Fading Suns: Elemental

This blog is an archive of the logs for the Fading Suns: Elemental roleplaying chronicle, which ran from 1999-2009 via text chat. See the About page for more information. You should visit the Chronological Logs page to start at the beginning, rather than trying to read reverse chronologically, or go to the main chronicle site.

Final Character Sheets for Iron Fists

Don An-hetep-f Griffen del Sol Imperial

Human Male Reeve/Questor age 24, Chief and Knight from Aragon

Strength

6

Wits

6

Extrovert

6/2

Introvert

Dexterity

6

Perception

9

Passion

3/2

Calm

Endurance

7

Tech

6

Faith

1/3

Ego

Natural Skills:
Charm 7 (9 Hand.), Dodge 6, Fight 8, Impress 6 (8 Hand.), Melee 9, Observe 7, Shoot 6, Sneak 4, Vigor 6
Learned Skills:
Academia 3, Bureaucracy 7, Etiquette 7, Focus 6, Gambling 3, Inquiry 3, Knavery 4, Lore (Decados 3, Finance 7), Read (Urth/Latin 3), Redemption (Hitech) 2, Science (Cybernetics) 1, Social (Debate 5, Leadership 3, Oratory 4), Speak (Latin 4, Urthish 6), Streetwise 4, Survival 3;
Combat Actions:
Koto: Martial Fist (1), Martial Kick (2), Block (4), Confuse Foe (4), Disengage (4), Claw Fist (5), Drop and Kick (5), Leaping Kick (6), Choke Hold (6); Fencing: Parry (1), Thrust (2), Counter Parry (3), Slash (3), Fancy Footwork (4), Flat of Blade (4), Draw and Strike (4), Compound Attack (5), Disarm (5), Feint (5), Stop Thrust (5), Off-hand (6), Parry/Riposte (6), Wall of Steel (6), Athletic Strike (8), Pierce (9)
Blessings / Curses:
Charitable (+2 Charm when recognized), Handsome (+2 Charm/Impress vs. Attracted), Shrewd (+2 Wits vs. Fast Talk), Thrifty (+2 Wits in Money Matters)
Benefices / Afflictions:
Rank 5, Cash 11, Coven Member 2 (Favyana), Dark Secret –3 (Oh so many), Family 3 (Griffin Reeves), Gossip Network 2 (ByzII), Vendetta –3 (Jakovians), Well Traveled 3, Nobility 3 (Imperial Knight), Imperial Charter 4
Occult (Inactive):
Psi 7 (wing scars); Far Hand 7 – Lifting Hand, Throwing Hand, Crushing Hand, Dueling Hand, Far Arms, Far Wall, Air Stride; Turning 7 – Psi Sense, Diffusion, Absorption, All Seeing Eyes, Refraction, Reflection, Wyrd Harvest; Soma 3 – Toughening, Strengthening, Quickening
Special Equipment:
Soul Shard
Wyrd:
6
Vitality:
12

Doctor Lan Maningzhoue

Human Male Apothecary age 30, Crafter from Grail

Strength

3

Wits

8

Extrovert

7/2

Introvert

Dexterity

6

Perception

4

Passion

2/7

Calm

Endurance

5

Tech

7

Faith

7/3

Ego

Natural Skills:
Charm 5 (7 Beau.), Dodge 7, Fight 3, Impress 3 (5 Beau.), Melee 5, Observe 5, Shoot 3, Sneak 4, Vigor 6
Learned Skills:
Academia 3, Alchemy 9, Empathy 2, Etiquette 3, Focus 3, Lore (2nd R. MedTech 4, Herbal Remedies 9, Doctrine/Theology 7), Physick 10, Read (Urth/Latin 3), Remedy 7, Science (Chemistry 6, Genetics 7, Human Biology 6, Xeno-Biology (Etyri 1, Gannock 2, Ur-Races 2, Vorox 2)), Sleight of hand 2, Social (Dance 4, Leadership 2), Speak (Latin 1, Urthish 8), Streetwise 2, Survival 8, Think Machine 4;
Combat Actions:
Fencing: Parry (1), Thrust (2)
Blessings / Curses:
Beautiful (+2 Charm/Impress against attracted), Charitable (+2 Charm; when recognized), Honest (+2 Extrovert; when recognized), Innovative (+2 Tech when inventing)
Benefices / Afflictions:
Dark Secret/Vendetta –2 (Jakovian Hit List), Passage Contracts 6, Rank 9, Riches(Assets) 3*, Secrets 5 (Jakovian stuff), Cohort Badge 3 . *Current, from patents and such, can shoot up to 7 when holding a Practice on Grail
Occult:
Theurgy 2 (Rampant Bloom): Gjartian Folk: Purification (1), Gjarti’s Blessing (2); Gjartian Compassionate (S. Aeon): Cleansing (1), Hearth (2)
Special Equipment:
Synthsilk Clothing (4d), Dueling Shield (5/10 – 15), NanoTech Medpac, Various other medpacs, 20 doses +0* Elixir, 10 doses +2* Elixir, 4 doses +5* Elixir.  *Added to VP of Physick roll to indicate Vitality healed.
Wyrd:
4
Vitality:
10

Father Martel Azo (A.K.A. Shokat Tollosk)

Human Male Avestite age 39, Deacon (Reprimanded) from Grail

Strength

6

Wits

7

Extrovert

7/1

Introvert

Dexterity

6

Perception

7

Passion

5/2

Calm

Endurance

10

Tech

3

Faith

7/2

Ego

Natural Skills:
Charm 8 (6 Ugly), Dodge 3, Fight 4, Impress 8 (6 Ugly), Melee 5, Observe 5, Shoot 10, Sneak 3, Vigor 9
Learned Skills:
Academia 0, Bureaucracy 3, Drive (Beastcraft 1), Empathy 3, Etiquette 6, Focus 1, Inquiry 6, Knavery 2, Lore (Beast 2, Doctrine/Theology 8, Planet Grail 1, Theurgy 3), Physick 1, Read (Urth/Latin 2), Remedy 1, Ride 1, Search 1, Social (Debate 6, Oratory 8), Speak (Latin 1, Urthish 7), Stoic Body 10, Stoic Mind 9, Streetwise 1, Survival 5, Torture 1, Tracking 2, Warfare (Gunnery 3)
Combat Actions:
None
Blessings / Curses:
Eloquent (+2 Extrovert for speech-persuasion), Hero (+2 Impress when recognized), Pious (+2 Extrovert amongst sinful), Righteous (-2 Calm when judgment questioned), Tall (+1 vitality, base run 12m), Ugly (-2 charm & impress vs those attracted), Well-liked (+1 charm/reputation)
Benefices / Afflictions:
Assets 7 – Wealthy (10k/year income, 1000 starting), Infamous Family (-1pt), Ordained (7 – Deacon), Passage Contract (2 pt), Unique Item “burning scrupulum” (1 pt), Vendetta (-2), Contacts (Avesti), Contacts (Leagueheim), Cohort Badge 3
Occult:
Theurgy 2 (Lambent Flames): Church: Devotional Liturgy (2); Sanctuary Aeon: Cleansing (1)
Special Equipment:
Flame Gun (+2 Goal, Damage 5/3, Range 10/20, Shots 10, Rate 1, 3 Clips); Flame Retardant Stiffsynth Robes (7d armor, +3 vs fire); Blaster Pistol (+0 Goal, Damage 7, Range 10/20, Shots 10, Rate 1, 3 Clips)
Wyrd:
5
Vitality:
13

Baroness Maria Fe Eduardo de Aragon

Human Female Age 23, Knight from Aragon

Strength

6

Wits

6

Extrovert

6/3

Introvert

Dexterity

10

Perception

7

Passion

6/3

Calm

Endurance

8

Tech

4

Faith

3/4

Ego

Natural Skills:
Charm 8 (10), Dodge 6, Fight 4, Impress 6 (8), Melee 10, Observe 4, Shoot 5, Sneak 5, Vigor 9
Learned Skills:
Academia 4, Acrobatics 5, Arts 4, Bureaucracy 5, Empathy 6, Etiquette 8, Inquiry 3, Performance (Dance 4), Read (Urth/Latin 6), Remedy 2, Ride 4, Social (Acting 1, Debate 2, Leadership 8, Oratory 2), Speak (Latin 2, Urthish 6), Stoic Body 6, Survival 8, Warfare (Gunnery 4, Tactics 4)
Combat Actions:
Fencing: Parry, Thrust, Slash, Counter Parry, Fancy Footwork, Flat of Blade, Draw & Strike, Compound Attack, Disarm, Feint, Stop Thrust, Off-hand, Parry/Riposte, Wall of Steel, Florentine, Athletic Strike, Pierce, Double Strike
Blessings / Curses:
Beautiful (+2 Charm/Impress vs. those attracted), Disciplined (+2 Calm in combat), Hero (+2 Impress when recognized), Keen Eyes (+2 Perception sight), Vengeful (-2 Calm when honor impinged)
Benefices / Afflictions:
Assets (Many), Rank 7 (Baroness) , Cohort Badge 3
Occult:
None
Special Equipment:
Synthsilk, Dueling Shield, Swords
Wyrd:
6
Vitality:
13

Ep 23.2, Iron Fists Finale, Part 2

~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~IC~~~
GM: ::The military spacefield outside of Los Aztecha is scrambling in the early dawn light. As you coast down the runway, you see spacecraft taking off, engineers and charioteers running about madly to fix the sabotaged ships, and pilots and officers frantically trying to figure out what they need to be doing.::
Tollosk: Little bumpy coming in. I’m going to start a once-over as soon as we stop. Can you guys see if you can wrangle an engineer my way? We may need some hull patching before it’s safe to fly again.
An: Will do.
Martel: We need to get down there and start organizing. They don’t know help is coming yet.
Lan: Hey guys, let’s have a rendezvous point in case we get split trying to help with… the mess on the ground?
Martel: Back at this ship.
Lan: Oh yeah! And… oh yeah!
An: ::straightens up his clothes and makes sure his imperial seal is displayed prominiently:: I’m going to have to try and find Elena. We’re going to need her if this is going to work.
Maria: I’ll round up some of the brass.
Martel: Hey An? Keep the leash on unless we run totally out of options.
Maria: I’m pretty sure that building over there ::points:: works as the command center
Martel: I’ll come with ya. I talk to military types well.
An: Good idea.
Maria: It looks like there’s ships coming back down already. Lan, did you want to check the infirmary and meet us at the command post in a couple of hours?
Lan: I’m going to have to go back to engineering school someday… ::squints, shrugs:: I’ll come along and see….yeah, if you know where it is.
Maria: ::points at one of the squat buildings where ships seem to be taxiing past:: It’s that one, if I remember correctly.
Lan: ::thumbs up, and heads off::
GM: ::over the next couple of hours Maria and Martel start rounding up officers with slow but steady progress, Lan furiously tends to those that he can help: there aren’t many wounds, but those there are generally result from explosions and decompression… and An shows up at a safehouse in the city proper to find Elena waiting in the foyer with an overnight bag packed::
Elena: Your timeline zigzagged. It was pretty peculiar.
An: ::smiles widely:: I am a pretty peculiar person. Good to see you’ve packed. ::moves in and gives her a hug::
Elena: ::hugs back:: Should I bring some tools as well? The visions weren’t entirely specific as to which of my skills you needed.
An: Maybe, we have a ship that needs a good once over or so. But in the end, what we need most… is a jump gate opened.
Elena: I can do that… but I’ll need to be pretty close. ::hands over the bag and goes to a closet and fishes out a toolbox::
An: We should be able to get you pretty close. ::picks up the bag and shoulders it::
GM: ::and An and Elena return to the spacefield, dropping her off with a worried looking Tollosk::
GM: ((oh, incidentally, i discovered that i’d never read the spaceship rules before, apparently. The ship probably has about half the guns i quoted last week.))
Lan: ((clearly we took turns so nobody’s feelings would be hurt.))
An: (( Does that include or not include the kitchen sink?))
Martel: ((it better))
Martel: ((besides, that’s still a LOT o gunz))
GM: ((it does include the kitchen sink missile launcher… one of those, the em gun, two light slug guns and two light blasters))
GM: ((probably a grappling gun, too, as i believe that leaves 1 hardpoint))
Martel: ((can we dedicate that last hardpoint to a porthole that we can fire our sidearms out of?))
GM: ((i wouldn’t recommend it))
GM: ((but, if it matters, you have blasters and slug guns alternating each corner, basically, so you can fire one of each at any given target, the em and grapple are on the turret, and the missile is rear-mounted… like your mom))
Martel: ((:-())
Lan: (( XD ))
An: ((ZING!))
GM: ((also, i finally figured out the crazy speed rules… the technology, apparently, lets you accellerate to 8% of lightspeed within seconds, but you can’t go any faster because your shields would let debris through))
Martel: ((it’s true, my mom IS a WMD *sob))
GM: ((so… an insane number of Gs and massive power outlay to produce them… solve… space dust… insurmountable))
An: ((Makes perfect sense))
GM: ((and this is an awesome revelation after 10 years… if i’d understood those rules years ago, we might have had way more ship-based plots :)))
Martel: ((OH WELL!!!))
GM: ::And Tollosk and Elena begin patching the hull while An meets the rest of the crew in the command bunker::
Maria: ::flags down An as he walks in:: The leader of the base is, for now, Baron Gilmar Bursandra. Between my letters and Martel’s way with people, he’s reluctantly giving us a chance to suggest protocol. Meeting as soon as you’re ready.
An: I am ready now. In your opinion let me know what your best estimate is for when we should reopen that gate. Will the standing fleet near be enough to hold it till the rest of the fleet get there or should we wait a few days.
Maria: We’re.. how long before we left at this point?
An: Umm… 10 hours… I think.
Martel: Hrm. Sounds about right.
Maria: Okay… it should take the bigger ships about two hours per AU… Aragon’s gate is 57 AU, while Vera Cruz is only 37… So, it will basically take them two days longer to get to the gate than it will take us, plus 10 hours, plus however long it takes to get them moving… We’re looking at waiting three days in the middle of the Kurgan fleet if we leave now
An: So, we wait here, do what we can for three days, then strike out after the gate.
Maria: Sounds like a plan… we need to find out how far back the main fleet is, and whether, when they find out about us stopping the sabotage, they’ll wait or blitz… If they blitz… we’re not likely to do much more than try to stall
An: Which I assume they will. They gain nothing by waiting, other than ensuring they have a greater force to face once they get here.
Martel: They’d only wait if they thought seige tactics were their best bet. I doubt they do.
Maria: Then the sooner we can set out, the further away we can meet them, and the less time it will take for the fleet to meet us in the middle
Martel: What are our chances at several DAYS of prolonged ship to ship combat?
Maria: Us personally or Vera Cruz?
Martel: Us personally. Someone needs to open that gate if there is going to BE any Vera Cruz.
Maria: Depends on how much we try to help. If we retreat, run dark, and move out of the direct path towards the gate as soon as it looks bad, we have a shot… if we stay to help when we start losing… less
Maria: And we’ll be fighting a losing battle the whole time, most likely
Martel: Almost certainly. Then we help as long as we can, then make a run for it.
Lan: ::is shown in, looking only vaguely ruffled::
An: So I say we assist. Fight with what we can, help where available. If that be on command vessels or with our own ship. Then one day early we will take our leave, run dark and get to the gate.
Maria: ::nods:: Now we have to sell it to the Bursandra.
Martel: We need to make a point of disabling ships that they can’t really perform an invasion without. Troop carriers, medical frigates, so forth.
An: Agreed. Essentials.
Maria: They’re in the war room whenever you’re ready.
An: ::inhales deeply and exhales:: Lets do it.
Martel: ::lights his “Impressin’ Cigar”::
GM: ::the war room is at the lowest point in the building, likely covered with armor enough to resist a serious bombardment. Monitors, both holo and standard, radio links, and whiteboards fill the walls, while a large table with a Hazat crest dominates the center…
Lan: Damn that’s a big cigar.
GM: dozens of Hazat and householders of middle rank sit at the table and sit at the monitors, filling the room with a worried babble of mixed conversations::
Martel: ::it smells, not so faintly, of Ka oil::
Maria: ::when An seems ready, walks to the head of the table and waits for attention:: I’ve met most of you today. I am Baroness Maria Fe Eduardo de Aragon, bearing letters of authority from your duke.
Maria: With me is Don An-hetep-f Griffen del Sol Imperial to explain the situation. ::steps aside for An::
An: ::stands and makes his way up to the head of the table and stands there for a moment his eyes closed, breathing deeply::
An: Ladies and Gentlemen, at this very moment a fleet is moving this way with one goal. The enevitable domination of this planet. You have seen evidence of the enemies sabotage. You have seen the skirmish that took place today above your skys. I stand before you now to tell you. You are not alone. The rest of your house stands with you in this your most dire hour. They know of your plight and even now assemble a great host of ships to move to your aid. But the deception that struck this blow against the venerable Hazat was swift and struck deep. Its true damage was not discovered until time was stacked against us. So now, it is up to you. Even as we speak agents of the Emperor move to free your gate from the Horde. They though, require time. And I have come here today to ask you to buy them that time. To buy them that time with your ships and fleets, with your lives and blood. To strike out a great blow against your enemy. The fight will not be easy. But together, we will pay them back 10 fold for every life they end, every great ship they destroy. Ours in the righteous defence. Ours is the quest of the day. I know this house was struck a terrible blow recently. Your hearts were hardened to stone just to survive. Your souls cast like driftwood in the sea. But here, and now… The Pancreator has taken those hearts and and has smothed them into an unbreakable diamond. Carved your souls into a swift shield of defense. And has fitted your fists with iron to strike out an unrecoverable blow… So I ask you this… The ships of your enemies bear down upon you, will you yield? ::looks around at each of the people at the table and says again:: Will you yield?
GM: ::one general speaks up. “Hazat do not surrender!” and the line is taken up by the other nobles within the room until it reaches a crescendo… dozens of scared but unwavering men and women, ready to face the worst::
An: ::steps back from the head of the table and looks to Maria:: Now we plan.
GM: ::a montage…
ships taking off from the spaceport…
An, Maria, and Martel pouring over documents in the war room…
Lan furiously tending casualties in the infirmary…
Martel strongarming pilots into a prayer circle before takeoff, and glowing with theurgic light…
Frantic reports coming in from the front…
and one, final takeoff, as Redemption coasts into the sky::
GM: ::The Armada is not running dark… Hundreds, possibly thousands of ships exchange fire in the void of space. Each blaze of blaster fire is a pinpoint of a moment in space and time, perhaps minutes ago by the time it reaches your sensors and eyes… Hazat raiders and escorts dodge in and out of the fray, while the larger ships struggle to cover the escape of damaged ships. The armada has been caught a day away from the planet, but this is not ideal, as it take that long to receive fresh ships… even now, the Hazat are beginning to lose, as more and more ships emerge from the outer edge of the system to gang up on the Hazat::
Elena: ::pops up out of an engineering hatch, grease-stained:: Are we likely to use the grapple gun?
An: Can it help us get in close or would it be better not to be tethered to the gate?
Elena: No, it’s strictly for boarding other ships.
Martel: I can think of a few uses, but if it needs to go, it can go.
An: Agreed.
Elena: Okay, I’m going to see if I can disengage it from the reactor. It’s not drawing much power idle, but every little bit helps.
Tollosk: Did I mention to you guys how nice it is to finally have an on-board Engineer after months of doing maintenance myself?
Lan: I’m thinking about going to engineering school! You could always join me.
Martel: Watch it around this old hound Elena. Stay on board too long and you’ll find yerself employed.
Lan: ::notices his watch has stopped working, and pouts::
Elena: I’m not sure I’d mind. After the past couple of years of meditation and self awareness, it’s nice to just tinker in a ship again.
An: You know you’re always welcome.
Elena: Maybe after this I can convince the elders that I’m good to take some working vacations.
An: I’m sure you can be very convincing. ::puts a finger on each of his temples and gives her a good “mind control” stare then a a joking wink::
Martel: ::fires on a passing raider:: It’s good to have a hobby.
Elena: You know, I’m sure that’s against core principles of the Phavian Institute’s charter.
Martel: hobbies???
Elena: No… that’s just against some of the addendums.
Martel: Gee, and I always knew that deep down our cults were just alike.
Lan: You have hobbies, Padre! ::hides behind something as a raider passes::
Elena: We get air conditioning.
An: Its a fancy gig.
Martel: Sure I do! I smoke fine leaf, I shoot things occasionally…ok, I shoot things a lot, and I grow one of the largest gardens in the known worlds.
Martel: Well, by sheer land area anyways.
Martel: not a lot of the usable soil is in the same place.
GM: ::The battle outside grows steadily worse over the next several hours, and the Hazat begin a fighting retreat.::
Tollosk: Y’all let me know when it’s time to break.
An: How much ground are we losing?
Tollosk: We’ve lost about an AU since it started. We’re about 10% closer to Vera Cruz than we were before.
Martel: What can we shoot at that would make some of them chase us for a little while?
An: And how much time will you need Elena?
Tollosk: I don’t know that it will matter much. It looks like they’ve been lining more dreadnaughts up, and they’re just going to keep slowly shelling down the line with those.
Elena: Line of sight would be best… non-machine augmented. Not long, once I can see it, and we won’t need to slow down unless it doesn’t reset by the time we’re within jumpkey range
An: Tollosk, how long would it take to achieve line of sight?
Tollosk: We’re still about 27 AU out, so… little less than two days. But that would put us there well ahead of your friends
Lan: Which is not all bad if we’re shutting down fresh resupply? …. Wait! What? Elena’s going to mojo the thing open? ::Wriggles fingers::
Martel: Chances are she’s going to mojo the thing open ::mimes a wrench::
Elena: I’m not going to wiggle my fingers. And it will probably only work once before they’re prepared for it and can just reset the gate when they see us.
An: So we do what we can here. We hold out here for a while longer. We need to open the gate and ensure that they do not have time to reseal it before the reinforcements arrive.
Elena: I’ll make it ready to open sooner than they expect, but we still have to key in the right place before they do.
Martel: Do we know how many forces they’ve left to keep an eye on the gate?
Tollosk: Probably not many, but enough to handle a small and dedicated raider group that slips by. If they’re smart.
An: I assume it won’t be too many. Its something that cannot be reopened without considerable effort. ::looks to Tollosk:: Agreed.
Tollosk: They may be keeping their reserves back their too… we’re unlikely to do well guns blazing.
GM: ((there))
Tollosk: I can run dark like they did, though, and if we shoot by at full tilt they might not notice us until it’s too late.
An: Alright then. So we move in. Reset the gate, key in the proper code and hope the allied fleet in prepared.
Tollosk: So, now, or in two days?
Martel: I vote two days. It’s rough out here, but I think we can hold it togeather.
An: Agreed. I hate to do it but we’re going to have to ride this on the line. We compensate our time table for how much ground we’ve lost. The more ground we lose the sooner we leave. Alright.
GM: ::The next two days are hell… the Hazat line is steadily driven back by the overwhelming onslaught, and it’s only so slow because the Kurgans believe they have no way to lose, and busily swap fresh ships in for damaged ones… but in a day and a half, a sort of sweet spot is reached at about five AU from Vera Cruz, as the Hazat find it easier to swap out ships and men from the planet than the bloated Kurgan army stretched days from the jumpgate… You’re still losing, but begin losing ground much more slowly… at this rate, your dinged up ship might make it to the jumpgate and back before it’s too late::
Elena: We really shouldn’t get hit by any more blasters.
Lan: Always good advice.
An: Agreed. Then I think its time.
Martel: ::stops taking potshots:: I hate this part.
An: Next heavy fighting we break away and push dark for the gate. Send encoded messages to fleet command and let them know we move to assist imperial forces.
An: Then cut all communications, I want nothing coming to or going out of this ship.
GM: ::And in the next surge of combat, you let yourselves drift off like an incapacitated vessel, going dark, and letting inertia carry you to the edge of visual range::
Tollosk: Don’t check for spoils. Don’t check for spoils…
GM: ::an hour later, the fighting is reaching the edge of your passive sensors, and no one has come to investigate::
Martel: The spoils will be better after, and you won’t get killed for checking then.
Lan: You know, I’ve read that late second republic medical sonography techs built massive “space ears” early in the wars, that could actually reconstruct human voice from vestigal space gas.
Tollosk: Ready to punch it? Keep in mind, running dark doesn’t help us if they’re checking for wakes
Martel: Do it.
Maria: You’re saying that they invented a way to, in space, hear people scream?
Martel: Doc, you are so damn weird.
Lan: Exactly! Of course, it took days…
An: ::looks to Tollosk:: Make it so, Pilot.
Lan: ::is seated::
GM: ::and days lay out before you as you punch up to 8% of light speed and then let inertia carry you onward, making only periodic bursts of acceleration to counter the drag of space debris… by the end of the second day, you’re picking up the jumpgate on the sensors, and the comm chatter, now hours old, shows that the Hazat are being ground down but not without cost to the Kurgans::
Tollosk: I’ve counted four gate activations since we’ve been in scanner range. They’re really hitting it as fast as they can. That’s lame. If doing that is what’s killing the suns, those guys are really wasting juice.
An: Alright kids, what the final game plan?
Lan: Board the biggest ship at the gate, take it over, open the gate now? While I stay here?
Martel: Drift in, quiet as we can. Start on the opening sequence, start shooting only when we have to, and hold the gate till the cavalry can do it for us./
Tollosk: Race in at full burn and hope we can open it as we fly past?
An: Right, do we have a read on how many ships are guarding that gate?
Tollosk: From here, I’m only reading a half dozen.. but there’s no telling how many are dark… at least one destroyer and one frigate, at least
An: How many of the visible ones could pick us up visually? We have to assume that they’ll be watching for someone to sneak in and looking for any type of wake we’ll leave. We might be forced to get as close as possible and make a burn for it. Elena, a swift fly by enough time?
Tollosk: Well, we’re coming off direction from where they’re expecting, space is big, and we’re dark, so they probably won’t see us until we’re within a few hundred miles and burning hard, unless they’ve got think machines set up to monitor space
An: What about this, we burn at the gate, reset it, key in location of reinforcements and open it. Pushing through, it would put is out of harms way quicly enough and might keep the gate open long enough for the others to come through.
Elena: It all comes down to how much time is left on the reset… hopefully, I can burn it down to nothing. It would be better if we started our flyby near to when they’re going to ping the gate
Tollosk: If we go through the gate, we probably won’t be able to come around and back through before it closes
Martel: Anyway to know when that’ll be?
Tollosk: But we do have a gargoyle, so if we head out past the gate, we’re in a lot better shape than the Kurgans
Elena: Reset is anywhere from a minute to a week… at the rate they’ve been going, it looks like it’s been averaging at around a half an hour
Lan: It’s unlkely we could go to hira, disable their gate, and come back?
Maria: They surely have more on the other side
An: Right, so we need to reset the gate right when our allied fleet pings or can we open it up from over here?
Lan: I figured that was the unlikely part.
Tollosk: We can open it from here. We just have to open it to Aragon before they open it to Hira again.
Lan: … unless we’re willing to wait a random amount of time.
Tollosk: Opening the gate is just light pulses, though, and I can set it to just play them over and over as fast as possible, so we’re trying to open it as we get closer.
Martel: As it has been about half an hour, I say we wait. We’re only going to have one chance at this. I’d rather we didn’t screw it up.
Tollosk: And it’s on the front of the ship, so hopefully they’ll all turn to face us, and won’t keep trying themselves.
Lan: We won’t have the range to take potshots at somebody still facing the gate, I expect. Or are we talking about the fly-by still?
An: We set up trajectory, and push towards the gate, lets time it to arrive a few minutes before their next 30 minute unlock, that way we’ll be mostly sure the gate is ready to reopen.
Martel: Agreed.
Tollosk: Alright. I’ll call you when the next one goes, then you’ll have about 25 minutes to prepare yourselves.
Martel: Ring it over the coms. I’m gonna go pray. if anyone wants to join me, feel free.
GM: ::Maria and Elena both join in::
An: ::joins them for a small time as well before taking some time to be alone near someplace he can just look out into space, and think::
GM: ::and shortly after the prayer session::
Tollosk: There it goes! Gun stations! Except Elena. Elena to mojo station!
Martel: My Lord, we do what we think is best. We fight for what we hope is right. If it be thine will, lend us strength once more. If not, let us perish from this world. Thine will be done. Amen,
Lan: ::prays as well::
Martel: ::stands:: ok, lets go shoot things.
Lan: Amen! ::lets others take first turns at gunnery::
An: ::moves to be beside Elena:: Ready?
GM: ::the repulsor-compensated G forces lock in, and within moment you’re hurtling at an appreciable fraction of C. You feel the whine of the shields as they take all the power possible for a short rush at speeds that are not recommended.::
Elena: ::straps into one of the chairs in the cockpit and looks towards the jumpgate, taking An’s hand to share in his Wyrd::
Lan: ::imagines the light pulses looking more like slingshots::
An: ::squeezes her hand::
GM: ::As the jumpgate ceases to be just scanlines on a sensor readout, and begins to dominate the time-dialated view out of the canopy, Elena begins to concentrate. Her mechanical eye flares, red light streaming in odd patterns at relativistic velocities.::
GM: ::you can suddenly all feel the sathra dampeners whine, struggling to shut out the strange sense of unity you all feel to one another, to the ship, to the gate, and to the cosmos::
GM: ::Symbols seem to light subtly on the gate, counting down faster than they were before… counting down in a way that is likely still invisible to those before it::
GM: ::And those before it are many. Indeed, six larger ships maintain a precise orbit around the gate, but, now, you can make out dozens of specs of raiders and fighters drifting around the ships. Some, certainly damaged, but others just waiting to attack::
Tollosk: Diverting power to forward shields! And starting the dialing procedure!
Martel: ::takes aim at one of the smaller ships, hoping to disable it in a turn to disrupt the formation::
GM: ::light flares suddenly flicker from the front of the ship, dialing lasers pointed at the gate, dopplering into compressed waves , almost pooling, red, as your ship rushes to catch it::
GM: ::and, the red of the fading lasers merely call attention the blue tint of the onrushing gate and its guardians::
Maria: Martel! Try the EM gun. I don’t think the slugs and blasters will work at this speed. I’m going to get ready on the missile as we go by.
Martel: ::opens up on said turning ship immediately::
An: ::concentrates hard on helping Elena, giving her all the strength he can::
GM: ::the ships finally catch sight of you as the lasers from the ship, the hard burn, and the pulses of EM light you up against the night… Martel catches two of the larger ships, the ones pointed towards the gate, and their shields flicker and they turn away, towards you…
Lan: ::hums:: Just a song, before I go…. A lesson to be learned…
GM: Tollosk turns the ship at a slightly oblique angle, and the return volley has no chance of hitting a ship moving nigh on 30 million meters per second… at least until they begin to accellerate themselves, and that is just what the raiders begin to do, each one lighting up in turn and moving to match your velocity… the ship shudders slightly as each missile is launched to cover the rear, streaking towards the turning raiders… The jumpgate eclipses the night, filling the entire plane of your view, a window on the cosmos, and still, Elena strains and the glyphs count down with their ethereal light… Just as the frigate and destroyer start moving in your direction, you crest the plane of the gate and surge into the dark between the stars…
Martel: ::stops firing immediately::
GM: there is a moment of weightlessness as Tollosk kills the hard burn and then pain as he whips the ship around, still flying away from the sun but facing the gate… desperately firing the dialing laser and turning the shields towards the oncomers…
Martel: ::resumes firing once he’s turned back the right way around::
GM: And then, as the gate begins to shrink back down to a fraction of the sky, a flare like a dawning star fills its bounds… purple light shot through with lightning fills the void, and you see another void rather than the star that it once framed… for moments, you see only the back end of the portal, an outlet onto unknown darkness, yourselves falling further and further away into the night… until, finally, the curtain fades, revealing real space, once again framing Vera Cruz’s star… and the hundreds of Hazat warships tearing through the enemy guards… G forces once again push against the repulsor field, as Tollosk guns the ship forward, streaking towards the remnant raiders that followed you in a game of interstellar chicken, Martel’s blasts surging ahead…
Lan: AwwwSOOT! ::cowboylike::
GM: and, within minutes, you have rejoined the Hazat fleet, even now beginning its own hard burn towards Vera Cruz::
Martel: ::gingerly feels his neck:: Yeah…yeah, that’s gonna be whiplash tomorrow.
GM: ::as you burn towards the center of the system, you receive word that the Dulcinea fleet is less than an hour behind, jumping in from Sutekh::
GM: ::And it is less than a day before the Kurgan fleet breaks, moments from breaking through the Bursandra line, on word of the approaching fleet… yet there is no where for them to go, too late for them to go dark, too few for them to fight back, with their supplies and lines cut… The Bursandra held the line… the Kurgan fleet is smashed into the night, ruined and scattered into the dark between the stars::
GM: ::and it is only a few days to resupply and reorient over the skies of Vera Cruz, chasing down raiders and securing the perimeter, before word comes that a wing of the Imperial Fleet has come, ready to press on, to give the aid the Hazat requested for so long… but which is now clearly necessary to protect against an enemy eager to reach towards Byzantium and Holy Terra… The fleets move into Hira, rolling through the remaining Kurgan fleets that had taken the planet from its disorganized defenders months before… This fight is longer, bombarding the planet and dropping infantry upon the surface to remove the defenses the Kurgans had retaken and dug in, but, in time, Hira is once more the nominal possession of the Hazat, first bastion against the barbarian hordes::
GM: ::Weeks pass in a flicker of award ceremonies, speeches, and celebrity… those that were already known for saving Vera Cruz are doubly lauded, and each of your legends spread throughout Hazat space, and even further…
Lan: ::Finds time to exchange smugness with the other three. Later tries to sort of lobby for medical refuge for the enemy, and their medical people. Or may be lost in the crowd::
GM: Duchess Elena is tried and forced into house arrest until the end of her days, and her closest allies are put to death for treason against House and Empire… Malena quietly becomes a Countess in the power void… The Justus once more take the Princedom of the Hazat, but the Bursandra heroes of the Battle of Vera Cruz have significant sway for years to come… and, by the next spring, the crisis has passed… the surf pounds against the Isabella Bluffs as you return the long-overdue Redemption to the base you’d “borrowed” it from all those months ago… and it is time for some of you to part::
GM: ::Malena meets with Lan overlooking the surf on a particularly fine day::
Malena: What’s next, Doctor?
Lan: ::bows with his best manners:: The Guild would have me teach. ::rubs his neatly trimmed beard:: I like that idea fine. But where is up the air. And, I don’t know. I’ve been thinking about a career in politics.
Malena: It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. ::smiles:: I don’t think you’d like it. They very rarely let you take a day off to work in the clinic.
Lan: Or dancing at cliff’s edge, I suppose. I hope that what we’ve done wasn’t just another empty bit of political bloodshed. Does… milady have any advice?
Malena: I’m not sure what we did. The house is stronger than it would have been… but are we better off to have beaten back the Kurgans and the Jakovians in exchange for all that we lost? I don’t know.
Lan: The Jakovans? Yes.
Malena: What I do know, is that I am on a knife’s edge of favor and intrigue, perhaps for years, while the new power structure gets fully sorted out… You are free to do as you will. I can’t promise you anything. There was a time where I could consort with who I wanted. But now I feel like your friend Maria did all those months ago, penned in by my oaths and politics. But once things start to be sorted, I might call upon you to lend your prestige to my estates, if you’re willing. To give you in political favors what I can’t in personal life. This still isn’t a promise. I can’t see the future that clearly. But I would like to give you what I can, even if that is just my patronage.
Lan: Perhaps I’ll make of myself like Parzifal. And send you back my every victory. ::smiles:: I’m not so demanding or impatient. Unless you want me to demand you run away with me to Hira.
Malena: No. If I go to Hira, it will be as a ruler, not a refugee. But the sun is setting, it’s a fine day, and, for now I have time, if you’d like that dance… while the light lasts.
Lan: ::raises eyebrows only faintly to say emphatically, “That, I look forward to seeing”, and offers his hand::
GM: ::and as two figures dance to the fading sun, two others return home from yet another interminable party::
Maria: I need one day to ourselves. One! How can there be a ball, or a party, or a meeting, or a concert every night? At this rate, we’re going to have to book the wedding a year in advance just to find a free day.
An: There are no free days. I have learned that now. I think if I shake another hand, mine will fall off.
Maria: You’d think, as a dueling culture, we’d do more bowing the way the Castenda do, save our wrists.
An: Maybe they save those for when things are important, like when you’re gonna stab someone.
GM: ::Alphonso opens the door::
Alphonso: Sir and Madam! I took the liberty of showing your guest to the parlor.
An: ::turns towards the door:: Our… guests?
Alphonso: Just one old man… he seems rather important.
An: Thank you, make sure he’s comfortable and we’ll be there momentarily.
Alphonso: Very good.
An: ::looks to Maria:: Probably some governor or lord ::rubs his hand absently:: Maybe a merchant, wants to sell on on the idea of having our faces engraved on mugs. Shall we?
Maria: ::puts on an exagerrated “interested” face::
GM: ::the man in the parlor has more lines on his shaven face than you remember, his long hair fully gray now, and he’s dressed much more nicely than the last time you saw him, shortly before being sucked into a mystical tornado and dropped in the desert… the Merlin of the Eskatonics stands and bows when you arrive::
Emrys: Ah, Don An-hetep-f and Lady Maria. It has been years. I apologize for the unannounced arrival without any kind of previous correspondence.
An: ::cocks his head to the side:: Understandable… what can we do for you?
Emrys: ::waits for you to sit, then sits:: Time is a wheel. If you have seen the past, you can predict the future. We are amidst the last surge of a silver age, awaiting a catastrophe that could destroy us, or could result in an era of gold. I believe that the two of you and your allies have already accomplished many things, some you are barely aware of, to tilt the future towards the better years. Alexius is, as much as we had hoped otherwise, only a precursor to the coming dawn. When the new Emperor rises, he will need strong allies, and hidden powers, to overcome the flood. Your time as the agent of the Empire is done, and fate no longer binds you, though it may appreciate your hands from the shadows. But I believe you have something that no longer benefits you, which cannot be trusted to the current lords of the known worlds, and which will greatly benfit the coming king. I ask you to help me hide it for the time when, at need, it can once more be wielded in the hand of the destined lord.
An: Then I have some ideas on where it can be hidden. Somewhere deep, where it cannot be found, until the rightful person comes to claim it.
Emrys: I believe that you know a place on Pentateuch that is a relic of a bygone age, keyed to a genelock and hidden.
An: ::nods:: Indeed I do.
Emrys: Then, there it shall wait, for the hand of the true king… plus, it will be years before the Avestites figure it out, and I hope I’m still alive to see that realization…
An: ::nods:: So do I.
GM: ::meanwhile, on Pyre::
GM: ::Brother Martel is called before the Bishop::
Martel: ::bows his head before his superior:: I’ve come, as summoened, your Grace.
Bishop: Azo. You’ve been back less than a month. The hallways are about twice as loud as normal. A quarter of the novitiates stay up nights giggling like schoolgirls outside your dormitory. And I have not less than twenty letters asking for an interview.
Martel: My apologies, your Grace. I will ask my fellow novices to be more circumspect.
Bishop: And, despite my best efforts, I have been unable to determine that you are doing anything but telling completely truthful stories and acting entirely within the bounds of your penance. I can’t keep you here. I can’t banish you. So I have to promote you.
Martel: One does ones best to fulfill ones meagre position, your grace.
Bishop: You’re popular on Hira, now, right? Are you aware that we were the dominant sect on that planet before the Kurgan invasion?
Martel: Of course, sir. I’ve felt that we could be again, with the proper handling.
Bishop: If I give you your rank back, will you go there for a few years and rebuild the cathedral? Maybe take some of the other malcontents and give them something productive and less likely to be heretical to do? There aren’t any aliens or known gargoyles there, so hopefully I won’t even have to worry about any new prophecies.
Martel: If that is your wish, my Grace, I will do my best to prevent any outbreaks of unneccisary heresy.
Bishop: I’m certain the Kurgans did more than physical damage, there. Go be a shining example of why the natives should turn back to the Pancreator’s light.
Martel: Yes, your grace. ::raises his head high:: His will be done.
Bishop: yes, yes ::blesses him and shoos him out of the room::
GM: ~~~5009~~~
Martel: ((Yaaaay, everyone not dying a painful death to void krakens!))
GM: ::The street here barely shows any signs of the bombardment that had leveled the city four years ago… Fort Omala has seen better days, but also seen far worse ones… Ever since the Castenda began pouring money into the reconstruction at the behest of an activist doctor, the place has started to function as a real city again… The Battle of Hira Memorial hospital is bustling today, welcoming the founder who has come back to visit::
Nurse: Oh, you’ll love this Dr. Maningzhoue. We’ve doubled the number of scanners in this room, so we’ve quadrupuled the number of local refugees we can treat on a regular basis.
Lan: ::beams and rubs his neatly trimmed beard:: Fantastic. You’re doing good work, miss? ::beams::
Nurse: Adele
Lan: I don’t need to say anything about the importance of our work, I’m sure. Thanks so much. ::nods politely, moves on, checking things over::
Nurse: We’re really looking forward to the dedication later. I hear your friend is giving a speech.
Lan: ::nods:: I am… ::looking over, making adjustments:: Anything I should stress, Adele?
Lan: ((Wait.))
Nurse: Your friend, sir. Your friend is giving the speech. And the director told me to make sure you didn’t get wrapped up in the machines and miss it.
Lan: ((Heh, I can’t read. I plead headcold))
Lan: Oh! Of course. ::goes on fiddling with machines::
Lan: Wait, who?
GM: ::A hand-lettered posterboard adorns a wall: “Cathedra Avesti, Grand Reopening and Dedication”…
Love the sinner, burn the sin
We won’t burn your body, but you’ll still burn in Hell
We now question first, smite later

Ask us about our Ka-oil free confession Tuesday::
GM: ::Martel sits, regarding the sign, a large marker in hand::
Martel: ::mutters:: ..and here I thought repurposing the old slogans would be easy.
Acolyte: Deacon? Do you want to practice your speech again? You have a few hours left before the sunset dedication.
Martel: Oh well. That’ll do for now. No, my boy. If I keep saying it now, I’ll be too tense to give it later.
Acolyte: Yes, sir. I received word that your friend the Doctor made is safely in this morning, and will be attending.
Martel: Good, good. He’ll be at the hospital for the rest of the day, I’d hazard. We’ll invite him over after. Can you get the boys in the bakery downstairs to whip up something…cakey for him?
Acolyte: I’ll see what I can do… they’re really still better with anything that can be broiled. I’m not sure they’ve gotten baking down.
Martel: Hmmm. Just do a nice beef something or other. I’m sure they’ll do fine.
Acolyte: Yes, sir. Anything else that needs checking before?
Lan: ((Kau cutlets. This is the future. ))
Martel: No, no, I think we’re fine. Oh, make sure that the free refugee luncheon has enough of the new pamphlets I prepared for next week. Need to make sure the printers have enough time to run those off. But later, later. Lets make our way to the festivities. ::reaches into his pocket:: Cigar?::
Acolyte: I will sir. No thank you sir.
Martel: Anyone else I need to know about gonna be coming, son?
Acolyte: I don’t know, sir. Were you expecting anyone besides the doctor?
Martel: Actually, yeah. I was expecting a Reeve. Where the Hell is An hiding at?
Acolyte: I can check with the canon for you?
Martel: Please do.
GM: ::Dappled sunlight pours through the leaves of the apple tree, falling upon a little boy with dark hair, carefully inspecting apples with intelligent blue eyes before putting them into a basket… His father, reaches up into the tree, handing down fruit one by one::
GM: “This one has a bad spot daddy. The birds got into it.”
An: Then we’ll leave it for them. I’m sure they’ll enjoy it.
GM: ::the boy nods and places the apple to the side, continuing to sort the fruit::
An: ::reaches down ruffles the boy’s head::
GM: ::the view pans through the grid of apple trees, extending off into the distance, stopping on the dark haired woman walking up through the rows. she balances a baby girl on her shoulder::
Maria: How is the great harvest going?
An: ::smiles and comes down off the little ladder:: Slow and steady. ::steps over and gives Maria a quick kiss, then leans down and kisses the girl on the head::
GM: ::the little girl struggles to reach an apple in her big brother’s hand, and he holds it back for a second, then hands it over::
Maria: I don’t think you can eat that yet, honey.
GM: ::the baby girl giggles and plays with the apple like a ball::
Maria: Well, no rest for the weary. Can you take her? I have a town planning session in an hour.
An: ::reaches over and takes up the girl:: Yeah, we’ll find something fun to do… ::looks down at the boy:: Something dangerous that will make your mommy grow older, what do you say? ::grins widely::
GM: “Pirates!”
An: Pirates it is!
Maria: ::grins:: Be sure to wear him out. He’s so much easier for Alphonso to watch when he sacks out early. Don’t forget to come in in a few hours. We have to get on the jet for Fort Omala by five if we’re going to make it to Martel’s service.
An: ::leans in and kisses her again:: I will, go do some planning official stuff now.
GM: ::Maria smiles and kisses back deeply, then breaks away and walks back the way she came. As she goes, the view pulls out above the lush treetops, showing the newly built hacienda in the distance, pulling further back to see the growing city beyond… and fading further and further up above the continents of Hira… until the war-torn and rebuilt planet hangs as a lush gem against the black… further and further, past the sun and deep into space, the planet dwindling, and then the sun itself fading… growing smaller… shrinking into the distance until the view pulls through an immense ring of worked stone and metal, which slowly spins lighted glyphs, crackles with energy, and ignites in a road to distant stars::
GM: ((Credits song: Tonight and the Rest of My Life by Nina Gordon))
GM: ~~~Credits (in order of appearance)~~~
Lee Watts as Brother Journeyman Tien Xuan Hai Dinh Mactiernan
Tom Rybak as Don Ricardo Valentin Eduardo de Aragon
Brandon Gore as Lieutenant Fizz
Adam Garland as Don Isfahan Ruiza de Los Santos de Estancia
Cameron Cook as Don An-hetep-f Griffen del Sol Imperial
Brandon Gore as Brother Aricus
Tom Rybak as Sir William Godfrey Hawkwood
Adam Garland as Lieutenant Saburo Aren El-Sabeh
Bill Pees as Doctor Lan Maningzhoue
Robert Hodgson as Deacon Martel Azo
Lee Watts as Commander Budi Kheder Tajik Ramesh
Andrew Kemp as Sergeant Vasili Petrovich
and
Stephen Cheney as Various
GM: ~~~OOC~~~

Ep 23.1, Iron Fists Finale, Part 1

~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~IC~~~
GM: ::fade in on Aragon, jewel of the Hazat… golden beaches on crystal waters… beautiful buildings and beautiful people… space traffic moves in and out of the starport, and something about the motion hints at problems finally being solved after a long period of pain… where for months travel was stilted and cautious, now it moves with purpose and a long-missed business… a newspaper is waved by a young freeman, the stack beneath pointing out “St. Bernardo’s Globe Recovered!”… we follow a Hazat-liveried runner up the street into a large Hazat city-based fort, where the foyer is bathed in the light of the globe… our heroes sit in council with Duke Enrico and several other high-ranking Hazat nobles in a plush council chamber above::
Enrico: …and just as we received word of the mustering of the Dulcinea fleet in preparation to make a two-fold strike at Sutekh, we also heard that Duchess Elena is on her way here, presumably still en route for the winter ball.
Lan: ::mutters:: I’ve been waiting to dance all week.
Justus Duke: Is it possible that she is not yet aware that we learned of her deception?
Rolas Duke: We made efforts to curtail all the light pulse telegrams in the wake of the raid, but unless her spies are incompetent, I can’t imagine she would miss the news.
An: ::nods in agreement::
Martel: Then she’s either going to attempt a coup, which I’d suggest is somewhat unlikely, or she’s got another game to play.
Enrico: My thoughts exactly, father… the only other option would be that she believes we have insufficient evidence. Don An-hetep-f… do you think she’s aware of your source?
An: Truthfully I don’t know. But I don’t think we can be willing to risk finding out the hard way. What would be our repurcusions for picking her up from touchdown?
Enrico: Assuming her highest-ranking family members on-planet are intending to sell her out to save themselves… none immediately.
An: Then perhaps that is our best course of action. Bring her in as quickly as possible and on the spot. How does our evidence stand as of so far?
Enrico: We have the testimony of the captured knights and householders binding the globe to the individuals you apprehended, and several that survived have agreed to confess their complicity with the Castenda… With the evidence provided by the Marquesa to shift the blame to only certain elements within the house, the case should be very strong… as strong as any of these things are in a council of peers. We may require the Emperor’s judgment, ultimately. The evidence is circumstantial, but extensive. We may not be able to make her pay fully for the plot that claimed so many lives, but we can certainly force her into sequestered retirement like her mother.
Martel: The question then becomes, “how would I get out of this?”
Justus Duke: Just so I’m completely clear. We believe the plot was to reveal our knight with the globe and use it as a weapon against the Justus? I still can’t imagine, even were such a “Frame Job” as it were to work, discrediting us would be enough to cement Castenda rule.
Martel: Which is why I suspect she hasn’t yet played all of her cards.
An: Then do we perhaps let the rest of the plan be layed out before us, and hope we are ready to strike? I will take lengths, whatever the decision to retrieve Imperial justice, if this council should see fit as swiftly as possible.
Enrico: Your help is much appreciated. Fortunately, once we have her isolated, I worry less about how long it will take to bring her to the Emperor’s justice. I worry more about whether she still has machinations to enact, and whether she will use them out of spite.
Martel: Does that seem in character for her?
An: She will, I could almost guarantee it. For someone who is as power hungry as she, faced with losing her chance at everything she would play ever last card she had.
Rolas Duke: I’ve known Elena for years, but I never would have expected what she has done already. Perhaps the drive to complete what her mother started has driven her mad for want of power. Even at her worst, her mother would have never been so cruel.
Enrico: Then I fear we should assume the worst. From your sources, have you gotten any idea of what other tricks she might have?
Lan: Abandoning conscience and other shifts in personality have their reasons. ::fiddles with nails::
An: ::wracks his brain for a moment:: I can’t think of any, truth be told.
Lan: ::wracks his brain, for the nonce:: If we’re here for the reasons … I’ve often sensed we are? ::glances at the deacon:: I somehow doubt it’s somthing pedestrian and political. ::offers::
Martel: Well, I do know what I would do. If I’d spent all my life, and years of planning, stretching for a specific goal, just to have it ripped away at the very last moment… I wouldn’t want anyone else to have it either. We’ve more or less established that she’s willing to commit wholesale murder to further her ends. Who does she have to kill to keep from going down for her crimes? Or at least take as many of us down with her as she can?
Enrico: At this point, the leadership of every other family and everyone else we’ve told. Because even if she covers up the theft of the globe, others will know the most likely cause of our deaths. She certainly couldn’t take leadership of the house without a massive enough force to wipe out all of our forces, as her mother tried.
Justus Duke: Then, if we have nothing further to discuss, I suggest we make make what individual preparations we can and wait until she lands.
An: Agreed.
Martel: ::nods::
GM: ::And, you do. It’s a couple of days later, in your swank Port Isabella hotel suite, when you get the word that Elena’s transport is expected today, and has been safely guided in by a quartet of warships::
Lan: ::gets up first with the lesser ranking people so’s not to be standing last. Once the four are alone mentions praying to the deacon.::
An: ::tries to dress well, but not so well that it can’t easily be shedded to fit, if any situation arrises::
GM: ((heh, good ole’ self-effacing Lan… the only member of the party that wouldn’t be weird to be seen hanging out with dukes under less strange circumstances))
Lan: ((It’s one of the few discernable ways he expresses calm primary over passion.))
Maria: ::dresses notably somberly, in a dress that allows plenty of freedom of movement. She checks her sword fairly obsessively throughout the morning:: Do we actually think she’s going to attack? Should we have Tollosk get the ship ready, just in case? Would that do us any good?
Lan: I’d… rather be on the ground, if there’s going to be a fight, but… the Stone is there aboard, too.
An: Yes, we better. We have nothing to lose for it and in the end it might be not be a bad idea. If a chase ensues.
Martel: ::dresses in his traditional red, without any of the traditional Avesti symbols. His gun gleams black, and a fresh, unlit cigar dangles from his teeth::
Maria: We should run some clothing and supplies down there, then.
Martel: We prep the ship. I’d wager we still need that stone for something, and It’s not going to do us much good with our feet on the ground.
Lan: ::goes and prays, with or without the deacon, in the nearest little garden or the like. Then comes back in his synthsilk and basic black, kit slung under arm.::
Maria: The Avestites are still rooming in New Barcelona, aren’t they? Should we send someone to pick them up? Is it too late? Did we only need the stone the one time, or will we need it now?
Lan: If we didn’t need it it would be, I think, gone.
Martel: I’d rather not need it and have it, than not have it and need it.
Lan: I guess I hadn’t thought about them not still being with the ship. Duh. ::palms forehead::
Maria: Yeah, Tollosk dropped them off weeks ago. He never said why. I guess they weren’t any fun to hang out with.
Lan: ::straightens padre’s plain red outfit:: There. No affiliations except the Pancreator himself, eh?
Martel: Hell, why do ya think I never used to hang out on Pyre? Besides, we probably don’t want them poking around on the ship too much. ::shrugs at Lan:: I may not be a man of the church anymore, but I’ll always be a man of God.
An: No, I don’t believe we do. So, I’ll call Tollosk have him fuel up, supply up and get on stand by.
Maria: We don’t need the avestites and the stone?
Martel: ::turns to An:: Yeah. Are you sure? I mean, if we don’t know what she’s planning, why not try to be prepared for all eventualities? The stone opens up a lot of options.
An: Yes we do, and yes it does. ::smiles a big wide smile and turns to make his way to F-ne, phone, communicator, commlink:: I’m calling Tollosk.
Tollosk: ::over the phone:: What’s up, boss?
Lan: You know, if I was that stone, and able to choose where I wanted to be, I’d be hanging out with the Heroes of Aragon.
Martel: We are the coolest kids in school.
Maria: I don’t think it works that way. It still needed the jump engine.
Lan: Oh, none of us know how it works. ::jokingly::
An: Fuel the ship, stock it quick, things might be moving forward. Get “the package” bring it along, leave the flamers behind if you catch my drift. Can you be ready to move on our word?
Tollosk: Been fueled up, I’ll check the stocks. Package is already aboard, and I haven’t seen any flamers for the better part of a month. We can go any time you get here.
Martel: Wait. Confirm which package he’s talking about.
An: Understood. Appreciate it. I’ll be in touch. ::turns back to Martel and pats him on the shoulder:: Its all taken care of.
Martel: ::eyes narrow:: I think I want an explaination An.
An: Soon. All will be explained soon. But not just yet. ::goes and gets a cup of COFFEE!::
Lan: ::frowns:: What was that all about?
Maria: An’s being mysterious. It’s actually pretty sexy if you don’t take it personally.
Martel: ::scowls:: Huh. I sacrificed my Goddamned career for us to get our hands on that rock, and he’s hiding it from me. If he doesn’t have a better reason that “I wanted to look clever” then I’m going to punch him in his sanctimonious mouth. I’ll be outside. ::stomps off::
Lan: Better that than shooting. Cold compress and… Hmph.
Maria: ::quietly:: You do look very clever, honey.
An: ::nods and sips his coffee his eyes narrowing slightly::
GM: ::about an hour later you get the call to meet at the Hazat fort you were at previously::
Lan: ::goes along second least mopily::
An: ::goes along as well::
Martel: ::also goes along, which means who the hell are the three of us going along WITH?::
Maria: ::goes, taking the other three::
GM: ::the large central foyer is filled with witnesses, each in various modes of dress… some somber, some businesslike, and all of various level of fanciness, as if no one knows the exact protocol of such an occasion… The Dukes of Justus, Rolas, Bursandra, and Estancia (Enrico) are present, lacking only the duchess of the Dulcinea. There still has not been an official Duke appointed to the Eduardo. Malena is also present, looking worried.::
GM: ::Each face is set off in brilliant colors and lines by the light of the Globe; a painting of the scene would be an impressive historical tableau::
GM: ::after a tense few minutes of quiet conversation, a greater hush spreads as word arrives from outside…
Lan: ::wowed, but manages to keep his cool anyway::
GM: The doors of the room open, and Hazat guards enter, escorting a woman between them. She is unchained, but obviously a prisoner…
Martel: ::is still in a relatively foul mood, but tries not to inflict it on the guests in polite company::
GM: Her face is, in many ways, similar to Malena’s, but several decades more careworn, even with youthening drugs, and long-scoured of even pretend compassion. She is tall and dark, wearing somber traveling clothes with a haughtiness of true contempt for the room… As she gets closer, it’s obvious that her eyes, once piercing and insightful, have taken on a sheen of madness that she no longer bothers to conceal.::
Justus Duke: Duchess Elena Cindias Victoriana Castenda de Sutek! You have been called here to answer charges of treason most foul in the witness of the Hazat. You stand accused of consorting with the enemies of the house, conspiracy to commit mass murder, and conspiracy to steal rulership of the house through guile. Will you confess, answer your charges with trial by might, or submit to a formal trial?
Lan: ::tries to rule out any organic disorder as the basis for crazy. Not enough B12 can be really bad.::
Duchess Elena: ::begins a slow, dry chuckle that quickly crescendos into a full twenty seconds of mad laughter:: Oh. Oh, dear. Why, I guess I must confess. If only I had expected your cunning trap, I might have done something…
Martel: ::thinks the Hazat are crazy if they lets someone “trial by might” their way out of this::
Duchess Elena: Wait… I’m confessing. I did do something. Plans in motion must carry forward, or we are nothing, after all. I confess to it all, a plan as audacious as it was brilliant, failing only in the weakness of some of those I had to rely upon… I engineered the fall of the Eduardo, it is true. I masterminded the theft of the globe that even now casts its bitter light into my eyes. I worked ceaselessly for years to turn a family that you all mocked and hated into a power despite it all… And I prepared a masterstroke to catapult myself into prime leadership material, for I would have been even greater than my mother. But, alas, now that stroke will go awry, for I cannot trust my Castenda to do what was asked of them… And what was asked of them was to be in position near Vera Cruz to hold off the oncoming Kurgan horde long enough to get much of the planet to safety. It’s too bad the Bursandra fleets lay sabotaged on the ground, unable to do much but scramble to flee… But my Castenda betrayed me. So I didn’t tell them that part of the plan. And I moved up the timetable, as I was passing through Vera Cruz space… If I calculate correctly, the planet was taken yesterday, and the gate locked to you…
Lan: ::smiles faintly::
Duchess Elena: Sadly, when they were dealing with me, the Kurgans would have been content to have only Vera Cruz and Hira, leaving us with our jewels and no further worry of Kurgan attack, turning our sights on other houses’ territories… Once they have secured Vera Cruz, they will have many new options for targets of opportunity. I don’t expect to see it. But, perhaps you should mobilize the fleets. They may let some refugees through.
GM: ::dead silence, save for Elena’s hoarse mocking laughter::
Justus Duke: Take her away.
Martel: I hate being right ::Martel mutters quietly::
GM: ::as the guards march out the madwoman, the room erupts into furious talking, and nobles begin darting out::
An: ::looks to Lan:: Can the stone be used to move an entire fleet?
Martel: That would be the question of the day, wouldnt it?
Lan: It should be interesting to try? ::shrugs:: Likely not, so… maybe we should go in something big.
Martel: ::grabs the attention of the nearest duke::
GM: ::you eventually flag down Enrico::
An: Too much of a risk, in a battle with a possible fleet it would be easily destoryed.
Martel: Duke, we have a solution for this eventuality. Come speak with us, if you will.
Enrico: A solution?
Lan: It’s a tactical advantage with every use at this point, though. Since they won’t expect us.
Maria: If she’s off by even a little, we might still have time to help. We should go now. We should have gone this morning, damnit.
Martel: We do try to think of everything. I estimated throwing in with the Kurgans as fairly high up the list of possibilities.
Lan: If we can just get there and keep the gate open, after all… ::chuckles:: I knew it all along.
Martel: ::begins dragging Enrico back to Lan and An::
Lan: ::the last, to padre across the room::
Maria: I’m going to go get letters of authority from the Bursandra.
GM: ::she goes off, shoving through the crowd directly for the Bursandra duke, who shows signs of bugging out before she catches him::
Enrico: What’s going on?
Martel: Unfortunately, to forstall the worst of this tragedy, we’ll need a battlefleet. Lan, An, tell the Duke.
Lan: We are in posession of a certain Stone, your Highness.
An: Duke, I need some form of trust here and a severe amount of discretion.
An: How quickly can you have the fleet mustered to leave?
Enrico: You’ve earned as much. The Justus and Rolas fleets were partially ready already, as well as the Eduardo ships that are ready. I have few of my own. The Dulcinea are at Byzantium, ready to enter Sutekh space. The Bursandra are all in Vera Cruz. Who knows where the Castenda are?
Lan: ::looks impatient::
Enrico: It would be a week and a half before a true force could be at the gate… potentially less than a week for the Dulcinea to move in. But if they’ve locked the gate, it’s for nothing.
An: And what if we could get the fleet there… now.
Enrico: And the Dulcinea fleet isn’t strong enough to fight Kurgans. Most of it is still tasked to other duties.
Lan: An! Getting the fleet there may be out of the question. But.
Martel: We could open the gate.
An: ::looks to Lan:: But?
Lan: One ship is a given. Your highness. ::deferentially:: We can take one ship to Vera Cruz without passing through the gate.
Enrico: One ship… might be enough to at least pass through leadership and try to manage the crisis. But one ship wouldn’t be able to fight a Kurgan armada.
Martel: But could one ship open the gate from the other side?
An: It could.
Martel: I suggest that be our course of action then.
Enrico: What do you need?
Martel: A fleet, as big as you can manage, waiting to come through from the other side.
Enrico: We’ll have every available ship up there as soon as we can manage, just waiting for the gate to unlock.
Martel: Does this seem like a sound plan gentlemen? ::looks at Lan and An::
Maria: ::strides back with a stack of sealed pieces of paper:: All set with the authority.
Lan: ::nods::
An: ::looks to Martel after repairing the spacebar on his keyboard:: Do you think our ship is small and swift enough to avoid notice?
Martel: If anyone can avoid notice, it’s my cousin. I think a larger vessel would just provide a larger target.
Lan: I imagine it’s too much to ask for a captured or simulated kurgan transport of some kind.
An: Alright, then we move as fast as possible. I’ll tell you the rest of the plan once were off the planet. ::looks to the duke:: It how much time do you need?
Enrico: They may have those on Hira, even Vera Cruz, but not on short notice here.
Lan: Too bad. We’ll make do. ::smiles blandly::
Martel: Would someone here know a precise location?
Enrico: We’ll send out the ships we have in orbit immediatly, but there are a lot on the ground. Realistically, we need ten days, possibly less if things go perfectly.
An: Got it, that should be plenty of time for us. Our plans may have to be advanced be prepared, the gate could open at any time.
Maria: Our ship is pretty well armed and agile, I’d trust it over a dubiously hacked Kurgan vessel that might be identifiable anyway.
Lan: Vera Cruz can last a siege of a fortnight, surely?
Enrico: ::shakes his head:: if she wasn’t lying, and they could somehow keep the ships on the ground long enough to bombard the bases, they couldn’t put up much of a resistance. It isn’t our practice to keep too many ships in the air, particularly given that a lot of the fleet is spread out because of the late problems. If the Kurgans sent a scouting fleet in dark, had saboteurs and surprise, they could very well have taken the planet by now and we’re only coming back for vengeance.
Lan: So… it will have to probverbially be served cold? ::thoughtfully:: I wonder if Keddah will get involved.
Martel: I think you find that the vengeance of the Lord will be hot indeed. ::lights his cigar:: Lets go hunt some Kurgans.
An: The trick is we won’t know exactly whats going on until we get there. We’ll have to make the plan on the fly.
Martel: Improvise? Us? Shocking suggestion there.
An: ::looks to Enrico:: Get with the other Dukes let them know of our plan, but tell noone else. ::looks to his companions:: No time like the present.
Lan: ::Wastes no time. Not even to look good. Maybe makes eye contact with Malena though, if possible, on the way out::
Enrico: ::nods:: I don’t understand. Hopefully you’ll tell me after this is over. But the Pancreator speed you on.
Martel: Indeed. ::nods at the duke:: Enrico. ::heads out::
An: ::looks to the Duke before he leaves:: One last thing…
GM: ::Malena is a study of woe. She notices Lan, but doesn’t seem to have any emotions available right now.::
An: ::motions to Malena and says in a low voice:: She provided us with vital information, at danger to her own life and well being, make sure she is protected.
Enrico: ::nods:: Without her, we would have lost all and been ruled by a madwoman.
An: ::nods and makes his way out, calling Tollosk on the Comm-link:: We’re on the way.
GM: ::you grab your car and tear down the road towards the starport, and the ship is all rolled out and ready to go as you pull up::
Maria: ::dashes in and grabs her fightin’ clothes, hustling into a cabin to change::
Tollosk: Welcome aboard, welcome aboard. What are we doing?
Martel: Combating a Kurgan Invasion.
Tollosk: What, here?
An: Vera Cruz, plot a location, we’re using the stone.
An: We need to get into the planet in a place we’re least likely to be spotted.
Tollosk: I don’t actually think it works like that. It goes where it wants to. All I can do is tell it the system. And even that might have been unnecessary.
An: Right then, well lets tell it a system them and cross some fingers.
Lan: An. Something I’m not clear on. Are we going to fool around planetside for ten days before we secure the gate?
Tollosk: Speaking of which ::fishes around in one of the bins in the pulls out a long, thin roll of blanket, handing it to Lan::
Lan: Thanks. ::takes it reverently::
An: We’ll see what we can do, mainly we may need that time to find my sister.
Tollosk: ::finishes pre-flight checks and starts taxiing out::
Lan: ::voiceless “oh!” then sits near the front waiting for orbit::
Martel: I’m just hoping she saw some of this coming.
Maria: ::moves out the cabin, outfitted for battle in a Hazat jumpsuit, and takes one of the gun stations, strapping in::
An: I do to.
Lan: Which is the kind of remark that got you out of a penitent order, padre. Which…. honestly? Suits you.
Martel: ::heads to the other gun station::
An: ::heads to the third Gun station::
Martel: Hey, if someone doesn’t do something to fix that penitent order, they are going to be next on the chopping block.
Martel: But right now, the entire “Kurgans are taking over everything” takes presidence.
Lan: We’re not in this for impressing the ladies?
Lan: ::seated for flight::
Martel: I don’t need to fend off barbarian hordes to impress ladies. This is just a side gig.
GM: ((sadly, i seem to have lost the stats for the ship. suffice it to say, i remember that it was heavily armed.))
GM: ((Ha, found it: size 4 escort, fast lander with 2/2 shields a small turret, 2 light blasters, 2 medium blasters, 2 gatling lasers, 2 missile launchers, 2 medium slug guns, and the turret has an EM pulse gun… radar 3, laser radar 1, IR sensors 3))
GM: ((It also fires the kitchen sink, but only the one time, and then you can’t do dishes))
Lan: ((I trying to imagine a contrast between that and heavily armed.))
Lan: ((It was a lot like playing legos in my mind.))
GM: ::the retired Hazat death machine, which has slowly had its weapon systems restored, cleaned, and fully powered/stocked under Tollosk’s tenure rockets down the runway and makes a break for escape velocity::
An: ((Can neither confirm nor deny the stealing of that line from Stephen for future something))
An: ((oh oh oh… can we name it the Iron Eagle?))
GM: ((Didn’t you already name it Freedom or something sappy?))
An: ((Yeah… probably…))
An: ((Can we rename it the Fantasti-jet?))
GM: ((Redemption, according to the log))
An: ((Oooo… nice.))
GM: ::and in even better time than usual, the blue sky bleeds into the black of space, and Redemption soars into a field of stars::
Lan: ((Listening to Juno Reactor’s “Pistolero”))
Tollosk: Alright, Doc. Would you be so kind as to set up the thingie?
Lan: My pleasure. ::warms up hands rubbing together, unwraps gingerly, and starts the connect-up procedure as before::
GM: ::the needle of stone is warmer than Lan remembers, and the tendrils find their marks quickly and efficiently this time… including several new tendrils that fling themselves past Tollosk and into the front of the cockpit::
Tollosk: Woah! It didn’t need to hook into the nose cone before!
An: Everything alright up there?
Lan: Ah. The stone is getting down to business.
GM: ::As the device begins to rotate, Martel’s amulet begins to put out an uncomfortable amount of heat, and An feels the soul shard in his pocket begin to hum in tune to the stone::
GM: ::You all feel a sinking, still feeling that you’re growing accustomed to, as what little movement you could detect from up here… clouds and parallax… ceases in a bubble of frozen time::
GM: ::blue streamers of energy flicker from the nosecone to the stone sword::
Lan: Ah! Ahaha. F-fascinating.
Martel: This thing better not explode. ::winces as the stone heats up::
GM: ::after the blue energy starts to flare, the needle begins to pulse in a manner less precise than it started, as if it’s having difficulty managing the new energy from the pegasus::
Martel: ::gets up from his chair and goes closer to the Needle::
Lan: Something’s out of balance! ::shouting over the nonexistent noise::
GM: ::this makes the soul stone in An’s pocket jitter erratically; it starts threatening to cut its way out::
Martel: An, get over here! ::pulls the scrupulum from beneath his shirt, feeling his flesh sizzle as it passes::
GM: ::as it breaches into the open air, Martel’s stone is obviously glowing red from the heat, and wisps of blue and gray energy start to bend towards it::
An: ::pulls the stone out of his pocket as he jumps up making his way up to the front::
Martel: I think it’s drawing energy from your Crystal. it needs my rock to stabalize it.
GM: ::the soul stone is pulsing a brilliant blue in time with the device. Strange alien glyphs flicker under the surface, as if it’s some kind of think-machine monitor::
Lan: Okay! Okay. Phengshay, people.
An: ::makes his way closer to the stone concentrating on it.::
Martel: Hey, stone! If you can hear me, we’d like not to blow up, and to be able to save Vera Cruz, if at all possible.
GM: ::they seem to be cut off, as if this is just a fragment of such a screen, but An couldn’t read them anyway… but he is in touch with the device, mentally, as always::
GM: ::the scrupulum tugs on its chain slightly towards the stone sword::
Martel: ::fires off a quick prayer to the Pancreator:: I’m gonna let them touch. Objections?
An: ::concentrates on their location, and their intent::
GM: ::As Martel brings the philosopher’s stones within a foot of one another, tendrils shoot out and grab the smaller stone, pulling it in to hand beneath the center of the needle’s mass…
Martel: Right. No objections then.
GM: the housings of the amulet burn away, dropping the chain to the floor, and then the hot red glow subsides somewhat… the flow of blue and gray light begins to channel through the scrupulum, and the violent spasms quickly quiet, returning to balance, regulated by the smaller stone…
Lan: ::detached fascination, face lit up by flare::
An: ::looks to Lan:: Why didn’t this happen last time?
GM: the crystal in An’s hand is almost readable, the ancient Annunaki symbols nearly making sense, and it seems to be taking its cues from An’s mind… slowly calculating and counting down::
Tollosk: Tell me when to turn the jumpkey!
An: Wait for it… ::waits for the countdown::
An: Ready… ::holds a hand up::
GM: ::the crystal seems to make a decision, flashing a very important looking series of glyphs, and stopping on one, significant, blinking…::
An: ::points his hand forward:: Engage.
Tollosk: ::twists the key and then clutches the wheel::
GM: ::A flash of pure light with tendrils of blue and gray…
Climbing skyward, blue sky fading to black…
Tearing down the runway, breaking for escape…
Tired eyes, pained and emotionless, across a room…
Chaos, noble arguing…
A triumphant madwoman cackling about her plan…
A tense waiting…
An uncomfortable ride downtown…
An argument over coffee…
A new dawn…
A long night, before a confrontation…
A last evening’s preparations…

…pure light fading back to a dull glow, a needle of stone settling, unadorned, back to the ground, a fading red stone beside it.::
GM: ::above, nightside Vera Cruz with a sliver of sunlight forming around the edge of the planet::
Lan: ::was about to try and speculate aloud whether this was death::
Tollosk: That gets weirder every time. ::starts punching dials:: That’s not right.
Martel: ::uses a bit of cloth to pocket the scrupulum, then kneels for the thank you prayer::
GM: ::it’s quite cool to the touch::
Lan: ::opens and shuts his mouth instead:: Agreed. Our sanity might have a halflife of exposure to that.
An: ::wonders if Frodo can see anything::
An: ::looks to Tollosk:: What? What isn’t right?
Martel: We’ve just been given the gift of time gentlemen. Lets not waste it ::says martel, with a hoarse voice::
Tollosk: The ship’s think machine calculates the local time based on the stars and stuff. You know, for if you’re in relativistic time for a while? It’s yesterday. A little over 12 hours ago.
An: Wait… were in the…
Tollosk: That’s the main continent, at about midnight, below us. It should be daytime.
Lan: ::blinks::
An: Lan… what are the… implications of this…
Martel: The stone takes us where we need to be. When we need to be as well, apparently.
An: ::stands very still as if moving will sudenly make the universe implode::
Lan: Uh… twelve hours of extra time to kill here?
Martel: Get to the duke. Get the fleet moving.
Lan: ::blinks:: Uh. Twelve hours to get a pulse back to Aragon.
Martel: Does…the shard need to…recharge?
Maria: The Duke’s back on Aragon, but that’s why I got papers! Let’s go! We may be in time! I’m not getting any fighting or explosions on the scanners.
Martel: Those papers aren’t timestamped, are they?
Maria: Heh, no.
Tollosk: ::moves the ship back into atmosphere mode, and begins to descend:: Where to? And should we radio ahead?
An: ::nods and comes out of his stupor:: Get us there as fast as possible. Urgent message to the highest in command we can find.
Tollosk: Tell them what?
Lan: You know. ::speculatively:: What would happen if we sent a pulse message back to ourselves saying… I dunno what.
Lan: Would we get it?
Maria: The Kurgans probably already have the gate, so it wouldn’t get sent.
Martel: Don’t mess with Causality, it never ends well. I better man the guns. If they have the gate, they’ll be on their way here.
An: Let them know we have urgent word. Am I safe to assume they dont’ know whats coming yet?
Martel: ::goes to man said guns.::
Tollosk: There’s no emergency signals or anything. Just the normal late-night chatter. Okay, broadcasting on military frequencies. You want to do the honors, An? ::holds up a comm handset::
An: ::nods:: Patch me in.
Tollosk: You’re live.
An: ::takes the Comm Headset::
Lan: If getting fleets off the ground is that time sensitive, is there a point in waiting until we’re all the way there to say “get the fleets off the ground?”
Lan: ::looks to Azo:: They’ll believe him right?
Martel: If they don’t, I’ll lie and say the Inquisition said so.
Lan: We could talk really rough and pretend to be invading Kurgans?
An: Attention all personel receiving this message. This is Don An-hetep-f Griffen del Sol Imperial…
Martel: Hell, we could actually start shooting. They’d check their ships and notice the sabotage.
Lan: ::holds up a finger, listens to what An says::
An: We are on the ship Redemption and bring with us new of a coming invasion. We advise you prepare your fleet for battle immediately. We will be making touch down carrying with us further information. Be advised… We believe many of the fleet to be subject to sabotage and advise a sweep of all ships as soon as possible. May the Pancreator Give speed to your actions. Be swift and there may still be time. ::removes the headset and looks to Tollosk:: Repeat that message one more time and keep our channel open to receive, get us to the largest military station on this planet.
GM: ::and then the ship shudders as a blaster bolt thuds into the shields::
GM: ::out of the port, you can barely make out, in the diffuse light of a nightside planet, the running lights of an ornate, small warship::
Lan: ::sits directly down and straps in:: Call out if you’re hit!
An: Evasive maneuvers. You can do it. ::puts a hand ot Tollosk’s shoulder and makes his way to a battle station::
Martel: ::fires back at the sneaky little bastard::
Tollosk: Great! NOW there’s combat, when I’m not ready ::yanks the stick and rolls::
An: OPEN FI… Nevermind… ::smiles and does the same in a terribly sucky manner::
An: ::mainly tries to lay down a field of fire that drives the ship towards Maria or Martels killing arc.::
GM: ::the military comms light up, broadcasting across the ship “We caught sabateurs!” “Some of the hangar disabled!” “Shots fired in the upper ionosphere!”::
Martel: Oh, I’m sorry, was I supposed to wait?
GM: ::you push back into true space, trying to get enough light to see the dark-running ship::
An: ::laughs:: I tell you what.. ::pushes on the fire button:: In furture space battles I give you full discretion to fire at will.
Martel: Oh Glee. Permission to shoot at whatever I want, willy-nilly! Pancreator still my beating heart! ::makes further attempts to horribly kill the invader::
Tollosk: There are guns in back too, guys! Someone should get on those! Just saying! Because I’m not turning this thing around until we win!
Tollosk: Oh, nevermind, there’s more in front too. Do what you want.
Martel: Lan! Get on the rear gun and fire wildly please!
Lan: Are you shitting me?!
Tollosk: We have more ammo than armor, feel free to waste it!
Lan: ::unstraps, scampers back, and examines equipment skeptically but frantically::
An: Martel or Maria, go back there, you can actually hit a dreadnaught, and while fleeing our rear will be a target rich environment.
An: ((YOUR MOM”S REAR IS A TARGET RICH ENVIRONMENT))
GM: ::it’s laid out in fairly simple ways. In theory, all the buttons make sense. Like operating a medical scanner. That shoots hot lead.::
Martel: I got it! Also, did you say DREADNAUGHT?
Lan: ::tries to operate it without shutting his eyes::
An: It was more of an allusion to the phrase… “hitting the side of a Byarne”.
GM: ::You swear it wasn’t there until An opened his big mouth, but, yep, now you seem to have pulled in a much bigger, orbital bombardment-class ship::
An: Or not…
GM: ::fortunately, you’ve got to be much faster than one of those… right?::
An: ::fortunately their hulls are made of papier-mache?::
Martel: See, this is why I prefer hypotheticals. See if you can peg weapon blisters.
An: Shoot the guns?
GM: ::Between Maria and Martel, you actually manage to take out a couple, and An and Lan’s erratic fire is at least making a trouble spot for your pursuit::
Martel: Yes, yes. Shoot them often.
GM: ::But there seemed to have been a lot of ships waiting in orbit, running dark, listening for the all clear… and they heard your broadcast instead. Not a good way to make friends.::
GM: ::two more solid hits thump into your shields, with one of them clipping a turret and slapping the stick into Lan’s hand painfully::
An: ::fires the kitchen sink::
Lan: Well. That’s ridiculous. ::manhandles the thing back:: Ow. Ow. ow.
Martel: Hey Tollosk! Would turning into them meybe surprise them enough to give us distance?
GM: ::the big fat missile labled “Kitchen Sink” skims past one Kurgan scout and then seems to get tracking data, cruising into the dreadnaught and lighting up its shield::
An: ::cheers:: I can hit a dreadnaught!
Tollosk: We are now approaching relativistic velocities. Turning around right now is not an option. Physically.\
Martel: That was a tracking missile, so one would hope so, yes. I’m an Avestite Tollosk, don’t tell me the science!
Tollosk: If you don’t want coriolis shear to rip your face off, we can’t turn while accelerating!
Lan: Oh, NOW you’ve made the padre mad. Look! He’s turning all red, it’s so cute!
Martel: Oh right! Big fan of my face! ::goes back to trying to pick off targets as we play ring around the planet:: Hey An, shoot a message to your sis! Tell her about the attack!
An: ::concentrates really hard thinking of Elena, doesn’t go to his blocked placed but just hopes she’s listening::
GM: ::”launching alpha formation” “launching delta formation” “echo formation disabled” “launching sierra formation”::
GM: ::the dreadnaught’s big gun lights up and is a near miss as Tollosk jinks out of the way as much as he can at this speed, but even that distance some lights go out… maybe important ones?::
Tollosk: Shit. EM cannon!
Martel: ::fires at the cannon::
Lan: You know it would really suck if we were stranded up here without comms twelve hours from now!
An: Well then we better not let that hit us.
GM: ::the main guns slap against the dreadnaught’s shields in a pretty lightshow::
An: Return fire with our own EM Cannon.
An: See how they like it.
Tollosk: It’s in the center turret if someone wants to try!
Martel: Worth a shot…::jumps to the EM gun:: …get it? ::fights EM with EM::
GM: ::the EM pulse gun doesn’t seem to be quite as nasty as the dreadnaught-mounted one… each time it slaps their shield, it flickers out for a few seconds, but Lan’s shots don’t connect::
Martel: Maria! Time your shot! ONe, two, three! ::tries again::
Lan: ::follows suit too::
Maria: I’m up front! Holdon! ::walks quickly, balancing, towards the rear guns, strapping herself in:: Okay, go!
An: ::does the same::
Martel: One, Two, Three…::Fires!::
GM: ::The shields on the dreadnaught flicker, and Maria puts a handful of blaster shots into it before the shields reform. Lan and An, following Maria’s arc of fire, get a couple through as well::
GM: ::An even bigger gun along the spine of the dreadnaught begins to light up::
Maria: Meson cannon! MESON CANNON! Must go faster!
Martel: Oh come on! ::retargets to try to take out the bigger cannon before becoming disassociated particles::
An: ::leans towards the front of the ship as if it will help it go faster::
Tollosk: Meson cannon? Time to shear our faces off!
Lan: No! My face! ::firing away studiously::
An: ::wonders if were about to do a crazy Ivan::
Martel: Lan, get to the crystal and ask it to move us! Better to be dead because we were crazy than dead because we were slow, right?
GM: ::There’s a moment where you stop accelerating, no longer feeling the roller coaster push behind you… and the enemy is getting suddenly closer. Then there’s a sudden twist, your face does indeed feel like it wants to pull off… and another hard thrust resuming, and you see the dreadnaught pass over you, Kurgans frantically trying to turn around::
Martel: ::tries desperately to re-aim while his freshly bloodshot eyes get their focus back::
Lan: Wait, do what?
An: ::reaches up and makes sure his face is still on::
GM: ::and then, to squawks along the military channels, dozens of red and black-enameled fighters streak past your field of vision, blaster cannons spraying into the Kurgan scout wing::
An: YES!
GM: ::out of the radio “Redemption, good job training the wing. We’ll clean ’em up.”::
Martel: Never mind, scratch that, just don’t shoot the jhonny-come-latelies!
An: ::puts on a local comms headset:: Damn good to see you boys.
GM: ::and, with an actual combat force on your side, Tollosk turns you around more gently to help with the fight. Martel’s well-timed EM blasts open up the dreadnaught, and a half-dozen fighters unleash a barrage of slugs into its vital systems.::
Lan: Oh! RIght! ::takes hands precipitously off the gun controls::
GM: ::minutes later, the dreadnaught is a scuttled wreck amidst its wing, a few scouts being harried back into space::
Martel: Hey An, ask if any sensors have picked up the rest of the fleet!
An: This is the Redemption, long range scans picking up any fleet signals?
Radio: Oh, shit, there’s a whole fleet? Boys, let the scouts go and regroup.
An: We believe an invasion in on the way, your jump gate has been disabled.
Lan: I wouldnt’ say anything else over the radio just now. ::jokingly::
GM: ((not so sadly, contrary to plans, there was more to do here than I expected. Want to break the finale until next week rather than rushing and still being on until 1?))
Lan: ((If it’s cool with you, yes. Staying up ’till 1 would be rough on meh. ))
An: ((Yeah, probably best. I actually do need to sleep sometime. :-))))
Martel: ((I knew it! And sure, that’s fine))
GM: ((and here i was thinking it’d end early even))
Lan: You guys seriously made me fire mounted weapons. ::sits down wiping brow with hanky::
Maria: And you hit a Kurgan dreadnaught with them.
Martel: Yeah. I haven’t shot Kurgans in AGES. Made me feel like a young man again.
Tollosk: Alright, let’s touch down and see whether we’re still combat worthy for the next fight, yes?
An: Lets.
Martel: After that show, I bet we’ll be able to nab a mechanic if we need one.
An: Make for Los Aztecha
GM: ::After a few moments of tense atmospheric interaction with a shelled hull, you finally touch safely down to the planet, now early morning, to prepare for the potential armada that can’t be far behind.::
GM: ~~~OOC~~~

Ep 22.2, Villains, Part 2

~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~IC~~~
GM: ::It’s still nearly December, and Lan has just returned and shared the results of his date::
Lan: …. so yeah. Sorry. I’m an idiot. ::clutches head::
Martel: Uh oh. What happened?
Lan: ::hates to tell it all over, but…:: Uh, short version, I think she was into working with us, but I just don’t… get it when women are subtle, so I was like “I’ll have to see if we can promise you anything.”
Martel: Wait, what did she want us to promise?
Lan: I… well, her safety, I suppose. I think what she said was, can we do anything about the Duchess withOUT actually screwing all Castenadas generally. You know. I think either she has scruples, or she was able to ingeniously discern that such things matter to me, and pretended.
Martel: Well, if she’s going to help us resolve this entire problem, and she’s got scruples to boot, why wouldn’t we want to protect her? I say we give her a big old thumbs up. An?
An: So, when it comes down to it we don’t know exactly where we stand between her and us. Where do you stand doctor? Do you trust her completely or not? So, when it comes down to it we don’t know exactly where we stand between her and us. Where do you stand doctor? Do you trust her completely or not?
Lan: I don’t trust her completely. I… that’s scarcely in my nature, especially when it comes to women I’ve recently flirted with. I thnk that she might be valuable to us, if we look like we’re on the winning side. And I don’t especially relish being at odds with her, but if it comes to that, you don’t need to worry about my alliegances.
Maria: What is it with people turning on their families for preferential treatment these days? Salandra and now Malena… I’m not sure we need to make a thing of helping people take out their bosses.
An: Then we don’t bring her in. As of right now we consider her a possible avenue of assistance if it comes down to that but lets not depend on her being there.
Lan: ::nods, shrugs:: Maria has a point. ::sits down and rubs his temples::
Maria: It sounds to me like the whole family is up to something… what’s the word… comp-something?
Lan: Compromising?
Maria: No… I think it has an L
An: Compitulating?
Lan: Complicit. Yes. She may approach me at some point with further information.
Maria: Right! That. So she can probably offer us information that could take down the whole house, in exchange for pretending it was just the leadership and everyone else was innocent.
Lan: If she does, what kind of information is good enough for us to bring her in? If there’s any clear cut answer to that?
Maria: The thing is… are they really just following orders, or did they all like the idea of moving up in power and go along with it? If they all knew about what happened to my entire family, and didn’t say anything about it… even after the fact… I don’t know what I’d do.
Martel: If she gives us the information to take down the Duchess, doesn’t her entire family stand to lose out? herself included?
Lan: Is it really a bright line distinction? I’d be a little upset, even though it’s not my family, even if they were coerced substantially.
Maria: And, of all of them, she may genuinely not like what they’ve done. But not enough to denounce them in public… and she’ll only stop the leadership if it works out for her, politically.
Lan: Begging your pardon, your right honorable ladyship, but that impulse at least is fairly normal, isn’t it? ::what, is he defending her? Eesh. What a creep::
Maria: Apparently. But what happens if the family is so rotten that they get the same idea in another few years or decades? Shouldn’t we try to get them all thrown out of power now?
An: What it comes down to is if her information in confirmable and aids us more than the risk. We’ll take it on a step by step basis. Its hard to do when you’re talking about people and families, but right now we can’t afford to protect everyone.
Lan: Understood. ::not exactly cheering up::
Martel: CAN we get them all thrown out of power with what we have? I was under the impression that we needed to get something on them before whatever little trick they have up their sleeves comes to pass.
Maria: If she has something so good that she’s worried it could be used against her whole family…
Martel: Besides, if the information she gives us isn’t confirmable, then she hasn’t really fulfilled her half of the bargain, now has she?
Maria: is it in our best interests to take the easy way of getting it but only using it against a small portion of the family?
Martel: ((afk for a minute: Chili induced bio break))
An: ::leans back in his chair and puts a hand to his chin, thinking::
Lan: You’d have to draw me a tree picture. If we could cherry-pick the whole matter, is there anyone in the lot tha would improve it if elevated?
Maria: If the duchess of the house is implicated, and the rest claim they were on a need to know basis… chances are a whole lot of counts and countesses would also get implicated… Malena stands to move up at least one rank… possibly even to take over the family if she’s better connected than we suspect. How savvy do you really think she might be, Lan? Is she what she appears… a mid-level player with a stinging conscience… or is she a manipulator making her best bid for power?
Lan: Obviously. You know. I don’t think she’s the sort to grandly scheme. I think she’s too good at skirmishing to be a tactician. I don’t know about stinging conscience. ::Shrugs:: I should recuse myself from judging her character. I want you to know that if we take action directly against her, I’ll be foresworn, at this point. Which is something I can live with.
Maria: It doesn’t take a lot of savvy to realize that you’re better off being the biggest fish in a small pond than a mid-sized fish in a bigger one. But it takes some to keep other manipulators from blaming you for ruining their plans. I just don’t want to turn around and wipe out a blight on my house only to find that a more subtle cancer now has room to spread.
An: And in the end what is the only way we can be truly sure of that?
Lan: There’s a reason oncology is as much an Art as it is a science. ::consternated::
Maria: I don’t suppose it’d be ethical to get some of your friends to mind-probe the Castenda?
Martel: I think we should take her assistance. If she’s telling the truth, then we would be doing her a disservice by leaving her to whatever situation she’s stuck in. If she’s lying, or holding back, it’ll be a lot easier to block her if we have more information on the situation. That being said, I’m not the one who’s closest to this. I’ll stand by whatever judgements you guys make.
Maria: I’m too biased on the issue. You guys decide.
Lan: You know. There’re things she’s said that makes me think she may put some faith in An and our effective momentum as the so-called “Heroes of Aragon.” A term she used with me, and I doubt she was trying to flatter my nonexistent heroic ego. I’m also too biased.
An: I guess when it comes down to it. We have to look at the bigger picture. Using my friends to scan the minds of the Castenda would be slightly unethical. Sadly in the end we would not be sure of the consequences of our actions until possibly years and years from now. The only way to be mostly sure is if when the Castenda make their move. We crush them… all of them. And make sure they understand that. They’ll be stabbing each other in the back to get back in good favors. They’ll eat each other alive. Not that, that is what I propose. Just putting it out there.
Martel: I was about to say, shouldn’t we be mostly focusing on trying to get ready to deal with the entire “horde of barbarian death” we have on our doorstep before we start threatening the Castenda and waiting to see what they do about it?
Lan: And no quarter for anyone who aids us, on the grounds that it’s probably playing both ends?
Martel: We’ll not likely get any help from ANY side that way. I mean, how many nobles DON’T try to play both ends?
An: We don’t threaten them.
Maria: There’s a difference between playing both ends and destroying the boards so you can win the next game. Especially when that’s a metaphor for murdering all your competition.
Martel: Which is why, if we find out she was lying, we take her down too. I feel like we are judging her as guilty here based on a “maybe”, and I’m uncomfortable with it.
Maria: All I’m saying is that, from her own mouth, what she has to tell us is enough to damn her whole family. If she’s worried that it will, perhaps it might not be unfair for it to do so.
Martel: Ok, question then: How likely are we to get this information without her?
Maria: ::shrug:: How good of a secret is it? Is it something that she’s just high enough to know but just low enough not to be loyal to, or is it something other people might know?
Martel: Since we have no know of knowing that information, I’ll put our chances of figuring out this little tidbit, on our own and in a timely fashion, at somewhere between none and fat chance.
An: Fill me in again… exactly what bit of information did she promise?
Lan: Ambiguous. She’s been a middle-man in things she made a point of telling me she is uncomfortable with. That presumably reflect badly enough on a large segment of her family as to constitute leverage. Hell, for all I know, she piloted the damn shuttle herself, and I’m too addled to put it together. I don’t know. I can’t tell. Sorry. ::goes into the bathroom and has dry heaves::
An: As a political entity I’m sure she understands that we would be unable to get involved without proof of such claims. If she could provide them then we might consider her a valuable ally in need of protection, but I think she would be wise to understand that if the information proves to be false or if she refuses our offer then if and when a reckoning comes we will not be able to insure she is not caught up in the fray.
Martel: Ok, boil that down for me. I don’t speak political legalese that well.
An: If she gives us what we want then and only then after it is confirmed will we guarantee her safety.
Martel: And if she won’t agree to give it to us if we don’t make the guarantee? Cause that’s what I’m betting will happen.
Lan: That’d be an empty guarantee. ::comes back in after running water:: In a way, I suppose that’s even obvious.
Maria: “Safety” clearly means that, if we’re successful, we point out that the damning information was given to us by Hazat loyalists within the Castenda, saving them from disgrace and censure.
Lan: The question is, can we see actions her “information” would commit us to, as a trap, if they turn out to be, soon enough?
Maria: If it’s not useful, she doesn’t have anything to worry about unless we flat out tell the Duchess what she’s doing.
Lan: I don’t think we have a coherent motive for doing that. So.
Maria: It won’t be a trap. If we were important enough to trap, she could have taken us out in a variety of ways.
Lan: ::shrugs:: Which scares me. It still leaves us essentially the puppet in an unequal alliance.
Maria: We’re being moved on the chessboard by a mid-rank piece trying to take out her leader so she can get promoted. There’s no point in hurting us… unless what we’re doing happens to be so dangerous we get ourselves killed. But I doubt it’s the goal.
Lan: Oh. That makes sense, I guess….
Martel: Hmmm ::rubs his stubble:: I wonder if I’m paranoid enough for this political stuff. I’ve always been a “take them at their word and ream them if it turns out they were lying” kinda guy.
Maria: Politics isn’t about lying. It’s about telling just enough of the truth to get what you want without making too many enemies. You’d be hard pressed to catch a politician in an out-right lie that you can prove later… and if you can, they were going down anyway. But the Hazat way has always been more straightforward than most. If you’re going to be the iron fist, don’t wear the velvet glove. If you’re going to be a bastard, be a bastard; don’t expect people to love you for it. Wearing the glove is what the Decados taught the Castenda… you can’t tell how dangerous it is until it’s clenched around you. But then, the next time, nobody trusts that you just want to shake hands.
An: I won’t lie and say were in an easy position but we can’t been seen a scrounging at whatever information we can pick up. We are a tad bit weak in this area but in the end we can’t show it, or well get chewed up and spit out.
Martel: Ok, so we aren’t taking the girl up on her offer. I’m ok with that. Then where do we go from here? If we aren’t going to use the information from the girl, we’ll need to drum up some of our own. Waiting for whatever trap the Castenda are laying to come to fruition is just silly.
Lan: I’m in this to minimize bloodshed, of course. In the long run– and I agree with Maria that some acts render people a bad risk on that count. I’m not sure I can see whole families that way.
An: ::sits and rubs his eyes for a moment:: We make sure that we’ve got all of our ducks in a row and all of our marbles accounted for. I’ll put some of my people on finding out what she knows. Seeing if we can at least get some sort of insight. We also need to make sure the planetary defenses are back in order. Figure where the center of our uncertainties lie and being sure to quash them.
Martel: Sounds like a plan. I’ll see if I can drum up a little muster support, because I’m pretty sure they’ll be needed for SOMETHING soon. Best guess is that most of them will be tied up with the Kurgans though. I might see if I can dig up some info on my own too. Meybe through a church contact, such as they remain.
GM: ((“figure where the center of our uncertainties lie and being sure to quash them” is very zen… what does it mean in plan terms?))
An: ((Do stuff.))
An: ((Like, against the bad guys))
Lan: ((Brilliant! This indecisiveness allows me to move forward with my master scheme to take over the Castenada!))
Martel: ((what indecisiveness? I know what I’M gonna do.))
GM: ((Assuming there’s not something else I’m aware of, your options are to either do the morally dubious thing now, or get the same information through slower sources… how much is denying enemies time to manuever worth?))
An: ((I would say that we should have the plan of sending spies out, shoring up loose ends, and just sorta waiting.))
Lan: ((Mmmm. Castenadan Baronesses with wings.))
An: Like I said before, I think we should approach her with the deal. See where she stands and go from there.
GM: ((Castenda/Castendan))
Lan: ((Er, oh. Never noticed that before. ))
Maria: I’m sure she’ll be fine with the deal, as long as we’re willing to back her as loyal to the Hazat when it all comes down. If she gives us useless information, it won’t help her. The only question is whether we want to back her in exchange for the success.
Martel: If she gives us useless information, or not ALL of the information, then our side of the deal will be voided. just make sure that we word the deal appropriately, and we’ll be fine.
Martel: An, do you think you can get a contract togeather that she wont be able to squiggle out of?
Maria: Signing a contract would mess it all up. Trust will have to be extended on both sides. She, honestly, has more to lose once she gives us the information.
Lan: I think that contract is written in terse speech and browraising. But whatta I now about politics?
Maria: She’s trusting us to make a surgical strike on her house. We’re trusting her to be a better leader once they’re gone.
Martel: Doesn’t have to be a written contract Maria. Just has to be an agreement that we can all live with.
Maria: Just saying that “contract” isn’t the right term for “shady back room political deal.”
Martel: Besides, we’re only promising to remove the people at the top. We aren’t promising to remove her if she becomes troublesome enough. I have faith in our ability to remove the troublesome at need.
An: What we are extended is a verbal, you scratch my back I scratch yours type of deal. I believe she will understand the consequences of moving against us.
Maria: So we’re going to Isabella to meet in person, or sending her a wire?
Martel: In person. I like to look a lady in the eye when we agree to something.
Lan: I already sent her a poem to this effect, really. ::mutters:: So, yes, in person is probably well.
Maria: Okay. Lan, set it up?
Lan: ::gets up:: Sure. ::looking a little bewildered::
Lan: ::Sets about wiring inquiring about a time to meet, soonest, that sounds enthusiastic::
GM: ::you eventually get confirmation for a meeting in a couple of days… you’re supposed to pick her up for another date and take her somewhere secluded to meet the rest::
GM: ::she suggests a restaurant or something where Tyrone could wait outside::
Lan: ::comes back and tells the others:: So, day after tomorrow, I figure. If you know any decent restaraunts? SHe said something about her cousin… you know, he chaperoned the last little outing… waiting outside.
Martel: Sounds good to me.
Lan: ((Did I fail to mention the others showing up? Or is this waiting outside thing normal?))
GM: ((it sounds like she wants to meet in secret, even from Tyrone, so the easiest way is another “date”))
Lan: I think she has in mind for me to meet her alone… ::shrugs weakly:: If nothing else, that gives the rest of you an opportunity to scavenge other information?
GM: ((no, the message said she wants to meet everyone, just not where anyone will know she met with them))
Martel: That’s fine. I’m sure I can arrange to be within earshot.
Lan: Wait, wait. Let me read this again. My mistake. We’ll all go. Yes, definitely. Ideas about restaraunt with easy back door egress?
Martel: Almost any of them? Resturaunts don’t take their trash out the front.
An: We find one we can use a private area in. And arrive at different times all meeting before she gets there.
Lan: Ah. Good, then.
GM: ::Long story short (too late)… two days later you’re all ensconced in an upscale restaurant in Isabella Bluffs, where the only spies are An’s, and they’ve been paid to run interference… Lan and Malena are set up at a table in a private room, and the rest of you filter in after Tyrone has checked it for propreity and gone to wait at the bar::
Malena: ::if anything, has gone out of her way to minimize her memorability, wearing a somewhat somber while still nice evening dress that wouldn’t look out of place on any Hazat noblewoman you’ve met:: So, Lan told you all my proposal?
An: ::nods:: Sit, please.
Martel: ::takes a healthy gulp of the local beer:: He did indeed.
Malena: ::waits pointedly to have her chair pulled out for her::
Lan: ::hops to it::
Lan: ::smiling blandly::
Malena: ::seats herself gracefully and waits for everyone else to sit::
Lan: ::sits down last, presumably:: I … hear the veal’s excellent.
Malena: As I told him, I have information that could prevent further wrongs. But I’m afraid that those merely involved would be destroyed as fully as those responsible if it got out… Therefore, all I ask is that, if you pursue this lead, you direct the fallout to the best of your ability towards the Duchess and those directly in her counsels.
An: ::leans back in his charir taking a sip of wine from a glass:: I hate to sound cliche. But this seems risky, if we can’t properly direct the fallout you might be caught up in the blast. What do you get out of it?
Malena: When I came to Aragon, as far as I knew it was simply to help our cousins and forge alliances in the wake of the tragedy. As time went on, I received further orders to pass on that led me to doubt that my leige has the best interests of my House at heart. By helping you, I help the Hazat and the Castenda purge a destructive influence. That it also might mean a greater role for myself in my familiy’s affairs is also a benefit, but believe me when I tell you that I would stand to have more power if the Castenda replaced the Eduardo as the leading house of the Hazat. Despite the blows that, from my communications, I believe you have dealt to my Duchess’ plans, I think that the last trump will win all. You have so far merely moved back her timetable.
An: And you understand that should this information prove false, unreliable, or desvious in any nature that we cannot be held responsible for the coming storm. If your information should prove to be invaluable. Then so shall you been seen in our eyes. We are at a difficult crossroads…
Malena: The information I give you, should you act on it immediately and use it correctly, should prove very useful. I cannot speculate on delay or misuse, but I believe the information itself is sound.
An: We have only your word to go on, and you have only ours. Trust will be returned with trust, betrayal with uncomprehendable retribution. Agreeable? ::he says breaking into a wide reeves smiles::
Malena: ::gives a sultry smirk:: I would have it no other way, Don An-hetep-f. Meanwhile, I hope you know that should you benefit from this as agreed, and then use it against me, I will do what I can to ruin you as well.
Lan: ::wrings hands in ordinary unease::
Martel: Lady, if you turn out not to be like the Duchess, I’m sure we’ll all get along just fine.
An: Understandable. You will find we can be most agreeable allies in tough times.
Malena: Very well. ::takes a scrap of parchment from her bag and passes it across the table:: I passed along a series of orders to move items unknown to me to this location, directly from my superiors. I was not privvy to exactly what was being moved, but my impression was that it was something that my family should not be in possession of, and that is intended to be moved again within the month.
Lan: ::perks up::
Malena: Everything about it has been couched in secrecy even from me, but the amount of orders relating to it makes it seem highly important. I suggest, when you retrieve it, that you bring members of the other families that are beyond reproach, for their later testimony, as you would not want yourselves to be accused of planting it. I doubt there will be much to formally link it to us.
Martel: Ah. It’s the Orb. To have moved it out, they would have had to know about the attack in advanced. Five creds say I’m right.
Lan: I’m not betting against that.
Malena: I cannot say for certain, but I have suspected as much as well.
Lan: ::contemplates the amusing idea of a deacon using an antiquated credstick::
Malena: The realization that this was likely, and the likely source of the object, is what led me to believe that my Duchess has gone insane in her lust for the power that her mother once reached for and failed to obtain.
An: ::reaches across the table and takes up the scrap of paper:: We will see.
GM: ::the paper contains an address in Isabella, probably yet another shady warehouse not too far from the starport::
Martel: Lets go collect the usual suspects to have a look at this “package”. Do we want to include someone from the church as well? might help with the authentication.
Malena: Keep in mind that there are people defending it, so it might not be as easy as getting the Black Cypress documents.
Lan: Oh. Maybe the fencing lessons will pay off, then. ::sips icewater::
Lan: ::doesn’t know whether to be insulted that nobody so much as snerks.::
Martel: MMMmmm, thank you Malena. That’s the nicest thing anyone has said to me in some while. I’ve had quite a poor last few weeks. Guards are something simple that I can get my teeth into.
GM: ((anything else, or shall we skip ahead?))
Lan: ((ahead!))
An: ((Indeed))
Lan: ::looks sidelong at the deacon.::
GM: ::cut to a few days later, Lan looks sidelong at the Deacon while casing the, indeed, shady warehouse::
Martel: ::double checks his blaster rifle:: Yes?
Lan: Whats the make and model on that? ::curious about what kinds of wounds he’s going to have to put back together.::
Martel: Atlas Arms Model 414-K. Low penetration rounds. Don’t want to shoot through the outside walls or anything.
GM: ::a half dozen spare knights from the various houses check their own gear, charging their shields, checking sabers, and loading various blasters and slug throwers::
Lan: ::came prepared to do more sneaking than anything else, but probably wearing steel too, just in case he wasn’t joking::
GM: ::Maria has her own tactical gear on, and has finally managed to track down for An a dueling shield of his very own::
GM: ::it’s hidden inside a nicely wrought brooch with the joined symbols of the empire and the reeves::
An: ::stands there quietly watching the warehouse, trying to make sure not to show any emotion on the current actions, his hand resting calmly on the hilt of his blade::
GM: ::a pair of armed figures, male and female, detach from the alley behind the warehouse and rejoin the group::
Obelia: ::quietly:: I count maybe a dozen. Probably at least one knight. The rest are householders, mercenaries at best.
Ruiz: This should be fun, no? We appreciate being invited on this, friends.
An: Good having you, like the old days.
Martel: Certainly. What’s the point of throwing a party if you don’t invite your friends?
An: We’ll move to cover the exits then we’ll engage. It needs to be fast and surgical. No room for error. Clear each room you come from, incapacitate and detain everyone before they have a chance be send out word.
GM: ::everyone agrees, and you spread out to cover the exits::
GM: ::At An’s word, blasters tear through locks, door are kicked in or wrenched open, and you all go pouring into the dimly lit warehouse…
Martel: ::mutters under his breath:: please let one of them have an unconfiscated flamer, please let one of them have an unconfiscated flamer…
GM: At some point, dodging around bare supports and shooting from behind cheap fiberboard walls, you have a moment to reflect on the amount of time you’ve all spent fighting in warehouses recently… Martel blows the arm off of a charging mercenary, An and Maria tag team the Castenda knight in short order, and even Lan is able to incapacitate a householder limping for an exit…
An: ((HAWT!))
GM: the other knights acquit themselves honorably, with the special excitement of watching Obelia and Ruiz ninja kick the shit out of a trio of mercenaries…
Lan: Yeesh! ::morbid admiration to blunt trauma to the body::
GM: and, in the end, your side has hardly any injuries to speak of besides a sprained ankle and a few superficial burns from blaster shots that leaked through shields… while Lan has to cluck sadly over the variety of wounds to the enemy::
GM: ::Fortunately, An has recently become a master of not quite killing Castenda knights, and this one will make an adequate prisoner.::
GM: ::within a couple of minutes, the warehouse is once again silent, save for the groans of those not quite killed::
GM: ::towards the back of the warehouse, there are a few more solid-looking rooms that the Castenda seemed to be defending::
Martel: ::shows his blaster rifle off to the knights they came in with:: See? Perfectly safe for limited range deployment. Now, if you need something with more punch, try the Atlas Arms 329. That thing shoots through schools. Now, if you’ll excuse me. ::shouts ahead to the defenders:: You have ten seconds to disarm. Then I’m coming in there and shooting anyone who’s holding a weapon!
Justus Knight: I’m sorry, friend priest, but I’m still a traditionalist. Slug throwers were good enough for our ancestors, and they still beat blasters for reliability.
Lan: If you find something back there you need help with, say the word! ::calls back, while suturing somebody up::
GM: ::Lan does note that Ruiz and Obelia’s victims are going to be the least troubling to repair. Most of their moves were to incapacitate, not to maim::
Martel: Mmm, I totally agree with you on the reliability front. Unfortunately, they tend to make bleeders, instead of cauterized wounds. Harder to patch folk up, if you are trying to take prisoners. ::shouts: Five Seconds!
Justus Knight: Yes, but a bullet wound, if properly made, will heal almost totally. A blaster wound leaves a terrible scar for life.
Martel: Huh. I supposed I hadn’t considered the post-combat social ramifications there. Could I borrow a spare slug thrower for a moment?
Lan: I find your cavalier attitude…. ::muttering as though they could hear:: appropos, I guess.
Justus Knight: ::hands over a medium caliber pistol::
An: ::moves up with cover to beside Martel:: What’ve we got?
GM: ::as far as you can tell, if there’s anyone in there, they’re being very, very quiet::
Martel: Thank you sir. We have obstinate holdouts An. I was just about to shoot them, and ask their opinions of relative wound preferences. ::he says loudly::
Martel: ::also, checks to see if the slugthrower could puncture these interior walls?::
GM: ::the walls look fairly solid, especially for warehouse interiors::
An: ::pokes his head around the corner real quick and pulls it back trying to see how many::
Martel: Ok, ready or not, here I come! To shoot you! ::waits to see if they shoot his way::
GM: ::nobody out there, just the closed doors::
An: Oh alright… ::walks up to the door, stands to the side and pulls it open::
Martel: Allrighty then. ::gets up and moves to the side of the closed door::
GM: ::the first closed door itself seems thicker than necessary… not particularly armored, just thick… possibly insulated::
GM: ::it locks from out here::
Martel: :: picks a safe-ish angle and dumps a few rounds into the lock::
An: ::looks around and reaches down to unlock the door then pulls his hand back::
Obelia: ::runs up with a keyring from one of the defenders, a second too late:: Or you could do that.
An: Right then. ::looks to Martel:: Ready? ::puts his hand on the door to throw it open::
Martel: Ayup.
An: ::throws open the door::
GM: ::The door, even shoved, moves ponderously, thudding dully into the wall as it stops. It was obviously soundproofed, as were the walls surrounding it. Within, dim fuzion lamps illuminate a half-dozen large cages… of the kind you would use…
GM: to contain exotic beasts… and their human cargo. Each contains an apparently Aragonese man or woman in simple linen jumpsuits, resting on the floor.::
Martel: ::looks around quickly for opposition::
GM: ::the people in the cages don’t look starved, but seem exhausted, as if from months of captivity. An average-looking woman with higher-class features climbs to her feet and addresses you::
Lan: ::has been listening patiently for any call on dangerously wounded anybody::
Martel: See? This is why low-penetration is better for this kind of environment.
An: ::steps carefully into the room::
Zilia: I am Dona Zilia Esa Justus de Aragon. Have you come to rescue us, or torment us further?
Justus Knight: ::rushes into the room and grabs her hand:: Cousin! We had counted you amongst the dead!
Martel: We don’t really do the tormenting bit usually, but I’m more than willing to make exception for scum who treat people as animals. Get those keys over here.
Obelia: ::begins opening the cages::
Martel: Lan? We could use your help in here too.
An: I am Don An-hetep-f Griffen del Sol Imperial. \
Lan: ::zips aroud the corner just in time for the three-man cameo::
An: We’ll have everyone out of here in no time.
Zilia: ::nods at An and all the others:: We were captured shortly after we fled the burning Castle by mercenaries, and they’ve been moving us for months. I don’t know why.
Lan: ::looks around for anybody who looks like they’re actually in a bad way, but isn’t obtrusive.::
GM: ::Lan’s opinion is that they could all use some fresh air and sun, but none of them appear particularly poorly off. They seem properly nourished, and in better shape than he is, probably from the Hazat propensity to turn captivity into exercise time::
An: ::looks to Zilia:: Are there any amount of time you were in their care that you can’t account for? Did they perform any medical care on you?
Zilia: No, they mostly kept us in this room, fed us regularly, and moved us at gunpoint and blindfold.
Martel: They didn’t happen to move anythign else with you, did they?
Zilia: I do not know, we were quickly put into vans in the dark
Martel: Hmm. Any clue as to who was managing this? Did you hear anything? See anything that could identify your captors?
Lan: ::cuts in:: Not to be morbid, but your noble persons seem remarkably fit… which is not really very usual with persons who are *understood* to be prisoners.
Zilia: We thought that was strange as well, but they never told us that they were holding us for ransom.
Lan: I imagine they meant to stage your deaths. That would be a more usual reason than one likes to think. But I can’t imagine why or where *now*.
Lan: Unless it was to fabricate some sort of story. ::shrugs:: I’m glad I’m of no use here. ::smiles faintly::
Martel: Dead bodies do tend to make good scapegoats. Also, you should have apparently taken the bet An. I don’t see a globe anywhere.
Lan: Wishful thinking on my part, clearly.
GM: ::there was another room::
An: Maybe the other room?
Martel: Well, lets give it a shot. I won’t lose my theoretical five creds without going down fighting.
An: True enough. ::motions with his hands:: After you.
GM: ::the next door is also locked, but doesn’t look quite as solid as the last one::
Martel: Though if they DO have the orb, then the dead nobles would probably have been who the Castenda would have “liberated” it from.
Maria: That wouldn’t look very good for the Justus.
Martel: ::doesn’t even bother slowing down this time, shooting through the lock as he approaches:: I mean, that’s what I would do if I were going to be an evil mastermind.
GM: ::the next room is smaller, just a table with a box on it. No lamps lit inside, though there is a switch on the wall::
Martel: ::I check for traps::
GM: ::yet, just walking in, you can’t help but begin to feel a sense of warmth and contentment::
GM: ::the box on the table seems to be an oversized carrying case::
Martel: Know what that feeling is An? That feeling is a job well done. ::flicks on the light switch:: Also, an artifact.
GM: ::the lights blaze in a way only possible with a high-quality camera and the exact right settings to shoot for beauty and chiaroscuro. Each of you shines in a tableau of magnificence. Each a questing hero in his prime.::
An: ::opens the oversized carrying case::
Lan: ::gasps:: Holy…! ::means it. comes up on the doorframe::
GM: ::within, inside expensive velvet padding, is a head-sized globe of polished crystal, faint colored light swirling within in beautiful patterns, its colors splashing upon your face at exactly the perfect angles to accentuate your features.::
An: Will you look at that? Glad I didn’t take that bet.
GM: ::you each feel at peace and honored, fulfilled and inspired… those that have been to Castle Furias before remember this feeling from the throneroom, where St. Bernardo’s Globe of Infinite Wonderment once rested, before it came here.::
Lan: ((::listening to moog synthesizer bach ATM appropriately enough:: ))
Martel: ::lights a cigar, and relaxes a little for the first time since dusting off from Pyre:: Ahh. Well. Times like this that make all of the rest of the hassles of my profession worth while.
Maria: Duchess Elena is going to pay…
GM: ~~~OOC~~~

Ep 22.1, Villains, Part 1

~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~IC~~~
GM: ::It’s been a busy month, and you’ve been caught up in it. Daughters and other overlooked nobles are speaking up to claim their rights. The Justus are trying to consolidate their power against an aggressive undercurrent from the Castenda. The Dulcinea, Bursandra, Rolas, and Estancia are all trying to move into position to add the Black Cypress positions to their authority within the house. To all, it looks like the Justus were meant to lead… but the Castenda are proving a remarkable and unusual cohesion, leveraging their control of Sutekh and poisoning the Bursandra (dominant family of Vera Cruz) claims by trying to implicate them in the destruction of the Eduardos and the fall of Hira. Despite what you assume are setbacks in their plans, the Castenda still seem to have a dominant role in the house, and some of the cross-house facets of the document are openly called into question since their drafter is deceased. As the ones who found the document, cured the selchaka addiction, drove off the Jakovian invasion, and supported a newly forged but well-landed Baroness, you are centers of social attention…
Lan: ::terrifed::
GM: Many nobles seem interested in making your acquaintence, and you haven’t had much time to yourselves. December is approaching next week, and you’ve finally gotten some downtime to pursue your own agendas and nagging questions.::
GM: ((where did you want to be holed up… Isabella or New Barcelona?))
Lan: ((Would like to be close to clinic, but it’s not vital.))
Martel: ((fine by me))
An: ((Agreed. Probably where we would be.))
GM: ::The old New Barcelona home of Jaime Eduardo is finally completely livable again, though it’s strange to An not to be sequestered in one of the side rooms. Jaime had a hell of a master suite… Alphonso is happier than you’ve seen him in months, bustling around and restoring the furnishings.::
An: ::tries to stay out of his way as much as possible::
GM: ::his hands seem to have lost most of their mobility, but due to Lan’s ministrations months ago, he still retains enough mobility to maintain the household::
An: ::goes to the kitchen to make himself Coffee, unwilling to disturb the servants::
Lan: It’s best that he stay active. ::comments thoughtfully::
GM: ::despite your recent activity and the seeming closure of the issue of inheritence, all of you feel a nagging doubt that this is finished.::
Martel: ::spends his day pondering where the shoe will drop::
Lan: You now, Padre. ::over tea:: I can’t help but wonder when exactly the Jakovans are going to throttle me in my sleep.
Lan: Not to mention. Where are we going to open our arboretum and research garden?
Maria: ::wanders into the kitchen at the smell of coffee in a dressing gown and wielding a stack of correspondence. she doesn’t look like she had much sleep even now that you’re home::
Martel: Silly doctor. Throttleing implies that your death will be quick.
An: ::pours a cup of Caw-fee for himself and Maria and offers her the cup::
Martel: Honestly though, I think they have bigger problems right now.
Maria: ::takes it gladly, juggling the papers, and sits down to the table to drink and read::
An: ::takes a sip from his Kaow-phi:: I don’t think its over yet. Theres something, else. Doesn’t take a fortune teller to see that much.
Maria: ::looks up from the documents:: It’s rough. The Castenda are planning something, and I wish I knew what it was. They’ve never been this organized before, but they’re calling in favors with all the right people…
Lan: Well… who’s smart enough among them to organize? ::Skeptically::
Martel: Who among them would be running this kind of PR campaign?
Maria: Even with everything we did to upset them, they’re still pretty neck and neck with the Justus and the Bursandra amongst the lords that will decide on the Prince or Princess.
Lan: By the by, in case it’s really necessary to remind you all, inadequate third-stage sleep is the real cause of every known symptom of aging. Especially before 110.
Maria: ::sighs:: I wasn’t really clear on how much political intriguing father did, until I had a permanent address again.
An: What about the Justus? They attempting a full push or do they seem cut off at the knees?
Maria: And, for who’s behind it, it would almost have to be Duchess Elena. Her mother tried the same thing when Prince Juan was young, but she couldn’t mobalize properly and she lost. Maybe her daughter learned? They’re definitely in the game, but everything’s really… polite… right now. Before Black Cypress, it might have come to a war. Now, it’s about putting together blocs while everyone waits for the others to call a vote. And nobody really seems to want to do it until they’re sure where everyone else is going to stand. Meanwhile, they’re probably all hoping for one big impressive thing to put them over the top.
Lan: What, is there a yet-unnoticed clause in the thing about what happens if all-out war breaks out?
Maria: Or some big slip up for their rivals.
Lan: Oh. So they’re scheming the slip-ups.
An: Which I’m sure they are engineering now as we speak.
Lan: I hate politics.
Maria: No, no clause, but the Justus have reason to support the document, since it leaves them in charge, but if they call a vote to support it, and they lose, then they’ve lost entirely and the Castenda and Bursandra will fight it out. As the political capital to get the document ratified is pretty much the same as you’d need to mount a political attack without the document. And the Castenda have used the downtime to get enough Dulcinea and Rolas on their side that, now, a hot war would be apocalyptic to the house, so nobody wants that. Especially with the Kurgans on Hira.
Lan: That’s kind of a selling point itself, you know. “Justus. The only real solution that leaves us all alive.”
Maria: Long story short, I don’t know what we can do to help the Justus… assuming that’s best for the house… or what might happen soon.
Martel: Speaking of Kurgans, what is the news about them?
Maria: No real word about them lately. They seem to be in charge of the Hira jumpgate, so we only lost a couple of scout ships before giving up. We’d have to punch through a fleet to just get the lay of the land.
Martel: …And if we are going that far, might as well try to take the system back.
Maria: Fortunately, thanks to us, the fleets have mostly returned to Vera Cruz, so we’re not quite as open to attack as we could have been.
Maria: They’re just not really restaffed and organized yet to try to push back, particularly since the house might still have a hot war and blow up their Bursandra leaders’ political future while they’re away. So they’re sticking close to home. And half the Bursandra are here anyway so they can be close to the politics.
An: Hira is something we’ll have to deal with once the house gets fully established. A unified front is required to push back the Kurgan Invasion.
Lan: ::chuckles darkly:: Call a crusade and let the chips fall where they may?
Martel: And who’s gonna call it? You guys don’t have THAT much clout.
Maria: I just wish we knew what the Castenda have planned. If this was a Decados plot, it would have folded when we messed with them. They’re still too organized, so it’s gotta be internal.
Maria: I want someone to fight.
An: ::puts a hand on Marias shoulder:: Then maybe its time for our little cadre to look into some espionage, see if we can figure it all out.
Lan: Maybe I should just go ask Malena.
Martel: We did allright with our last high stake infiltration. You know anyone else it would be useful to skewer as a distraction?
Lan: Your skewering– ::points:: Is too effective.
An: ::chuckles into his coffee a bit:: I’m sure there is someone who I could stab.
Lan: Well. Who else would be capable of this kind of thing, anyway? Or, no. You’re certain it’s inside then.
Maria: What? Propping up a whole faction of a noble house to have way more clout than seems reasonable? If it’s not the Decados, it’s someone even scarier.
Martel: Duchess Elena sounded like the good suggestion earlier.
Maria: We at least knew they were in bed with the Mantis.
Lan: Scarrier than the Decados.
Martel: Wait…have they CAUGHT the black lion yet? Cause he might pull something like this as some sort of ironic vengeance.
Lan: Maybe it’s our boss. ::fingers the imperial cohort badge on the counter::
Maria: ::sorts through the stack:: holdon… last message from Decados space that got to us is a few weeks old, but it looks like the Imperial fleet is locking down the Jakovians pretty well. Unless he was offworld at the time, he’s toast.
Maria: Both Eduardo and Justus were vocal supporters of the empire after we lost the war. If Alexius wanted to get back at Juan for going up against him, there are easier ways to do it that wouldn’t risk putting another house….
Martel: Fair enough. Can’t count of him being our resident boogyman then.
Maria: into the camp of his main rivals.
Martel: Well, so Elena remains the number one suspect. any way or removing her name from the hat?
Maria: Short of actual proof that she’s behind everything and not just an effective opportunist? She’s slid out of everything else so far still in a strong position.
Martel: We could always just go ask her. See what she says.
Lan: Padre and I have turned over a new leaf.
Martel: Wait, we have? Which leaf was this?
Lan: Yeah, remember? No making up complex stories. “Can I have your gun please?” “Sure!” “Thanks!”
Martel: Right. That. I thought we weren’t going to talk to people about that?
Lan: Anyway. So we can’t like, get further dirt on somebody to let us effectively throw the balance?
Martel: Besides, I haven’t had much luck telling people the truth lately either.
An: Speaking of telling the truth. How is the poor sister of the poor man I impaled?
Lan: Nonplussed, I would say. We made small talk. She really isn’t the brains of the Castenada, is she?
Maria: In the noble lottery, sometimes you get brains, sometimes you get political skill, and sometimes you get someone great at war. Those of us not blessed with a lot of all three find people to help us out. Doesn’t make us less of a person.
GM: ::And, though she’s good about not opening her mouth if she’s not completely aware of the situation, you’re all aware that Maria isn’t tremendously intelligent, either, on a purely intellectual sense::
Martel: Hell, having a ton of brains isn’t the worst thing in the world. Decent advisors can cure that problem, if you are a judge of character.
Lan: I don’t mean bookish. But do you think she really knows much about what her closest are doing? I mean, I suppose I really don’t want to know, on one hand.
Maria: Well, she’s high ranking, so at the very least she’s getting marching orders to pass on to her people. Whether she has enough of the picture to know what’ s going on, or just what she needs to know, probably depends on what she needs to know.
Lan: ::finishes tea:: Anyway, I think it’s past time I called on the Marchessa. I can still get away with that, presumably. We’re hardly unpopular these days.
Maria: And she was one of the first Castenda on the ground after the tragedy, that I’m aware of… so there’s probably a reason for that.
An: Probably. We’re gonna need to play this one defensively. Most likely we won’t know anything for sure until they make their first moves. We need to be ready to react no matter what.
Lan: ::sighs:: It’s going to… vex me. If she’s … involved. With the selchaka particularly. Anyway, it would be well if I looked into Tyrone’s therapy, too. The re-secting I had to do. Oy.
Martel: Something tells me she isn’t. Or if she is, that it’s recent, and she’s uncomfortable with it.
Lan: Do we… have any other windows into what the Castenada are thinking? ::vaguely mope-ish::
Maria: You could put the moves on Tyrone.
An: I don’t think the doctor is his type.
Lan: ::scowls:: I like my men blonde.
Maria: ::looks from Lan to An’s blonde hair, then makes a significant look at her saber::
An: Watch out doctor, she’s a jealous one.
Martel: ::rolls eyes and goes back to pondering::
Lan: Oh quit. You can’t slice me. Who would put me back together?
An: He has a point.
Maria: You… must live in constant fear that we’re going to start a fight that you get caught up in
Martel: Why do you think we try so hard to keep him out of those fights?
Lan: Most of the things we end up doing terrify me. But if we need more sources of information about who’s planning what… I guess it’s me off to visit the Marchessa.
An: Most likely best
Maria: Have Alphonso charter you a plane.
Lan: ::nods, and heads off to look into it and pack::
GM: ::Alphonso proves as adept with finagling charioteers as he does with keeping a house in order, and Lan is on the next flight to Port Isabella, first class all the way::
GM: ::Assuming no other plans, the plane lands in a few hours, and Lan can catch a cab out to the bluffs::
Martel: ::conjures up plan to insert Lan via hang glider, then discards it.
Lan: ::dresses neatly and brings bags as if to stay a day or so::
Lan: ((ack, some sucky lag there, sorry.))
GM: ((calling ahead, showing up as a surprise, trying to get her to meet you…?))
Lan: ((Oh! I believe I’ll go with the get a place to stay of my own, and invite her to picnic lunch, unless that seems totally unworkable.))
Lan: ((Lag hell.))
GM: ::Lan rents out a nice little bungalow on the beach, as even though it’s the nice of an equatorial climate, it’s the off season and they’re easy to come by, then sends his invitation… her people call him back later in the afternoon and say that she’s busy the next day, but could make a few hours for him the day after::
Lan: ::replies that the picnic isn’t really necessary, ultimately, but he would like to see her at her convenience, and possibly check up on her brother’s therapy::
GM: ::they assure him that the picnic is fine::
Lan: ::Says then that he looks forward to it with the greatest enthusiasm.::
GM: ::the next day, Lan has time to plan his date::
Lan: ::shops for the right wine and cheeses. Takes a stroll around the park in question, looking inconspicuous.::
GM: ::the nature park that Maria mentioned is very lovely. Lan is able to easily pick up some interesting facts about the local fauna and environment from the maintenance staff.::
Lan: ::is almost distracted from anxiety by talking about the fauna and flora. But breaks away, and tries to get a decent night’s sleep. Sends a message back to the others detailing his plans for the following day. Just in case, you know::
GM: ::The next day dawns clear and crisp, a good day for a picnic, and around lunchtime Lan can get a car to go meet at the noble neighborhood::
Lan: ::heads on up at the appointed time, waits patiently, is deferrential::
GM: ::after a few minutes wait, Tyrone comes walking out of the door, wearing a nice silk shirt and trousers… the shirt almost completely hides the bandages still swathing his shoulder::
Tyrone: ::looks the car over carefully, then walks up to Lan with a mixed look of annoyance and gratitude. Offers to shake with his good hand:: Unless I am completely wrong about the purpose of this meeting, I am here to chaperone.
Lan: Ah, well. I’ll be done twice the honor, then, milord. How’s your shoulder? I’m concerned about range of motion.
Lan: ((Sorry, phone. I’m back now.))
Lan: ::and shakes::
Tyrone: ::flexes his arm with a concealed wince of pain, but the range of motion is about as good as Lan could hope for at this stage:: Where are we going, so I can log the trip with our people?
Lan: ((insert name Salamanca here)) nature preserve. It does look about as well as can be expected. You have a good therapist, I trust.
Tyrone: Yes. The training has already begun. An hour each day, at least. ::nods and goes to inform the guard and fetch Malena::
Lan: ::mutters about ‘training’ and waits::
GM: ::a minute later, Tyrone emerges escorting Malena. She’s dressed in the most simple and demure outfit you’ve ever seen her in: a fitted sun-dress with a wide-brimmed hat, both in red…
GM: of course, when the sun hits the fabric right, there are moments of… translucency::
Lan: My lady. ::allows a faint smile:: A pleasure to see you again, under less frantic circumstances.
Malena: Doctor Lan, I’m so glad you called ::offers her hand::
Lan: ::takes her hand and bows head over it, as naturally as a commoner can manage:: Shall we, then? I’m delighted your brother is joining us. I wonder if… ::leans as close as propriety allows:: You’ve considered getting him a therapist, rather than some brutal trainer?
Lan: I trust your health is well? You look radiant, to be sure. ::bland smile::
Malena: ::quietly:: My cousin has the best therapist we could find. He soothes his ego by pretending it is just training. ::normal volume:: Why thank you, you look very charming yourself.
Lan: ((health is well? is that even english? Trust you’re in good health.))
GM: ((it might be… Urthish))
GM: ::Tyrone sits next to the driver in the car, and allows the two of you the back seat::
Lan: Let’s be off then? ::solicitously::
GM: ::the drive to the nature preserve is short and easy, with a nice view of the ocean for much of it, before entering into the forest::
Lan: I think there’s a bit of sorrell going to seed here this season that will be a nice touch to the salad I’ve brought. Do you come to this preserve often? ::disembarking, taking up the picnic basket himself::
Malena: I believe I have done business here a few times in the last months, but never for pleasure. You are as skilled with botany as you are with healing?
Lan: All healing arts begin with botany, milady. The pancreator gives His Green kingdom only so many ways of ::gestures vaguely:: competing… with those of us who’re more mobile. But the phytochemicals that result… I’ve seen high seco
Lan: nd republic machines that cannot outperform nature…. ::amends:: Nature and time.
GM: ::you’re clear that Malena has little idea what you’re saying, but is very impressed nonetheless, perhaps just getting a read that you know what you’re talking about. You walk down a nature path with Tyrone a discrete distance behind.::
Malena: I thought you might be. Your book was of that kind of theme. Grail must be very beautiful.
Lan: If I was surer of the future I would put myself at your service, showing you its treasures. ::nods sincerely:: Which are no small account. As it is, though, I worry.
Malena: Oh?
Lan: All blood is precious to me. I don’t look forward to it ever being spilled. Even by my closest friends. Even from those who are inevitably not my friends. ::downcast::
Malena: You expect blood?
Lan: Noblemen always have their reasons, and I don’t presume to judge. But bloodshed seems too often the result. If you told me it were otherwise, I’m sure I’d be much relieved.
Malena: Perhaps we should have our meal before we talk of such dark things. I know so little about you.
Lan: I do beg your pardon. A medical doctor’s the worst sort of conversationalist at times? Ha-ha. I hope the wine’s to your liking. ::finds the scenic clearing and park shelter up ahead, and starts laying things out::
GM: ::the meal is very nice. Malena proves adept at managing small talk in a way that Lan wouldn’t by able to duplicate, and seems to be very cleverly getting him to reveal bits of his character through his answers.::
GM: ::by the end of the meal, Tyrone sitting in a nice tree within line of sight but out of earshot for quite conversation, she seems to have made up her mind on something::
Lan: ::remains wrapped in an essentially morbid and tense state of mind, however honest he is in reply, but gradually lightens up::
Malena: So, oh doctor of the black moods, why here? Why not saving lives on Grail or any other planet?
Lan: ::thinks about that a second:: Well, partly because of the Decados. What they did with the selchaka, and … other things I prefer not to mention. Are against God and Nature. Those things offended me. Partly because I admit…. ::sm
Lan: iles blandly:: That nobility can be charming, and rarely does a commoner like myself have such pleasant company.
GM: ::she smiles prettily, at just that moment a sunbeam peaks through a cloud and the right angle to give Lan a very good view::
Malena: Your charm does you credit. I’ve been lied to by many charming noblemen, and the honesty you have makes your words much sweeter than theirs. This selchaka thing, then, is personal to you?
Lan: Shall I tell you a secret? A dark one?
GM: ((you know, all in all, for a noble from a house of vipers, meeting a hot guy that’s charming while being totally without guile is probably somewhat thrilling))
Lan: ((One hopes.))
Malena: ::quirks a cute little eyebrow:: Yes?
Lan: I’ve taken one man’s life. Appropriately enough, he was a doctor. He abused medical science– whose only proper purpose is healing. I …. I do take it personally.
Malena: A man involved in this drug?
Lan: ::nods:: ((Unless I have that wrong.))
GM: ((yeah. it wasn’t his main thing, but he was involved broadly in the operation))
Malena: I must confess I know little about it, besides they say that the Decados were responsible.
Lan: ::nods:: Ah, more tacky nonsense about my profession. So, by business, I imagine you mean you come to train in sword art here? Or dance? ::looks around as though for musicians::
Malena: No, it is a pleasing place for conversations on many topics. No prying ears or eyes. ::shakes her head in wonderment:: You’re sort of cute when you’re trying to dig.
GM: ((Lan vs. Malena – Analytical Intelligence vs. Social Intelligence in action!))
Lan: ::ignores remarks about digging:: I did promise you I would learn to dance. I expect the chance to prove, some day. If I were digging, I’d ask you right out what Castenada forsees to break the impasse.
Malena: Well, yes, that is digging… perhaps with a tractor or some other form of heavy machinery. I should be pleased to see how much you have learned of dance. If you’re competent at that, you might wish to move on to more subtle forms of political conversation ::said jokingly::
Lan: ::earnestly:: But I don’t. I don’t wish to improve on my politics. I only wish to avoid bloodshed. Well, and I’ve wanted to dance with you.
Malena: Well, let us dance with words a bit more, then perhaps you can show me how you move on your feet… why do you think the Castenda need to break an impasse?
Lan: Because things don’t seem settled, nor seem likely to settle themselves. If you tell me I’m wrong about that, I’d be greatly reassured. ::but not so much::
Malena: Well, I am a much better judge of personal character than of the political climate. I maintain my respect by managing to read people, find out where they stand, and getting them to move closer to me. That is useful to my family. Lately, I have found a much easier time making friends than I would have a year ago. What do you fear if my duchess came to be princess of the Hazat?
Lan: Perhaps I’ve already gone too far. ::shrugs:: But I suppose its’ the path she would take that alarms me most.
Malena: What path is that?
Lan: Well, I don’t know, Milady. ::hushed:: Would it involve forced marriages? Drugging noblewomen? Would it involve even yourself in things I would not stand to hear you accused of? It’s not fair to ask me that sort of question.
Lan: Begging your pardon.
Malena: No… your fears are misplaced. The duchess has only ever wanted to succeed where her mother failed… to be the face of the Hazat. Any actions we may have taken were too that end, but no further. But… I believe she spent too long in the counsel of our… friends. She thinks sideways. Duchess Amanda… her mother… took on the Eduardo head-on and lost. I didn’t want to believe it at first, but I think Elena has been working a kind of political judo for years that would impress and shock her mother. I am not deep in her counsels, but I hear things. I help move things and people. I get things done, though it is often better that I don’t know why. And I’m worried.
Lan: ::nods. Vaguely pained expression::
Malena: You are a popular man amongst the other Hazat. A hero of Aragon, some call you. Do you have the political power to direct a tactical strike against Elena and her close allies without wiping out my whole family? I believe Duchess Salandra must have asked something similar of your friend, the new questing knight.
Lan: I suspect she did, though I wasn’t told. ::clears throat weakly:: Malena. I … certainly don’t have that kind of power. And I don’t want anybody’s family wiped out. Much less, yours.
Malena: Well, unfortunately, that is the position I find myself in. I could tell you things that would ruin me if turned against my family. If I do not, awful things happen, but we remain powerful, perhaps becoming the most powerful. Without some kind of assurance, you ask me to weigh my conscience against the safety and power of my blood.
Lan: ::nods forlornly:: When I can make you assurances, I will. Will you dance with me now? ::pained smile:: Or maybe it would be well to make me wait?
Lan: ((I don’t mean to eat the whole evening with chitchat. Sorry guys.))
Malena: We will dance at a celebration of your heroic efforts in saving the house, or at the coronation of Princess Elena.
An: ((Ain’t no thing, I’m doing homework))
Lan: Everything you’ve said about yourself is true. ::smiles::
GM: ((So that your final word?))
Lan: ((Well, yes, except for more typical smalltalk, I don’t think Lan was prepared to offer to off any duchesses tonight.))
GM: ((alright))
Lan: Here’s sorrell, to remember our little picnic by. Sweet or bitter, depending on the climate. ::hands her a sprig::
Lan: ((There, hows that.))
GM: ::and the smalltalk continues, but lacks its earlier vivacity. The marquesa is dropped off some time later, with nothing really resolved::
GM: ~~~OOC~~~

Ep 21.3, Black Cypress, Part 3

~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~IC~~~
GM: ::In what seems like only moments, Tyrone is standing in a wide path through the spotlit gardens, a tight dueling shirt hugging his prettyboy muscles while the shimmer of his shield catches the light… An stands nearby, divested of cloak and armed with only a sword::
GM: ((You wanted to go with Saber, right?))
An: ((Right.))
GM: ((Okay, your base weapon damage is 7 with your strength))
GM: ::Against the warm night and the respectful… or resentful?… murmur of Hazat watching an honor duel, the two of you move along the paths of the garden, circling for advantage for nearly a minute, before Tyrone seizes the initiative::
Roll: ((Tyrone rolls 2 VPs and 6 damage, An Ripostes and blocks 7; An’s Riposte attack has 2 VPs and 7 damage, Tyrone Parries and blocks 8))
GM: ::And with a swinging slash, Tyrone’s rapier thunks against An’s saber. His guard seemingly down, An turns it into a riposte, but Tyrone deftly turns and lets the return slash slide off his own blade::
Tyrone: Almost, but not good enough, you jumped up peasant.
An: If only your footwork was a quick as your tongue.
Tyrone: I’ll show you footwork!
GM: ::Tyrone swings in, seeming to trade defense for pure offense::
Roll: ((Tyrone makes a double Compound attack, getting two sets of 3 VPs (4 and 6 damage), An Ripostes both with 6 and 7 block; An’s Riposte attacks for one that deals 6 damage after spending a Wyrid (and triggers Tyrone’s shield) and another which misses completely))
GM: ::Tyrone’s unguarded assault meets with An’s sword flashing in all directions. The two strikes are effortlessly turned back on Tyrone, but one slams too hard into his shield while the other goes wide::
Tyrone: Sufficient for a general melee, perhaps, but an ogre has no place on the dueling field.
An: Then you’d like to retire I take it?
An: ((Had to resist turning that into a “Your Mom” joke))
Tyrone: No, if I am anything it is a shantor, running in hard and fast. Like now!
GM: ::Tyrone moves to claim the double compound attack he made before::
Roll: ((Tyrone makes a Slash with +4 from two compound attacks, getting 8 VPs, An splits action to Parry and Pierce. Tyrone’s damage is 9, of which An parries 5, and then his armor takes an additional 3, pushing through a wound of 1. An’s Pierce scores 1 VP and 5 damage, exactly enough to trigger Tyrone’s shield again.))
GM: ::Tyrone swings a massive overhead strike that An manages to deflect just enough to slow so that it grazes into his shoulder… tearing his shirt but only bruising his arm. An then directs a blow through Tyrone’s open guard, but puts just enough power on it to flash the Hazat’s shield::
GM: ::meanwhile…::
GM: ::the hacienda is sort of eerie and post-apocalyptic… except instead of a large family of Castenda being vaporized from their evening meal, they simply went to watch a duel… nonetheless, tasty-looking plates sit half-finished on a long table::
Lan: ((“Of COURSE you can have vanilla ice-cream with whipped cream and sprinkles for dinner every night! We just REALLY need that dossier.”))
Martel: ::racks his brain to remember the layout of the place as best he can. Also nabs a ghrape off the table for munching.::
GM: ::the maps you got from Julian lead you towards the back of the house and downstairs… which is uncommon for haciendas, but it is a secret dungeon::
Lan: Tsk! ::disapprovingly:: Shoulda gotten a meal before we came out. ::nabs a plum::
Martel: Aye. I never remember to eat before these kidnapping ops, yanno? ::heads towards the Secret Dungeon::
Martel: ::puts on his professional “I’ll be your interrogator today” face::
GM: ::the stairs lead down three flights, quickly changing from the standard whitewashed interior stucco to smooth-sanded stone from the bluffs themselves… it starts to get a bit cold::
Lan: ::rubs his ppper arms distractedly:: Oh, don’t look so sour, Deacon. Habit or not.
Martel: ::scowls at the stonework anyways:: It’s just unperfessional. If you are going to interrogate a man, you need to keep the cells warm. Hypothermia doesn’t do anyone any favors.
GM: ::at the bottom of the stairs, you come to a reasonably thick door set into a small inset of stuccoed wall::
Martel: ::knocks on the door briskly, but politely::
GM: ::after a minute there’s the sound of a deadbolt retracting, then a mildly surprised looking Sutekhese householder is staring up at you, hands away from his gun::
GM: ::the rooms behind him seem warm and well lit with fuzion lanterns::
Martel: Hello. I’m here to work on the prisoner this evening.
Guard: Who are you? And what do you mean work on the prisoner?
Lan: ::tries to decide if it’s plausible to nimble on past the guard, especially if there’re no more guards beyond::
Martel: My name is Trask, and I’ve been commisioned from Pyre to work on Mr. ((insert correct name here)). I assume the head interrogator is availible?
GM: ((Calvo))
GM: ((Martel, Extrovert + Knavery, Lan, Dex + Sneak))
Roll: ((Lan rolles 3 and 14, Martel rolls 20 and 18))
GM: ((that, friends, is a botch))
Martel: ((so full of fail tonight))
GM: ((If you didn’t persist in the plan that requires you to lie, I wouldn’t have to make you roll to show how bad Martel is at it))
GM: (( :)))
Martel: ((I remembered I had a “no lying” plan right after I started with the lying, unfortunately.))
GM: ::Lan isn’t sure he could get past the guard, but he might be able to get the guard’s gun while he’s putting on the biggest look of disbelief at Martel’s awful lie::
Roll: ((Lan rolls 5 and 4 to nab the gun))
GM: ::and with a little difficulty, Lan manages to snag the gun right as the guard is about to yell for help::
GM: ((hand it to Martel, who is much better with guns than lies?))
Martel: See? This is why I didn’t try to lie to the Archbishop. I’m no good at the talking. ::decks the guard::
Lan: ::pauses half a second to look dubious about handling a firearm, then hands it to Martel::
GM: ((would you like to revise to holding him up with his own gun… Martel, also not that great at decking guards))
GM: ((I’m also not really sure how one would go about knocking people out in this system))
Martel: ((sure)) ::accepts the gun graciously:: Now, I really am here to see Mr. Calvo. If you would direct us please?
Martel: Oh, and if we run into any of your coworkers, just tell them you’ll cover for them so they can go upstairs to see the duel.
Guard: ::closes his mouth really quickly, looks chagrined, and precedes the skilled gunslinger into the room::
GM: ::meanwhile…::
Tyrone: Obviously, you are too much of an oaf to even worry about. So take this!
GM: ::Tyrone unleashes a series of blows, trying to end the fight now::
Roll: ((Tyrone makes a triple Thrust attack, getting 2, 2, and 1 VPs and dealing 3, 2, and 6 damage. An uses Wall of steel to Parry 7, 6, and 9 damage.))
GM: ::Tyrone’s flashing rapier clangs dully off of An’s saber as it traces a lazy arc through the air, conserving energy::
Tyrone: A brilliant defensive game, but you will slip soon. You are too slow.
An: I prefer careful, wouldn’t want to get tired, exerting all of my energy, would I?
Tyrone: Those of us that are in shape, have no difficulty. Perhaps when you get tired, I can let you take a break?
GM: ::Tyrone, perhaps to prove that he is in shape, launches another volley of attacks::
Roll: ((Tyrone makes a triple Compound attack, getting two hits of 2 VPs each. An Ripostes both and prepares a Flat of Blade attack. Tyrone’s damage of 8 and 5 are met exactly by An’s Ripostes. One Riposte attack misses, but the other hits due to An’s Wyrd expenditure. The Flat of Blade hits as well. An drops VPs from both attacks to roll base damage, getting 6 and 2. The one flashes his shield again, and the other is absorbed by his armor.))
GM: ::Tyrone’s second barrage of attacks skips, again, off An’s steel. One riposte goes wide, the second flashes off of Tyrone’s shield, and the third, a negligent tap, doesn’t get through his shirt::
Martel: ((isn’t slappin someone with the flat of your sword supposed to be insulting?))
GM: ((yep))
Tyrone: How dare you!?!?
An: ::chuckles and flicks the blade up and to the side in a mocking salute::
GM: ::Tyrone winds up for a mighty slash from his compound attack::
Roll: ((Tyrone makes a single Slash at +6 from his Compound attacks and spends Wyrd to Accent high. He crits for 24 VPs and 30 dice of damage. Things are tense, and 17 damage gets through. An spends Wyrd to Accent high on a Riposte, rolls high and, on reflection, spends another Wyrd to make the roll a crit. He rolls 18 armor to block. He then Ripostes and crits naturally, ultimately dealing 11 damage which flashes Tyrone’s shield and the last point is absorbed by his armor.))
GM: ::Tyrone’s brutal overhand slash moves with a speed and force that clearly should have cut An in half. Was meant to have cut An in half, even through a shield… and somehow An’s sword is there to intercept, turn the slash harmlessly into the ground, and followup with a slash of his own that chops all the way through a flaring shield and nearly draws blood::
GM: ::and with the exertion, An seems to be moving even more easily, warmed up from the fight::
GM: ((all of your Dexterity + Melee rolls are now at +3))
An: ((Woot Shenany))
GM: ::but meanwhile…::
Lan: ::follows along behind the more expert gun weilder::
GM: ::the guard leads Martel and Lan across a well-appointed suite of rooms, made depressing only for their lack of windows. There are no other guards, but there is a gray old man reading a novel::
Martel: ::clears throat:: Sorry to bother you sir. Might we have a few moments of your time?
Nereo: Hmmmm? ::adjusts his spectacles:: Armed young men, now, holding others at gunpoint? I trust there’s good reason?
Lan: ::bland smile:: Begging your pardon, sir, only one of us. I’m doctor Lan Maningzhoue, and this is Deacon Martel Azo.
Martel: For physical threats? Rarely, but desperate times, and all that. ::nods to the guard:: please, have a seat over at the far end of the room.
GM: ::the guard nods and moves to a chair, sitting and keeping his hands in view::
Lan: ::winces inwardly… maybe the title isn’t right to use anymore.::
Martel: ::lowers the firearm::
Nereo: Nereo Calvo. What can I do for you?
Martel: Well, that is the thing isn’t it. We’re here to try to make public the last wishes of your former master, and obtain information that would help the wellbeing of a young lady named Maria.
Nereo: Oh?
Lan: We’d hoped we might ingratiate ourselves to you somehow, and perhaps you would consider helping us find a certain document.
Nereo: There’s been a lot of that going around lately, though, I admit, you’re the most colorful of the inquests.
Martel: ::grins:: We’ve the least time to make a good impression.
Nereo: Well, besides the Marquesa, who asked me very nicely
Lan: ::quirks an uneven smile:: I’m sure. Sir, if you had your choice of masters and residences, would it be otherwise than it is now?
Lan: I have in mind, mostly, residences. ::looks around::
Nereo: Are you proposing to abduct me from my “benefactors?” How shocking. What do you propose?
GM: ::the guard, though suitable chastened, does appear to be listening intently to this exchange::
Martel: ::leans forward and whispers so the guard cannot hear:: We work on behalf of Dona Maria Fe Eduardo de Aragon of the Hazat. She wishes your freedom, and the restoration of her house.
Lan: ::shrugs, nods::
Nereo: ::quietly:: If true, that would certainly be a motivation. Though my last news had her under the same thumb as I.
Martel: ::also quietly:: She’s being freed by a recently knighted Anhitep Griffen, even as we speak. Thus the scarcity of our time.
Nereo: Well, jolly good. I don’t think you’re lying, because you seem like a terrible liar. And, even if you’re mistaken, I don’t think my situation could get too much worse. Please. Tie up the ruffian while I pack. I assume you have an exit?
Martel: Ah, you would be correct. I am a terrible liar, and we have an exit prepared!
Lan: ::takes out a suitable dose of a ketamine/other concoction that at least ideally induces stupor and a few days worth of prior amnesia::
Martel: How are you with heights, by the way?
Lan: ::chuckles:: All these are true, including my friend’s incapacity for lying.
Martel: ::tears up some drapery for to make with the guard tying::
GM: ::Martel motions as if the guard will be tied up, then Lan injects him in the arm. He slumps over momentarily.::
Nereo: ::tossing medicines, keepsakes, and clothes into a small suitcase:: Heights?
Martel: ::mostly just wraps the cloth several times around his wrists and ankles::
Lan: ::to the guard:: Don’t worry, sir, this is no poison. Just 2-halogenated benzodiazeprene. Which if you can remember that much tomorrow, I will have miscalculated the dosage. ::injects::
Martel: Yes. Due to the commotion on the front lawn, and the breif nature of our visit, we will be making a scenic withdrawel from the premises.
Nereo: Thrilling.
Martel: Indeed!
Lan: I have a smaller dosage of this for you as well sir, if you *are* uncomfortable with heights. Or perhaps you … yes, prefer the thrill of adventure?
GM: ::Lan is able to eyeball the butler and, perhaps take a few brief measurements if desired, coming to the conclusion that he’s probably not in too much danger of a heart attack::
Martel: Might I take a suitcase for you sir? ::helps prepare to exit towards the roof::
Nereo: No, indeed, unless we’re doing something truly insane. ::hands over the suitcase::
Lan: You’ve hang-glided I imagine? ::conversationally::
Martel: Oh I’m sure that might not be the case all the time at all.
Nereo: Hang gliding? Splended. No. I’ve never done. Never thought I’d get to. Is it safe?
Martel: Oh certainly sir! In fact, you’ll actually be flying tandem with the special person I mentioned earlier.
GM: ((incidentally, you’re actually going to the edge of the bluffs, not the roof. You’re too far from the cliff here.))
Lan: ::as if confidentially:: Neither have I.
Martel: ((bah, I was imagining the typical Villains Clifftop Castle. Makes more sense that way though))
Nereo: Well, no sense dawdling, then, unless we’re waiting out a patrol
GM: ((nope, think an upper-class Zorro neighborhood, on the side of a cliff, with walls))
Martel: No sir. Everyone else should be busy watching the exhibition. Onwards! ::leads the way, tastefully concealing the gun in the folds of his outfit::
Lan: ::follows along until a suitable place to break away from the two and rejoin the antics in the garden::
GM: ::as you make your way out of the house and across the lawn, you’re treated to a true mastery of stealth. Nereo isn’t invisible, he’s just supposed to be where he is. There’s no sense noticing him, he’s the help.::
Martel: Good luck Doctor!
GM: ::meanwhile…::
Lan: ::gives thumbsup::
GM: ::Tyrone and An have been circling and trading ineffectual blows for a few more minutes. Both shields have suffered more hits, there are few more rips in clothing, and both men have taken scratches::
GM: ((you’re both down 10 more shield charges and 1 more wound, hopefully to speed this up :)))
An: ((How many charges does the shield have?))
GM: ((15))
Tyrone: ::panting, nearly exhausted:: Give up, Griffen. Admit defeat and I’ll let you walk away.
An: ::takes a deep breath and readies his blade again:: No.
GM: ::Tyrone again launches a blistering series of attacks::
Roll: ((Tyrone makes a triple Thrust, getting 3 and 2 VPs on the attacks that hit. An prepares two Ripostes and a Pierce. Tyrone rolls 3 and 4 damage and, after spending Wyrd, An blocks with 5 and 4. His Ripostes are at 0 and 1 VPs, rolling 6 and 5 damage. The first attack flashes the shield, while the second goes to armor and 2 gets through. On the Pierce, An gets 0 VPs and rolls 3 damage, all of which goes through armor.))
GM: ::And, again, Tyrone unleashes a frenzied salvo of thrusts. And, again, An turns them all, hitting too hard… but the first flash causes the knight’s belt buckle to emit a sizzle and sparks… the second and third strikes mark holes in Tyrone… one hanging slightly on his shirt but ripping a hole, the second darting out and right back into that gap::
GM: ::Tyrone is suddenly bleeding profusely from the deep stab. He doesn’t look too incommoded, but his shield is fried and he’s quite vulnerable to one major hit::
Lan: ::wrings hands and checks thru his little black bag::
Tyrone: ::moves somewhat erratically, suddenly unsure whether he should go on the defensive or try to take An out in another berzerker strike::
An: ::takes a readied stance:: Admit defeat Tyrone. Lay down your weapon, and admit the wrong. ::watches Tyrone for an opening::
Tyrone: She is my betrothed! It is legal. You stole her. I will not yield to a lie!
An: So be it.
An: ((JEDI!!! ##Force Lightning##))
GM: ::Tyrone decides to go with the berzerk option, throwing caution to the wind and slashing for all he’s worth::
Roll: ((Tyrone makes a Slash and gets 5 VPs. An attempts a Riposte, Disarm, Pierce. His Riposte counters 9 damage with 4 armor, dropping it down into his armor which lets 1 wound through. He then crits naturally on his Disarm, ultimately scoring a 7 VP disarm against Tyrone’s 1 VP resistance. An then crits again on his Pierce, getting 8 armor-bypassing damage against a shieldless target with only 6 wounds left.))
GM: ::And Tyrone’s last berzerk swing slides down An’s blade and actually nicks his wrist. An turns his blade around the rapier once, twice, and then flings it into the garden. Then, with a contemptuously easy maneuver, An again bisects the shoulder wound that he’d opened twice before, this time cleanly severing an artery as blood fountains into the night air and Tyrone collapses to the ground::
GM: ::An’s eyes are drawn to a Maria, her face glowing with pride. She winks and then disappears into the night, replaced by a nervous looking Lan::
An: ::takes one step back and settles the point of the blade pointing at Tyrone’s heart:: Yield, or. Retrieve. Your. Weapon.
Tyrone: ::bleeds, unconscious::
Lan: P’zwounds. ::mutters, wringing hands, rushes forward::
An: ((Oh))
An: ::flicks the blade to the side clearing it of blood and sheathes it::
GM: ::there is loud talking suddenly all around… angry, astonished, and a little impressed::
Lan: I’m a doctor ::announces leadenly to anyone who tries to stop him::
GM: ((wits + remedy, please, Lan))
Roll: ((Lan rolls 9 and 3))
Lan: ::has elixir ready just in case::
Lan: An! Are you alright? ::looking up from the Castenadan.::
GM: ::Lan, with some hasty bandaging, suturing, and a swab of Elixer, manages to stabilize the young knight before he loses too much blood. He’s unlikely to die, but he’ll need major surgery… and… if there’s nerve damage, may…
An: ::nods to Lan:: I’m fine, tend to him.
GM: have limited mobility on the left side of his body::
Lan: ::all business, doesn’t distract further from any grandstanding or other drama::
An: ::moves to retrieve his discarded clothes, deactivates his shield::
GM: ::Lan is done and onto cleanup before he notices that Malena is hovering right behind him, watching him work::
Malena: Will… he live?
Lan: ::as calm as you like, when things are quite tidy, turns and takes her in without any surprise:: He should. That cut is effective. There may be nerve damage.
An: ((Should have told her he would die, poisoned him then moved in on the grieving sister!))
Lan: Milady may wish to sit. You look a little pale.
Martel: ((should have told her he might, if he doesn’t get proper incentive!))
Malena: He is a fool. He never learned anything more than what he could pick up easily from talent. He should have yielded when his shield failed. ::seems genuinely conflicted:: You say he’ll only have nerve damage? I’ve seen a dozen men die from wounds less impressive.
Lan: I trust I don’t disappoint on all counts. ::shrugs:: I make no guarantees. Our fates are all in the hands of the pancreator.
Malena: You, who can heal such a terrible wound, are a simple physick in this man’s retinue?
Lan: Not simple, madam. Nor is Don Griffen any ordinary man either. ::pauses:: How have you been. I mean really?
Lan: ((That’s not valley girl speak, it’s “I mean, really, how, have you been”))
Malena: I have been well. I read your book. I didn’t understand most of it.
An: ::makes his way over and looks to Lan and Malena:: He’ll make it, I assume, Doctor?
Lan: I’ll read it aloud to you sometime. Poetry’s better that way. ::looks up:: I think so. ::looks around:: An effective cut. ::conceeds::
Lan: ::goes on to check An over::
An: ::nods and brushes him away:: I had no fear knowing you were here. I’m fine, thank you.
An: ::looks to Malena:: Sorry about your brother. ::does a small bow and looks to Lan:: I trust you’ll take good care of him? ::looks back to Malena:: He is, of course, at your disposal.
Lan: ::wrings his hands in studied indifference::
Malena: Don Griffen, would that I had one half so loyal to defend my honor. Your lady is very lucky… wherever she may be.
An: I think you’ll find, loyal men are close at hand, if you just know where to look. Good evening to you. ::another bow::
An: ::takes his leave::
GM: ::meanwhile, speaking of An’s lady…::
GM: ::two dark shapes float down from the cliffs at a bit faster speed than advertised on the sporting warehouse roof::
Nereo: I say!
Martel: This is…a bit faster than they advertised. ::sucks in breath, hoping that doing so makes him lighter::
Maria: There’s the boat! Or maybe a buoy. Hopefully the boat!
Lan: ((I’m reminded of the pirate who kept a cloth in his mouth since if he didn’t swallow water, he couldn’t drown.))
Martel: ::aims for the hopefully boat::
Martel: ::tries to hit near it, anyways::
GM: ::it is, in fact, the boat, and with some trepidation neither of you misses.::
Tollosk: All went well, I take it?
Martel: Swimmingly! Except no swimming, fortunately.
Tollosk: Then away we go!
Martel: Lets be off. I’d rather be long gone by the time they notice that they are short a guest.
GM: ::as Martel, Maria, Tollosk, and Nereo head back to shore, and An strolls casually out of the area amidst begrudging congratulations from the assembled Hazat, Lan and Malena accompany Tyrone to the hospital… all are long gone by the time Petros realizes that Maria has escaped again, and before another Castenda thinks to check on their “guest” in the basement::
GM: ::At the local trauma center, Malena gets to watch as Lan pulls more of his doctor schtick, casually taking over from the lower ranking doctors and working in surgery for most of the night to repair Tyrone::
GM: ::Meanwhile, a proposal to break the trust issue is made: Nereo will lead you all to the Black Cypress document as long as a representative of the other houses picked by him and a few members of the press are also in attendence::
Lan: ((The entourage gains a lackey and a reporter!))
An: ::agrees::
GM: ((well, when he says representative of the other houses… he means one from each :)))
Lan: ((Oh. The entourage hires a bus.))
GM: ::surprisingly quickly, the next afternoon sees a collection of automobiles unloading at the Isabella Orthodox Cathedral… all nobles that could be arranged on short notice by an ex-butler, are… including a Justus baron, Duke Enrico of the Estancia, a Bursandra knight, a Rolas baronet, a Dulcinea earl, and, obviously notified at the last second, Baron Petros and Marquesa Malena of the Eduardo and Castenda::
Nereo: ::whispers to An:: You want to tell them all why they’re here?
An: ::chuckles:: A Parlor scene? How could I refuse?
GM: ::three reporters from the local newspapers and two from the holonet look on, filming, photoing, or noting as is their wont::
An: ::clears his throat loudly:: Can I have everyone’s attention?
GM: ::all of you are probably in your second best clothes, and working on a couple of hours of sleep::
GM: ::the small crowd quiets except for the snapping of photos and the audible grumble of Petros::
GM: ::Malena’s expression is unreadable when she notices Nereo::
An: I am sure all of you know who I am so I’ll cut right to the chase. It has recently come to the attention of the throne that the location of the Black Cyprus Document has been discovered. For those of you who don’t know this document…
GM: ((Cypress… like the tree, not the island :)))
An: ((OHHHHHH…))
An: lists the contingency chain in the event of a total calamity. It was put together by Prince Juan himself and at this time of tragedy is to be followed. ::motion to Nereo::
Nereo: I can attest to all of that, lords and ladies. I was a witness to its creation, and privy to its hiding places. As far as I know, but one has not been destroyed. I’ll not name names who did that.
Nereo: Doctor. Are you familiar with Aethelward’s Plants?
An: ((Aethelward’s… thats a weed. But it may help to slow the poison down.))
Lan: Ah, I’m familiar with the volume, yes…
Nereo: Could you ask the Bishop to bring it out, please?
Lan: ::nods and sees to it::
GM: ::a few minutes later, a somewhat bewildered Bishop emerges with Lan and a large, thick tome.::
Bishop: Why do you fine nobles need a book from my private library?
Nereo: Please open it, your grace.
GM: ::as the Bishop opens the book, he makes an appaled face as he realizes that it is hollowed out. Inside, rests a thick packet of parchment and a small, thin plastic case::
Lan: ::mutters:: Oh, there *is* a rather rambling passage about Callitris endlicheri…. clever. ::looks on::
Nereo: This document is sealed by Prince Juan’s hand, as is the think machine disk in the case. Both have detailed lines of succession and exchanges of power as intended should the worst happen to the Hazat.
Lan: ::does look suitably impressed and excited::
GM: ::and the rest of the day is spent examining the documents in the Bishop’s study. Loud arguments ensue. More nobles show up. Scans are taken by the press. Petros yells until he’s red in the face, and Malena puts up a half-hearted argument::
GM: ::While the documents are not agreed by all to be definitive, and they will take some time to truly approve since those that created them are dead, they are at the very least comprehensive, and have clear succession for all eventualities::
GM: ::For those in the room, the biggest upshot is that there’s a clause that confers full inheritence on all pureblooded offspring, even women, in the event of a certain level of death in the house… Maria is owed the full title of Baroness and her father’s lands and authority that went sideways to Petros.::
GM: ::he is very unhappy::
Martel: ::we are very happy at him::
An: ::seems… distant::
Lan: I shall have to practice bowing a little lower to Maria, I imagine. ::aside to Martel::
GM: ::and of all the decisions in the document, matters of Eduardo succession seem the likeliest to hold up, as the document is fully within the Eduardo power structure::
Maria: An…? ::sitting down next to him::
Martel: ::replies quietly:: she’ll hate that, you know. Not a LOT or anything, but…
GM: ((technically, you still outrank her… especially if you marry a marquesa :)))
An: Hmm? ::looks over to Maria:: Been a long couple of days, hasn’t it?
Maria: Yeah… you know what this means, right?
Lan: ::is not at all used to thinking of himself as ranking anything::
Martel: ((Martel outranks no-one. He still doesn’t bow often.))
GM: ((Martel used to outrank everyone))
An: Sort of… I think.
Maria: I have a freehold. I never expected to be my own lord. I own my own allegiance; any ties of convenience I make are mine to choose. Anyone above me can suggest, but I don’t have to comply… For the first time in my life I have no father, no brother, no uncle with the power to control my life.
Maria: I can do whatever I want with my name, my lands, and my destiny. Be whomever I want. Be with whomever I want.
Maria: And I want to share it with you, forever, if you’re still willing.
An: ::runs a hand through his hair:: Forever… with you? ::rolls his eyes upwards and things about it for a moment, arching his eyebrows dramatically::
Maria: ::elbows him:: You know what I mean. I know how you feel. I’d trade it all for you, and now I can.
Lan: ((look out, here comes baronet so-and-so… don’t leave her twist too long!))
GM: ((apparently she elbowed An in his sword wounds, killing him where he sits))
An: ::lowers his eyebrows and looks into Maria’s eyes:: I couldn’t ask you to do that. Give it all up. Your house still needs you. I can’t guarantee that I’ll be around at all times. ::he taps the questing knight badge:: But you know that I’d give all of this away, if it meant we could be together.
Maria: We’ll figure it out, as long as it’s together. Agreed?
An: So… yes… I guess I should say. Shouldn’t you be on a kneed with a ring? ::winks::
An: ::whispers:: By the way, I’m bringing Arnesto to live with us.
Maria: Honestly, I just got my lands back. It’s going to weeks before I can afford a ring. You’ll just have to do with a promise of one for now.
An: Oh alright, ::leans in grabs her and plants a big wet one on her::
GM: ::and fade to black::
GM: ~~~OOC~~~