Aiden and Slaine had left Vesper in a hurry, stopping only long enough to gather a couple of friends. Their destination? Wherever it was it was enough for Aiden to secure a quick hovertruck and make metaphorical tracks for the western border. Don’t ask how he got that truck. Someone owed him a favor.
On arrival it… doesn’t look like much. A little area in in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains with a brook, a couple of spurs out on either side to make a sort of enclosed area and the remains of a fury beetle nest since abandoned.
Oh, and a sunken ramp headed ominously down.
“Stay sharp. There’s likely trouble.” The psychic already has a weapon in hand and his psy blade in his other as he hops off the truck the moment it stops and starts to stride toward that ‘ramp’.
What’s this about again?
It might bother the others that Slaine and Aiden had collected. Slaine’s pallid and her eyes are dark, so dark they’re nearly black. She’s been quiet – sort of, since they collected them, every so often though she looks around and mutters to herself. Anyone close enough can hear it sounds like half of conversation.
As the vehicle stops, the small redheaded Mystic slides from the vehicle, blue energy flickering over the backs of her hands. “Captain Sanka’a was replaced by a skelebot that tried to kill us.” she says to the others “We’re not sure if there’s another here or what happened to her. It might be bad.”
That … doesn’t sound good.
Megana can ride a giant bug, a wyrven, and tentaclees no problem. This hovertruck..not so much. The Shifter is curled up on the floor, with pale clammy skin and a sick expression that she can’t seem to hide. She’s gonna die in this damn box. Die. Horribly. And Aiden keeps talking and she’s supposed to be doing..something..probably important. “Gotta foc-ughhh.”
Once she gets out of the truck, Megana spends a moment with her hands clamped over her lips and concentrates until her bout of nausea is under control. Then she looks around at their destination and squints. Hm. Well, she had her imp with her and has armed him with little daggers. He’s so much better with those than any kind of gun. And his armor of course. She has her own daggers and her power so she’s ready now that her guts aren’t about to come up. The Shifter takes a spot close Slaine, really worried about her friend. “Uh.” Meg answers intelligently. Wait. Catlady might be dead? Just when Meg decided to make her an ally? Well dammit.
The Shifter scowls. “I’m ready. We’ll find her. Or.. find out what happened. Make the bastards pay.” Meg never lacks in confidence at least.
Zyx hasn’t really spent much time travelling inside vehicles before so this was a … novel experience. Or it would have been if her friends weren’t so clearly concerned and focused on their destination. When she was told they’d be going and there could likely be trouble, she pulled a favor with a high volume crystal-user (she’s sure she’ll be repaying Leo for these crystals for YEARS) and instead of other weaponry, she’s got a full sack of crytals slung over one shoulder.
Disembarking and following the others, she can only be glad that she doesn’t have a squishy stomach to get upset like Meg clearly has. And, now they’re headed for that ramp, she opens the sack and starts piling the crystals onto herself, increasing her body mass and spiky-factor considerably.
Aiden comes on down to the of the ramp. The door has been blown off its hinges and there’s laser scorch marks around the doorway. He frowns. “This place was being guarded by armsmen…” Vesper Armsmen are skilled magi and fighters. There’s drag marks on the floor, big streaks of blood. Whose is not clear.
Inside the doorway is a cavernous room. The last time Aiden and Slaine had been here it was full of vehicles, equipment and certain types of weaponry. Now… it’s empty.
“Shit… alright. Spread out. Look for survivors. And be careful.” There’s no light down here. So hopefully people either brought light or can see in the dark. The floor is uneven and cracked from previous earthquakes and the entire room slopes downward in a manner it was probably not intended to when it was built.
Slaine looks at the drag marks and the blood and glances to Aiden, her pale face twisting into a grimace. “I don’ like this, Vargr.” she mutters, blue energy still flickering about her hands, she doesn’t look at the other two, just speaks. “Be alert and be careful.” It’s low and her voice sounds a little hoarse.
As they enter the room, she falters and gasps “This … isn’t good. This room was full of vehicles with weapons. Coalition knew they were here.” With a mutter, magelights appear above their heads and bob just above them. “These will move with you and cut some of the dark, just be careful…” she doesn’t have to say it, something’s off with the Mystic and she knows it.
Megana can see in the dark but her going first would be kinda dumb. She can fight up close but Aiden is much better at it and Meg does her melding with the shadows thing so that she can surprise anything in here while it’s watching the Psychic. It’s not that she’s using him for bait, nooo, he went in first anyway.
Plus Meg wants to keep an eye on Slaine and Zyx is doing some interesting armoring up.. but most of the SHifter Priestess’s attention is on her surroundings. Armsmen? “Guarding what here exactly?” That is the question. “…” Is her response to the coalition. Lli Chibt stalks along behind Meg, his tail wrapped tight around his waist so as not to hit anything by accident. “Slaine maybe you should Guard the truck?” Meg asks helpfully.
Zyx has never had any problems seeing well beyond human visual range, so the lack of visible light in the place is far less of a hindrance for her than for the others. She does take to shuffling along on all fours once she’s coated in the extra crystals, partly because she can do so more quietly.
And, if someone decides they don’t want to walk themselves, she won’t mind at all giving them a lift. Frees them up to concentrate on looking for stuff rather than having to look where they’re walking.
The cracks in the room’s foundation are actually something she can make sense of, as fractures in solids are things she uses intentionally. Do they appear to have been created by a natural phenomenon, or did something cause them intentionally?
Aiden is at the front of the loose little group. Which is why when something leaps out of the darkness… it leaps at him. In the dim light of the ruined bunker only Kthzyx can see the cananine form of a humanoid rottwieler clearly, as it leaps out from behind a fallen section of cieling at the psychic and knocks down and sideways.
Instantly the room is feeled with echoing growls and baying. It had been a trap. There are hounds in here. Psy hounds. And they’re closing in.
There aren’t actually all that many of them truth be told. Seven counting the one currently trying to tear Aiden’s throat out. But they have been concealed to this point and now they’re moving in.
“No.” It’s a short answer to Megs suggestion. “This is as much my fault as anything.” It really isn’t, but it’s understandable she might feel that way. “Captain Sanka’a was good to me and I let her down…” Carefully, she follows Aiden and jumps when he’s knocked sideways.
“Vargr!!” She cries out but turns her attention to the other canines, if the pyschic needs help in a moment, he’ll get it but for now the little Mystic has other things pressing on her.
“Zyx. Crystals. I need them.” she calls out, blue energy licking up her arms. When the crystals are presented, she starts to chant causing symbols to glow over the surface of them. Zyx will feel it but everyone else will wonder what the hell Half Pint is doing, because //nothing// happens – except it is, just no one can hear it.
Megana had rather expected *something* to come hurling through the darkness. Because of the mention of the Coalition and knowing that the Armsmen had wanted Psi-Hounds Megana hadn’t brought or called out to anything she might control or ask to do a favor for her since most of them have power of some kind or would take power from her. Bad enough she’s using this bit of shadow magic but it does help her.
The Shifter manages to through herself forward going for the throat of the hound atop Aiden as Lli Chibt climbs up Zyx enough to fling himself forwards onto the back of another. As it’s distracted by the singing crystals the imp begins stabbing with his little daggers and cackling gleefully. Meg’s shadows get eaten but hopefully she got hers and can try to take advantage of noise to get another.
Okay, THAT Zyx had not been expecting. But, she remembers what Mr. Vargr told her about sounds, so while she lunges forward and spikes out to protect Slaine and possibly also Megana from the incoming hounds, she also emits a tone that the humans assured her would at the very least bother the psyhounds as loudly as she can. It’s a counterpoint to the tone that the little mystic is producing, hopefully dissonant enough to make anyone who can hear them likely either VERY angry or VERY disoriented.
If any get any closer, she’ll swing a spiky arm at them as hard as she can to knock them back.
Aiden pushes the hound on him up telekinetically as the imp jumps on its back. There’s a great deal of stabbing and as the noise gets louder – though only Zyx can hear it of the four non hounds there – the dog boys start to yelp and whimper. They step back, holding their heads. It’s too much. Too loud. Too high pitched. It //hurts//.
In moments the seven of them – well six, one is now dead – are incapacitated.
Slaine doesn’t notice when Zyx plants herself in front of her as checks that Aiden is alright. Seeing he is, Half Pint turns towards the rest of the hounds and blinks. That … was … easy. Too easy. Something doesn’t feel right.
Still, there’s six of them that might be able to give them information and she’s not about to look a gift-hound in the mouth.
“You alright, Vargr?” she asks in a short sort of tone. She’s really not in a good way. Her hands move then as she intones another a spell. This time the air swirls and wraps itself around the hounds, binding them and keeping them still. “Who’s going to ask the questions?” That’s to Zyx and Meg – they can do that. She’s concentrating for the moment.
Megana is ready to take advantage of this totally and moving forward to slit their throats, her imp just still stabbing the one he landed on but really Lli Chibt is just a youngling and still learning.
After a moment though Megana remembers their mission. “Hmph. How many should we keep alive? All of em or just one or two? I have no problem killing these guys if you want.” Megana isn’t sure Slaine would want to and she’d rather Zyx didn’t have to or Aiden either for that matter. She and Kaji are trying to protect him too. “I’d like to start cutting bits offa this one til he tells us where the Cat Captain is..” The Shifter aims a rough kick a bit lower than the hounds ribs with a glare. “Lli Chibt. Good job. Cmere now.” Megana calls her imp. It struts over looking all proud of its self.
Meg smiles a little but then frowns and she looks at their captive. “I.. think I should open a Rift and you guys go back, take them with you. Like right now. Something isn’t right here. I’ll go look for the captain. But I don’t want this place to blow up or something and you all be in it when it happens.” She wouldnt put it quite this way in front of Kaji but its clear Meg views herself as the most expendable of them.
Zyx stops making the sound that disoriented the hounds so quickly and steps toward one of them, keeping herself between the now immobilizes creatures and the humans and using the extra crystalline mass to make herself seem a bit larger all around than she actually is — something along the realm of Howahkan’s stature.
“You will answer us,” she says in a voice that is intentionally thickly-laced with her native language’s tones and chimes, “Or I will make your ears bleed. Slowly.”
The hounds whimper and whine. “We were here to… guard the prisoner. And make sure that the reactor went properly.”
Aiden’s eyes narrow. “Where is the prisoner?” The psi hound points back toward what used to be the control room. “Right. Come on, half pint. You two. The reactor is down at the bottom level. If it’s really going…” Well, Zyx might be the only one who can prevent it from doing so. “Hurry. If it goes it’ll take the entire region with it.”
Fusion detonations are… nasty.
Megana’s eyes narrow. This sucks. Something powerful enough to take out the area and it’s effing tech. Not some awesome power she can aquire. Bloody damned tech. Wait. Fuel rods. Oh man. Meg has some stuff to think about and things to ask later.. but right now.. “Well crap. Okay. Zyx. I am gonna sit down here and concentrate. If there is some kind of monster down there or a guard or more of these guys or something, I’ll either take it over or kill it if goes at you but I can’t go into that reactor room. I’ve learned about them recently. There is like, an invisible thing, like air. But poison for me.”
Megana pauses for a breath then continues. “It won’t hurt you, you’ll need to make some rods out of crystal and put them into the places where they are missing. This will stabalize the danger so everyone around here gets to keep living instead of dying horribly, like our little psyhound friends are gonna later.” Oh she is going to kill them so awfully.
Zyx considers Megana. “Radiant atoms. Yes, you’re too…” squishy, “…susceptible to them.” She leaves a piece of crystal with Megana, that when struck with a fingernail acts like a tuning fork, but at the pitch that the psyhounds do NOT like. Then she hurries on all fours to the aforementioned room, using the radiant atoms to help her locate their source.
Finding the room with the reactor is easy enough and… hey, it looks like of like that one thing that she and Malie found a while back. So she knows exactly what to do. Taking a moment to study one of the existing crystal rods, she starts pulling and shaping the extra crystals she’d brought on her person to add to the machine to make the thing better able deal with those radiant atoms. This could take a few minutes.
The Shifter seems relieved Zyx knows what they’d been talking about. Perhaps even better than Meg herself does. It’s only recently, with the attempt on Varos life that she’s learned a bit about such things.
The moment the hounds are distracted Megana drops onto the floor and into a trance and sends her awareness out with her friend and once she reaches the room, Megana looks around, searching for danger. Her mind stutters to a halt as piles of pebbles and chunks of rock and boulder shift from the back wall to form into bodies. Megana realizes fast that they aren’t the threat but rather are puppets. She must find their Master.
It isn’t but a moment before her mind finds that of the Tectonic entity nearby. It’s angry, the area here is full of badness, the rock tastes awful. It is trapped and sick and now there is a horrible noise and living bodies that it desires to squish. The Shifter considers the presence and her response. There is little time to decide but she would not kill such a magnificent spirit without need. Perhaps.. -Wait. Master Of Earth and Stone and the Forces beneath our lands- -That one would stop the poison leaking here and this one, would give you a new home, new rocks, older than here even and no bad taste. No squishy noisy beings would you go Master?- Megana appeals to the things desire to continue living and to be better.
After a moment the stone puppets crumble to dust and Zyx might sense a force brush past her and head in Megana’s direction. Fortunately it won’t take her long to get a Rift open to a dimension where the Entity will be happy and able to heal with time. Or maybe the thing has decided to come eat her and the dogs. Either way it’ll give Zyx time to save everyone and do so in peace.
Two new rods…. three. The radiant atoms are slowing down, but still building. Zyx finishes and installs a fourth — that’s all empty spaces filled. She then goes and checks the existing ones, using more of the crystals she brought along to repair cracks and fractures in the pre-existing rods, improving their ability to stave off the atoms. This is more complicate and slower going, so she almost doesn’t notice the force brush past her. It didn’t feel antagonistic, so she mentally dismisses it again and focuses her concentration on repairing the crystal rods. Come on, come on. This world’s crystals are so… stubborn!
Megana is so relieved that entity passes through the Rift without a fight that she almost.. almost faints. Once the Rift is closed Meg turns and eyes the captive Psyhounds. Oh it’s been a little while since she’s wanted to murder someone quite so badly. “Boss can I-” The Shifter sighs. “No. They’re going to Vesper like the Captain wanted…except I intend to be there for the questioning. I want to know if they gave or sold or traded any of those rods to anyone. If you think the Questioners in Vesper are bad just wait til I start in on you.” Megana purrs to the closest hound. It eyes her and then the small imp beside her. He knows it’s a demon, knows now Meg is a Shifter and is afraid. Nothing any of them can do with Slaine’s bonds and Zyx’s sound barrier and Megana grins. “You’ll tell us everything you know and everything you don’t before we’re done.” She has no pity for these creatures and doubts the authorities will either once they learn what the plan was.
“You’re lucky in a way. I’ve changed. I realize it’s not just me you affected here but everyone in this area so I’m not gonna haul you off and feed you one strip at a time to one of my pets. I’m gonna turn you in. Pretty sure you’ll still die but I doubt it’ll be nearly so terribly. A shame really.” Megana is rambling at the things to scare them and occupy herself so she doesn’t worry about how Zyx is doing down there. She could try to look again but doesn’tw ant to distract her friend.
Perhaps the slower going is better. As the damaged crystal repairs, the radiant atoms seem to settle more quickly. She leaves it not quite flawless and moves to the next three, repairing them one at a time though only just enough to make them stop leaking so badly. Finally, though, the radiant atoms are no longer leaking everywhere. She takes a moment to shunt all of those atoms on her person into a single small crystal then drops it into a space that seemed surprisingly good at blocking the atoms.
How long has she been here fussing with this thing? Maybe she should head back and make sure Megana and her little imp friend are still okay.
Being a Shifter has left Meg with a very keen sense of time. It’s a good thing usually, right now it has not been so much and she is visibly incredibly happy to see Zyx reappear. The fact that Slaine and Aiden have not yet, leads Meg to suspect that the Cat Captain is probably not in good shape if she is even alive.
“Zyx! Are you okay? I was getting worried. You’re amazing you know? I wouldn’t have been able to do any of that. Nor do I think I could have gotten that Tectonic Creature to do it. He was very unhappy. You’re the best. Meg wobbles up to her feet and rushes over to hug Zyx, carefully with her spikes. The imp is clinging to her back, the danger of the radiation had finally caught up with him and he’d jumped on his MIstress and decided not to let go. “What would you like to do now Zyx? Wait for Aiden and Slaine and go back in the hover truck or come with me through a Rift and deliver these dogs to the Authorities in Vesper? and leave the truck for the otehrs to get back? Or stay here and wait and I take them back? I swear that is what I will do and nothing else.” Like murder them. Even though she wants to. SO MUCH.
Zyx hurries back in to the main room and upon seeing and hearing Megana, her spikes smooth down in relief. It takes her a momeent to catch up with the Shifter’s hurried words, but she parses them and tries to decide on a best course of action. “I think I should stay here and make sure no one else tries to do anything while you take these six back, and when you’ve done that, come back here again so we can both return with …wait, who? Who is Aiden?” Zyx looks toward where the mystic and the psychic went to check on the Captain. “I thought his name is Mr. Vargr.”
“Um. That is a very long story and I don’t actually know it all but his name is Aiden and also Vargr. But that sounds like a good idea. I didn’t see anyone else alive up here. I hope Aiden and Slaine find some but lemme get this Rift open and herd these guys into that cell then make sure the Armsmen know they are there. The Rift will close then but I’ll be back to wait with you after a few minutes.” Megana gets the Rift open and she’s starting to look a bit tired but with Zyx’s musical abilities she shouldn’t have much trouble getting the hounds in the room ready on the other side.
The Shifter is surprised and glad to see a pair of Armsmen outside the room. She waves at them, kicks the last of the dogs through and gestures that they’ll be along later. Then the tear in reality closes and Megana drops down into a sitting position on the floor. She’s sweating again but not so pale. “Whew. That is not as easy as it looks. But I am so glad you are okay Zyx. Glad those guys were over there paying attention too. I think I might have to ride that damn flying car back but ah well. Maybe I can sleep through it this time..”
Keeping all of the extra crystal mass on her person just in case, Zyx moves to sit next to Megana. “You did seem very … unsettled by the flying car. Maybe when Mr Vargr and Miss Slaine and the Captain are ready to leave, they can go in that thing and I can give you a lift back home?” She doesn’t at all mind having someone passenge, and with some well-padded blankets she’s probably even as pleasant a conveyance as, what are those things called? Thunderbugs?
“I’m okay, Miss Meg. The radiant atoms only… well, they change my color a bit. That’s all.” Like a human getting a tan from the sun, most likely. “Kind of like this.” She pulls two small crystals from her extended mass, one a pinkish quartz and the other a messy broken shard of deep amethyst, then touches the two together and somehow makes the pinkish crystal start taking on a lavender tint.
Megana is tired enough that she can’t hide what is probably a pathetically grateful expression when she looks up at Zyx. “That would be wonderful. I don’t hate technology like Dogwood hates magic but it’s so scary to me, flying in a machine and relying on it not to dump you onto the treetops or crash or something. I’m.. I know very little about any of that stuff and normally I can just Rift myself wherever but I’m.. tired now. It’s harder, sending other people especially a lot of them.”
Megana leans back against the dirt wall and looks Zyx over carefully. “Ooh. I see. You always look pretty. But it’s like you got a tan kinda. I’dve just gotten dead going there. Everyone for a great distance around would have and that… is very unsettling. Why.. why were the after us? We need answers..but those guys are in the right place for them to be found now at least. And.. and.. ” Megana can’t help but yawn hugely. “Mm..you mind if i just.. rest my eyes a bit til they get back?”
“I don’t mind at all. Go ahead and rest. I’ll watch until they return.” She moves so that she can see out the entrance as well as where Megana’s sitting back, and settles again there. “I’ll make sure you know if anyone is coming, friendly or not.”
Megana smiles as her eyes flutter closed. “THank you Zyx. Thank you from everyone.” Meg isn’t sure how much acknowledgement Vesper will offer for the fact that they’ve had their asses saved yet again but her friends but she’s determined to find a way to repay Zyx later. Maybe.. maybe it’ll come to her in her dreams, for Meg is asleep almost the second her eyes shut and before long the little implet is snoring softly as well. It might not be the sight Aiden and Slaine expect to see but all is well with this half of things at least.
Vesper and the surrounding region is saved yet again by a handful of people. Some of them are certainly heroes and even the lone Shifter in their midst manages to call upon the better side of her nature in order to save the day and maybe find the answers everyone is so desperate to have.
November 25, 2410