Campaign of the Month: May 2014

Ladies in Hades and the Dyval Wears Prada

Adventure Log Index


The Story so Far…

A book called The Codex of Souls fell into the hands of a group of people drawn together by fate. The book foretold of dangers to the Megaverse greater than the Minion War – seven plagues which have manifest across time and space. The key to stopping these plagues lay in recovering seven greatest rune artifacts. The first artifact was recovered in New Calgary, and transported this group into the ancient past, in the time of Ancient Babylon. There they stopped the Plague of Tongues and were returned to their time. The second artifact was recovered in Mongolia and transported this group again into the past, this time to the 14th Century A.D.. There they stopped the Black Death and traveled back to their time. Currently this group is in Antarctica on Rifts Earth looking for the third artifact.




The adventures of the player characters, indexed for easy navigation. Ordered from oldest to newest. Already caught up? Then click here to jump to the latest adventure log link. A companion to this index is the timeline which gives a rough approximation of the months and years in which the events linked below occurred. Another companion to this index is the Chrono Triggers which are side-plots or side-stories which were “skipped,” but the group has the opportunity to revisit when the conditions are right.

Prologue, First Half: Among the Ruined

In which the characters meet for the first time, visit the ruined city of Tolkeen, and spend some time in a library.

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Prologue, Second Half: Leave no City Standing

In which the characters travel to Calgary and leave a lasting impression upon the city.

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Chapter One: Adventures in Ancient Babylon

In which the characters are transported to Ancient Babylon, solve the plague of Tongues, and leave a mark upon history.

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Intermission One: Mad About Madhaven

In which a different group of characters have an eye-opening experience in Madhaven.

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Chapter Two: Running in Circles

In which the usual characters run amok upon Rifts Earth, feel the effects of the P.P.E. plague, and encounter consequences to their actions.

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Intermission Two: Mad About Madhaven

A brief return to Madhaven and its inhabitants.

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Chapter Three: J.F.C. Gets Medieval

In which J.F.C. embarks upon a crusade to end the Black Plague

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Intermission Three: Five-Finger Discount at the Black Vault

In which J.F.C. teaches the Coalition just how secret and secure their secret and secure facility is.

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Chapter Four: Cold Days in Antarctica

It’s cold in Antarctica in the fall. all. the. time!

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Welcome Back 5
The final batch of RP, collected and posted.

It’s been over a year since these moments occurred. Due to how the campaign went on an unexpected hiatus, these e-mail interactions/RP never got posted. I recently found them in my e-mail and though I doubt we’ll ever revisit this campaign as it is, I though they deserved to be formatted and posted anyway.


"So, that guy who um, went and merged with the city….uh, he’s your dad?"

"Yes. But not so much like that guy in the gas mask is your father."

"Oh. Oooh. Do you think it hurts when you merge with a whole city?"

"Yeah."

"That’s kewl."

"Do you miss your mom?"

"I never knew my mother. They call her The Cosmic Forge."

"I never knew my mom either…but they call her the Alien Elder Vagina God."

"Pass the pipe."

"Oh, my bad." The winged man handed over the big blown-glass piece. "Sherlock is pretty awesome."

"Totally. I gotta get one of these. Your dad seems kewl."

"Yeah, he’s alright. I’ve only known him for a few weeks. He cares about me a lot though."

"I think my Dad cares about me. It’s tough to tell. He seems to care about…well, everything."

"Ugh, I know what you mean. How old are you?"

"I’m in my second-stage on the path to Enlightenment. The third-stage is a complete union with the Megaverse and the Fourth and Fifth stages are total integration with the Multiverse. In a way, even though I’m a couple hundred-thousand years old, I’m really only a teenager."

"Why did they pick you to save this whole…thing," he said with a wave of his wing.

The giant bald alien smiled. "I don’t know. But there’s something special in each and every one of us that makes us unique. I’m just along for the ride. My philosophy is to seek out adventure and to live as rich and full-bodied an experience as I can…while doing some good along the way."

"That sounds pretty crazy. Have you had a lot of adventures?"

"Not really. I’ve been asleep for thousands of years."


Meanwhile, near the J.F.C. building.

"You look concerned, Sakura."

"Yeah, I’m still a little uncomfortable about this whole… thing. My sisters and I aren’t from around here and… I dunno."

"Your mind is in directly conflict with what your eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and fingers tell you."

"Um, yeah… maybe? I guess you could say that Kiku. I came here because of an accident with an experiment that ended up making me the way I am now. Where I came from, we were fighting a war against alien invaders. Now… well, whatever. I hope you don’t take it personally that I don’t trust anything that’s an inanimate object that can just… speak inside my mind – even if it can take on a physical body whenever it wants. All this stuff is just… I dunno. I guess part of me just wants to go home but I’m afraid there won’t be a home left to return to. I don’t know why I’m here and I’m just trying to do the right thing but I have no clue what that is. It’s just…"

"Frustrating?"

"Yeah. I guess… yeah, it is."

She decided to change the subject. "Tell me, have you ever fought a dragon before?"

"Um, what?"

"I saw you do some very interesting things the other night."

"What? How?"

"I was flying far overhead while Zeela reconnoitered – and I saw what you did. I think we are similar in a way. I think I could teach you something about the metal you can conjure."

"My Sister is busy right now, but I think I could take a little break from keeping tabs on the… God of Last-"

"Don’t say it," Kiku giggled. "It makes me laugh every time I hear it."

"All right then. Bring it on."

In the span of a few heartbeats Kiku’s form grew, transforming as it did into the shape of a gigantic, winged red dragon. She flashed a playful smile at Sakura, revealing row after impressive row of massive pointy, gnashing teeth. Her wings beat powerfully a few times, creating a wind that forced Sakura to brace herself in order to avoid being blown away. The now draconic Kiku ascended several stories into the air in mere moments.

"Consider it brought!" the dragon roared from 80 feet above. And then Kiku’s very scales began to literally harden and coalesce right before Sakura’s eyes into a chromatic silver. Once she was finished she looked like a living, breathing, life-sized silver dragon statue.

"This aughta be interesting…" Sakura muttered as two silver knives materialized in her hands and she sprang into action.


At the private residence of Lillian, the Japanese Demigod patron to Asuna.

"Asuna, your loyalty to the clan… and to the pantheon will not go unnoticed – or unrewarded. You have done your job well and for that I wish to thank you with these gifts."

"Thank you, my lady."

The beautiful demigoddess pulled out a cylindrical case that appeared to be made from starched, calcified bone.She ran her fingers along the top edge of the case and the enclosure magically disappeared revealing a rolled up parchment inside.

"This is a map of the desert. There is an evil Pharaoh who rules over this land and it is very dangerous. This map will lead you to a secret cave where a skilled mentalist and cave-dweller once provided healing for the mind’s eye. Our information indicates that, while he was slain gruesomely by this Pharaoh’s minions, he has left behind a hidden cache of armaments that will prove invaluable to the clan."

"Mistress, I am grateful for the honor you bestow on me. I will not disappoint you or the elders."

"Asuna, do be careful. This cache has been searched for by Splugorth and Bounty Hunters and even the Pharaoh himself. The clan seeks only the ethereal mind-blade. Any other riches or treasures you find will be yours to dispense with personally. Do this and bring great honor and prestige to your legacy."

"But mistress, if so many others have looked for it… how do you know that they failed? And if they haven’t failed, how do you know that the mind-blade is still there?"

"Asuna, dearest, your questions please me. You are the brightest of your class and the most deadly of your fellow former students. Along with the map I will give you a necklace that will allow you to see the unseen and find things that would hide in the space between worlds. I entrust this precious tool of the clan to you for this mission."

"I am forever in your debt, my lady."

"Come Asuna, lay with me, and accept your final reward…"

fade to black.


A conversation in the private chambers of James, the God of Last Resorts, the King of New Sea.

"These sheets are disgusting."

"This is your rotation. Quit complaining."

"Before The Fall I was waited on hand and foot – I had servants serving my servants! My Father was…"

"I don’t give a good goddamn who your father was. Take the sheets off the bed and fetch me fresh linens."

"They’re so grosss! What do they do here anyway? This isn’t normal. This isn’t like passionate sex and lovemaking – it’s… fucking barbaric!"

"They’re Greeks. Get over it Ish – just because you were the daughter of a goddess of passion doesn’t mean you’re any better than the rest of us. The God of Last Resorts is the great equalizer."

"Cock of Last Resorts more like it. Look at these… stains! This looks like…"

"Don’t say it… don’t you dare say it or I’m going to vomit."

"Ugh…Greeks are so GROSS!"

"Ish! Hush your mouth. If you don’t like your station you’re free to leave the protection of his city. Or you can stuff a sock in it and swallow your pride like the rest of us. Take pride in all that you do – no matter how small or meaningful the task."

"Do you think Ninkasi made it?"

"The Goddess of Beer?"

"Does she count as a real goddess?"

"Why don’t you ask her followers?"

"Point taken. But still, I hope she’s safe… healthy… out there somewhere."

"The major gods were hit the hardest. There is still hope."

"Hope for Beer? My dear there will always be hope. Have you been to the tavern lately? They don’t need Ninkasi’s help. Speaking of the tavern… there was a young man the other night."

"Ish," the older woman admonished in a chiding voice.

"What? I didn’t DO anything."

"ISH…"

"Oh fine!" the young woman threw her hands up in the air in frustration. "I feel like I’m in prison! And I haven’t even had the sex I’m planning to have with a minor… yet."

"You’re incorrigible."

"I’m Persian."


Meanwhile, in the working office James had adopted in the J.F.C. building, a different conversation was about to occur.

Two quick knocks at the door was a blessed interruption to the banal drudgery of running a city in which James currently found himself mired.

"What?" James asked in a slightly annoyed tone.

A muffled voice from the other side of the door said, "My lord, there are some people here to see you."

"Send them in. They can announce themselves."

In walked an old black man with a straw hat and suspenders. He was accompanied by four others. The first James noticed was a startlingly beautiful young blond woman. Next to her was a young man, slight of build and with a defiant sneer on his face. Behind them was a thin, wiry, plain-looking man who was balding despite not looking very old. Lastly was a stocky, burly man wearing a green sweater who walked with a slight limp and leaned against the bald man.

They all looked familiar. James thought he might have recognized the black man and maybe… the kid, but it had been a while… different clothing, different climate. The girl? She was cute but she kinda looked like a younger version of Tes . The bald man… wait, that guy looked like one of the refugees they picked up in Antarctica… at least that was how it had been described to James by the survivors. Gods! He wished he had been there! He should have been there. The man with the limp? Who knew?

The servant who ushered them closed the door and left.

"So, who are you and what do you want?" James impatiently asked.

The old black man grinned. "Well, I like a man who’s on about his business. My name is Magnus Ver Magnusson and I believe we have already met."

"Holy shit," James thought as a flood of recognition finally hit him. "This was the guy we met in mother fucking Russia."

James looked around again at Magnus and and the others.

"Well here’s faces I never thought I would see again. The mouthy kid from the warlords palace and our guide through Russia. This is an intresting morning"

James recalled the earlier fight with his wife over their living quarters. Clym was many things.. humble was not one of them.

"So… what can I help you with?"

James secretly clutched at the Dragon’s Eye gem he kept under his desk.


Even the dragon’s eye was silver! Sakura was truly amazed. This creature didn’t seem to just cover herself in silver, but actually became it! Yet she could still fly and was quicker than Sakura expected. But not so quick that she couldn’t nimbly dodge the Dragon’s attacks. Her own counter attacks though were falling somewhat short. Of course, she was holding back, and the dragon could tell.

"What is this? C’mon, show me what you got girl!" The dragon known as Kiku shouted as she flew past. She angled herself to try and smash her wing into Sakura.

"You couldn’t handle me!" Sakura taunted back at her as she twisted out of the way. She tried to slice into the silver wing but to no avail – she barely did more than nick it. With a flourish Sakura rolled away and came up with four throwing knives. She focused kinetic energy into them and tossed them at the dragon as it was turning around. The dragon tried to swat them away with her tail but the knives were more powerful than she expected, and they stuck into the metal.

"That’s more like it!" From high in the sky Kiku spread her wings and they began to glow a brilliant, white holy light. Twin beams of energy shot down towards Sakura from them. Sakura hesitated for just an instant. "Beautiful…" she thought to herself at the energy coming towards her. Then the energy slammed into and through her. Though painful, it seemed weird as if… as if the energy was trying not to hurt her? It was an odd feeling but it lasted only a moment, then it was gone. Looking around, it seemed as if the area was still empty. "Good," Sakura thought. "Maybe it’s time to ramp up my game after all."

From up in the sky the dragon seemed strangely pleased that the energy didn’t hurt Sakura as much as it could have. It told Kiku a lot about the her. With a playful roar she dove down at the purple-haired girl again. She prepared herself for Sakura to try another quick dodge but instead noticed that she looked as if she was… bracing herself? Kiku laughed and edged out a bit more speed from her metal frame. Yes, the girl was interesting indeed.


No one’s form changed or looked any different while James held the Dragon’s Eye gem. Magnus stepped forward with a broad smile and an easy demeanor. "I am Magnus ver Magnusson and I represent these people. We number… very few… in this world, but there are more of us each day. The "Earth" we are from – the one we remember – it is similar to this one in many ways. I’m not sure where our home city of Century Station would be on one of these maps but I’d love to delve into the logistics of our appearances here," he indicated the entire group with a sweep of his hand, "at your leisure…" He paused for a second to consider his next words.

The kid with the sneer stepped forward angrily. "My name is Pact. You killed my father – prepare to die!"

"Easy kid," Magnus warned. "This is the God of Last Resorts. We are here at his mercy."

"God?" He spit. "He wasn’t no god when we saw him last time. In fact, the coward killed my brother AND my father. I know it was him… or him and his friends. Oh! Poor Buddy!" The kid looked like he was about 18, or maybe a little older. He had a twisted look on his face, all screwed up, that made Magnus step toward him warily. The bald man and his friend with the limp, leaning on him, stood stock still and watched the situation unfold. The young woman began to cry, softly, but said nothing.

"Ah, God of Last Resorts, er… King James? Well, I’m not quite sure what to call you… but we’ve come seeking asylum. We, and others like us, are lost here. Almost all of us want to go home. We don’t know where home is. We have… um, powers, that are not normally found in human-beings. At least not wherever ‘here’ is. Where we come from it is not unusual to manifest powers like we have. We are called ‘heroes.’ And Jimmy Jay here, well, his powers are very impressive."

"I SAID…" the young man growled through clenched teeth. "MY… NAME… ISssss… PACT!" And he began to claw at the air and tear the very fabric of reality. It was unlike anything James had ever seen, though it seemed reminiscent to something that Pall Mall once did a VERY VERY long time ago… Just without all the ceremony, incantations, chanting, and ritual the mad Sowki used at the time.


Kiku’s gaze bored into the purple-haired woman as she embraced the free-fall of gravity. Soaring through the skies was amazing but hurtling, plummeting toward the earth was something entirely different. The metallic folds of her wings screamed as wind tore through gaps in the metal. The sound was a little unnerving but Kiku’s mind was giddy with freedom. This would be her only attack for the next few seconds but with her giant wing span and the certainty of knocking her opponent down it was worth the gamble. The ground rushed up at her as she entered the final form of her Wing Gliding Sweep Attack. She also knew she’d be forgoing her chance to act defensively but that hardly mattered at this point. Kiku was committed to the diving maneuver. She roared with fury and excitement and CHALLENGE!

"ROoooWWWWWWARRRRRoarrr!!!!!!!!!"


James sat calmly and looked from face to face, then to Pact. "Word of advice… don’t finish summoning what ever you are. Think of where you are. You are in my house, in my city. Attack me here and you will not walk out with your life. I would rather not hurt you. As for your brother and father… I’m sorry. I’ve done horrible things in my past and I’m sure I’ll do much more in the future. Now if we could calm down…"

James looked now at Magnus. "Magnus if you are peaceful and chip in you are more then welcome here"

Pact broke his concentration. Mentally, he couldn’t quite process what he had just heard. Had this… god just apologized? No, it couldn’t be. The man he had met in Russia had been an arrogant asshole and engaged in the wanton destruction that was synonymous with his station.

"I accept your apology," the young man said sullenly. The magical energies that had begun to coalesce around his hands withered away in wisps of faded blue ley aura.

Magnus used the opportunity to chime in. "Yes, well, we intend to be peaceful. We ARE humans… and we don’t expect any preferential treatment. We intend to abide by the same laws that all other citizens obey – be they man or alien or god. However, it’s not citizenship I’m after. We’re ALL after… the chance to go home. I don’t have any illusions. ‘HOME’ was pretty bleak when last we saw it – all of us at different times – but if there’s a chance we could return than each of us, to a man, would take it. At the very least, however, we need to know what happened. Why are we here? What happened to our loved ones and homes and families? We are lost, and we don’t know where else to turn for guidance. Each of us has skills to avail yourself of. If you have need you may call on any one of us into your service. Roll call for the roster."

The ragtag group stepped into line and looked straight ahead. Magnus stepped forward first and announced, "I am Magnus ver Magnus, I can call the powers of gravity and magnetism at my whim. I’m a veteran of the first Third Winter War, fighting on the side of the Finns."

The young man, stepped forward with a slight sheepish grin. "I am Pact. I am the Master of Minions. I can call otherworldly beings and command them – right now I have three in my permanent employ but I can call another four minors and three majors."

The young woman opposite him stepped forward and smiled. "I’m Stopwatch. I can do all kinds of nifty things that alter time." She seemed calm, self-possessed, and proud. She couldn’t have been older than 22.

The balding man stepped forward with the man who was leaning on him for support. "I’m Carbon. I really can’t do anything by myself. My talent relies on being near other people with talents… and using them. This here is my friend, Sting. Used to be in a band but he don’t like to talk about it. He don’t talk much about anything… but he’s good in a fight. Can scrap with the best of ‘em. Got a whole mess o’ critters livin’ right insight o’ him."

Magnus bowed and thanked James for his kindness and for remembering their plight.


Respite, finally. Their trek had been long. The little one had taken it particularly rough. Compared to the Citadel of the Lord of Hell Rifts Earth was the Garden. Little Treasure. Born of love between her and her oldest friend… her closest companion. Trent Logan – the only person in this world who had loved her unconditionally… or as close to it as could be. The silence was pensive… thought-provoking but so out-of-place. Normally, she’d have paced, agitated, scanning the room for threats, stalking about the confines of this prison like a caged predator.Jescha was a tigress. She had been trained in arcane lethality with an assassin’s mastery of magic. She had called comets in a storm and meteors from the sky to smite her enemies. She had fought alongside J.F.C. with Trent, and banished a giant tentacle-beast monster and traveled… impossibly… back in time, and fought off humanity’s alien and d-bee would-be oppressors. She distinguished only friend from foe. And now she was a mother. Fuck. Her breast ached. She wasn’t cut out for this. It was bad enough when she had to worry about Treasure’s father. It was difficult enough when she had to look out for J.F.C. rather than only herself… her mission… and her loyalty to the Vanguard and Mankind. Motherhood was something alien. It was as different from her as she was from a filthy Dabbuk – as opposite her as a Grackletooth. She owed her life to a man – the father of her child – and he was more than a sympathizer to these… encroachers. They came to OUR planet, took OUR jobs, work for OUR food, and expect to be treated with equality.

Jescha reeled… from far away. Those were the thoughts most pervasive… and they were the ideologies of another woman… a younger, brasher, more hot-headed woman. Those patriotic philosophies were drifting further from her with each passing day. Treasure was not a normal baby human boy. Instinct told her to defend him. He was of her body… her blood. Instinct told her to hide him and protect him. They would not understand. Her superiors, the Human Patriots, the Vanguard, the Coalition States – they would not understand. There would be no place in this world for her son. There would be no place in HER world for Trent’s son. Not unless she left her world far behind. Could she do that? Abandon everything she knew… everything she held dear… everything that defied Trent’s philosophy. She and he had never seen eye-to-eye but they had set aside their differences to travel together, in the company of J.F.C., for the good of the Megaverse. Their paths had aligned and their purposes had coincided… for not the first time in their lives… and it had felt good. It had felt REALLY good. It had felt like home, fighting by his side – more like watching his back and making sure he didn’t get into too much trouble.

She smiled. Watching the baby’s tiny chest rising and falling with each breath was mesmerizing. She remembered back to that time Trent had…

"He’s beautiful."

Jescha whipped her head around, the words of a spell already spilling out of her lips. She had been taken unawares – lack of sleep and breastfeeding at all odd hours had made her very loopy. No more than a second later a shimmering shield materialized around the tiny sleeping body. She had to crane her neck upwards momentarily while the gigantic form of a 40ft woman shrank to more manageable size. It seemed corporeal. And not. Her hackles were raised. Jescha knew this being, though her initial reaction was warranted, as the Ancient Rune Artifact, Dominator-female.

"Veritas," Jescha scowled and prepared to hurl herself at the woman. She found her hand unconsciously reaching for the dagger she kept in her bodice and a gout of flame was only a moment from her lips.

"I did not mean to alarm you, child. Please forgive the intrusion." The giant being – now human-sized – spoke softly and she carried a very large staff made entirely of dark red wood. It knew instantly that it wasn’t welcome and smiled sorrowfully and began to back out of the room slowly. This… alien-thing… wait, it had spoken.

"I thought you couldn’t speak," she whispered so as to not wake Roderick.

The Dominator giantess stopped her retreat and bowed humbly. "I have taken a vow of silence, yes, and I have not broken it." Jescha vaguely registered that she had been communicating telepathically. Wait…what? Her head was so foggy. She needed SLEEP! She dared not sleep around these strangers. Where was Kagome? Or was it Raiko who was supposed to be watching her? Hmm… one of them was watching J.F.C.‘s vault of stuff. One was keeping tabs on the God… she couldn’t help but giggle.

"It is a silly name, isn’t it?"

"Please don’t read my thoughts," Jescha said aloud perhaps a little nastier than she meant it.

"Forgive me. I had only approached thinking you might want… or need some company."

"I’m fine. I would rather be alone." The unspoken thoughts came unbidden to her mind. She desperately wanted company! But she’d rather drown in a fucking bathtub than entertain some giant magical mind-reading sentient staff thing… as her "company."

The Bar-aldack Kelder-gest female retreated without another word. She smiled full of sorrow, knowing well what it was like to be a new mother. She looked back at the baby in the makeshift crib and smiled warmly before retreating out of the room. Jescha watched her go and finally breathed deeply, agitatedly. She felt a slight pang for how rudely she had responded to the… alien. She sat back down on the bed next to baby Treasure. She was just so tired. She held her head in her hands and began to cry. Trent would want her to be strong. Trent would want her to be a part of this… movement. He would want this for his son. And if there was any way… any way at all that she could be a part of the effort to rescue him, then she had to do it. These people meant well. They had gathered here… for some reason. And they were furthering Trent’s cause… while trying to spring him from an infernal prison. The thoughts were coming quicker now. They were too disjointed. She wasn’t thinking clearly. She had been rude… to an alien. What. the. fuck. Everrrrrrrr…

Sleep came quickly.


"I think this is my best one yet, Lytsong ," Trent announced with finality.

"It does look nice ma-, er, Trent," the sword responded in his head while the image of the sword’s spirit, a Dwarven Woman in armor, stood next to him in his mind’s eye. "Though I must confess, the arcane arts are not my specialty."

Trent stood back and admired his handiwork. He had spent the last few hours laying out the symbols in an ornate, intricate way. He had never gotten so artistic in his magic before, but he felt the desire to experiment here. He was confident all the required elements were there in the circle, just now they were ornately decorated and greatly expanded in scope. He felt this one in particular deserved some artistic flair.

His cottage and a large swath of land around it were all encompassed in the magic circle he had drawn. Looking from the patterns and symbols in the circle to the woods beyond his small dwelling, Trent caught sight of some movement beyond the trees and scowled. He had tolerated the first few voyeurs he had noticed – after all, Sahtalus had told him he would be watched. But as the days wore on it seemed his not-so-secret audience grew in size, and it made him uncomfortable. "Don’t these creatures have a war to be fighting, or something?" Trent wondered for not the first time.

But no matter. If they wanted something to look at, he would give them something to stare at – if they dared.

Trent walked to the edge of the circle he had just completed. He knelt down once he reached the edge and reached a hand out to touch it. Closing his eyes to concentrate allowed him to better hear the rustling sounds that came from the forest on this windless day. He could also hear the Deevil watchers milling about, whispering to each other in uncertain tones over what this unusual circle was. With an effort of will he channeled some of the clean, pure energy within himself into the circle. The symbols within lit up in a cascading effect reaching out from the spot he touched along the circle in both directions. The symbols almost seemed to pop up out of the circle in 3D as they lit up, creating an impressively dazzling display.

Looking into the forest as the circle activated Trent could see figures suddenly moving with little stealth or subterfuge. They shielded their eyes from the circle in sudden horror, or just turned and ran away. Trent chuckled – it was exactly what he expected. The superior circle of protection would be impossible for the lesser of these creatures to even look at. And judging by the reactions it seemed most of these spectators were of the ‘lesser’ variety.

"Won’t Sahtalus be upset that you did this to his watchers?" Lytsong carefully asked. When it came to talking about Sahtalus Lytsong was always carefully guarded. She was still having some trouble recalling and talking about the events that happened during the initial days they were held captive in Sahtalus’ stronghold.

"I doubt it," Trent responded casually. "None of these pests were subtle or competent. They aren’t his spies. One of them is that bird in the tree about 50 feet over there, and I haven’t seen the other one in a couple of days but I’m sure it’ll be back eventually." Trent nonchalantly looked over at the bird he referred to and it just cocked its head quizzically at him, as if it hadn’t been the same bird on the same branch for the last week, always watching him. Trent winked at it and turned his attention back to Lytsong.

"Now that the idle spectators are out of the way, let’s get back to our experiment," Trent announced. "I have a good feeling about today." He walked towards the center of the clearing where the sword, Lytsong, sat propped against a tree stump. The protection circle glowed silently and comfortingly all around him.


A silver wall appeared in between Sakura and Kiku as the dragon dove down towards her. Kiku was surprised but, armored as she was, burst right through it. Sakura was blown back by the exploding wall as Kiku’s mass and momentum shattered it. Kiku began to ascend again but Sakura recovered fast! She sprang back up and ran after the dragon, leaping into the air in order to land on the dragon’s tail. Where, thankfully, there were knife handles embedded to allow her to grab and hold on.

Kiku thrashed her tail wildly to try and shake Sakura, but the woman’s grip was solid. So instead Kiku used her own powers to grow silver around Sakura’s hands, forcing her to stay attached. Then Kiku angled her flightpath in order to graze the tops of the ruined buildings from Old Seattle around the J.F.C. building. Carefully she dipped her tail down in order to drag Sakura through the buildings.

Sakura braced herself as best she could as her forced passage through them demolished the buildings. The whole time she worked to free her hands, using the collisions as a means to weaken the encasement. Kiku laughed. "Don’t fall off now!" She shouted at Sakura.

One by one the buildings around the JFC building began to shudder and collapse as the dragon and her passenger overstressed the already weakened and compromised structures. The noise was deafening and the ground shuddered as the concrete and steel finally gave way to gravity and time.

Angrily Sakura ripped free of the silver bonds that trapped her. "What if there were people in those buildings?!" She shouted at Kiku. "Goddammit, this isn’t fun anymore!"

"There wasn’t anyone in them, I would’ve sensed them," Kiku replied honestly. "You should be more concerned about yourself!" With that Kiku whipped her tail and sent the distracted Sakura flying towards the JFC building, right through the window of James’ new room.


James had dismissed the visitors and gone back to the work on his desk. "Paper work paper work and more paper work," he thought to himself. Other then the brief visit by magnus and his crew, that was how his day was going.

"What the… why do they need a toilet on a roof!" James sighed. These petitions where supposed to be screened before they got to him.

"Remind me again why i wanted to become king?" James said to no one in particular.

It was at that moment that a purple haired girl came crashing through his window and into his desk.

"I would say I’m surprised but im not… Hello Sakura… Care to explain why my desk is now wrecked and there appears to be a silver dragon about to come into my office?"


The metamorphosis took only a few seconds but Kiku swooped downward in an attempt to land… far less gracefully than her passenger. Her landing was going to be very dangerous! She buffeted her massive metallic wings in an attempt to slow her descent but it didn’t do much. As a massive, ancient dragon her weight was measured in TONS of muscle and sinew and furious anger. Now cover that thing in metal and ask it to stop on a dime; it wasn’t happening. She was coming in hot and had to transform BEFORE she destroyed half the JFC building in the process. The gigantic draconic form begun to melt away but not before the silver scales and plates peeled back, a few silver daggers falling away from the tail, to reveal a young Asian woman beneath the frightening exterior. She was mid-metamorphosis when she crashed through what was left of the window, behind Sakura, and took the rest of the window frame and wall with it. She hit the floor of James’s office with a THUD and rolled with the impact – now mostly human – trying to bounce back up but not quite catching her balance. Wobbily she stood and steadied herself grinning fiercely at the purple-haired woman.

"That was fun!" she giggled… but cut herself off mid-sentence and cocked her head.

Sakura arched an eyebrow.

"Jat, I knew you couldn’t resist," Kiku said to a blond woman coming into the room. "You’re a sucker for a good brawl."

Sakura recognized the blond woman as one of the many recent arrivals to the J.F.C. building. She hadn’t been very social since her arrival but then Sakura hadn’t gone out of her way to make the introductions either. Sakura gave a quick, apologetic glance to James and warily backed up toward a corner in order to keep both Kiku and Jatarri in her sight.

Sakura’s brain was processing the situation so quickly that it almost seemed like slow-motion. Kiku crouched in an almost awkward stance, ready to continue the battle. To Sakura’s trained eye she looked like her fighting form and martial arts style were better suited to… um, having a few thousand pounds weight advantage over her opponent. Which Sakura knew could happen at a moment’s notice. Meanwhile the blond woman, Jatarri, upon closer inspection seemed like the far more dangerous combatant. She was leisurely readied in a stance that was unfamiliar to Sakura, but it had notes of an Eastern marial-art form meditative in posture but with very quick striking opportunities. Were they gearing up to continue the fight? The blond woman winked at her as if to say, "Oh, it’s on."

"We’re dragons. You didn’t think we would fight fairly, did you?" Kiku teased.

So, two versus one was it? Sakura readied herself, unworried. She knew she could even the odds at a moments notice, if she needed to.


"ENOUGH!!!!" James shouted at the three of them. "If you all keep up this childish behavior I will have you arrested and thrown in jail! This is my office, not a sparring ring! And as much as I would gladly fight you all I have work to do! Sakura and Jat please leave. I need to have words with Kiku."


"Ma- Trent. Within this circle I feel somewhat safe from intrusion. I’m impressed you were able to erect such a barrier here… within the belly of the beast."

"The ‘belly of the beast’ – I like that expression, Lytsong. Even here, levels above the citadel, it does still feel like we’re still inside Grim, doesn’t it?"

"That monster is everywhere. It’s a constant pressure on my mind… a weight on my shoulders, even when we don’t have his attention. What you have done is incredible."

"I know," Trent said without a hint of humility. "I’m rather impressed – it came out much nicer than I expected. Creating something like this, experimenting with my magic like this… At least if I’m stuck here for a year I’m going to make as much productive use of this time as possible."

"Walk with me for a moment."

Trent knew what that meant but it was weird how she said it. He looked out at the Dark Forest. This cottage in the woods had been their home for a few months already. Lytsong had been his only companion. He trusted her implicitly, perhaps as much or more than anyone else he knew. He hadn’t gotten this far by ignoring his intuition and… possibly also his paranoia. He took a calming breath and smiled at the Dyvalian denizens who had stuck around, hiding behind trees or rocks and peeking out occasionally. They couldn’t stand the sight of his Circle but they could tolerate it for a few moments, no more than that. It took a few moments of concentration for the spells to come to mind but they were cast with practiced ease and it was rewarding to look on Lytsong, all four and a half feet of her.

"We are as safe now as we probably can ever be in this Hell. You haven’t been the same since we got that letter. What do you want to say to me?"

Lytsong was beautiful. She wasn’t quite Trent’s type but that never seemed to matter. She had appealed to him on a different level – one of confidence and friendship and trust. One of companionship and camaraderie – not mutual attraction. She had gravitated, naturally, toward the fashion of her ancient time and age when she had actual clothing to don for a physical body. Her appearance was usually one of casual formality. She was regal in her mannerisms and her upbringing. She could make a frock look formal. She enjoyed the robes of station and usually took to wearing reds with gold – inlaid or with highlights. Now, however, she wore a suit of armor. She was dressed for battle. Her face was a guarded mask of tension. She actually held a weapon, a spear, and a shield. She looked like a short, ancient Amazon Shield-Maiden… or a tiny Valkyrie. There were splashes of red and gold to accent her armor but completely gone was all semblance of casual formality. Lytsong was going to war.

"I do not pretend to understand the nuances of the arcane. If you say we are as safe here as we can be then that will suffice."

Trent let her continue and tried not to show his impatience. He knew rushing her would do no good, and may even get her to shut down again. Whatever this was she had to say, Trent could tell it was important to her and she was very worried about talking about it. Still, it wasn’t like her to meander around something like this.

"There was something more to that letter than it first appeared. And the next two things I say to you will have dire repercussions. You need to hear them and you need to hear them now."

"Lytsong the suspense is killing me," Trent finally said to her.

"You’re a master of all things temporal. Suspense should be the LAST thing that kills you… Master."

"Time Immemorial! C’mon Lytsong!"

"First, what I could not say to you before about what happened to me while you were… out-of-time: Sahtalus attempted to rip my soul and consciousness out of this sword. He wanted to use me to spy on you but I am firmly implanted in this blade; they were unsuccessful. At Grim’s suggestion they tried to implant a second soul within the weapon so that you might be fooled; but I fended them off. As their time ran short Grim took my blade INTO himself and… tainted me with his essence. He is like a foul, mutating disease that feeds and grows and can lay dormant or expand rapidly. His is a chaotic, vile… presence… or magic… or…"

"Wait, Grim’s essence is in the sword?" All this time since they were there, the true threat lie within one he thought was his greatest ally. Of course, how very Dyvelian. This was almost too much for Trent to process… almost. But he was already thinking of how to deal with it. How to Purge it.

"There is a dormant taint on the sword. I have suppressed it but I do not know what power it gives him over me or the blade or even the ability to see and hear what we are now saying."

"Why did you keep this from me? Why tell me now?"

"I was worried that by telling you or acting differently or doing anything to tip Grim off would draw his attention or to force their hand prematurely. I don’t know what they plan to do but I feel Grim Mortis all the time. Every time a citadel or tower is cast through time and through the dimensions he extends himself and expands – only to contract, later – and consolidate. He is some kind of magical… mutation. Like a cancer. It scares me."

"There’s more to this…" Trent was very perceptive and he had known Lytsong for quite some time now. The pieces of the puzzle were slowly arranging themselves and fitting into place but not quickly enough. Maybe a purge wasn’t what was needed – if this let her feel Grim’s actions, then maybe it would be useful to keep the suppressed essence?

"That cryptic letter – there was something else in it. A plan… instructions. And allies. You don’t have much longer before the Minion War reaches critical mass and Sahtalus makes his move. Regardless of who’s calling the shots – Sahtalus or Grim – Sahtalus’s plan was a very good one. Grim will probably follow through with it. He wants Modeus badly – and that book. It’s more valuable than we may have realized… and we already thought it was basically the most valuable book in existence. Personally, and this is just conjecture, I think it will provide some insights into Grim and the Tome of Dark Genesis – and the fact that Grim wants it so badly is now something that he can’t hide. Sahtalus, is a Master Schemer – perhaps he has already planned for this. The Eye of Sahtalus sees everything, right? If he didn’t seem so off his game I might think that was true."

"Lytsong, slow down." He hadn’t seen here like this before… maybe a little bit when she had first returned from the interrogation with Sahtalus. Was something wrong? Was this Grim’s influence? Suddenly he reconsidered the Purge.

"I’m sorry. I think we are in grave danger. No. I think YOU are in grave danger. You are being used like a pawn to get the Omega Book; we already knew that. We knew that your year of prison – captured here in Hell – would culminate in that final mission – in return for the promise that your wife and progeny will live out their lives unmolested. I have my suspicions about Grim’s intentions and I think he will attempt to subvert or intervene in Sahtalus’s plan when he thinks he no longer needs the Lord of Dyval."

Trent recalled that conversation with Sahtalus, and their deal. Lytsong was greatly summarizing it – his year in Dyval was protecting a lot more people than just Jescha and their child. All his allies, and even some of his enemies, would be freed from involvement in Dyval plots. "Lytsong, you haven’t really told me anything I don’t already know. Take some time to collect your thoughts. I’m not going anywhere." That letter had seemed a little strange – a little convenient – and it had given him something that he hadn’t quite felt in a long time. Hope. There were people out there who cared about him – people who cared about his mission and his beliefs and exposing Chaos for what it was. He had deciphered some of it but it mostly seemed far-fetched and distracting, like a ploy from an enemy to keep him off-balance. He didn’t like where Lytsong was going with all this and he wished she’d just spit it out already. But he held his tongue because he respected her and knew this was very difficult for her.

Lytsong spoke back up again. "If we are being watched or eavesdropped – this is the part that matters most. Can you do anything more than this circle?"

Trent smiled. "I have a few ideas we can explore, but some of the best ideas I can think of will require more rsearch. Maybe it’s time we took advantage of the hospitality offered to us and traveled to that library I’ve heard of?" Trent grabbed the sword and sheathed it onto his back. He went inside to begin to put together what he would need to travel. What was it his brother used to like to say? "Now is the time for action." It was, Trent agreed. Playtime, vacation time was over. He had some work to do.


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Lazlo finle.
black and white

ya see things in black and white, you see things as good and evil. for you there is no middle ground, for you there is no grey. and yet i wonder…what if i had thought different? what if i had just talked to them? what if…thats always the key isnt it? hind sight is 20/20 and all that bullshit. heh…look at me gettin all philosophical. but as i write this now i relize this was it..the turning point in the whole story of my life. its the first time he came out. first time i fought on my own that wasnt in an arena. first time i looked at my fate and said “fuck this shit!”

so where was i? oh yeah i had just jumped off the balcony in front of bout 20 teenagers and Dominicus Loricatus. i landed bout 30 feet from them all. dom was up on the stage and i was in what would have been the orchestra pit. all i remember is having this grin on my face. i was excited and scared all at the same time. last time we had faced each other there was a lot goin on. plus i had the rest of JFC backing me. but he pushed me to my absolute limits. i didnt have apple then either(well i had her but not her powers), i almost died.

they say that 2 warriors who are an upper class league can just stare at each other and see their movements. basically fighting their battles in their heads. it felt like hours we just stood there waiting for each other. just staring. swords raised in guards..the kids where least smart and cleared to the sides. i got bored first. i dont think he was expecting me to move so fast. but then a lot changed since last we met. im more powerful. im faster, stronger, tougher. i swung my sword and he barely managed to block it but wasnt ready for the kick i delivered in response. he staggered backl some and then let loose of his own.

we tore back and forth through the whole building. neither of us gaining the upper hand. sword strikes, kicks, punches..everything. even with his magic punches i was able to keep up. it seemed like hours this back and forth, but i knew it was only minutes. funny thing..neither of us used magic of psionics. i think we both wanted to just fight. who knows. he kept taunting me. calling me a foollish boy. about his great work for his master. how chaos would reign. heh..we are choas…chaos is strong. well im stronger! least i wish i was…cuz..this was the end..


“enough!” Dominicus yelled. .

“i will admit. you have fault well. i havent had this much fun in centuries. but i must kill you now. it shall be an honor for you! only 2 others have seen what this sword of mine can really do. but fear not young godling…i will make it quick.”

Dominicus dropped his sword..and a field of black surrounded him and james. inside the black was a copy of his sword..hundreds if not thousands. james stared in amazement and horror. he knew even with how good he was he couldnt fight all of these off at once.

“dont worry..they wont all attack you at once. this is where i abandon all defense and just attack. there is now running away. no fleeing. this is your end boy.”
holding out his hand a sword appeared in it again the fight continued. james felt the pressure. he had no where to run, and worse he was slowing down. or was Dominicus getting faster. he didnt know. but it was enough for Dominicus to get in enough hits. it was at that moment that the unthinkable happened…james froze. he couldnt move. and stood sword ready but unmoving.

“i see it in your eyes. you think ive gotten faster but thats is wrong. you have been getting slower. i feel no joy in this..but it must be done”

Dominicus raised his sword for the finale blow. james screamed at himself in his mind “move..move damnit! why have i com e so far? if i dont win nothing will change..i want to win..i want to…WIN!”

TCH.” with that james had shot up and grabbed the sword descending on in a firm grip. “i told you there would be trouble if you died, you idiot”

Dominicus took a step back with an expression of surprise on his face “impossible..what..are you!?”

“what am i? HA..i dont..GOT A NAME!” with that james head came up revealing a white substance half covering his face. james slashed up with his sword and then across catching Dominicus off gaurd and forcing him back with 2 large wounds in his chest.

“you really suck at this james! you got beat by your own godly power. now every bone in your body is creaking. well fine ill show you the right way to use this power!” a black energy started to gather around james blade and then fired out at Dominicus. jumping and moving around he fired off three move of these bolts before finally grabbing the larger man by the shoulder and hitting him point blank. the energy released was enough to blow the roof off the theater and let half the cioty know it!

Dominicus stood panting..blood now flowing freely…weak. james now with half his face covered in white stood and just laughed.

“that mask..this twisted aura..are you..a demon?’

“who knows? theres no need to know. with this your going ot…”

DISAPPEAR!
James left hand reached up and grabbed the edge of the mask and started to pull. james started to flail around and scream

“you idiot if you leave me like this we can win!”

dont interfere! leave!

“your the one interfering! dont you see…stop! idiot! idiot!”

the mask finally ripped off and broke. james was back to normal though seemed a bit more winded. Dominicus stood there and was shocked. he had taken too much damage and knew he couldnt win this fight..a strategic retreat was far better then another 100 years…he sighed and looked at james “you win this round. i dont know what happened..but i feel the twisted presnece still inside you..” with that he winked out.

james stood there and couldnt help but feel the other half of him now..more alive..more awake..and itching to get out again…


it was caught on video…all of it. one of the kids was recording it. my wounds started to heal right away but..still..the unease wouldnt leave me. this was what i had become. this was my insanity. i was almost like a reflection of myself only darker. it was my animal instincts come to life. my primal urge to win at all costs. i could analyze this shit later. we literaly blew the roof off and i was betting a lot of people where coming to check it out. i was in no shape for another fight so i did the logical thing..i ran.

i didnt run to jeshas…that would be dumb and fatal. i didnt know where i was going. i was just going. i tried my best to hide my face but the blood was still on my clothes. people rushed past me heading to the sight..i knew some where deevil and demon agents. i just kept moving. then i heard the explosion..when i turned around i saw a huge fireball rising in the sky. my god..they blew up a block of the city! i dont know why! but if this is what this place is like now..i cant imagine it in 3 months..hell 3 weeks! i knew we had blown up calgery but lets face it..this was different. we did that to stop an army..this ..this was just destruction.

i had to keep moving..if i stopepd to think about it all i would go mad. i also happened to walk past a Vid screen…and what do i see? 2 girls fighting…worse i knew them…

“damnit..i knew this was gonna happen…”

no time to think about this..ill scold them both later. right now i had to get off the streets i had to get jesha and get out of here. but i saw people in the streets, scared shivering..i couldnt leave them here. so once again i resolved to do something dumb! first jesha. i got back to her apt around 6am. got her and the kid and went straight for the magic guild. i left jessha briefly to find someone..really i didnt care who i just needed a techno wizard. i finally found one who charged me a hefty price but hey what ya gonna do? i paid the man and put my plan into motion. the guys name was rusty. so rusty and i head back into the city. we find an old vid station and he works his magic..next my face is plastered on every vid screen in lazlo.

“people of lazlo..my name is james and i am your last resort. the minion war has spread into the open. your city has become a cesspool of violence and im here to save you. im here to take you from this. i will lead you to the last beacon of light in this world! i will lead you to salvation! follow me and find faith! follow me and be saved! follow me and join the resistance against this horror that threatening our world! the first step in this path is the magic guild. my agents will find you there. and from there they will help you. i must urge you all to leave this city. head west..you will be found. that is all.”

well one more dumb thing done. mental note: get some agents out to all the magic guilds and help people get to new sea. when i got back to the magic guild..there was a lot of people. all wanted to go with me. i paid the guild on barter…a favor owed..god know what that will be one day. sow e all left..and i left a parting gift to hell that is now lazlo. rusty helped me out while we walked the city. right before we transported i blew up the main deevil and demon headquarters. there is no more good and evil, there is no black and white, there is no right or wrong..there is only winning…

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lazlo part 2
return to insanity

ever have one of those moments when ya try and do something dramatic to make it seem awesome? this was oine of those moments. it was perfect. jescha looking at me, me standing a top a pile opf bodies, rain stained red with blood, her turning to leave and me reaching out for her..then slipping on said blood and falling flat on my face! moment past. so i stand up and run out the ally..lil more careful this time i might add. course its ngiht but man i love ngihtvision. was easily able to see her runnign down the street. course no one else was on the street.

“hey! stop! wait!” i yelled. she kind of ignored me. not that i blame her. i was finally able to catch up to her and grab her arm…and this time i was ready for the throw!

she round house kicked me instead. fuck my life i swear to god(me) i cant catch a break.

“listen lady im not gonna hurt ya! will ya calm down and please not kick me throw me or otherwise hurt me! i just wanna talk!”

she looked at me like i was crazy. also couple other emotions flashed through her eyes before she spoke "and why the hell would i ever listen to you? " she tried to punch me but i grabbed her hand…and i squeezed a bit..not enough to break it but enough to make her know it hurts. yeah she might be a bad ass mage but even mages need focus. and while theres a sharp pain running through ya arm ya tend to not be able to cast.

“because i came to this god forsaken place to find you..and your kid!” HA! that got her attention her eyes went wide. she seemed about to say something then did something i never thought possible..she started to cry. it was like she was holding it all in and chose now to let it out. so lets refresh: raining, im covered in blood, middle of a hostile city and one of the strongest women i know decides now is the best time to get in touch with her inner feelings! i asked her if she has a place near by and she confirms she does. she also explained that she had followed the CS to me. she was shocked to find them here and was wondering why. she kept questioning why they attacked me. i felt it best not to tell her that her beloved and the rest of us broke into the black vault. i wasnt sure if she was still part of the vangaurd or not and ive come to learn to reveal as little as possible. see! im learning! i also lied..told her i didnt know. she seemed to believe me…who knows.

we finally made it back to a little apartment building. nothing fancy. first thing she does is rush in to the crying kid. leaving me standing at the door with the i guess babysitter…he looked familiar but i couldnt place him..maybe without the glasses…bah who cares hes unimportant. jescha came back out a few seconds later with the boy. im not one for kids but i could tell right away that this was jeschas and trents boy. she called him treasure. interesting name.

i told her why i had come which was part true. i came to find anyone who knew trent to bring them to new sea. as i started explaining this to her she kept shaking her head. she couldnt leave because she was on a mission! what the hell! heres a lady who got caught by deevil, got my friend trapped and shes on a mission for the vangaurd? fine ill play ball. we struck a deal i would finish her mission and she would come with me. simple? all i gotta do is check in on this crazy cult that springing up in the burbs and is apparently rooted here in lazlo. okay again simple. after all im a god. im worshiped i think. she told me all i have to do is find the leader. simple!

i took a night(well day) to rest. i was healed but still need sleep. i had another dream…this one more vivid then the others. i looked upon my face,,,but pure white. like snow. it smiled and spoke the most terrifying words. "can you hear me king? im waiting for you, just dont die before i come..otherwise its going to be a problem.:

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i woke up in a cold sweat and breathing heavy., this was the first time its ever been that vivid. is this part of my insanity? will it get worse? i didnt have the answers.

her trails had lead her to an abandon theater. i snuck in and took a nice seat in the balcony while the gathering started. looked like moslty young kids, couple adults. the youth of the nation at its finest. they where just milling about and then..then i heard something that made my blood run cold..

“my children! we have gathered once again to prey for our souls! we who worship the one true god! we who seek the righteous path! let us speak of the evils! let us show these people the right path! let us spread out among them and show them the right path! the path to glory” a man larger then most stepped out of the wings of the stage. he was dressed in simple robes.

poison..he was poisoning their minds! i felt my blood boil..i felt my heart race..i felt..relaxed. i knew what i had to do. those are gonna be etched on my grave..“here lies james: hes a moron”

i stepped from the shadows above them and let my voice flow

“the right path? glory? ha! ya fiollow this guy ya find neither. you only find poison! you only find death!”

the robed man looked up and saw me “you..i know you…you…you are gonna die” Dominicus Loricatus stared up at me and drew a sword..interesting since last i saw him he had hand wraps..most be moving up in the world

i smiled a wolfish grin, drew my new sword and pointed it at him.

“last time we fought ya almost killed me…but almost only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades. im different now. so come on…lets have some fun!” with that i jumped down! like i said..simple..

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lazlo part1
hell found

i made 3 big mistakes coming to lazlo. first i came alone. second i didnt hide who i was and third i came without tes…

even the outskirts of lazlo wasnt the same. i was attacked 3 times by 3 different bandit gangs. 2 i delt with accordingly after they had no wish to be good ever again. a pity..they where decent fighters but alas..only human. the third group that attacked me was…pitiful. it was just a band of refugees. aftere they figured out that i was much stronger then them they lost heart. the leader actully broke down and cried. i felt terrible. i asked them what would make them turn to this life and the answer shocked me! what followed was a tale of horror and stuff of nightmares! Apparently not long after we(JFC) left the city it went to hell..literally. the Minion war raged in the open. no one was safe. those who could fled. others stayed and try fight. more where forced out. i told the man that i could not help him much. again i felt terrible i couldnt do more. i was reminded of my failures to those refugees in tolkeen, of all my failures in the past 2 years. they say time heals all wounds..but some times the wounds just wont close.

i knew i shouldnt go into the city but i made a promise to myself. i would not rest until his friends where as safe as me…not that im ever really safe. i was walking in blind, no safe houses, no contacts nothing but myself and a sword i wasnt familiar with. i longed to once again hold apple. to feel her in my hands, to smell the steel. hopefully my “wife” is taking care of her…

back to the city…it was as the refuges described: bleak. hell thats an understatement. it was a like a constant state of twilight here. people wondering around in a kind of daze, no one even looking me in the eye. i knew at once i needed to get off the streets. so i made a mistake..suprise! i headed to erin tarns place…and found it destroyed! i had hoped she wasnt in there when it was. its at that point i realized i was also being followed. so i lead them away from the area. it started to rain when i reached the ally. i just stood there and waited…thats when they struck. 5 of them in all. and they all wore black. with white skulls.

now im no fool…but i got to thinking as they attacked me. couple months back..well months for us…years for them, we of jfc did something either really dumb or really brilliant..or both. either way when people ask if its true the answer is yes. the black vault IS real..and we broke into it. better..we got out alive with a lot of loot. we did hit one snag…i might have revealed my self and then flipped off the camera. even worse..i then plastered my face all over the world. looks like the CS wanted my head. pity they decided to only send 5 guys. ill give them this..they fought well. i was almost at my limits but in the end i stained the world red with thier blood…and i wish i hadnt…becuase in the end when all was said and done i saw someone in the mouth of the ally…the rain red with the blood…stood someone i knew..and i wish i could have been happier to see…but after everything..all i wanted to do was cry tears fo crimson…it was trent’s woman…Jescha. this is where things go from bad to just fucking worse…

blood_rain.jpg

[end hell found]

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Welcome Back 4

Can we talk somewhere else besides outside. I mean we are kind of exposed and if im going to tell you my story I may as well as start from the beging.

when we get inside I remove the Daisho and la them across my lap. I don’t to be a threat but they do not leave my possession ever. I hand Sakura the note from this so called Hawk. Note Reads as Follows: Ms Asuna Kittiero I have a job opportunity or someone of your skills. I also have information about Kin of yours here in the Americas. If your interested please meet me at the JFC building in the ruins of Seattle ASAP. I would greatly Appreciate it if you didn’t tell anyone about this. Lets keep this our little secret for right now. -Hawk

I proceed to tell Sakura & Zander (when he is Dressed) about how I was sponsored for a samurai dojo at the age of 11, how I ended up in NEW SEA, how I’ve worked with the Demi-Council. Though I never mention my exact Race it looks like Zander know what I am. I do tell them that I am a Samurai 10th Generation of Open Claw Order. And Though a Job would be nice it looks as if you two know this HAWK guy and don’t Trust him. If you would like to explain it to me I would be willing to help. Oh one last thing (I produce a patch from a pocket from within the folds of my komono) Do either of you know what group/Faction this patch belongs to? Considering they attacked me and I had to kill them I would like to know who I am dealing with.

Oh and where is this third person I sense, because I don’t see them. (the entire time I have been talking I have created two pieces of sturdy wood and have been widdling thrm down for practice daisho set.)

“Anyone want to spare Hand to Hand or Weapons?”

Meanwhile back at my Apartment……

Jillan contacted Lillian and told her that the top floor was all sold and construction will be done in 4 hours. Though she couldn’t get into the Vault so it would have to stay where it was. Lillian to her to keep as my technology out of the apartment as she could. To add a large sparring area included with places to throw Shruikens and USe the Bow and Arrow. The Techno locks and only non-flying entrance would be across the walkway on the council buildings side. A guard would be posted there 24/7


(Ahhhh…)

The mental sigh of relief washed over Zander with the familiarity that only Nerv could muster. They had gotten close – bonded even – and this separation had been difficult for the Boiaw. A flood of warmth filled Zander’s mind and seeped downward into his chest and eventually permeated his entire body.

The conversation transpired internally:

“It is good to see you again, my friend. We were…I was worried about you. Caring for the pixie and the tortoise and the pipe and the blade and the throwing stars and the…well, you have collected quite the menagerie of companions and equipment. It wasn’t easy but I managed to keep them all corralled. I don’t know if they told you but…my brother was lost. The Barack ‘Elder Gest absconded with Tulwar at gunpoint. Alas, another brother is found. Pandemonium the All Season is in safekeeping and employ of your…our company. Would that we make a formal introduction when the time is appropriate. Oh! I’m absolutely moist with anticipation to hear about the Brood Mother. The Gene-Tech Exile was…well, her story is well-known throughout the History of the Phase.”

Pause.

“Forgive me. Take your time. You are just freshly returned. Safely. I will mind my tongue. I am at your service if you have need of me.”


“Okay Bucko! These slow-pokes are never gonna know what hit ‘em! I kinda wish we still had the axe but this ridiculously large sword will do. You’re not very skilled with it though. Why don’t you let me have a go. I can show you how to wield it properly.”

The voice had become more insistent. James could see that he and the girl and the baby had been scouted (counter-tracking roll 64%). He was confident that Jescha could protect herself…two years ago. But something was very different about her now. And she was acting strangely around the baby. Overprotective? Maybe that was it. The God of Last Resorts knew he didn’t want an all out open conflict with the woman and baby around. Maybe he shouldn’t have left their side. Her invisibility was as good a protection as any James could provide. Or was it?

“Yeah, the bitch is fucked. You failed. I’ll take it from here. Let me show you how to swing a Bastard Sword Battlefury Blade to great effect.”

Goddamn the voice was insistent. He could only ignore it for so long. Acknowledging the presence…the personality might be dangerous.

“Do you feel that? Awwww shit! Ooh Ah ah ah ah ….Uh uh….!!! Drowning deep in my sea of loathing. Broken your servant I kneel…WILL YOU GIVE IN TO ME?!?!”

Gods…he missed Appl…er, Tesephone.

(Rustle) What was that? This was probably a good place for an ambush (Detect Ambush 31%).


The road was hard…and wet. Traveling in this weather wasn’t easy. She was glad that Zeela had decided to stay with her. The being Aleph – in his Greek form – had gone ahead with Phobos not wanting to be bogged down with the “girls.” Although he didn’t seem to understand “sex” as two halves of a whole. The Aleph, in their brief encounter, had struck her as a being with its eye on the grand scheme of things. And now, after her awakening, she knew this to be true…in more ways than one.

Trading away that bastard sword for Wyndstrom would make Sturm very happy. That she hadn’t properly disposed of the Sowki’s body would probably make him upset. But, after all that had happened, she wasn’t beholden to him anymore. With her mind expanded and her memories freed she was…coping with a library of new information. It would take time to process. She had a good bead on the rest of the dragons. Her sister, Jatarri, would be joining her in New Sea. Karma and Kismet would have heard the call. They would converge on New Sea as well. It seemed like things were happening as they should. And yet…Kikku couldn’t help but feel a little trepidation. There was some kind of divine order to things. It almost felt staged or planned or predestined. Like she was just walking a pattern and fitting into someone’s design. Was this what it felt like to be a part of the Order? The exact opposite or antithesis of Chaos – was that what it was all about? Order and Chaos were always at odds. But that wasn’t what disturbed her. Two sides of the same coin had many faces. Good and evil – now those two were black and white. Inside her, she felt innately…intrinsically drawn to goodness. She was a servant of the greater good. Was that the Cosmic Forge? It might want her to think so. But she knew, long ago…millions and millions of years ago…she had been born to fight evil. She had been brought into existence to ensure that Evil failed. And that evil could twist both order AND chaos. Kikku didn’t EVER want to find herself on the wrong side of THAT fight.

“Hey, you’ve been awfully quiet.” Zeela smiled as she brushed away a stray creeper vine.

“Sorry, I haven’t been great company the last few days,” Kikku enjoyed Zeela’s company. The other woman was a dragon as well – a Chaing-Ku – and practically a newborn at almost 3 years old. But she was friendly and she practiced an ancient art form that Kikku found intriguing. She was pleasant to be around and always ready with a smile. She, too, believed in fighting the “good” fight. She had pledged herself to this cause…and, well, the interest in ADVENTURE (as she put it). Kikku had to admit, before getting her memories back, she found this whole business rather exciting too!

“Don’t worry about it. From what you told me I can completely understand. I just want you to know that there’s no worries on my end. If you ever need to talk I’m here for you.”

“Thanks, Zeela, I mean it. In my…um, line of work…calling…I really don’t have any friends. I have my family…and that’s it. So your friendship means a lot to me.”

“Anytime. Shh…wait. Do you hear that?”

“Hear what?”

“Is that a baby crying?”


Sakura warily brought Asuna into the JFC building so they could talk. She read Hawk’s note with confusion. “I don’t understand what his game is with this,” she told Asuna. “He’s certainly not here – I sent him off to lodge his complaints with James. Now he’s making threats against the citizens of this city unless I go meet with him tonight. Which I will do – I’ll set him straight.” Sakura ended that with certainty and conviction. “This is the note he used to communicate his threat to the city. Coward.” Sakura handed Asuna the scrap of cloth with the threat on it.

(OOC: FYI, Sakura is wrong about Hawk being the person who made the threat, but she will hilariously find that out at midnight.)

After listening to Asuna’s story Sakura relaxes a little bit. When asked about another presence in the building Sakura tells her “That’s my… sister, Kagame. She’s keeping an eye on some things for us.” Sakura tells Asuna briefly about how she’s a freedom fighter from another world from the past (she doesn’t say dimension because dimensions and multiverses is too much/weird for her to contemplate at this point) and how an experiment sent her here. Her attempts to get home introduced her to Trent Logan and through him and Zander she became a member of JFC. Until just a little while ago when Zander re-appeared, she feared she was the only member left around.

Sakura looks at the insignia when Asuna asks about that to see if she recognizes it. (OOC: Perception roll: 9. Lore: Juicer roll: 20 (success))

After that she says, “Well, now that Hawk’s been fired it seems like we do have an opening, maybe, if you’re interested in helping us out. We were trying to find some sort of ancient magical artifacts in order to try and save the world and, based on how things went in Antarctica, we certainly could use the help.” She turns to look at Zander. “How does this work Zander? Do I look in the Codex to see if she’s listed in there, like I was?”


Oh one last thing (I produce a patch from a pocket from within the folds of my komono) Do either of you know what group/Faction this patch belongs to? Considering they attacked me and I had to kill them I would like to know who I am dealing with. Sakura looks at the insignia when Asuna asks about that to see if she recognizes it. (OOC: Perception roll: 9. Lore: Juicer roll: 20 (success))

“Yeah, I recognize that,” Sakura tells Asuna and Zander. “That’s an insignia for a Juicer mercenary group called ‘Guns for Hire.’ Last I heard about them was a few months ago, when they were looking for a new leader. They were accomplished demon-slayers, and they had a reputation for being fearless and ruthless. They were based out of Kingsdale. There couldn’t have been more then 10 or so people in their group, but with Juicers that’s more than enough. They were also really big into that sport called ‘Murderball.’ A couple of them were even players. Not surprising considering their reputation. But in Kingsdale anyway they were something of a big deal. Where did they attack you? Here, in this city? That would be really odd – it would’ve taken them months to get this far from Kingsdale. Why would they be here, and why would they have targeted you…?”


“Other person? You mean Sebastian the flying turtle?”

“On sparing, it wouldn’t hurt to get to know how to use this better.” (He draws the katana). Asuna would recognize it as a very high quality blade, unique even. It has a shimmer as if it’s not entirely of this world, and leads you to believe you can’t actually see the entire blade.


She turns to look at Zander. “How does this work Zander? Do I look in the Codex to see if she’s listed in there, like I was?”

“Trent just about had that thing figured out before he left. I have a policy of not looking into the future. Why define something before it occurs? That just never made much sense to me. Welcome aboard the present train, Asuna, care for a smoke?” And with that Zander produces Sherlock the Rune Pipe and with a snap of his fingers, lights it and takes a big draw, and puts on his gas mask to exhale.

“Yeah, man, like totally…..I know, right! and I thought you were the crazy one……Yeah, it was a hell of a….” He speaks to no on in particular. “Oh!” and he holds out the pipe in offering to the others.


Alby had only been alive for a few days…

AND IT WAS AWESOME!?!?!?

Holy moly! This “living” thing was…uhhh, AMAZING!!!!

He wasn’t having what you might call a “normal” childhood…but then he didn’t really know any better. And he sure as shit wasn’t a “normal” child. He had sprung fully-formed from the head of his mother. In fact, his first experience with emotion was sadness, at the loss of his…progenitor. He had awareness but it wasn’t as fully-formed as his body. A part of his mother still lived on inside him. He could feel her presence. Benevolent, benign, loving.

His parents were kinda weird. And neither of them had feathers. He was always curious about his feathers. They were so…feathery and fluffy! And everything was new! He had fingers and toes and…man, those were such bright white feathers! And…was that a faint blue glow? He probably got that from his father’s side.

His dad had originally wanted him to stay at the house…hut…thing. But he didn’t want to. Flying was too fun! And when his dad went out Alby was entirely too tempted to follow. And the Panda encouraged him to be free. To take charge of his life. To run wild. To live life to the fullest!!!!!!!!!! Whatever that meant. Panda. What a silly little thing. He had never had a friend before but Panda said he was Alby’s friend. What IS a friend? Alby adjusted the heavy morning star on his back. His big avian body was large enough to accommodate carrying the weapon but he had absolutely no training whatsoever. In fact, he didn’t even know what a morning star was for. It just felt kinda big and unwieldy and really awkward. Maybe it was used for flying. Way up high! Or chopping down trees? Holding it had felt “right” but he wasn’t sure what “right” really was.


Spirits were high! The minion war raged on across North America and elsewhere in rifts earth. New Sea had begun to flourish and is defenses were ready. Under the leadership of King James and the guidance of people like Phobos and Schuyler Burden the small settlement was beginning to take shape. The tavern was packed! It hadn’t been this crowded since the God of Last Resorts had come down and fraternized with the workers. And those workers and artisans – mortal and divine alike – loved him for it. For him and his new bride, the Greek Goddess Clytemnestra, to mingle with the common folk was incredible and it really cemented in their minds the ideals he held when founding the city. New Sea was truly a place unlike any other. James, the GoLR, had a mission and a philosophy that rallied the remnants of the pantheons to his cause…to his fledgeling settlement. This was a city of equals! Where gods and men worked side-by-side! It was a place where everyone contributed and no preferential treatment was afforded to anyone. The idea of New Sea was incredible! The money was distributed in such a way that haves and have-nots did not exist. The system would not support free-loaders and the laws would not tolerate inequality. Representation was a freedom available to all – and the government existed of the people, for the people, and by the people. Schuyler Burden oversaw the building of the infrastructure and with Phobos’s help they had created a citizen-driven economy that was competitive, market-based, and fair. Any successful establishment needed people at every level – laborers, skilled craftsmen, artisans, engineers, diplomats, government, and even garbage men. Fair wage for a fair day’s work. The values and ideals espoused by King James himself. With mandatory civil service and the beginnings of training programs and education on the horizon. New Sea truly was a haven for the lost gods and citizens of the Minion War. It was a last refuge – untainted – unlike Lazlo – for a breeding place of Hope.

And tonight it was jam-packed with wine, women, and song! Musicians played their hearts out – like a roaring cantina teeming with mirth and merriment and dancing and fellowship. The proprietor sloshed tankards of ale and wine and bandied them about like a fully laden African swallow. It wasn’t quite the Thirsty Scholar or the Hungry Hungry Hippo – and it certainly didn’t have the panache of the Camel Tow or Boats ‘n Hoes…and it didn’t harbor that musky scent like Twats ’n Shots. But it was New Sea…and it was home.

Zanzibar had rallied to the king’s cause and supported him on the council. Tonight would be no different though the king was absent. Surprisingly, most of the heroes were too. JFC had just returned but James and Phobos hadn’t. The Aleph had introduced himself to the minds and hearts of…well, everyone, but he was decidedly quiet apart from the blinking notification in the collective mind that said, “Welcome! You’ve Got Mail!” There hadn’t been a formal invitation but the men were happy just knowing of their return. It did them good to know that people were out there trying to make the world a better place while they were here trying to make New Sea a better place. They needed something tangible to believe in. Something more than this new pantheon whose members labored right alongside them. They didn’t need gods. They needed heroes. And whether or not JFC knew it, they were it. And Zanzibar was fine with that. In the last two days there had been a startling influx of new denizens – far flung – far and wide and far afield. Hailing from all corners of the Megaverse. Private citizens, secretive, seeking asylum and refuge, and most notably claiming to have some ties to either James, JFC, the Monotheon, or even The Aleph. News of its arrival…or perhaps “merger” was a better word…had traveled quickly. Zanzibar had warily tested out his own connection to the city and to the entity. He enjoyed some enhanced rejuvenation, and some quickened magical replenishment, and…there was that inkling in the back of his mind that he hadn’t even scratched the surface of the enhancements the Aleph offered. Zanzibar was no scientist. He wasn’t a twiddly fingered scholar and he certainly wasn’t a research-mage. He was a Stone Master. A Magical Mason. And he had a job to do. These pyramids were the pinnacle of creation and they had been erected with a team of hundreds of talented magical artisans and craftsmen. They would be monuments to the Hope that New Sea would continue to offer long after he faded into anonymity. His chest swelled with a strong sense of pride. Zanzibar beamed as he surveyed the room and caught the looks of admiration and appreciation from his men, raising the odd glass in deference and tribute.

Ah, there was Occam and his mortar crew! They had made it at last. Oh! And there was Murphy, the channeling foreman and his techno-wizardry crew. Glad to see that they had arrived safely. The generators had only come online a few days ago and they had been working overtime to iron out all the kinks. Someone placed a beer in front of him with a splash. A handsome young lady. He smiled in thanks and tilted his head in a nod to the proprietor. His bulging jowls only shivered as he craned his neck toward the far corner…pointing out the purveyor of the thirst-slaking, throat-quenching brew. Who was that? A tall man, dark-skinned, looking burnt rather than tan but standing with the proud build of a man who has known toil and back-breaking manual labor. He wore a wide-brimmed straw hat – frayed at the edges from use – and crusty from long days in the sun. Beneath the brim Zanzibar made out the shadow of a dark complexion against stark white eyes – a bosun’s features. This man grinned at him with the whitest teeth he had ever seen! They practically lit his corner of the drawing room. Now there was an interesting character. The man’s dress was outlandish. Cover-alls, suspenders, cotton undershirt, and long-legged stockings…were they a corduroy or jean material? Zanzibar had only heard stories of the stuff. Fanciful yarns! This man was an anachronism! That was the joy of New Sea! The city attracted refugees from every walk of life. Zanzibar endeavored to make the man’s acquaintance.

“Howdy Sailor! To whom do I owe my gratitude for this fine drink?”

“Ah, reckon it’s me, chief.”

“My name is Zanzibar and I’m the chief Engineer and Artifex for the Great Pyramids that power, defend, and guard this fair…fledgling city.”

“Well met there Zanzibar, I’m Magnus ver Magnusson. The seventh son of a seventh son and the last in a long line of Magnussons. If’n ya cain’t tell…I ain’t from ’round these parts.”

“Well, my friend, you’re certainly dressed for cooler climes. How came you to these parts?”

“Bering Strait. At least that’s what they used to call it…few million years ago.”

“Is that so? Well it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance. I’d love to see this…Bering Strait some time! Who are your traveling companions?”

“These folks here?” Magnus sniffed with a stifled laugh. “Well, I think we’s all kindred spirits if’n ya know what ah mean.” He eyed a young man of no more than twenty and spat unceremoniously on the floor, “JimmyJay, go on introduce yo’self. C’mon, Sarah, go on! It ain’t gonna bite.”

“That’s not my name…” the boy growled fiercely; he had a spine.

“If you want to earn our respect then why don’t you start by using the names we’ve chosen for ourselves?” The girl had a spine and a brain.

“Remind me again what they is…” Magnus wasn’t impressed but he turned that smile on Zanzibar again and the older man couldn’t help but shrug.

“It’s good to make your acquaintance,” he said with an outstretched wizened hand, “I’m Zanzibar – the chief Engineer and Artifex of the Great Pyramids…and now seat of the council and Representative of Mortal Interests.” He said this last part sheepishly.

“It’s nice to meet you too, Zanzibar,” the blond girl couldn’t have been older than twenty herself but she carried an air of maturity that was absent in the boy. “I’m Sarah…but everyone calls me Stopwatch.” She took his hand and shook it as was customary.

“Everyone except your friend Magnus here,” Zanzibar smiled.

She smiled back and nudged the boy who also stood and introduced himself. “Nice to meet your Zanzibar, I’m Jimmy Jay Halpern but you can call me Pact.” The two shook hands and Pact uneasily took a seat. He seemed rather uncomfortable around Magnus and kept glancing at the older black man sidelong. Zanzibar wondered what had happened but this definitely was neither the time nor the place to inquire.

“Well I’ll leave you to it. I’ve got a lot of matters to see to for Queen Clytemnestra,” Zanzibar said excusing himself.

“Ah wait! Afore ya goes, Zaznibrah…er, yah. What kin ya tell me ’bout them two boys sitting over yonder?” Magnus pointed overtly in the direction of two men – one who was rather small-ish and thin. And the other was an average build man but stark ugly.

“I can’t say I’ve had the pleasure to make their acquaintances but, as I understand it, Carbon and Sting were rescued by JFC from the clutches of some horrible nightmare in Antarctica. They’re “fresh” off the boat and a long way from home…wherever that is. Good evening sirs…madam." And Zanzibar took his leave with a smile.

“So are we, Jimmy.”

“Pact.”

“So are we…”


Well, for better or worse, she was someone else’s minion now. The Mad Elf had welcomed her warmly and taken her in. Her last communication was cryptic as it had to be in case it fell into the wrong hands. They will make an excellent team. He thought of Tanya fondly. She had been his most capable, loyal, and incredibly resourceful deep-cover operative. The “Hellion” was a rare breed. Her powers were derived from some darkness…some other dimension, and some ultra-evil beings there…almost like demons but not quite. She had called them Nightlords. He’d been alive and serving the Cosmic Forge for over a million years – literally longer than any known demon or deevil. He was one of the rare few beings in the entire Megaverse who had been alive before demons and deevils even came into existence. The Great Schism. He still didn’t know what the fuck a Nightlord was. But if Tanya and her exceptional powers were derived from one of them…they were beings not to be trifled with. He immediately considered them a threat when he encountered her, heard her tale. But that seemed like an epoch ago. She was smitten then. Lovestruck and completely taken with this man, Trent Logan.

Speak of the Devil…

Well, the Hades plot was going according to plan. It was cockamamie and desperate and nucking futs…and that’s why it was going to work. All they needed was, well, Trent Logan. Getting any kind of communication to the man in Dyval was going to be next to impossible. Grim had turned the dimension from a Hell…into a Prison Cell. Which was still, actually, Hell. Bah! Back to the task at hand…

Sturm spoke softly and conjured a very simple enchantment over the parchment. When the breath from his lips gently buffeted the vellum it creased, crinkled, and promptly displayed goosebumps. Good. This would work. The parchment had been skinned from the hide of a Beast – one of Dyval’s lieutenants. The creature had been prevented from being magically whisked away upon meeting the business end of Sturm’s bright blade and he was a big enough monster to make quite a few letters for the Hellish Parcel Post. Sturm looked over at the half-flayed monster – bound and trapped in dead. He murmured a silent word of “thanks” to the Crazy Inventor, Mummuu, for making this possible. Necessity certainly made for some strange bedfellows.

“Now how shall a start such a missive?” he said aloud. His brother would deliver it. Kane was working to that end with his brother…just as Sturm was working with Dakkon in Hell. Brothers…in hell.

Prisoner,

Follow the Lyte. Your time will come. I will be joining your friends at your new seacret home. My brother and I have liberated another of your charges. You are in a unique position to aid the caws. Stay the duration. The Lyte will guide you to Helli on the path to Mode us To me. Friends Solo, his Monkeyn, and Cage Lin or stro will free and flee with thee.

Fondly,

Monstur Mbrig bladhet

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Welcome Back 3
Reunion in New Sea!

Zander

“Man, how long have I been out? How did I get back here? Uhg, I guess I better get to New Sea to find out what happened…..”

Flight_Path_006.jpg

*************************

Sakura

Sakura walked through the street, heading towards the center spire where the New Sea government had based itself. She was dressed casually and taking the long way there. There were two reasons for this:

First, it seemed there was a big to-do going on at the local tavern over their return from Antarctica, and she didn’t want to be dragged into it.

Second, fuck Clytemnestra. Sakura would be damned if she was going to take orders from her. Cly needed to be grateful that Sakura was going to show up at all.

That line of thought just got her thinking and remembering about the undisguised arrogance all these beings in the city displayed. Whether they were magical, supernatural, or the children of the gods themselves (they were the worst!), they all had major attitude problems. The godlings especially, they acted like spoiled children! And they were treating the mortals in the city like crap, which was causing problems that none of them seemed to care to see or even acknowledge.

A collection of the Japanese pantheons walked past her as Sakura was mulling this all over. They especially reminded Sakura about her mother, and how with her Shinto beliefs she probably would’ve enjoyed being amongst them. The group talked softly amongst themselves in Japanese as they passed her. They saw her but gave no greeting or even acknowledgement – just a cursory glance of disgust before they continued on as if she wasn’t there. She ignored them right back.

She (Kagame, actually, but those were her memories now) had tried to interact with them before, partly out of curiosity due to her half-Japanese heritage, and partly out of respect to her own mother’s beliefs. But they seemed unwilling to move past her status as a half-Japanese child. To their eyes, she may as well have been a full-blooded Westerner and they had no trouble telling her as much. In broken English, even, as if she hadn’t been speaking to them in fluent Japanese!

Oh well. It was her mother’s religion anyway. Sakura had never really bought into any of it.

*************************

Clytemnestra & Sakura

Clytemnestra didn’t like to be kept waiting. Mentally she double-checked her inventory. Inwardly she projected her thoughts to Tesephone.

“Thank you, ancient fury, for your continued service. I shall use you in good faith to vanquish enemies of the Greek…of the new pantheon’s house. It is my only wish to wield you in honor and deference to your former mast…er, chaperone.”

Tes’s voice in her mind was cool. “I watched that boy grow up. I had grown so very fond of him…despite our differences. Wield me with proficiency before I fall into the hands of the Greek sorceror. His time will be at hand very soon.”

The warrior-queen had her breastplate affixed, her helmet, studded leathers, shin-guards, and shield. She was ready…perhaps not for the ninja vixen…but for battle.

A sharp rap at the door sounded as the door opened.

“Ente…” was all the goddess had time to call before Sakura walked in, casually unhurried. Clearly unconcerned about being announced.

“The Lady Sakura,” came the servant announcement but Clytemnestra waved him away.

Sakura walked in the room and tried not to roll her eyes at the gaudiness of it. It was a throne room clearly designed to impress visitors. Which she realized made a sort of sense since James was the “King” of this city. She tried to regard Clytemnestra with a casual, neutral look, but some of her irritation showed. Her mind raced as she took in all the details, specifically: good hiding places, any other exits or entrances, weapons, cover… she could multitask mentally pretty well ever since the experiment sent her here. She could tell that her bold entrance threw Clytemnestra off just a little, and she almost smiled but caught herself in time. Ever since the arena battle Clytemnestra had… well, not exactly been “nice” per se, but been less of a bitch to her anyway. She didn’t want to antagonize her too obviously and get them at each others’ throats again.

Clytemnestra took a moment to compose herself and studied the young woman standing before her. She was beautiful…but deadly. Immediately, a surge of jealousy boiled up into her throat but she suppressed it. The other woman walked with the grace of a predator…of a panther. If she hadn’t just married the God of Last Resorts she might have otherwise considered this warrior woman a fellow sister in Amazonomachy. In a way…and the older woman would never admit it publicly…she envied the young woman. She envied the…unattached freedom…that she had given up as her defeat at the hands of the GoLR, her husband. The purple-haired woman looked irritated. Cly knew they had gotten off on the wrong foot. She also knew that the damage had already been done and, frankly, she was the fucking queen. Still, it couldn’t hurt to uphold James’s sentiments formally in his absence; it couldn’t hurt her to attempt…civility, if kindness wasn’t possible.

“I will dispense with the formality. Thank you for coming. I hope you found…whatever you were looking for on your journey. There is a matter at hand that required your immediate attention and…direct intervention…otherwise I would not have prevailed upon you so soon after your return.” Clytemnestra gauged the other woman for reaction. She hadn’t said anything mean-spirit yet…and she’d coughed up almost four sentences.

Sakura resisted the urge to start pacing, or to cut Clytemnestra off. Would she just get to the point already? She tried not to visibly fidget and show her irritation. But could this woman go any slower?

Clytemnestra thought about her next words carefully and her grave expression warmed into one of thoughtfulness. “Admittedly, I can’t wait to hear the tales of your adventure though now is hardly the appropriate time. I…ah, am not accustomed to being a woman of station. I am glad you and the expedition returned safely.”

Sakura had to choke back a laugh. Was Clytemnestra serious? She didn’t believe for a second that Clytemnestra was really glad to see her back. And wanting to hear about their adventure? Oh sure, Cly would love to hear how badly it all went. What was that look on her face anyway? Sakura had heard enough rambling B.S.. With all the civility she could muster she interrupted. “So why did you ask me to come here…?”

“The City of New Sea has received a threat. A terrorist has threatened to kidnap and kill one citizen for every day we delay in handing over the “purple-haired ninja.” You may inspect the scrap of cloth for yourself. It is of Phobos’s own cloak. And I haven’t heard anything from my husband’s expedition in nearly 6 weeks."

Surprise clearly showed on her face despite Sakura’s desire to hide her emotions from Clytemnestra. “What!? Who is this terrorist?” She waved away the scrap of cloth – what good would that do her? “This terrorist kidnapped Phobos? You think he has James and that other guy too?” Sakura was throwing questions at Clytemnestra but her brain was racing furiously. Who did she know here well enough to be considered a ninja? Of course, they could’ve meant another purple-haired actual ninja but Sakura suspected otherwise. She and her sisters were the only ones around with such an odd hair color. It could only be referring to her.

Who even knew about her abilities? The list of people she had actually met and knew was pretty short. Dane, The Juicer Freedom Company (now defunct), Trent Logan, James, Zander Frey, Hawk, Pyrewood Ops, McGreggor…

HAWK.

Of course! That sounded like just the sort of threat he’d make. But why her? Because she was the only one who still “represented” JFC in this area. She didn’t know how he had taken down Phobos, but if he had managed that then he was a lot more powerful than he had let on in Antarctica.

After the second or two pause that Sakura took to come to that conclusion she looked straight at Clytemnestra. “I won’t let any of these people come to harm. Where did he say for me to meet him?”

“I don’t know who the terrorist is,” Clytemnestra told Sakura. “Or if there even is one. We received just this scrap of cloth on which was scrawled the threat. I don’t know if Phobos is actually kidnapped. For all I know he’s still with James and that…uh, thing. And I’d be willing to bet that the GoLR is NOT kidnapped. Phobos has many tricks up his sleeve and I’m not the one who knows his capabilities.” Clytemnestra paused. Sakura seemed…almost hyper. She probably hadn’t paid it much attention before but then, had they ever really said more than a few snippy words to each other. "What I know is that you seem to “fit the description.” What I also know is that my husband trusts and respects you…and, I will not let any harm come to you or any other citizen of New Sea as long as I draw breath. It’s because of that respect that I haven’t just made a snap decision. My instinct tells me that I need more information and I have stepped up the patrols and sent out scouts to the outlying areas. I have called the Pyramid work to a grinding halt and thrown a festivity at the tavern and made a holiday of JFC’s return. The men will have some time off – which I’m sure they need and…"

Was Sakura tapping her foot? Clytemnestra’s brow furrowed.

“That creature that left with my husband. The Ehyleff. Do you know anything about it or know of any reason why or how it could have had a hand in this?”

Yep, she was definitely tapping her foot.

“Ahem, please don’t hold back. If you have something to add…”

*************************

Asuna

I wake up disoriented in my Full suit of armor in my Natural Form with my swords sheathed. I grogilly get up and Look around only to realize that im in the Japanese Demi Council waiting room with a few people staring at me like im a lost or stray dog. I Take a Few moments and go to the bathroom were I Shape Changed into my human Form and strapped my katana ( moonlight) to my back, and (my Wakaazashi (Snow) to my mback right above my waist. My Quiver is tied to my left Hip and my bow is is a Sheath over my other shoulder. As I walk out of the bathroom the same people (civilians) looking at me when I woke up just stared at how what they saw walk into a one person bathroom walk out as a Human female (looks about 21). As I walk more like storm towards the Council Room doors I hear a scream from that bathroom and give a small chuckle to myself since I did rig the toilet to kind of spew water up out of it instead of flushing. I reach thr doors and the nrealize that a secretary and guardsmen were trying to stop me from entering. I pick the Secretary up and place her to te side and lightly push the guardsmen outa my way and Burst through the Door, the Demi gods looked at me and I find the face of my sponsor, Lillian And Start to yell “ What the Hell Lillian, I mean seriously I barely like rifting when I know its coming and all of a sudden you decide to RIFT me back to NEW SEA I mean do you know how much that disorients people and not to mention I landed in your Waiting in my natural form I think I gave someone a heart attack, whats the big idea anyways I don’t think the gods may be to happy with you just rifting people out when they are talking to us.” “ anyways im going home and then gunna get some food and check the old ruins of the library unless you have any information of the whereabouts of any Ancient Daisho’s and also any Oni Spotted around”.

*************************

Sakura & Clytemnestra redux

Sakura was becoming exasperated. Clytemnestra was just droning on and on in slow motion.

“I don’t know who the terrorist is. Or if there even is one…”

“How would Hawk have managed this?” She wondered. “We only arrived a few hours ago. How would he gain from this extortion, anyway? He didn’t need to try and goad me out in order to see me. Maybe this isn’t him. Or was this orchestrated from the beginning? Maybe he has a whole gang out there, and they were waiting for him to come back? Could he really be some sort of diabolical mastermind? But what would he gain from this? Perhaps he…”

“Phobos has many tricks up his sleeve and I’m not the one who knows his capabilities…”

Sakura kept musing. “…intends to somehow discredit me? By calling me out, if I don’t show then he would follow through on his threat and the people here would become upset with me. Does that really make sense though? He saw how I acted in Antarctica, he would have to know that I would stand up for these people and show up. So why is he trying to lure me out there? He couldn’t have…”

“What I know is that you seem to ‘fit the description’…”

“…been back long enough to have heard anything about Kagome’s reputation here. Or has he? If he heard about the arena fight with Clytemnestra then maybe he thinks the government here won’t help me, and he’ll be able to isolate me. Does he think I have his money? I told him I spend much of the money I had available on our gear – gear which he helped to recklessly break! Does he think I’ll turn over the magic items we have? He really didn’t seem interested in them but maybe he’s decided to sell them? Oh! What if…

“My instinct tells me that I need more information and I have stepped up the patrols and sent out scouts to the outlying areas…”

“…this is just a trick to get me away from the JFC building so he can ransack it while I’m away? The defenses aren’t great, but they should at least be good enough for someone like him. Unless, of course, he was hiding his true potential all along. Diabolical! Is Clytemnestra still talking? I thought I already asked her where they wanted me to meet?” Sakura finished musing and gave the conversation her full attention again. At some point she had begun tapping her foot out of impatience.

bq{color:#333333;]. “That creature that left with my husband. The Ehyleff. Do you know anything about it or know of any reason why or how it could have had a hand in this?”

“Ahem, please don’t hold back. If you have something to add…”

Though she was exasperated Sakura forced herself to slow down. Clytemnestra was being strangely cordial, and despite their history she wasn’t about to be the ‘unreasonable’ one here. "I don’t know anything more about that “Aleph” person than you do – probably less, actually. I don’t know why he would call me out, though. The only person I can think of who knows my abilities well enough is that mercenary James hired, named ‘Hawk.’ He was pretty upset when I handed him a bill for what he owed JFC instead of a paycheck. I’m not… sure exactly why he would go to this trouble, but I’m determined to find out."

“For the sake of the workers he threatened, I will agree to meet him.” Sakura patiently asked again,“Where. Did he say. For me. To meet him?”

bq{color:#333333;}.“You were asked to meet him outside the city gates – though I can only imagine what that means – at midnight. Spooky.”

*************************

H3. Asuna

Lillian says: “nothing has come up to us about either of those topics. Though I would like to say Good job with the Lemurians”. “But I would like to keep your place Guarded I have come across a person to guard your place and tend to most of your needs, Julian will be by later to get started”. At that Lillian took me aside and told me that she deposited 3000 gold into a account that I can use at my descreation, also ill make an additional 200 gold a week just like when I was training.

{font-family:“Brush Script MT”,cursive;}Im thinking what is she getting at, and why is she taking such an interest in my protection. She did patron me to the Dojo in japan and knows that I am stronger and capable fighter. I tuck this away to think about later and perhaps ask her at a more private time.

As I start to walking towards the elevator a Messanger comes running in and start asking for a person called Ms. Asuna Kittiero. Me and Lillian exchange a quick look and advises the messanger to calm down and give her the letter and that she would get it to me. When he gets in the elevator and is out of sight she hands me the letter. I immediately recognize a the Shinto Head priests Seal on it and I can tell it must be important for him to send a mesanger to the Demi Council to get in touch with me. I has been a little bit since I went to see him. I think to myself ill go see him after my bath. I nod to Lillian and say sorry to the secretary and Security guard and bye to the rest bow and walk to the elevator and go down.

While in the elevator I pack away my bow arrows and knives and my armor as well. When I get to the ground floor I have a kimono on , Moonlight and Snow are hidden but easily accessible. I walk to my apartment without incident and open the walk in safe I have in the room and put the weapons and armor where they belong and take the wooden Replicas of my diasho out and practice for an hour before my bath.

After my practice I draw a nice warm bath and revert to my true form. The Bathtub was cutom made for my tengu form. I took a bath about halfway through I hear a loud knocking on the door, as I get out and shape change to my human form, another knock came this one from the side door. Though its blocked and locked im surprised anyone would go there. I go into my room to my weapons Vault and grab my diasho I have a bad feeling. As I close the Vault the doors are blown open by some explosive followed by flashbangs. I barely got my eyes closed before they went off so as not to be blinded. They came in guns at the ready searching the rooms one by one. I know theres only one way into my bedroom so I ready myself for a fight and when the first one rounds the corner I charge at him weapons pointed at the throat. As his head falls off im shot in the back and it pushes me 5 ft forward. I almost lose my balance but catch it turn around and Change Directly into tengu form and proceed to dispatch the next 4 guys with beak and Diasho.

Once they are dead I collect the weapons and anything of value and take the patch off of the uniforms and look for anything else that could identify these people. I Call the Demi Council and have them tell Lillian that my apartment was Broken into and I attacked but that they were taken care of. I also told them I need a clean up crew and I need someone to track down the company that the patch belongs to. About 5 minutes later Julian shows up with a clean up crew and and extra security, he tells me that Lillian sent him and the extra security until the special project is done. So I clean up change into fresh clothes and grabbed the Diasho and walk to the Shinto Temple and find my Good Friend.

We talk for 5 hours eat a great dinner and he tells me that he called me because he heard that the JFC is looking for me and also he has a job for me. Now naturally priests don’t place a bounty on anyone but that’s technically what this was he asked me to take care of a person who has been vandalizing and attacking the priests and people that attend the church mass. I tell them ill take care of it and that I may need a room for next couple of nights. He offers a room in the church and tells me I can come back later tonight, I thank him and tell him I’ll see him later. I Decide its time to see what this JFC wants and start walking toward the building where I’ve been told they are Based out of…..as I near the building I see a Purple haired Female walking down the street and it looks like she could be Japanese so I say Hi to her in Japanese and say im looking for something perhaps she could point me in the right direction…….

*************************

Unknown…

“Sir Echo team 5 is down.”

“Down?”

“Slaughtered at the hands of the girl.”

“The loss is acceptable. Did you find it?”

“No sir, but my men were able to confirm that she doesn’t have it – nor has she been in contact with it in quite some time.”

“Interesting. The contingent from the pantheon?”

“All here and accounted for. Even the Host.”

“Is that so? The renegades are supposed to be holed up in this dimension…not Earth.”

“I am sorry my liege. I have failed you.”

“Nonsense. Return to me at once. Too long you have been my pawn played far afield – knighted – then crowned. Return to the family. The Syndicate welcomes you back and appreciates your service.”

“Yes, my liege.”

*************************

Unknown…

“But…but dude…what if she, uh, actually shows up?”

“Harumph. That’s the point Whisker.”

“Nah man, they say she ran with a team of juicers before. She’s one o’ us mang.”

“If the boss says she ain’t…then she ain’t. C’mon Tweak, back me up here.”

“The boss pays us in food…and loot. There’s a code among the Strong. Live fast. Die young.”

“What the fuck’s that supposed to mean? Rombo you don’t actually believe this shit.”

“Whisker you’ve had your say. Now shut the fuck up and do as you’re told.”

“They say she can play. That she’s got moves even Razer can’t touch.”

“She plays?”

“That’s the rumor. Murderball season didn’t start soon enough before she bounced but she’d have been drafted 1st round pick.”

“Razer is old. He’s a washed up burn-out.”

“Razer would smoke you stone cold. Go super-nova before the end of your first scrimmage.”

“Everyone knows Mega’s can’t Murder. The game’s just not cut out for ’em. Sorry Rombo.”

“I’m sick o’ this shit. I just wanna go home. If we gonna die in less than two years how come it’s been 7 months since we had some pussy?”

“Tweak makes a good point.”

*************************

Unknown… Zander?

A howl in the distance…

“ARRRRROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooo!”

…sounds closer than it probably is.

“Ow owh OWHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooo!!!”

There isn’t a soul inhabiting New Sea who didn’t hear it that time.

A voice whispers in your mind, “Wake up Keeper of Companions. Another lost soul is among us and seeking refuge.”

The gas mask is difficult to sleep with anyway. Maybe it’s just time to wake up. Today the stars shine during the day.

*************************

Sakura & Asuna

Sakura decided to take the scrap of cloth after all so she could read these demands herself. She said simply to Clytemnestra “I’ll be there.” Then she turned and left hurriedly. The thoughts she had that Hawk might be trying to draw her away from JFC’s building… She was suddenly very worried. Once she was out of Clytemnestra’s view she started running, though she stuck to the shadows while doing so in order to avoid being seen.

Purple-haired ninja might have been a appropriate descriptor if it wasn’t technically wrong. Sakura had never formally studied any of the 18 disciplines required for Ninjitsu. Though she qualified as having mastered Taijutsu, Shurikenjutsu, and Shinobi-iri, she was only considered proficient in Sui-ren, Bōryaku, Chōhō, and Intonjutsu, and she had never really looked into the other 11 disciplines. It was a subtle difference, but to those trained in actual Ninjitsu it was a crucial one.

Back at the JFC building Sakura searched around but didn’t find any evidence of intrusion nor any of their items disturbed or missing. “Phew,” she thought. “Dodged that bullet.” She used her power to spring one of her sisters into existence. They didn’t need to say anything, they each knew why she was there. Kagame put her hand on Sakura’s shoulder and told her, “Be careful.” Sakura nodded and turned to leave so she could find and scout out the meeting place mentioned in the note. Kagame went to go get some clothes on and then would stand guard in the JFC building.

Since the JFC building was actually still in the ruins of old Seattle and not really in the new “New Sea” city proper, Sakura was used to the area being a empty and deserted. Anyone in the area was out of place, and the woman she spotted who was walking towards her building was no exception.

I Decide its time to see what this JFC wants and start walking toward the building where I’ve been told they are Based out of…..as I near the building I see a Purple haired Female walking down the street and it looks like she could be Japanese so I say Hi to her in Japanese and say im looking for something perhaps she could point me in the right direction…….

The aura Sakura could clearly see around this woman betrayed her as something more than human. That wasn’t necessarily unusual in this city, and it didn’t reveal exactly what she really was, but it did put her on her guard. That she spoke Japanese to her was a surprise though.

それはあなたが探していることは何ですか?1 Sakura warily asked back. これらの遺跡で、あなたが探しているものを見つけることはほとんどありません。2

1 (“Sore wa anata ga sagashite iru koto wa nanidesu ka? / What is it that you’re looking for?”)

2 (“Korera no iseki de, anata ga sagashite iru mono o mitsukeru koto wa hotondo arimasen. / It is unlikely that in these ruins, you will find what you are looking for.”)

*************************

H3. Jescha & James

The infant in her arms was such a familiar weight she didn’t even notice it. The makeshift papoose lightened the burden on her chest but it was replaced almost immediately with the insistent pressure of the hungry child. She looked up into the sky and searched the clouds…for something…anything familiar. She hadn’t had time to process everything but had inadvertently begun the arduous process on this long journey. Since being escorted from the Seat of Hell by the…demon she had wished for reprieve. The form it took made her scorn the irony of the gods and their sadistic sense of humor. She could ill-afford to begin believing in gods. Not now. Not with HIM beside her. For all his pomp and ego he had been a gentleman when she stopped to feed Baby Rod. Roderick “Treasure” Logan. The name had an awful ring to it but Jescha was fond of the nomenclature. “Trent” and “Jescha” had become the anagram “Trescha” or…Treasure…and the baby would have to take the name of the most important man in his lif….well…the Megaverse.

The things she had witnessed changed her. Her traditional values were very much aligned with the Vanguard and their silent support of the Coalition States. Her experience in hell had rocked her to the core and challenged those believes and fundamentally altered her way of thought. She couldn’t even begin to fathom where her ideologies would end-up when the spinning stopped. She needed to think. And she thought of Trent. And she thought, “I should start keeping a journal.”

“Look, I’m not trying to interrupt feeding time. The gods know I’ll jump at the chance to see a naked breast. But we really gotta get a move on. And if I ever want to see my wife’s we’d best be moving along quickly.”

“Every time you speak I am reminded about what an incredibly patient man Trent is…or was. That he spent so much time in your company is…”

“Head’s-up lady. I’m gonna go scout ahead. My spidey-sense is tingling. Nothing’s gonna happen to you or my buddy’s kid on my watch.” And James stealthily stalked off. What was it he had sensed? Was that…a prayer? No, it couldn’t have been. It didn’t feel the way it had before. This was something more urgent. Something more insistent. He just had a bad feeling. And they were only a few clicks out from New Sea. Sonofabitch.

Jescha waved her hands and murmured an incantation or two that made her and the baby invisible from…everything. Secretly, she itched to unleash a METEOR as she had once done…in ancient babylon.

*************************

Asuna

私は私はJFCビルで、ここで誰かに会うことになっていたメッセージが送信された、人の名前は、 (小切手メッセージ再び)ホークだった。仕事についての何か。私の名前は明日菜Kittieroは私のやり方どこごめんなさい。噂はJFCの建物がここで言いました。つまり、イムを探してんだ。内部THER誰かがある(見て1シーズ以外の存在を感知) ?私は鉱石NEW SEA以来誰も聞いたこと見ていないことを意味。これは偉大な都市の廃墟のように見えます。だから、このホークが誰であるかを知って、彼は私を知ってどのようにしてください。3 4

3 Watashi wa watashi wa JFC biru de, koko de dareka ni au koto ni natte ita messēji ga sōshin sa reta, hito no namae wa, (kogitte messēji futatabi) hōkudatta. Shigoto ni tsuite no nanika. Watashinonamaeha ashitana Kittiero wa watashi no yarikata doko gomen’nasai. Uwasa wa JFC no tatemono ga koko de iimashita. Tsumari, Imu o sagashite nda. Naibu THER dareka ga aru (mite 1 shīzu igai no sonzai o kanchi)? Watashi wa kōseki nyū shī irai dare mo kiita koto mite inai koto o imi. Kore wa idaina toshi no haikyo no yō ni miemasu. Dakara, kono hōku ga daredearu ka o shitte, kare wa watashi o shitte dono yō ni shite kudasai.

4 Translation:
( I was sent a message that I was supposed to meet someone here at the JFC building, the name of the person was (checks message again) Hawk. Something about a job. I’m Sorry where are my manners my name is Asuna Kittiero. The rumors said the JFC building was about here. That’s what im looking for. (senses a presence besides the one shes looking at), is ther someone inside? I mean I haven’t seen ore heard anyone since NEW SEA. This looks like the ruins of a Great City. So Do you know who this Hawk is and how he knows me.)

*************************

Zander & random peeps

Zander arrives at the JFC building and finds it…empty and dilapidated….“Strange, I thought for sure this was where Sakura told me it was…” he thinks to himself. A few vagrants seem to have set up in the ruins of the probably once majestic high-rise. “Yo man, where your pants at?! You tweekin’?” one of the vagrants yells out to Zander. He looks over himself, “Oh! No, not today. This is how I normally am. Perhaps you can help me as I seem to be in the wrong place, where might I find the JFC building?”

“Shhhh! Don’t go saying that name all around! Someone’s likely to hear it. Why you want to know anyway?”
“I’m a member…..and, uh, they have my clothes.”
“If you a member, how cuz I don’t know you?”
“Here, maybe this will help” Zander turns unto a form of pure blue light right in front of their eyes and then back again.
“Oh youze the Blue Comet! Pinky talks about you from time to time. Go around to the other side of the block.”

Leaving as he came (naked as a jay bird), but more confused. he could have sworn this was the location she told him to go to…

Around the block, he did indeed find the JFC building and Sakura there as well. Between them though, was a stranger. He could see through the transformation of the Tengu.

“Sakura! Long time no see! Who’s you’re friend?!”

*************************

Asuna

My head whips around with my Daisho coming out and realize that it’s a man Stark naked. My lips curve in an appreciative Smile as I take a good look at him. I sense hes not human but that’s about it. I understand what he says and realize that both me and the pink haired woman know that same language as the man.

I Turn to Sakura and say: ので、私はそれは、英語とその可能性が高い簡単に日本語以外を知ってください。5

5 (Node, watashi wa sore wa, eigo to sono kanōsei ga takai kantan ni nihongo igai o shitte kudasai. / so i take it you know english and its most likely easier than japanese.)

I slowly put moonlit and snow away but keep my hands ready and tell the man my name is Asuna and who might you be? Are you Hawk, because if you are what is this Job you want me to do. I mean really first I see one half Japanese girl with pink hair and now a stark naked half Japanese man. (thinking about it for a sec I think I recognize the female named Sakura (rolls dice: Nat 20) yes ive seen her at the Shinto Temple a few times.) Wait Sakura is it? You have come to the Shinto Temple a few times. When ive taken refuge or have gone to see the Head Priest I have seen you there. That’s where ive seen you before. Looking back at Zander you though I have never seen and you are not human. So what exactly is going on here?

*************************

Sakura

Sakura was still taking in this woman, Asuna’s, comments and questions. Hawk sent her here to look for a job? She wasn’t sure if this was some weird joke or tied into the threats Clytemnestra had just told her about. Sakura was trying to figure out the best way to respond when something miraculous occurred that completely derailed her train of thought.

“Zander…?” She asked, tentatively, when she noticed the man suddenly appear. Then she said it more boldly – “Zander!” She ran towards him in joy. How was he still alive? How did he get here? What happened to him? She only ran a few quick steps before she abruptly stopped running and quickly turned away. “Why are you naked?” She asked him, embarrassed. She deliberately turned her head and put up her hands so she wasn’t looking at him and couldn’t see him. She now noticed that this woman Asuna had drawn two swords upon upon seeing Zander, but seemed confused as to who he was. It only took her a moment to realize that Zander was no threat and she put her weapons back away.

“This isn’t Hawk, this is Zander,” Sakura said to Asuna. She took a quick glance at Zander and then quickly looked away – of course he was still just standing there, naked. “You have clothes inside, Zander. Pleasepleaseplease go put some on and let’s catch up.”

Sakura gave Asuna her attention now and started with the obvious response. “What do you mean, Hawk sent you here?”

*************************

Zander

“Man, everyone is making such a big deal about pants lately….” he says, and wanders into the building looking for his gear.

It’s not long before he finds his cloak tided up in a big blue bundle. He opens it up and out come flying a turtle! “Sebastian!” Zander exclaims. The flying sea turtle whips around the room like a bouncy ball in a rubber room, settling on Zander shoulder and licks his face. “Good to see you old pal! Have you been couped up in there the whole time?” The turtle nods his head. “Awe, well why don’t you go spread your flippers a bit!” And the turtle is off without a second thought.

The last piece of equipment to put on was the gas mask. It fit like a glove and the familiar haziness out of the view shield made him feel … complete. He attached his katana to his side (it seemed to be all the rage these days) and went out to join the party.

(Note this will take about ten min to complete)

*************************
View
Welcome Back 2

Sakura walked towards the town from the beach, pulling the makeshift sled behind her. On the sled was Zander’s left-behind belongings, the rune artifacts they had left, her own belongings and all that remained of the gear she purchased before they left. It was a far cry from the massive holding bay in the APC she had filled when they left. She had already said her thank-yous and goodbyes to the Lemurians and to Pyrewood, and left on friendly terms with them. The mercenary Hawk, however, was another story. He hadn’t taken too kindly to his dismissal, especially the bill she gave him rather than the paycheck he expected. She told him to find James in New Sea and take it up with him, because she was done arguing and dealing with him.

She could feel her sister she left behind here, Kagame, coming to greet her. Sakura paused in walking for a brief bit and just took in the natural warmth of the area. It was only mid-April, but compared to the bitter cold of Antarctica it was like Heaven. Kagome came up to her and greeted her – they embraced in a tearful reunion. No words needed to be spoken, and with acceptance Kagame disappeared as Sakura merged her essence back into her. Suddenly no-one was in front of Sakura and Kagame’s clothes fluttered to the ground.

Instantly Sakura was slammed with the last several months’ of memories from Kagome’s stay behind in New Sea:

  • The formation of the New Sea council…
  • Kagome’s “station” in New Sea…
  • The arrival of the Aleph….
  • The increasingly strained relations between the mortal population and the godly/supernatural/magical population…
  • James leaving with Aleph for Psyscape…
  • Kagome’s “issues” with Clytemnestra, James’ wife, especially while James was away…
  • The escalation of their feud until it culminated in an arena duel, sponsored of course by Schuyler Burden….
  • The realization Kagame had during the duel that no matter who won, relations between mortals and the gods would worsen…
  • Kagame’s bold maneuver which turned their duel into a draw…
  • James’ recent return to New Sea…
  • The merging of the Aleph with New Sea…
  • Sakura’s arrival today…

Sakura reeled from the influx of memories and took a moment to recover. “Wow,” was all she said and she shook her head. “At least now I know what I’m coming back into.” She picked up Kagame’s/her things off the ground and added them to the stuff she was dragging. She then continued on to the building she had set up for J.F.C., where she intended to avoid Clytemnestra and take a long, hot bath to relax and recover a bit before trying to find James.

*************************

The feel of the stone beneath his hand was comforting. The callouses worn there after decades of toil were familiar. This would be his magnum opus. These pyramids would be his crowning achievement. His design had been executed flawlessly. He could only take credit for the design. The erection was a team effort. The men and women – artisans, craftsmen, aliens, young, and old – the laborers of New Sea – they were his team…his family. Zanzibar looked up from the symmetrical lines and scanned the horizon. The flaming orb blazed in a dusky sky with the last rays of a setting sun. It was quitting time. So soon? The days flew by. New Sea’s defenses were in place. And there were rumors that some otherworldly being had come seeking asylum. Zanzibar wondered how this being would react to the pyramid defenses. It was about time to bring them online and begin controlling the rifts and ley lines and harnessing the energy for the defense and construction of the city.

“Quittin’ time boss!”

“Eh? Oh…oh yes.”

“Lemurian’s ship docked – Antarctic Expedition’s returned. Meeting in the tavern.”

“No, it can’t be!”

“That’s what they say!”

*************************

“Are we there yet? "

“No…”

“Why did we have to walk anyways? We could have just as easily taken a hover car or something!”

“Because if you haven’t noticed there aren’t any roads. Jesus clym is gonna kill me..”

“You mean your wife? I can see that..after all you are brining home a strange woman and a baby. I still don’t see why I have to come here any ways.”

“Because you didn’t listen and now the Cs knows you are associated with me. "

“It’s not my fault your being targeted. Sides why would I listen to a moron like you? Only reason I even put up with you is because you are Trent’s heh friend/lackey”

James sighed and just walked on.a few more hours and he would be back in new sea. Sending aleph and Phobos back ahead if him was for the best as lazlo wasn’t a good time.

*************************

“Ahhhh…..”

Sakura sighed and relaxed in the warm bath. Nobody had accosted her on her way from the beach to her home. She had heard talk about some sort of gathering at the local tavern, so that may have been why. The building was empty when she arrived, and that was just fine. Nobody to bother her. All the gear and stuff she had was stored in the downstairs secure basement, and she was finally getting that hot bath she waited months for. She let the heat soak into her body and tried not to think about anything for the time being. Without meaning to, she dozed off.

*************************

He didn’t know what to make of it. Things like this didn’t just “happen” out here in the boondocks. The village was far enough away from Chi-town to only see CS patrol once every few months. They paid their meager tribute and hosted the Dead Boys for a night’s meal and their fair share of the town’s hospitality. Good for nothin’ Coalition fucks. They were just as bad as the twiddly-finger types in their propaganda campaigns. The people looked to him for leadership and he was at a loss. What in the Nine Hells were they supposed to do with this thing? Should he call it in? Risky as it was? Would he just invite trouble down on his head and the CS thunder down on this little settlement? Monsters they had dealt with. Aliens? Whatever came out of the rifts – demons especially – they were pretty much mean as shit and angrier ‘n a bull what’s lost his junk. This…beast…was just, um, lost? Who could say? But it had done…something…special.

“Clem, uhhh…Clem?”

“What?”

“It looks hungry.”

“Well don’t be lookin’ tasty then.”

The men gathered in confusion and tried to defer to him though it didn’t come naturally. Farmers with vibro-pitchforks and the occasional odd CS castoff didn’t make much of a militia but they were all this town had. What the fuck was he supposed to do?

“Pah?”

“Hush now, Ginny.” His daughter wore threadbare rags that were three seasons too small. The harvest hadn’t been kind. And CS prices had risen, along with tribute, along with taxes. Fuck citizenship. What had she been doing out here anyway? Clem had difficulty concentrating on the task at hand. He kept returning to the fact that his child should be dead. She had been out in the fields and wandered off to…the emperor knows where…only to return with this fanciful tale of demons and dogs and…

“Jeb, whatcha think o’ this here mongrel?”

“Shut up you lot. Let me think on this.”

“It’s probably one o’ them Coalition dogs…”

“A dog boy? Naw. This here is just a big ass dog. Like outta one o’ the vid-reels.”

“Course it’s not a dog boy. It’s a mutant dog. One o’ them Saint Bernadette types.”

“Why don’t we jes shoot it?”

“Paw?” His daughter tugged at the hem of his cloak insistently. She was starry-eyed and taken with this…monstrosity. Poor little Ginny was convinced it had saved her life.

“Leave us grown-ups to this business now, y’hear? Run along ’n go find Gertee.” He looked back toward the ranch house, scanning for her older sister.

“But Paw he kilt them monsters. He protected me. He’s a nice puppy.”

“I heard ya afore. Please, chile, hush now and git on home.” Clem ushered her the first few feet toward the ranch house and watched her walk sullenly…dejectedly, feeling dismissed. Hers was just too far-fetched a story to believe at face-value. But here it stood…proof in the pudding.

“Yeah, les just shoot ’im down and collect our reward.”

“I said shut up! We ain’t gon’ go shootin’ a dog what’s as big as a hoover-car. It’s prolly worth some real creds to the right people. An this here dog’s one what kills demons…”

“Clem, it don’t jes kill demons – it keeps ’em in they bodies.”

“That there’s some magical shit. You ever seen a demon dead? I ain’t – and we kilt our fair share. They in the habit o’ disappearing real quick when they should be dead.”

“We got ourselves a pickle – a demon-dog sized pickle. We need to take it to someone what knows animals.”

“Like a zoo or somethin’ boss?”

“What’s a zoo?”

(quiet)

(creep creep creep)

“What if it don’ wanna go?”

“Clem, what’sat around is neck?”

“Can’t say I know for sure. Looks like a barrel all small-like for drinks ’n such.” Clem swallowed hard and put his rifle down. He took a step forward and held his hands up – palms open. Then he took another step…and another step toward the massive dog. He paused a moment to gauge its reaction but it just sat, somber, quiet, panting…eying him warily.

(whisper) “What the fuck is he doin’?”

“Quiet, you fool, and keep your damn weapon on the dog. ‘N if you shoot me in the back I’mma come back and haunt you ‘til the end o’ your days.”

“See that? That there’s courage.”

“Fuck courage. That’s some stupidity.”

“Clem’s got some big ol’ balls o’ steel.”

“That’s why he’s the leader.”

“He ain’t leadin’ shit from inside that thing’s furry belly.”

SHUT…UP.” The man approached carefully. He didn’t know a lot of what was in this world. Education hadn’t been available…still wasn’t. But this was new. And while he’d seen stranger things he got the impression that this dog was smart. That somehow it knew more than it let on. “We don’t mean you no harm. I’mma come a little closer to see what’s round yer neck. Thank ya fer savin’ my wee girl. She says you protected her from the demons.” The others knew better than to crow and gripe right now. They were afraid…probably too afraid to comment…but he didn’t care. The beast hadn’t eaten him yet. He kept his approach calm and measured until he was within arm’s reach. “I’mma reach out to your little necklace ‘n see what’sat. Okay?” Clem didn’t hear a reply. Maybe the thing couldn’t speak. But it seemed like it understood. Sitting back on its haunches the dog yawned and blinked its eyes. Was that a message? Its withers were about level with Clem’s spring hunting hat. Sweet Hablar in Heaven! This creature was absolutely massive. It hadn’t moved. “Alright fella. Uhhhh….good dog.” He reached out and touched the cask. Nothing. He bent his neck and looked a little closer. The fur was matted with mud and blood and slick with some kind of…grimy black muck. He could tell the coat once was white…in spots. His hand felt a button next to a latch on the side of the container. He pressed it.

An image projected into mid-air of a tall, handsome man dressed in shining armor with a grim expression on his face. In his hand he held a small box with a key stuck into the side. From it emanated some kind of music…although it was distorted and difficult to hear clearly through the projection. He spoke clearly and without hesitation.

“Sir Frey, I hope this message finds you in good health. The island is an inhospitable host and our work here is lost.” The camera viewpoint panned around to show destruction and death and devastation. Bodies strewn on the ground, littered the floor, other similarly dressed combatants in shining armor fighting for their lives against hordes of…spirits, ghosts, wraiths, and…all manner of terrible creature. In the battle he distinctly noted some kind of demons – were they human? Clem couldn’t tell. They were man-sized but dressed in horrible demonic-looking armor. The images came fast and the projection wasn’t very good quality. "The Order is overrun. We spoke, once, not long ago and my sentiments remain the same. Our mission is more important than ever and our dedication to it is unwavering. The secret is kept and it awaits your return to do with as you see fit. The Rose is lost and with it the Goddess’s support. She had been strangely silent in the last few days before the invasion. I am leading the remnants to seek refuge among the stars – in memory of our “haven” – on the planet-metropolis. This dimension holds nothing more for us. We will hide amid the concrete jungle of the tallest buildings and rebuild. I cannot take the bearer of this message with me and I refused to abandon him to his fate on the island. Safe journeys."

(silence)

“Uh Clem?”

“Jeb?”

“We in it now, huh? We in it deep.”

“Yeah, Jeb, we up to our eyeballs in it.”

*************************

“Purple-haired ninja? You know that’s not an address, right?”

“That’s all he said.”

“Well what the fuck is that supposed to mean? That could be anyone!”

“Look, man, I just take orders.”

“Yeah, me too. And with the ‘G’ o ‘L’ ‘R’ out of town with his second-in-command you’re forcing me to take this bullshit to the Queen.”

“Nobody said it would be easy.”

“Ah, go fuck yourself.”

“Take care man. Meet me at the tavern around 6?”

“Sure, whatever.”

*************************

Clytemnestra was not your typical queen. In fact she prided herself on taking an active role in government, for being a symbol of leadership, loyalty, and femininity for her people. The God of Last Resorts may be the leader of this city and, in fact, the remnant deity factions but she was its queen – and she was his right-hand. She took her station seriously and she took threats to this burgeoning city’s safety and freedoms as terrorist actions. Clytemnestra was an able combatant – perhaps one of the best who now lived – and she practiced sparring daily while she still could. One hand reached down and rubbed her stomach. She hadn’t begun to show yet. It was very early…but not THAT early. Her inner council knew. She would bear the God-King a son of such magnificence and splendor in the ancient image of Mount Olympus. He would become a heroic champion! He would follow in his father’s footsteps…well, not all of them. She would be there to guide him as only a mother could. She would ensure his success by any means necessary. Clytemnestra knew that this bright young champion – her son – would be instilled with her calculating intellect, her charisma, her striking good looks, her…

“Your Grace,”

“Deliver me.”

“Your Grace we have received a messenger at the gate.”

“And?”

“He bears a scrap of garment and a threat.”

“I shall be the judge of this perceived threat. Produce it…and the garment.”

Clytemnestra beheld a swatch of cloth from a cloak she knew well. It belonged to Phobos. He had gone with her husband over a month before – on a quest to verify the Aleph in Psyscape. This did not bode well.

“Well his timing is impeccable. Two of the most powerful men have left the city. The threat?”

“He claims to want only the…ahem “purple-haired ninja” and he will leave the city peacefully."

Clytemnestra burst out in a fit of laughter. Oh this was rich! She absolutely loved surprises. Was this Phobos? Was he playing a trick on her? She couldn’t help but continue to giggle. “Oh that’s absolutely priceless!”

“My lady, they have threatened to kidnap and kill one laborer from the pyramids every day that we delay in producing the ninja.”

Clytemnestra blinked. “You’re serious.” It was a statement. “My husband’s foreign policy is about as confusing as Chinese Algebra. Mine is much simpler. Not only don’t we negotiate with terrorists, but we protect our own. And, while Kagame and I have never seen eye-to-eye I will NEVER….I repeat…NEVER throw a lamb to the slaughter.” The queen glanced aside to one of her advisers. “Send for her at once.” She then turned back to the messenger. “Step up the patrols at the perimeter and please send a pigeon to Zanzibar requesting his presence in my chambers immediately.” Clytemnestra cast aside her cloak and stepped around the desk to grab the sword. It felt foreign to her, still, and she suspected she would always prefer Megaera to Tessephone. "I’m returning to my quarters to dress for action. The “ninja” knows where to find me and she may enter without announcement. For the time being, assemble the council and inform them of our official political response and explain to them that I will convene a committee meeting tomorrow at dawn. Any questions?"

Silence.

“Good.”

Clytemnestra smiled. It had been a while since there was any excitement. Even if her husband’s jealous ninja protector spy bitch stole the spotlight and got all the attention.

*************************

James walked toward the city gates his hood pulled up tight as to not reveal his face. Jesscha and the child walking casually behind him. Soon it would be over. He would be stable again. Ever since the fight in lazlo he could feel it in the back of his mind. Feel the other clawing to get out

Oh I will get out. I’m closer then you think. And in getting closer day by day. Soon I will swallow you whole!

An imagine of his own face half covered in a white substance appeared in his mind. This is what they had seen.

James let out a sigh if frustration. As he walked he noticed 2 people standing at the entrance. He recognized one from the group of juicers who where with the cat person.

“Hmm hey. We’re taking a lil detour before heading to the base”

“What?! Why? I’m tired and so is the baby! "

" you sound like my wife..trust me this will be entertaining!"

As the 2 men broke up James followed one and ended up at the tavern at 6

*************************

Modern-day Earth, in the year 20XX…

Everyone crowded around the small television set and watched the unfolding broadcast. Lori Landry, news channel 5 reporter, was describing the scene live as it unfolded. Alien spaceships had descended into major cities around the globe. All attempts at communication had failed, and within minutes of their appearance swarms of fighters and battle robots were unleashed from the ships into the cities.

The panic, the death toll… Heroes were fighting back with the military but they were being overrun. One by one the cities and governments of the world were falling into chaos. Everyone in the tent watched the news report in stunned horror. A knocking on the door interrupted the newscast. Sakura, closest to the door, turned to answer it. She opened the door and walked through it.

The tent was no longer behind her. She was walking up a hill, towards the top. Sakura could see smoke rising from the city she knew was on the other side. At the top of the hill she looked down upon the city in ruins as battle pods streaked into it.

lost_dream_by_ultrashiva-d5xz5oq.jpg

She could hear the sounds of battle coming from the city and she knew that the people here were fighting back against the Atorian invaders. She wanted desperately to make it home to Century Station, where her parents had retired, but she couldn’t just turn her back on these people. She drew her knives and stealthily moved toward the sounds of fighting.

There was knocking coming from one of the doors she was passing. She turned to answer and when she opened it, fell into the cold water on the other side. All the warmth she had felt earlier was replaced by the now-too-familiar dim cold. She was underwater, struggling to get to the surface. She heard knocking again as she reached the surface. She broke through and gasped for air-

The stillness of the tepid bathwater was broken by Sakura’s sudden gasp of air as she surfaced and woke up from the dream. Water splashed around and over the edge of the tub. She shivered as she came back to reality, shaking off the memory of the dream. She heard that knocking again and thought for a moment she was still dreaming, but it was louder and more insistent.

Shivering, she got out of the cool bathwater and grabbed a robe. Dripping water through the building she got to the door and looked to see who it was. She recognized Arwin, one of the messengers from the New Sea capital offices. She opened the door and greeted him impatiently.

“What?”

“Sorry ma’am, but I was ordered to give this message directly to you and not to leave until you had it,” he said to her sheepishly. He reached out to hand her a sealed note.

Sakura took the note and told him “Thanks, I’ve got it now.” She shut the door and looked at it. She recognized Clytemnestra’s seal and handwriting on it. “This seems too formal to be a prank,” she thought. With a sigh she she opened it up. Inside was a short message demanding – not asking, but practically ordering that Sakura come to see her as soon as possible. “This couldn’t have waited a day?” She asked aloud. Well, her bath was done anyway. With resignation she set the message down and headed back to her bedroom to dry off and get dressed so she could go find the one woman in New Sea she disliked more than any other: Clytemnestra, the insufferable wife of the last god in the universe.

*************************
View
Welcome Back!
And you thought it would never end...

The night was cold. ‘Reminds me of Antarctica’ he mused to himself. Antarctica. There is a place he hadn’t remembered in a very long time. After the war, there wasn’t much to reminisce about. They had lost, evil won and the Darkness fell. The Sun had been extinguished.

If the aliens hadn’t come with their life-saving tech, humanity would have died off long ago. But survival came with a price…. “Hey! You there! What do you think your doing, Slave!” He heard someone shout in Atorian-accented English.

Zander awoke with a start. He was back in his Arzno hideout. He looked at the clock: midnight. He had only been out for a few minutes this time. It was getting harder to cross the Gap as the timelines diverged.

He saw a light flashing on the comm. “I thought that was broken! I wonder who left me a message…”

*************************

James didn’t plan. It was never his style. He never planned to be involved in this fight. He never planned on meeting Trent and the others. He never planned on giving up what was most important to him. He never planned on abandoning everything so that he could gain control. But alas he had done all these and more.

For the first time in a long while he felt whole..

Well not completely whole.. He thought to himself. He was still missing a few things. One he would get back soon, another he would fight for and the last he would ask for..forgiveness is the hardest thing to get.

James picked up the old communicator and rung up the one person he knew would least hear him out.

“Hey Zander..I’m back and I need your help”

*************************

(OOC: Btw Isaac thank you – I appreciate what you wrote and I respect you immensely. So glad to have you as a part of our group. Go ahead and grab 1000xp for a character of your choosing.)

Zander played the message.

<click> BEEP “Sir, regrettably, my infinite reserve of patience is at an end…PUT THAT DOWN! I fear that I can no longer work in these conditions. My undying loyalty to you is….I TOLD YOU TO PUT THAT DOWN!!!…tested…when, in your absence,I am the caretaker for your menagerie. WHEN I GET OFF THE COMM YOU’RE GOING IN TIME-OUT. I’m going to kill the fae. And I’m going to dispose of that fucking pipe in a Cauldron of Eradication for enabling her. WHEN YOUR FATHER GETS HOME – no, not you Sweety. Of course not. I’ll be right there, I’m just leaving the boss a message. What? No, technically I’ve LEFT him a message but he has gotten it SOON. GAH! Oh, and a five-thousand pound space-surfing astro-tortoise? Really? Who works in these conditions? Right now, a lifetime of slavery to the Barck-Elder-‘gest doesn’t seem so bad. Sir, when you get this, please reach out to me. Let’s consider my suggestion for downsizing. Oh! And I totally forgot to mention: We received a messenger troll, apparently they ran out of carrier pigeons, from New Sea and the Lord of Last Resorts is respectfully requesting our presence in light of some ambiguous and probably useless new information. Regardless, we’ll see you when you wake – oh! Remember, we’re skipping the leap year 20418 and that’s E.C.E. for this Dimension after we left the Plane – so don’t get rattled when you don’t see us at first. Surf safely, all my love, Nerve.”

Zander lifted the mask, wiped the crust from his eyes, and settled it back into place. Surfing the Sidereal had drawn undue attention lately and he’d been forced to delve deeper into a Dreamstream subconsciousness. Life had been so much simpler before the Fall – before humanity, on the verge of extinction, had united to meet an overwhelming enemy head-on and lost…facing annihilation. Life had been so much simpler when Demons and Deevils warred amongst themselves and their battles were relegated to the nether regions and sub-planes. Life had been simpler when the Lords of Entropy, the Gene-Tech, the Dominators, the Sharktaw, and all the unknown quantities and enemies and every ugly head of evil or chaos muddied the waters of Rifts Earth with their schemes and plots and CHAOS. Life had been simpler when Trent Logan was around.

On a scrap of plasti-paper – real paper was a luxury no one but the ultra-rich could afford (an Atorian peace was more than just a cease-fire and life-saving texh) – a hand-written note:

Good morning Dad, was feeling awfully cooped up and had to get out to stretch my wings. Panda Power, y’know? The Mace is just itchin’ for a little freedom and besides if Asuna doesn’t get her morning flight-time she gets really cranky. Left breakfast for ya on the spit. Another day in paradise pops. I’m laying low but I had to get out and see the statue again. It’s been bugging me lately and I’m not quite sure why. I guess it should be obvious but a gigantic, towering, half-mile statue of a dinosaur flying a spaceship wielding a warhammer is hardly the stuff of nightmares. I’m having those visions again and I don’t know if this is all related somehow. I’ll be back soon. Try not to worry too much. It’s almost time to leave this time and I know our friends will be excited to see us. I wanna get a few good pictures for them in case we never get a chance to return. Love, Al

*************************

“You have your mother’s eyes…”

“Grandpa! Are you day-dreaming again?”

“Naw kiddo, just reminiscing. So much time has passed. Too much. And not enough has changed.”

“Grandpa, you’re so silly! Stop reminiscing and read me my bedtime story.”

“Okay okay! I’m sorry! You’re right, and here’s a tale worth remembering. It’s about my father. I never knew him but my mom told me lots of stories about him and one day I actually read about him in a book. Maybe it was a journal or something. But I’ll never forget it and neither should you.”

“Ooooh! Goody!”

“Once upon a Time, your mom went and got herself kidnapped. You weren’t even born yet.”

“Grandpa! How long ago was that?”

“What? Oh, eh…now that’s a good question. A few thousand years I reckon…at least.”

“But I’m only six.”

“Oh, hmmm…maybe it was MY mommy that got herself kidnapped…and I was the one who wasn’t even born yet.”

“What does ‘kidnapped’ mean?”

“Well, ‘kidnapped’ is when you tell daddy you’re pregnant and the devil comes and takes you to Hell.”

“Ooooh! Sounds scary!”

“Yeah, this one is a little scary so it’s not a very good bed-time story. You’re too young for it. I can tell you a different one.”

“NO! Tell me this one! I’m old enough. Does it have a happy ending?”

“Why yes, my dear Jesskha, yes it does.”

*************************

“My Lord, your presence is requested.”

“I thought I told you to knock.”

“You did.”

“Yeah well you DIDN’T.”

“I’m still the God of Last Resorts aren’t I?”

“Why yes you are, and, as a last resort, I walked into your room without knocking.”

“Oh piss off!”

“Is this another Heavenly Hangover?”

“A what? Are you even speaking Dragonese?”

“Phobos calls this morning madness your Heavenly Hangover.”

“He does, does he? Well you can tell Pyuubos to kiss my ass!”

“You can tell him yourself.”

Ahem

“James, you ushered in an era of unprecedented peace. And the gods be damned our worship was through the damn roof when people were scared for their lives. This prosperity is absolutely killing us. Literally!”

“Dude, are you kidding me? Do you even fucking hear yourself?”

“Get dressed you arrogant child-god and attend that godforsaken council that YOU created so many years ago. I shouldn’t have to come up here personally to remind you of your duties.”

James opened one eye just in time to see Phobos turn to the Major Domo and start barking orders to the servants. “You, get these whores out of here! You, get me a bathtub and…ugh…is that what I think it is? Gah! Lots of soap! You grab the fine white toga with the gold-inlaid emblems emblazoned on the front lapel…the one I like. You, send a Hermes down to Clytemnestra and apologize on behalf of her husband – something simple…and dumb…authentic. You, (pause). I said get those whores OUT OF HERE!”

“They’re not whores; they’re concubines.”

“Are you fucking kidding me right now? You act just like the old man himself. You’re one step away from turning into a bull and sewing your wild oats. Pull it together, man. This is a time of peace. This is the time when your people need you the most!”

“Fobes, you’re such a buzz-kill. And my people don’t NEED me right now! This city doesn’t NEED me right now! There’s nothing left to kill! If anything…they’ve forgotten me.”

“You petulant little child. I’m going to tell the Aleph you said that.”

“Whatever! Where’s my bath?”

“By the way, Tess is telling me to shove her blade up your ass so she can light a fire. She says she’s only seen you move faster when food and naked women are involved.”

“Well you can tell that bitch that she’d be out of a job if it wasn’t for me!”

Sigh. (From Phobos to the Sword) “Must we go through this every single month?” “I’m afraid we must, dear Phobos, this is YOUR punishment.”

*************************

“You…you’re good.”

“Thank you. I know.”

“No, I mean it. You’re good.”

“I already told you. Look I’ll try to explain it again, slower this time so you can understand…”

“That’s quite alright.”

“Oh. Well thank you. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t impressed, myself.”

“You impressed yourself?”

“Well, I’m just impressed to be alive I guess. And somehow most of the people I care about are still alive too. Well they were alive before they died of old age…and that’s one that I’m just not in the business of preventing. I primarily deal in the prevention of UNTIMELY deaths. Timely is another matter entirely.”

“Is that so? Well now I’m the one who is impressed.”

(Smile) “I think it’s time for a new journal.”

“I agree. The bottle is lovely this time of year.”

*************************

The journey was treacherous. For some reason she thought they intended it to be. She was worthy. She had practiced long, honed her skills, become the finest martial artist she could be…and yet she still saw room for improvement. She sought to pledge her life…her very soul to the monastic order of the Balance and live a life of honor like her patron. The Order of the Balance was never more whole and complete and finally at peace. Seven statues guarded the walkway up the stairs ascending the sheer cliff-face to the monastery. The Ninjas of the Balance were somewhat reclusive but their agents were worldly and traversed the whole of the Multiverse. The first of Seven stood tall, proud, flecks of violet stained her hair, sweeping down into etched silver that coated various knives and other parts of her body. The Seven statues were legendary. They were carved in the likeness of the same woman…but Seven different women. She was beautiful and deadly and this school of mystical martial arts was a beacon for the Ninjas of the Balance – it was where they trained the Guardians of the Megaverse. She wished to be one, ardently, more than anything else. She would never be as powerful as the One Who Was Seven but she could aspire to hold those same principles, morals, and ideals in high esteem and regard. Perhaps, during her training, she might even be graced with a visit in the presence of the Mistress, the Sensei of the Dojo.

*************************

Sakura sat silently in the makeshift vehicle and stared out the window at the passing antarctic landscape. Her thoughts raced in her head as she tried to come to terms with all that had happened since arriving in Antarctica. McGreggor. The Dominator and his starship. Their deal with Orion. Zander’s disappearance. The Nazi’s. More Dominators. Pandemonium. The loss of Gazi. And more. Her head was swimming as she tried to make sense of the chaos that she and this team had both witnessed and instigated.

But it was too much for her. She tried, again and again, to piece together these events into some sort of logical shape, as she had been trained to do by her parents. But every time she failed. There had just been too much randomness, too much out of their control. She began to wonder if this mission had been doomed for failure from the start. It was a sharp feeling of worry that came from her sister outside that snapped her out of this melancholy.

Sakura’s sister… clone… extension… she didn’t really know what to consider her, but sister seemed close enough. A result of the experiment that sent her to this world, Sakura’s powers had mutated to the point that she could will into existence identical copies of herself. While they existed they could each sense what the other was feeling, and Sakura’s slide into depression over the mission was felt by her sister outside.

Looking out the window she saw her sister skiing alongside the vehicle, looking in at her. She used hand signals to communicate. “You okay?” she signed. Sakura nodded and signed back “Better. Thanks. No worries.” And she did feel better, at least a little bit. Satisfied for now, her sister skied away from the window, back to point.

Speaking of sisters… Sakura had left one behind in Seattle, and her feelings had just been a half-acknowledged knot in the back of her mind for some time. But now Sakura let herself pay attention to what her sister in Seattle was feeling, and was surprised. Anger, indignation, pride, determination… it was a confusing mix of emotions but it indicated a sort of frustration which her sister was determined to overcome.

That at last made Sakura smile. Her sister in Seattle was still fighting for them, and Sakura could draw inspiration from her. Even hope. Antarctica had been a frustrating experience but she was beginning to feel like she could find a way to recover. After all, she had faced hopeless odds before. All would not be lost – together they would find a way.

*************************

“All right Lytsong, let’s give this a try.”

“I’m ready,” he heard her reply in his head.

Trent began casting the most powerful illusion spell he knew. He cast it slow and deliberately, but used enough energy to make it as detailed as possible. The key here was with the detail. When he finished the illusion spell blanketed and encompassed the Dyvalian forest for miles around. He made no sweeping changes – in this case, he was most interested in the background details that the spell could provide.

“Let’s see if this works Lytsong,” Trent said out loud to his sword. “On the count of three, manifest in front of me.”

“One…”

“Two…”

“Three!”

At that utterance, a pretty Dwarven woman appeared, garbed as if for battle. As she arrived Trent concentrated on the background details of the illusion, trying to merge control of their function with her psychic link. This wasn’t the first time they had tried this, and it always seemed to be going well… until this next part.

“Let me know when you’re ready Trent,” she said to him in his mind, though her form in front of him mouthed the words.

“Okay… now!” And at that instant he relaxed the part of his mind controlling the spell… not enough to cancel it, but enough to allow her to have control and manifest through the spell itself. In Trent’s estimation, the magic’s ability to manifest background details in the area of effect should be sufficient to allow Lytsong to manifest herself in a public way… if they could only figure out how to make the transfer.

If successful, Lytsong would still appear in front of him, and be visible to others as well. If unsuccessful, she would disappear. As she had the last several times they tried this.

This time, it turns out, was no different.

Trent swore in Demogogian for several minutes.

“Trent, you don’t need to get so upset. I accepted my fate long ago.”

“No!” He shouted back at her in English. “I know this should work! I just need to take some time figuring it out.” He paced back and forth, thinking this over. If he had to spend a year in this hellish place, then he would at least do something positive for someone, even if that someone was a spirit in a sword. Of course, if he could do this for her, then he could figure out how to do more, and from there… He let the possibilities dangle for the time being. For now, he cancelled the spell and let the magic dissipate from the area. He took a few steady breaths to calm himself.

“All right Lytsong, let’s try this again,” He said to his sword.

He began casting the spell.

*************************

The sun was shining. The breeze kept the beach at a balmy 89 degrees. The water was a gorgeous shade of turquoise. Sturm gazed up into a clear, blue sky and sighed.

“Aren’t you glad it’s over?”

A startled voice answered nervously. “What? Huh…uh, sure.”

“You may leave us,” he bade with a wave of his hand. The succubus instantly took a more pleasant-looking form, morphing before his eyes, and bowed before turning away.

“Hey! What are you doing?”

“There’s plenty of time for distractions…now.” He paused and his voice took on a somber, more serious tone. “Speak with me.”

“What is it you wish to know? Am I glad? Sturm, you are a fool. I am a man of ambition. I am a being of purpose. Am I glad it’s over? Sure, stopping to smell the roses and enjoy the…ah, “distractions” as you call them – that’s all well and good. But what next?"

“Why must there be a ‘next’?”

“Because I cannot sit by idly and accept our victory.”

“To the victor go the spoils. And what if these spoils are more than just lasting peace. What if they are tranquility and Solace?”

“There is no place for those spoils in my heart. I am no Child of Solace.”

“You once were and so shall you be again…”

“Okay, I’ll bite. You’re goddamned right I’m glad it’s over. If I had to spend another eon bowing and scraping to Modeus I would have killed myself. At least you got to work with Loku…er, Lictalon.”

The brothers bowed their heads in silence at the almost-mention of a sacred name. “The Price of Peace is the Cost of Chaos,” they intoned in unison.

“Hey, I’ve been meaning to ask you whatever happened to that “Hellion” in your employ?"

“I honestly don’t know. She went deep undercover, beneath the notice of even Grim himself, and infiltrated Dyval right under Sahtalus’s nose.”

“Oh yeah? She was a beautiful girl. Shame.”

“She’s a survivor. If anyone could have gotten out of there before the walls of Jericho came crashing down…it was her. But don’t get any ideas – even if she were alive her heart belonged to the man she once knew as Trent Logan.”

“No kidding?”

“Would I lie about love?”

*************************

There was balance, once again, in the Megaverse. Somehow. The great sorceror felt uneasy even speaking of it…but a whisper and it would teeter toward one side or another. They were on the cusp. But then, they had been on this cusp for a long time. No Great Old Ones, Unnameable Beings, Cthulhu, Dark Forces, First Race, Primus, WHATEVER…none of them had prevailed. The balance had been preserved. An Angel had been lost. His imprisonment had ended.

“Words can not express my gratitude.”

“You told me – I get it – you’re grateful that I freed you from the prison in Hades.”

“Yes, child, I am grateful and…I cannot help but express that gratitude when my heart swells with joy.”

“Yeah, well I told you what you can do with that gratitude. Words, they mean nothing – they are empty and hollow. ACTIONS, now they speak volumes.”

“I understand. And I am doing everything in my power to restore your friend. You risked your life to save me. You risked your soul to save these two men; one – whose actions were deplorable, one – whose actions were commendable. Equal parts of the same man. I wish I could expedite this process somehow. I will restore him…I will do whatever it takes to make him whole once again.”

“NO! I TOLD YOU! I don’t want to turn him back into who he was. I want to know why the man I loved wears the skin of a Deevil and the skin of the man I love is on the flesh of a man who doesn’t even know my name. I want to know WHY! Do you understand, wizard? Do you understand love?”

“No one understands love better than I.”

“How long have we been at this? How long will we continue?”

“Who can say? Time is of little importance in the face of the Balance…so as long as it takes…”

*************************

Screams echoed in eternity.

Death throes and wails shook the fabric of reality.

The Blood of Pain swelled.

“What? WHAT?!?! Did you think I was joking? Did you think it was just an ‘expression’ – a turn of phrase – huh? DID YOU?!?! When I said I was going to torture you forever I meant it. I’m going to keep you alive for as long as it takes. And I’m an EXPERT at this.”

Panting, hyperventilating, gasping for breath, “You’ll never break me. Never!”

“Never is a long time my friend. And I’m not trying to break you. I’m trying to break myself.”

“You’re a scourge! You’re a plague on this existence! We’ll eradicate you!”

“Bub, we’re gonna be here a long time. Just remember you allowed a human-being to steal the Omega Book. A FUCKING HUMAN. If you’re lucky…and you’re probably not very lucky, all things considered, but if you’re REALLY lucky you’ll end up sharing a Blade with Necrom – and I think that’s still going way too easy on you.”

Once again the screams continued, ceaselessly, tirelessly, into the blackness of pitch.

*************************

“Emperor Prosek?”

“Aye.”

“Emperor Mao?”

“Hai!”

“Emperor Stolichnaya?”

“Da.”

“Emperor Kaiser?”

“Ja.”

“Emperor Tetsuo?”

“Yes.”

“We are all in attendance. Humanity has fallen to us to protect and we have failed. The demons and deevils overran our puny defenses. The alien invasion fleet thwarted the Minion War on Rifts Earth and even batted aside the Apophis 666 Extinction-Level Asteroid collision. We are now slaves in the Atorian empire and further down the food chain in the evolution of primates. Look at us. We are all in attendance in an underground revolutionary organization that would land us beheaded and made examples of in the public executions. We are all that is left.”

“This is depressing.”

“Emperor Prosek do you have any ideas or suggestions? I thing Emperor Stolichnaya is right. As much as it pains me to say this, we need the Iron Juggernauts and we need to unite the Magic coalition. We tried to stand on our own, before, and we fell – proud – and faced a superior foe. I make a motion to send an emissary to the Federation of Magic, an emissary to Freehold in the Kingdom of Magic, an emissary to…uh, what’s left of Neo-Achilles in South America, an emissary to the war-ravaged Seven Kingdoms, and…”

“Are you crazy?!?!”

“Emperor Mao, the Seven Kingdoms answer to the Jade Emperor. He is the only emperor not present at this war council. We must reach out to him.”

“This is lunacy.”

“All those in favor?”

“Aye. Hai! Da. Ja. Yes.”

“Motion passed.”

(whisper) “Have Prosek tailed. If he so much as shits I want to know. And contact our friends at the Geofront Internal Affairs. I want to know how reliable their Doppleganger Detection software is.”

“Yes sir.”

*************************

She gritted her teeth and clenched her jaw around a crumpet-cake. The sticky sweet treat was enough of a breakfast for her enhanced metabolism. Her morning routine had dragged on and so it had ended early; the instructor had been dismissed. Long locks, wet, matted, clung to her forehead and cheeks. Her skin flushed rosy with exertion around a mouthful of nourishment.

“My lady? Does the mean bring you displeasure?”

“It is adequate.”

“How many I serve you?”

“Serve me? You were what passed for royalty in your pitiful culture. You had what passed for exceptional intelligence in your puny existence. You are my slave. Your mouth speaks subservience around MY language. Your pretty little mouth washes my never regions. You are the greatest of your kind, considered the most beautiful, the most intelligent, and the most powerful and you are but an INSECT before me. Do you understand slave? Do you understand slavery?”

“Yes, my lady.”

“What pains me more than spending even an even a nano-second on this plane is seeing that fucking statue out there. I should not be a part of this invasion fleet. I am forced, by my station, to acknowledge…how do they put it?”

“Hero of the Ages, my lady.”

“Ah yes…MacGreggor Thunder Lizard Hero of the Ages! The Greatest Pilot to have ever trained in the Royal Fleet! The wayward scout who stayed true to his mission! The exemplar for all who would come after him into servitude for the glory of the Atorian Empire! Gods help me. Do you see the size of that fucking statue? It must be a mile into the sky. I could swear he’s roaring at me in pleasantly ignorant servitude. It disgusts me!”

“My apologies your grace. They say he vanquished 8 of the Elder Races Barack-Gelder-Est in the Battle of Antarc-”

“-I know what they say! Dammit! That kind of hyperbole is never true! This…Dino-Man is becoming a martyred messiah for the lower-castes. Even in death he continues to plague me. I am the Queen! Now get over here, worm, and relax me with your tongue.”

“Yes, your grace.”

“Mmmm…that’s good. Now what am I going to do about you MacGregor Alistersaurus? Hmmm? Yesss…that’s good. What are we going to do about you and your rebellious little purple-haired friend?”

*************************

“The remaining weapons are still at large.”

“It does us no good.”

“The Man-Ghost has one hidden in another time or…another plan…or something…somewhere. His bird-son carries the second – wearing it openly and proudly. That leaves 5 unaccounted for.”

“Not so. We got word that The Blades were able to secure two of their own.”

“Is that true?”

“Our sources indicate that The Blades had been working covertly toward this end from the beginning. Sturm personally subdued Necrom. and wrested the Soul Edge from Echidna.”

“Hablar help us. Sturm is…he is…”

“On our side. And Dakkon has the Soul Caliber if the reports from Skraypers are to be trusted. So 4 are accounted for.”

“Five.” A different voice this time. How many voices were there? “Tulwar can no longer manifest a physical body but it is alive and…accounted for.”

“What? What happened? The Barack-Elders made off with him in Antarctica!”

“A flying reptile happened. An explosion ensued. The Artifact’s physical form was vaporized…along with its captors.”

“That leaves…”

“Masamune…and the Rod.”

“Actually it’s a Staff.”

“What about the Prisoners? Glorious Woven One comes to mind. What about Vaevictus? Hemophage and Chronophage?”

“What about them?”

WHAT ABOUT THEM?!?! Are you mad?!?!”

“Brothers, remain calm. One problem at a time. This Brotherhood was brought into existence for a reason – millions of years ago. The Singer weeps. He mourns the losses of the Dragons of Summer Flame, the Dragons of Autumn Twilight, the Dragons of Winter Night, and the Dragons of Spring Dawning. This is an unprecedented age of peace. Nothing lasts forever. But now is not the time to prepare. Rest easy. Or rest no more…”

*************************

ENOUGH!” A disembodied Trent shouted at the visions, not knowing that he wasn’t the only one receiving them. “Who are you? What are you? Why do you torture me with these glimpses of what might be, or what might have been?”

“YOu miSUNDersTAnd. noT MAy be. WhAT Was.”

“How can I understand this? It’s just futures and alternate realities blending together. Nothing makes any sense!”

“WAs reAL. SiDEreeL. ThE FaBRiC teARS. WhAT Was. WHaT IS. WhAt is noT. What wILL Be. wHAt wAS.”

“Why show me, then? What can I do about it? I’m stuck in Hell for another 10 months, 19 days, 12 hours, 42 minutes and… 13 seconds.”

“sO foR yoU alL TO sEe. ThaT Is AlL we cAN Do. SeE and KnoW. No SEe NeW sEA. NeW DayS cOME. Old DAYs weeP.”

“This bullshit makes no sense. I’m waking up now.”

Trent sat up in his bed, startling himself awake. “What the hell was THAT dream about?” He wondered. “Maybe I’ve been sitting still too long here,” he thought to himself. “Perhaps it’s time I got out and about and made better use of my time here.” Not daring to go back to sleep again, Trent got up out of bed and prepared some new goals as he got ready. The visions didn’t leave him easily, but he put it aside for now. There was plenty of time to dwell over them later.

*************************

Sakura, Kagome and Raiko all woke up at the same time, freed from the mysterious visions. Had they heard someone screaming at the end? There was another voice too, but it was strangely distorted… But as all three were the same person with the same thoughts, they all focused instead on the same visions. The ones of the Atorians, and the Qua-Trau statue. Was it truly McGreggor? Was it some sort of weird future thing? Another invasion, and one of the fabled Empresses? They all three simultaneously wished they could ask Zander what he thought of these dreams – he was the smart one, and the philosopher.

Sakura debated for a few moments, but decided that it was so weird she would record it. She hadn’t make a recording in a while – Antarctica had drained her and she didn’t really know what to say. But these dreams felt… different. The more she thought about it, the more she decided it was important to preserve somehow.

Click.

“God, where do I begin. I guess I’ll start with the reason I’m recording now… a bunch of strange, back-to-back dreams. They were so real and vivid – and dealt with Atorians and…. I think I was even in it, somehow? Well…”

The recording continues as a narrative of the visions thus received, then ends.

Click
View
Origins of the Originals
a stitch in time

EANsymbol-1b.jpg

(Voice 1) Hello.
(Voice 2) Hello.

(Voice 1) I’ve waited here for you.
(Voice 2) I am sorry to have kept you waiting.

(Voice 1) No.
(Voice 2) Please accept this gift.

(Voice 1) Hmm. Generous of you.
(Voice 2) Naught but time can replace your time.

(Voice 1) You exercise a rare commodity.
(Voice 2) It’s the least I can do.

(Voice 1) I will use it wisely.
(Voice 2) Our time.

(Voice 1) Wasted.
(Voice 2) And what of The Order?

(Voice 1) Fallen.
(Voice 6) Not Fallen. Broken.
(Voice 4) Not Broken. Diminished.
(Voice 7) Not Diminished. Receded.
(Voice 3) Not Receded. Not yet. Much has happened in your absence.
(Voice 2) The Promethai Transcendent?

(Voice 1) Has started to Sing.
(Voice 2) And so it begins.

(Voice 1) The Dragons are ready?
(Voice 2) They must be.

(Voice 1) You are fond of Metalluskikku’uu Chromi’ost Ferris-ium.
(Voice 2) As you are fond of any part of yourself.

(Voice 1) I envy her.
(Voice 2) Mother has warned us against such foolishness.

(Voice 1) Which foolishness?
(Voice 2) Touche.

(Voice 3) I have warned against no such thing. Foolish is the love that lays hidden, harbored, brooding in the dark. Love. With all your heart love. Those mysteries are beyond even my comprehension.

(Voice 1) Aleph, you are borne of Air – the Fool of the Major Arcana – and the Scintillating Intelligence between Kether and Chokmah in the Tree of the Sephiroth. Your progeny is Aeris’fayjatarria eLeahwiah.
(Voice 2) Aye.

(Voice 3) Children. Primus advances on us from without. My time to recede is at hand.

(Voice 1) Yes, mother.
(Voice 2) Yes, mother.
(Voice 4) Yes, mother.
(Voice 5) Yes, mother.
(Voice 6) Yes, mother.
(Voice 7) Yes, mother.

aleph.jpg

(Voice 3) Fret not. We will reunite in the future. You know how to find me and when it must be done. I am His purpose. I am His quarry. I am His prey. I love you; all of you. This is the only way. Bear that love into the unknown and craft an Existence where we may recreate in Balance. He is attracted to the Seven; to the sacrifices of their peoples. When they emerge His attention will begin to spawn the Dragons. The Order will need your help…your guidance. Their measures may be…extreme, though their hearts are coming from a good place. The Weeper is no longer fit to lead. He will attempt to obscure knowledge considered dangerous. He will attempt to hide arcana considered chaotic…or hesitation evil, and to shield this Existence from itself. You have naught to fear but ignorance. The Multiverse must know or all is lost. Aleph, Mem, and Shin — I have shared with you all that I am. Guide the others. Lead the Order. The future rests with you. Our fates travel the past. All my love…
.
.
.
.
.
…<voice /> I am that I am…and I am strong.


(References: Aleph Number // Aleph

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