to The Hopeful where she knows there's a medical bay advanced enough to help alleviate his pain and begin attempts to stave off the damage. She would need to take him to Tatooine before he would be well enough to be whole again.

    As she lays him down on a bed, she adjusts the room's temperature and lowers the ambiance to provide better comfort.

    Then a screen lights up and Mother is, once again, peering at her.


    Mother:
    "Clear has come aboard and is asking for your whereabouts."

    Ciel:
    "She'll have to manage without me. And tell her I need that kara to come up here. He might be able to help me heal my friend."

    Ciel reaches out, tentatively, and gently touches his skin. It almost cracks and she jerks her hand back. Even if it could withstand her touch, it would probably cause him pain anyway. He must have been on the very edge of the blast to have survived where the others perished. She wonders now, what cruel game the Fates are playing. What is she being coerced into?

    This thread will continue in CatH Post #91.

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