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While I have managed to knock a few items off the list, I also seem to have added a lot more.  The Verdan log is likely a lost cause at this point particularly.  Oh well, the list of items currently in progress has been updated to remove completed ones and add new ones.

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Diplomatic Mission Notes from Knight Enforcer Cola (Samhain) – Session 60

Well to say that things were going according to plan would have been a major overstatement.  The Ankylla was lost in the Minotaur’s maze effect for the moment and the Tyranophon was unconscious as well.  How long either of those situations would last was unknown.  Plus there was the fact that the Triceromera was still up, Night Templar was unconscious, Amoebro was barely clinging to consciousness, and the Minotaur was still recovering from the beating the Tyranophon gave it.

This pretty much left Armageddon, Vasilko, Illarion, Captain Mayhem and I to deal with the Triceromera, keep the Tyranophon, and be ready for the Ankylla whenever it managed to return.  About the only saving grace on all of this was the fact that I was conjuring drones faster than the Triceromera could destroy them.  At the rate this was going, I was giving serious thought to asking the Chauffeur to fly to Silverhold and retrieve Icos as a potential trump card to play.  But first I really needed to take the Triceromera out of play for even a few moments to give us a chance to regroup.

(Samhain)  Cartridge….

(Love Divine)  Loading Cartridge….

As the power from the cartridge flowed into me I prepared a spell to convert the water around the Triceromera into a massive block of ice in an attempt to entrap it.  As the spell fired, massive spikes of ice rose out of the water around the Triceromera as a layer of frost began to form on its skin.  Within moment the whole thing was encased in a solid block of ice over thirty meters in diameter.  That should hopefully hold the blasted thing for a little bit.  I was about to cast a second spell to place another layer of ice on top of the current layer to buy us additional time when suddenly the whole iceberg started floating up into the air.  It took a moment or two for it to register in my mind that this was the work of Captain Mayhem and his “anti-gravity” gun.  Well, provided he can get the thing up high enough, that should keep it occupied for more than long enough.  That remained to be seen though as the thing was busily melting its way out of the ice with those various energy blasts.

(Samhain)  Annoying monster isn’t it?

That wasn’t named at anyone in particular, but still most everyone one on the yacht gave me annoyed looks.  It looked like Bobby was moving to rescue Night Templar and Amoebro.  Meanwhile Captain Mayhem was moving the Triceromera into orbit, possibly on to Mars afterwards.  And finally Armageddon was now in the process of moving the unconscious Tyranophon to Mars as well.  With any luck we’d be able to get those two taking care of and a chance to regroup in time to begin preparations for the Ankylla’s return.

(Love Divine)  WARNING: Incoming Dimensional Transit!  Arrival Imminent!

Oh crap….

Suddenly all light from the sun was seemingly eclipsed by this massive spinning behemoth of spikes and leather that was rapidly approaching from above.  This was going easily destroy the boat when it impacts and that was going to put it at a massive disadvantage.  Fighting that thing scattered in the air and water when it has abilities to manipulate the wind and seas was a losing proposition especially if Armageddon, Captain Mayhem, Amoebro, and Night Templar are all indisposed.  We had to dodge this and fast.  The boat wasn’t going to be able to get out of the way fast enough.  That only left one option.

Almost by reflex I started casting a dimensional transit spell to take everyone on the boat out of here.  Not really sure where to go, I went with the location I was most familiar with: the Imaginal Realm of Hell.  It was only as the scenery shifted to a molten landscape that I considered that this probably shouldn’t have been my first choice.  Now one would probably think that the first thing I really noticed about this specific location was the multitude of nude “female” forms around me, but in truth all of that was easily ignored in favor of the glowing mass of magical nuclear plasma that was floating next to me.

This had to be the “real” form of Illarion Drake.  Of course, trying to look anywhere near him with either my eyes or magically only resulted in blinding me outright from the sheer intensity of light and magic.  This was going to be hard to ignore or make discerning details about anything else a real pain though.  Still, it didn’t seem like we were any immediate danger.  Given what I knew of Terran ideas of modesty it was probably a good idea to put a censoring spell on the others until we came up with a plan.

(Foxfire)  So is this place not actually dangerous?

(Samhain)  As best as I can tell, this is a realm formed from the temptations of at least a few Terran sects.  Given that such things tend to conform to instinctive desires that are completely natural even if they are labelled as “evil” by some authorities, such realms tend to be mere destinations to indulge some impulses.

(Foxfire) So it’s a glorified tourist trap?

(Samhain)  I suppose in some ways, yes.

(Illarion)  So what’s the plan?

(Samhain)  Give me a moment to recover and then we’ll scry as to what is happening on Earth.  Once we know that, we’ll make a plan and transit back.

Ultimately I was hoping to buy time for the Ankylla to move on to another target instead of waiting for us to return.  Unfortunately, with Armageddon and Captain Mayhem both busy, that probably meant it was going to go after Night Templar, Amoebro, or one of the members of the Mandate.  On the other hand, Illarion was here with me at the moment, so it was possible that the Ankylla would cease the attack as the target was no longer present.  In that case, where would it head to next?

Best to check that out first.

Setting up a scrying spell, it looked like the Ankylla was now heading into the city, although Amoebro was battling it somewhat effectively that I saw.  Drat, that probably meant there was another Orthallen in the city somewhere.  Projecting its course forward, it looked like it was heading towards the Mandate’s base of operations.  Why am I not surprised?  We probably needed to get our act together and head back before that thing reaches the city proper and causes however much damage and casualties.

At which point Night Templar showed up next to us looking more than a bit ragged.

(Night Templar)  Aghhh!  I came here to rescue you, so why is it that I am the only one that has to master my lust to escape this realm?!  These winds should be driving you mad and thus allowing me to teach to master those urges and save you.

(Illarion)  Wrong species.

(Foxfire)  I’m a kid.

(Samhain)  I’m married.

(Night Templar)  Aghhhhh!

I wasn’t entirely sure that he came here to rescue us so much as he came here to save himself and was simply looking for an excuse to say otherwise.  Still, this meant Amoebro was back on Earth more or less by himself fighting the Ankylla.  Best to head back to Earth and do what we could to assist.

By the time we returned to Earth, things looked to be winding down as Amoebro had managed to knock out the Ankylla and then was promptly sneezed across town.  Hauling the Ankylla off to Mars was simple at this point, although it took time to gather the party together again as they were scattered not only across town, but the entire solar system.  At least this jaunt into America had proven less destructive than our first time when we managed to trigger wide spread destruction and a riot in the midst of a major metropolitan area.

Diplomatic Mission Notes from Knight Enforcer Cola (Samhain) – Session 59

And here we have a brief interlude from the fighting as many of the players were not able to show up this session for a variety of reasons. For purposes of the timeline, it is probably best to consider this entry as taking place between Sessions 60 and 61.

With some downtime I started digging through some notes and books recommended to me by a local historian regarding Earth’s development. Given what little I know, it was clear that something occurred a few centuries ago that triggered an upward development in terms of technology, democracy, and respect for human rights that didn’t seem to exist previously in Terran history. The fact that Earth’s factionalism was still quite open and vicious despite this upward trend was also confusing me.

Hmm, according to the summarization made by Professor Hayworth, a lot of Earth’s current state was a reaction, to a large extent centered in northern Europe, and triggered by the development of the printing press. The various belief systems became far more codified, and less tolerant of local variations. Secondarily, a form of simplification took place in religious thought; in the place of some rather vague theology, local beliefs and customs, the meanderings of local hedge magi, and inherited folk beliefs, things got boiled down to a fairly rigid system. Quite a lot of local powers resisted – and got labeled as being part of the generic “forces of evil”. Since those powers tended to work with local dissidents, it wasn’t long before dissidents – and anyone who was disruptive – got lumped in with “forces of evil”. Once they were categorized as “Other”, “Evil”, and “Out to get us”… things which would have been petty offenses became indicators of “evil” – to be dealt with with extreme harshness.

Coupled with technological growth, this led to rapid expansion of the newly unified, and more advanced, nation-states – but since a group of them shared those advantages, a lot of the rivalries played out across the rest of the Earth – leaving opposing local factions. Unfortunately, no one leader emerged who was sane, charismatic, and powerful enough to actually unify the various factions – and the communications problems (which Zantu did not have given the small, homogenous initial group) did not help.

This, coupled with the fact that the various Imaginal Realms actually existed on Earth, caused Voso and quite a lot of other imaginal entities and realms to be more or less co-opted into being dreams of escape from oppressive circumstances, plagues, famines, and similar problems.

Now recent belief systems were being turned upside down by the emergence from the Rho-Field. The old-style types were already having trouble with the inevitable reaction to the hardline traditions – individual rights, etc. With conditions changing radically, a lot of groups were now forming their own cores of hold-to-the-last the-end-is-coming fanatics – mostly hating everything that’s changing. When they focus on something, one got a hate group or an apocalypse-cult. This combined with the fact that some of the older belief systems were later branded as evil for being “different” seems to be part of the reason why somewhat “neutral” entities like Voso or Belial being seen as overtly evil according to the locals.

This certainly suggested that Earth being in the Rho Field did a number on things. Coupled with the advantages Zantu had with regards to a small and coherent seed population plus the rise of the Saint King and it seems like Zantu has gotten the better deal for most of the history of the two worlds thus far. At least from a cultural and social perspective. From an economic and technological perspective, it seems like the Terrans are beginning to win that race due to the events of the last century or so and the much more generous level of resources available everywhere they go.

Just when my foray into amateur comparative anthropology was getting interesting I started hearing cries of exasperation and terror echoing through Silverhold.

(Voice 1) Oh now what?

(Voice 2) OH NO! NOT THEM! NOT THE TREE SAP!

(Armageddon) Oh joy, what is going on now? Ok, who is the designated prankster today?

At which point there was some sort of thumping sound followed by people yelling in Zanti.

(Voice 3) Get this off me!

You know, there was still a part of me that feels the urge to get up and start investigating immediately despite the fact that this sort of crap seems to occur around here daily if not more than once a day at times. Ergo, this was probably something simple enough that the others could take care of it themselves without involving me.

(Voice 4) Caera! Put that thing down! You don’t know where it’s been!

(Caera) But it’s SO CUTE!

However, not that it appeared that my daughter was involved I probably need to make my presence known. Hopefully she wasn’t at the center of the mess and had only gotten involved peripherally. I found Caera currently rolling up a cloth with her foot and clutching a very small and young-looking horned horse thing, with a jewel stuck on the end of its horn. It was currently is turning a little blue, perhaps from being squeezed too tight. Given that it seemed about the cutest thing I’d ever seen, I figured this had to be some sort of imaginal creature then.

(Night Templar) I really hope this is not part of a prank war between Loki and the demon kids.

(Armageddon) I think that would be a lot worse than this.

(Samhain) Caera, what is that?

(Night Templar) Ack, its worse. It’s children’s cartoon invasion. We are doomed!

(Caera, hugging the thing tighter) It’s a unicorn! Isn’t it GREAT!?!?

(Armageddon) Oh no….

(Samhain) You might want to try not hugging it quite so hard. Where did it come from?

(Night Templar) Yay! Strangle the cute abomination!

And yet he wonders why the police were so enthusiastic about arresting him for child abuse….

(Caera, as she loosened her hug) Well… Mr Armageddon found a unicorn friend…

I think I can already see where this is going…..

(Armageddon) Ack, My Little Pony Attack!

(Samhain) Right, now what are the rest of you going on about? It looks like Caera has gotten her hands of some cute Terran imaginal animal is all.

(Night Templar) Seal the building and I will start sending these abominations back to the special hell that shall not be named.

(Armageddon) Wait, let me make a call first.

(Samhain) Right…..

Why exactly did they elect to put Night Templar in charge of this team again?

(Captain Mayhem) Wait! We can’t do anything cruel to them! This will destroy what little public support we have!

Alright, in the meantime I elected to put a minor barrier over Silverhold to keep our new arrivals from escaping into the city until we could get this mess cleared up. After that I put on my best annoyed parent face as I awaited explanations from the others as to what exactly was going on.

(Night Templar) These are fictional characters from a children’s show. They are the worst type of abomination that must be sent back from whence they came.

(Armageddon) Look up the ‘My Little Pony’ show.

(Staff) Well… they came bursting out of Caera’s room, and went running around, and we tried to catch them, and suddenly the place was full of the most ABSURD traps, and the other one was absurdly fast, and THAT one (indicating the one Caera was holding) started leaking random magic all over!

(Samhain) Right, are any of these creatures ensouled Night Templar?

(Night Templar) Sigh…. checking… Looks like all three. Whether they were before, or whether it’s just Caera’s latent power is unknown. All with souls… drat. This is worse than just being normal abominations.

(Armageddon) Ugh. Well that explains the poking, tickling sensation earlier.

I found myself rubbing the bridge of my nose in annoyance. Meanwhile a large kettle fell out of the ceiling and onto Night Templar’s head. Another pony was trying to yank the little unicorn away from Caera and into the air conditioning ducts.

(Samhain) Are these creatures vulnerable to anything in particular? Such as bindings or seals?

(Night Templar) They are vulnerable to cliches and tropes.

(Captain Mayhem) Damn! We’re lost! All we can do is yell at them. And we can’t do that while being filmed.

(Samhain) You know all of those things are cultural things I HAVE YET TO LEARN?!

(Night Templar) Also being yelled at, having older relatives discipline them, getting caught in tree sap…. (He then began yelling at a pony he caught with a rather silly trap involving a carrot, a box, and a string.) Alright you. Stop making messes and leaving them for other people to clean up.

(Armageddon) Would someone please lower the barrier? And Caera please close the portal.

(Caera) It was just a summoning Daddy… I was only trying for one!

(Armageddon) But you tapped into me and my husband, how much power do you think would come from that?

(Caera) Uhm… it was mostly for guidance! I don’t know any imaginal magic…

(Samhain) It looks like you threw a little too much power into it and got some of the parameters wrong. You ended up, not with a summoning, but with an all out manifestation.

(Night Templar) Argh. Angelic influences muck up so many summonings. Do not involve them in any of it.

(Samhain) I’ll remember that the next time you try to summon a demon.

(Armageddon) And it seems that she summoned mostly kids too.

According to the internet it looked like we had a trio of kids: Sweetie Belle the Unicorn, Scootaloo the Pegasus (not yet able to fly much), and Apple Bloom the “Earth Pony”. Apparently mischievous, enthusiastic, in pursuit of their special talents, and inclined to do absurd things to try and find them. Very durable (standard cartoon), actually quite good at magical accidents (Sweetie), throwing together absurd devices and booby traps (Apple), and speed and stunts (Scootaloo). This does not seem to register on them as being possible talents though.

(Night Templar) Hmm… so to banish them I just need to do something that will make being here reveal their cutie marks. This will make them spontaneously disappear to avoid breaking the running gag.

(Caera) Waah!

This was interrupted by Night Templar suddenly rolling down the hallway and down the stairs on a single roller-skate. Luckily his armor seemed to absorb most of the damage of that fall. Although from the sound of things clanking and making all kinds of strange noises, I would wager Night Templar fell into yet another trap.

(Night Templar) Argh!

(Samhain) With them being now ensouled, this means they could get loose on their own like with our doubles. Ergo, it is probably best that we keep them underfoot here where we can keep an eye on them.

(Captain Mayhem) I could just kill them.

(Samhain) Probably need to install a seal on them to keep the worst of the abilities under control though. Perhaps a transformation sigil? A geas might work as well.

(Night Templar) No killing them. We do not need to send souls made for these things to anywhere they might go. I might want to go to one of those places.

(Captain Mayhem) So you oppose the wanton slaughter of adorable children?

(Night Templar) Yes.

And this group was picked to be on a superhero team? The Canadian government must not have had much of any options at all.

(Captain Mayhem) Well, in that case, Captain Mayhem has a good idea. Children! If you all come here I will tell you a story. You will have to take an
afternoon nap afterward.

There were some protests about naps as to be expected. From the sound of things, it appeared they wanted to go exploring instead.

(Captain Mayhem) You can explore after you take a nap.

(Armageddon) So what do we do with them now? Can someone do a portal to send them back?

(Samhain) Are we sure that’s the best option here?

(Captain Mayhem) Eh, having even MORE insane children around probably won’t hurt anything. Even if they are strange, colorful children with four legs.

(Samhain) As best as I can tell, simply banishing them to the Imaginal Realms will simply result in them getting loose again in short order given the number of followers that program has. Keeping them here with us at least ensures that we can keep an eye on them.

(Night Templar) Damn it you are right, but then we have to put up with them here.

(Samhain) Then we construct some seals and geas’s to handle the more…. troublesome abilities and start hiring some teachers and nannies. We’ve already proven that the school system can’t handle the other kids.

(Armageddon) Can we send them back with an enchantment or something to help make it harder to summon? Or if they are summoned to ensure that there are restrictions?

(Samhain) Don’t think it works that way. Summonings are a function of power of the summoned creature versus the limitations of that same creature.

(Sweetie, pouting and sniffling with great big eyes) I don’ WANNA be all tied up in magic bindings! Meanie!

And she promptly kicked Armageddon with about enough force to stun a gerbil.

(Samhain) Altering that requires fundamentally altering the soul of the creature itself. That isn’t something even I am willing to try. Familiars and Fusion Elementals are one thing given proven designs, that sort of thing is completely unfamiliar territory.

(Armageddon) You might want to work on that kick there.

(Night Templar) Please do not teach them how to kick. If you teach them how to kick I am teaching them how to summon demons. Fair warning.

Oh now THERE is a mature and reasoned response…..

(Sweetie) Demons are ICKY!

It took some work, but my own experience as a parent did give me a leg up on trying to instill a bit of discipline onto the new “kids”. And once again it looks like I am becoming a surrogate dad to yet another set of small children.

(Captain Mayhem) Hey! I’m the one who made them grilled cheese and told them a story! Now we need to get them guns and booze…

Which probably puts him in line with the annoying uncle that comes, riles them up or tires them out, teaches them all sorts of annoying behaviors that the parents have to deal with once he leaves. Not that I can really say Croft did that. He didn’t have hardly any interaction with me or Justina after Caera was born until he finally disappeared.

Still, once I was convinced that the others weren’t going to be killing the ponies or teaching them demonic magic, I decided it was time to get Caera a familiar. I figured one of the friend/guardian models would work just fine for our purposes. But this was going to require a host animal to act as the base for the familiar template to be applied to. Getting a suitable animal hauled here from Zantu was going to be a chore though so probably best to use an Terran animal. One of the species the Terrans consider suitable for pets would probably work well.

Searching the internet revealed that the best location locally for acquiring a pet would be the local animal shelter, which should have a good mix of cats and dogs available to chose from. It looked like the nearest one was open at the moment.

(Samhain) Caera, come on, let’s go to the animal shelter. I’ll let you pick out one of the animals there and we can set it up as a familiar for you together.

(Caera) Ohhh! How about a kitten?! Those are cute!

(Samhain) Sure, let’s see what they have first though.

While she and I started flying to the animal shelter, I had Love Divine pull up the relevant rituals and materials needed to perform a familiar binding. I was familiar with the basic theory of it all and the instructions had centuries of refinement behind them so I had little concern on that front. Hopefully getting a cute animal friend will provide a safe outlet for these urges to summon ponies and other things. Throwing a basic guardianship program on top of it was a fairly standard option too that was probably worthwhile in investing in.

At least Caera has Justina and I around to help her with things like this. Croft and I didn’t really have anyone to act in a close parental role to us. I guess I really need to spend more time with the demonic kids and other orphans we’ve been accumulating. It’s not like the school and foster care systems were setup to handle children with their kind of talents and “difficulties” either.

Diplomatic Mission Notes from Knight Enforcer Cola (Samhain) – Session 58

According to what reports we had, China was not sharing information on how it was doing against the Titanosaurs. The massive ongoing storms along the coast suggested things weren’t going well. Kiev (Ukraine I think?) was having problems too: their Titanosaurs kept vanishing somehow and thus far eluded all attempts to track them. No reports from Tibet (also China?) either. Antarctica seem to be holding their own due to the assistance of that glacier construct. Australia was sending word that they had successfully retargeted their Titanosaur to deep in the interior where Colonel Ashford was keeping it annoyed long enough for the locals to prepare an offensive.

Meanwhile Finland was heavily reinforced by the Europeans and had managed to handily lock up their Titanosaur into suspended animation via ice. Egypt had no problem dealing with theirs either, but was now running into problems with some sort of religious rioting due to the fact that those intervened were from (or at themed themselves on) ancient regional mythology for reasons I didn’t entirely understand. Japan thus far wasn’t having much luck luring their Titanosaur someplace non-vital but had managed to avoid much in the way of loss of life or property damage. And Taiwan had somehow managed to get theirs into a theme park of all places.

However New York seemed to be the one struggling the most. They had kept their three Titanosaurs moving in circles outside the city – mostly offshore – but hadn’t been able to actually stop them. This seemed to be because of a fair number of the local heroes losing effectiveness when the Titanosaurs retreated deep underwater. According to the news, some big-shot business tycoon down there apparently lent his yacht to the luring effort with the coast guard are wondering what kind of motor he HAS on that thing.

And all of this was on top of trying to coordinate with the police and other superhero teams around the world in taking out the other Kyinn running about before they got wise and went to ground.

(Captain Mayhem) Captain Mayhem is a courageous defender of Earth – except for China. Screw those guys!

(Amoebro) Amoebro eats China! And Tupperware!

(Captain Mayhem) They don’t have any good liquor AT ALL!

There are times I think my teammates are each having their own conversation and not actually talking to each other per se.

Thus far, New York had turned down several offers of assistance although most of those involved the groups Guardians and Wildstrike who had track records for substantial property damage. I would say that we could do much better than that, but the Ancient Base incident on Zantu suggested otherwise.

(Night Templar) Nah, we are good. What happens on Zantu stays on Zantu.

Not sure this was a line of reasoning I could agree with.

(Samhain) Yes, and your pants are MIA and Armageddon has gone rogue like….. three times now.

Unfortunately, this didn’t elicit the response I was hoping for though as again they all just brushed such objections aside. Apparently my colleagues consider frequently going rogue or creating monstrosities that promptly go rogue is par for the course. I really don’t want to know what these people consider unacceptable behavior. Still, it looked like we were heading to New York to deal with three more Titanosaurs.

(Samhain) What types of dinosaurs and titan monsters are we dealing with here?

(Night Templar) Tyrannosaur, Ankylosaurus, and Triceratops. Hosting Typhon, Scylla, and Chimera. In their own way, a pleasant little family group, if you overlook the whole Greek beastie thing.

(Captain Mayhem) OK, to kill Chimera we’re going to need somebody on a flying horse. I can supply the a flying horse just as soon as I can to a good horse statue. Who’s going to supply Medusa’s head?

(Night Templar) Amoebro ate Medusa so he has to stand in for that.

The others wanted to drag along Alexandre as well. I was completely against bringing a child into a probable combat zone though. A few years of training and local age of majority might change that assessment, but he wasn’t anywhere near that point yet regardless of how many legendary artifacts these so-called “gods” gave him.

Alexandre, understandably, wasn’t keen on being there when we informed his parents about his little “adventure” to Olympus.

(Alexandre) Ur… Can I use the helm of invisibility?

(Night Templar) Nope we are telling your parents and they are going to see that you are alright. Treasure having parents that can worry about you. Not everyone who becomes a hero has that privilege.

(Amoebro) Yeah, I don’t . . . So you should be happy and they should be proud!

I could make a very good case that Amoebro’s species doesn’t have parents per se.

(Night Templar) Nope, that is not how it works at all. They should be worried and you should be embarrassed

(Amoebro) But he’s a hero now!

(Armageddon) Never take enchanted swords, helms, and supernatural powers from strange pegasi?

(Night Templar) Does not matter a bit.

You know, this lecture from them would sound a lot more convincing if Armageddon and Night Templar weren’t accepting offers of “Holy” and “Demonic” power in exchange for whatever bargains they made for said power. Although, as a point in Alexandre’s favor, I had to admit that strange pegasi offering magical weapons of great power never came up in my childhood. I mainly spent time with my brother being a pain in the rear to the teachers and guardians.

Unfortunately, the boy’s mother was at work – some sort of corporate deal – and so was the father (he ran a restaurant).

(Samhain) Sigh….

(Night Templar) Crap, we have to wait then.

(Amoebro) Don’t worry, I bought my phone! We can watch Sesame Street!

Oh joy….

(Night Templar) By wait, I mean come back later. There are dinosaurs to fight.

(Amoebro) Aww . . . well, fighting dinosaurs is fun too!

(Armageddon) Taking him along?

(Night Templar) Is there really a reason to take him with us?

(Samhain) Not sure, it might be prudent for him to see just how dangerous these battles can be from a safe distance. Otherwise I say leave him behind for the moment. Of course, he might wonder off while we aren’t watching him.

(Night Templar) Argh, we take him along so he does not sneak off to fight dinosaurs alone. But he stays back during the fighting.

(Samhain) Put him on the yacht with the other heroes from New York?

(Alexandre) If it’s New York, the Mandate and the Chauffeur must be involved… maybe I could ride with him? The precognitive mage-pilot with the invisible armored time-traveling craft has a pretty much perfect record of “getting away safe” even when he loses.

(Night Templar) I see no problem with this at the moment.

At which point we placed a call for a pickup by the Chauffeur who, annoyingly enough, appeared almost immediately. At a guess, this was more use of time travel as a matter of convenience as opposed to anything to be concerned about abusing. It seems like recklessness and Terrans seem to go hand in hand. How they haven’t managed to destroy themselves with those nuclear weapon things is an open question.

At least this gave us time for a mission briefing. Currently, the Yacht was being manned by Ilarion Drake; since he’s the first target, he made the best bait. They’d basically stacked a lot of defenses on the thing, and he – much to the annoyance of the more sensible members of the team – was simply pushing it where he wants it to go with his weird reaction-less strength. So far he hasn’t needed to use the teleport talismans they left with him, although it’s been close a couple of times.

Unfortunately, most of the powers of Eris’s kids are fairly useless against the Titanosaurs. This didn’t surprise the others for some reason. Which meant that the name Eris had to go into the list of things to research later. Vasilko was mostly running defenses for the city. The Chauffeur had been harassing the things, but most of his weapons simply don’t have enough power to have much effect. Bobby has been doing wide-area shields and such; given that he was on the right power level, but wisely assessed that jumping into the middle did not look like a good idea.

(Samhain) Right, do we aim to divide and conquer or do we try to be ambitious and take them all at once?

(Amoebro) We didn’t have TOO hard a time with the one, other than Armageddon getting stomped. I say we lure one away.

(Night Templar) Hmmm… what do we know about the abilities of Typhoon, Chimera, and Scylla?

Armageddon pulled out one of those tablet things that had something to do with some sort of fruit.

(Armageddon) Typhon is another multi-headed reptile thing, projects fire, tends to take attacks to one or another body part somehow, rather than to it’s main body. Defeated Zeus in battle.

(Night Templar) Yikes.

Ok, that apparently meant something, but I lacked the necessary context to understand it.

(Armageddon) Scylla controls water and wind, another multi-headed thing (a common theme it seems), got a bunch of Odysseus’s men. The Chimera has no fixed form at all; it tends to just adapt various animal features as needed. Tough to stop, but not really a major offensive power – although now it has the triceratops body to take care of that.

(Chauffeur) It has gone winged a few times, but so far the I’ve been able to harass it back into the water.

(Samhain) What about psychic powers provided by the dinosaurs?

(Armageddon) Tyranosaur: Capable of leaping enormous distances, flying kick hind claw attacks inflict massive damage, very powerful plasma blasts, fairly fast and tough. Heavy offense. Ankylosaurus very heavy armor, minor electrical abilities, massive ability to smash things with it’s tail-mace. Far more dangerous with wind and wave to bring things to it to hit. Triceratops, powerful (but exhaustible) shields, minor personal armor, fires a wide variety of energy attacks – usually trying to find something that goes through a given targets defenses. Fortunately, no herd to reach consensus with.

(Captain Mayhem) The problem with the Ankylosaur is that we’re going to have a hard time actually hurting it at all, but it’s likely to stupid to actually be tricked.

(Amoebro) I’d say the Triceratops is the best option here. While it’s versatile, it can be worn down and it’s not as heavy a hitter as the others.

(Samhain) Have the minotaur maze the other two then while we deal with it?

(Night Templar) Yeah, does not look like we are going to get good trumps set up this time. Let’s go with the concentrated firepower and the minotaur mazing to let us avoid the other two till we are ready.

(Night Templar) The triceratops/chimera is our first target since it is likely the easiest.

(Captain Mayhem) Not sure if this is anywhere near easy but I’m in agreement that we try that first.

(Night Templar) I dub these Triceromera, Ankylla, and Tyranophon.

Overall, the city seemed to be safe enough. Bobby and Vasilko were layering shielding spells over the city quite effectively – although more than a bit recklessly in my opinion. As best as I could tell, that “spell” Vasilko was using somehow managed to alter the geometry of the city such that the city was “inside” him from the perspective of the Titanosaurs.  At least Bobby was using more “standard” shielding spells in comparison.

While this meant the city was protected by all of his layered defenses, I could not begin to fathom what would happen should he be killed or if that spell was disrupted without warning. The yacht itself was currently accelerating at about four gravities across the bay in giant circles. Given that it wasn’t hard to see why the local authorities were having concerns about it’s drive system.

(Armageddon) So… plan of attack?

(Samhain) Use drones and illusions to have the Triceromera attack aimlessly. Then either try to hammer it’s defenses with large blows or bypass the defenses with mental attacks.

(Night Templar) Have the minotaur maze the other two, attack Triceromera. Amoebro and Armageddon leading with ranged support from me, Samhain, and Captain Mayhem. Unless someone has better plans.

(Samhain) We might be able to screw up its homing on Ilarion Drake and have it chase illusions around. I think I’ll be position myself on the yacht and try to coordinate the drones from there. But I’ll need some prep time to get the drones going.

(Amoebro) I’ll try to katamari it while it’s distracted. I can’t grow enough to swallow it completely, but I could get around a leg or its head or something.

With that all decided, I was dropped off onto the yacht busily steaming circles around the bay along with Captain Mayhem. The other occupants of the yacht were a young boy (probably age fourteen) sitting in the pilots chair and apparently steering by pressing a foot against a metal kick-plate which ran around the base of the piloting area. There was also teenager currently maintaining a selection of defensive spells there too, mostly long-range attack deflections.

The kid steering was currently complaining about all this running away, instead of just smacking the Titanosaurs. I would wager that this was the Orthallen Ilarion Drake then. Based on the fact that he was able to push hundreds of tons of boat at multiple gravities with just his foot, I would also say he was the physical type too.

(Samhain) It’s best to reveal as little information to the enemy as possible. So hold back, be bait, and let us handle it to deprive your enemies of intel.

(Ilarion) Argh! But they could just look in the papers for THAT much! It’s not like I haven’t smacked things before!

(Samhain) And do you really want it to be known how well creatures designed to kill Orthallen such as yourself perform? While we caught the guy who made these, we don’t know who else might be out there taking notes on what improvements to make.

(Ilarion) Aaargh! You sound like father always did!

Well, at the very least it sounds like I might get along with one adult Orthallen on some issues. I was also finally able to console the wisdom of holding back and letting us probe at the things.

(Ilarion) Well, what’s your plan? This won’t work forever, and nothing else so far has more than annoyed them!

(Samhain) We’re going to buy time until we can perform a mass bombardment of specialized attacks that should bypass the defenses. I think we can easily hold until then. Basic idea is to pinprick it into submission and then handle the other two accordingly. The Minotaur will be most helpful in this operation of course.

(Ilarion) What, is he still around? I thought he had to go back after that mess in Greece about ten years back!

(Samhain) Oh, he got resummoned into one of these things, however he reasonable enough and I’ve been able to reprogram the geas spell on him for the time being.

(Ilarion) Huh… One of these things? Does he need a sparring partner? Ever since the Brick left no one will spar with me!

(Samhain) He’d probably go for it I imagine.

This seemed to do much to extract cooperation from Ilarion. Which gave me time focus on conjuring drones to work with. I figured a fairly diverse mix of illusion, defense, and offense drones was probably the most prudent course of action to take given the presumed abilities of our opponents. Captain Mayhem used his helmstone to reinforce the defenses of the yacht and return fire at the Triceromera. Meanwhile Amoebro and Night Templar were moving to the attack.

Unfortunately, the Minotaur’s attempt to maze the Ankylla and Tyranophon did not go as planned as the Tyranophon seemed heavily resistant to the effect. This left us with two particularly annoying Titanosaurs to deal with instead of the initially planned two. As such, both Armageddon and the Minotaur diverted to intercept the Tyranophon while I sent illusion drones to assist as best as they could. We really needed to take one of these down quickly if we were to salvage this cleanly.

Annoyingly, the Tyranophon was blasting large area of effect attacks in all directions which was hindering my efforts to build up a large drone swarm. About the only thing helping us was that the Titanosaurs didn’t seem too clear on what was going on and so were responding more or less at random. And the Triceromera was firing various blasts at the yacht seeking an opening in the defenses. This included one shot that made Ilarion say something that I presumed was a swear in whatever passed as a language for the Orthallen.

Also ominous was how the Triceromera was currently hovering just above the water with tiny bird wings, seemed to be sparking a bit, and was puffing itself up a bit for some reason. I could only presume this was in preparation for some sort of attack. At the least the blasts from Captain Mayhem’s helmstone were giving the blasted thing trouble.

(Amoebro) Watch out guys! He’s getting all puffy!

Luckily Night Templar threw up a barrier spell in front of the Triceromera that neatly blocked that breath attack. While that also impeded its forward movement, it also caused the creature to turn its attention towards Amoebro.

(Amoebro) Uh oh!

With that an immense gout of energy hammered Amoebro into the water along with Night Templar. It looked like that had been powerful enough to possibly badly stun, injure, or even kill either of them. So that meant we were down two party members while Armageddon and the Minotaur were steadily losing to the Tyranophon. All I could really hope for at this point was for the Minotaur and Armageddon to hold off the Tyranophon just a bit longer to give Captain Mayhem and I enough time to wear down the Triceromera. At least it looked like that portion of the plan was slowly coming to fruition.

(Ilarion) Gah! The stupid thing can’t injure me faster than I can heal it – but this is REALLY ANNOYING! IT ITCHES LIKE MAD!

More of Night Templar’s barrier spells started popping up in the meantime which probably meant he wasn’t dead yet. Those barrier spells in turn were giving the drones a reprieve so that they could begin massing attacks and also slowing down the Tyranophon enough to get the yacht out of firing range. So with me making Drones and bombarding, Captain Mayhem bombarding, Foxfire doing defense, Ilarion doing mobile defense/piloting, the Chauffeur bombarding, Alexandre bombarding (with relatively small effect, but it’s something), Night Templar throwing up more barriers, Ameobro recovering and grappling, Vasilko and Bobby defending the city, Armageddon moving to better support the Minotaur, the Minotaur in close combat with Tyranophon, and some local (lower powered) heroes throwing in minor attacks / defenses, we seemingly (f slowly) were winning against the Trycerama and holding even with Tyranophon.

Ilarion’s complaining about all of this was getting on my nerves though. I was halfway tempted to smack him on the back of the head in hopes of that making him focus on the task at hand.

Amoebro’s attempt to tears holes in the Triceromera’s hide seemed to be going well until the blasted thing seemed to just peel off its own skin (how does THAT work?!) to reveal yet another skin underneath it. Amoebro then quickly fell with the shed skin back into the ocean.

(Amoebro) It shed its skin! No fair!

(Amoebro) Does anybody have a jetpack, or SOME flying thing?

This swiftly resulted in the image of Night Templar sporting wings of dark fire carrying Amoebro aloft into the air.

(Amoebro) Whee!

This didn’t last long though as the Triceromera promptly erupted (?) a massive stony shell with razor-sharp edges and then plummeted on top of the flying Night Templar and Amoebro. This was definitely not going nearly as smoothly as the last few of these things. That smashed them all into the water. I was beginning to wonder if we might lose this battle when amazingly Armageddon managed to knock the Tyranophon unconscious for at least the moment.

One down, two to go…. and one of those remaining is still locked into a dimensional maze. If we can get the Triceromera down quickly enough and keep the Tyranophon unconscious, we might actually pull this off yet.

Diplomatic Mission Notes from Knight Enforcer Cola (Samhain) – Session 57

By this point data was streaming in from the police regarding the stakeout of that Gentlemen’s Club we had traced our Kyinn targets to. Based on what information we had, it looked like Illari didn’t have much of any knowledge of tactics and was more or less flailing around in his attempts to thwart anyone after him. Of course the Titanosaurs were powerful, but he wasn’t really making good use of that power. He’s just pointed it and turned it loose without even making sure that it wouldn’t backlash on him. He also tried to get other people and creatures to do his dirty work – likely partly a matter of lack of direct power and his irrational fears. By all evidence it looked like Illari hadn’t even figured out who his real enemies were.

(Amoebro) We should find out where he is and scare him!

(Night Templar) Or just arrest him.

(Samhain) I really want to track down his accomplices.

As far as his personality went, he was blatantly neurotic, to the point of insanity; “evade death at any price” made no sense for a mage – especially since Terrans had plenty of evidence that “Death” is not the end of you and there are plenty of ways to delay it substantially anyway (even if something WILL get you sooner or later). His taking this approach pretty much shrieked “desperate and crazy” even BEFORE he started turning himself into a Kyinn.

As far as his magic went… he was a ritualist/alchemist, might know a few personal-magic charms, and apparently uses at least three invocations – calling on Kyinn magic of gas-related powers, the Darkstorm energies, and Olympian Chaos Magic. It seemed fairly obvious that he’s picked up what he could, with no system and little formal training. On Zantu he’d probably be considered a low C class or even a D class medjai if it weren’t for the power of the invocations boosting him to a high C class or maybe even B class.

Meanwhile his “evade the authorities” tricks mostly amounted to “do not make a fuss” and “hide”. He obviously has no scruples at all – but he and his associates are throughly dated; the basic illusion at the office wouldn’t fool anyone using modern instrumentation or a decent magical education for more than a few minutes, if that. They’re probably making a fair amount of money with the “medical gases” business – but they’re blatantly using their inherent basic air magic to do it. They’re operating as individual magical craftsmen. He’d likely be trying to hire mercenaries if he had any sense at all; he certainly couldn’t hope to take on Aurora Ward directly.

As for locations of probable Kyinn associates, we had a small cluster of six in New York State, eight scattered around Canada, three in Australia, two in south America (both inactive), three in the Antarctic (Inactive), four in Eurasia, and two – for some reason – on Easter Island.

The club seemed to be the meeting point for at least five of the ones in Canada, and may have links to new York. It looks like two are cooperating in the medical and exotic gases business, one actually holds a job as a weatherman, one does underwater salvage operations locally, and one simply holds investments.

(Samhain) We could probably farm the bulk of those out to the police and other hero groups while we storm the club.

(Armageddon) Alright, another question, how did they do the teleport? Do we know if it was a ritual type thing or if it was done by one of the group? Either way, it might be possible for them to teleport out of there when we come in.

(Night Templar) The teleports were ritually-based, one reason why they were so easy to track later on.

(Armageddon) Well, I think the most important thing is to coordinate the incursions to ensure that either they are all simultaneus or have a scheduled delay.

(Samhain) Alright, wait for as many as possible to be there then, police cordon and assault?

(Armageddon) Sounds like a plan.

That evening we got notification from the police that four of our five targets present at the club simultaneously. Given that this looked as good a time as any, we gave the go ahead for the police to form a perimeter while we forced entry into the club. We were situated on a rooftop across the street as we planned our assault when a young man on a scooter and a police officer arrived. The officer was complaining about the kid jumping his car with the scooter amongst other things.

Ah, this must be young Antione. Apparently since we’ve broken the geas on him, he’s branched out to start selling people items they would have ordered if they had known what was coming. Sigh, more weird precognitive senses that lead to difficult questions about the nature of time. Right now he was delivering a pair of klein-bottle shaped flasks with six-pointed star stoppers (something the locals called Djinn bottles). Supposedly good for gaseous and less substantial (Imaginal) creatures.

As best as I could tell it was basically a focused, independent, conditional defense transformation to “timelessly imprisoned in the bottle”. However, the downside was that these things required a substantial amount of mana being fed to them in order to function properly. Probably going to push my limits on mana throughput though if I used one. It was decided that both Amoebro and Night Templar would each take one for potential use during the assault. It did mean the government was going to foot the bill for the bottles, but that is one of the perks of official government work.

Basic plan pretty much was for Armageddon to lead the assault while Amoebro assisted him in storming the place. Captain Mayhem and Night Templar were going to block the exits and then start pushing their way in as well. Meanwhile I was to remain in a support role outside providing counterspells and watching for any stragglers. With the roles decided, it was time to begin and Armageddon led off with an assault on the front door by melting it with his eyebeams.

He was promptly thrown back out again via some weird conditional defense spell, but quickly got back up and stormed in again. Sounds of fighting and gunfire broke out quickly enough as one (presumed) patron ran out screaming looking like a skeleton. Since that seemed to be just an illusion and as far as we knew he might also be a suspect, I simply smacked him with the back of the mana-blade I was projecting and promptly knocked him unconscious to be sorted out later.

It was then that I noticed a powerful summoning being cast. At a rough guess, this one was Chaos Magic and was at least a Rank 18 in power. Best to not let that one go off given the mess likely to result.

(Samhain) Cartridge!

(Love Divine) Loading cartridge….

As stored mana surged into me, I began casting a general suppression effect. Hopefully I can at least reduce the magnitude of the summoning even if I can’t suppress that outright.

The fact that Amoebro was now rising through a new hole in the club’s roof like a giant balloon was something to worry about later as my opponent was casting yet another spell. Pushing my luck hoping I could successfully suppress enough of the spell to render it non-functional was probably a fool’s bet. Best to rely on other tactics then.

A simple enough sphere of silence projected around the spellcaster does wonders for disrupting complex invocations requiring incantations. And indeed it was satisfying to watch that invocation seemingly imploded on itself as the incantation failed. There was a certain satisfaction in knowing that I had successfully disrupted a Rank 18 spell using a Rank 12 spell. Hopefully that silence spell will keep that one occupied until the others can subdue the spellcaster.

(Night Templar) NNOOOOOO!!!! A soul has been sent on surely into the forces of Hell! Now I am going to have to fight him again later with demonic powers.

Well, it sounded like we’ve had at least one fatality amongst the suspects. An unfortunate thing to have happen, but not entirely unexpected given the nature of these raids and the violent resistance being given. To be honest, I was finding myself more annoyed by the fact that Night Templar was showing more concern over this suspect dying while resisting arrest than he did when we accidently countless innocents on Zantu while dealing with the Ancient Base.

I was about to call him out on that when I noticed a Darkstorm invocation in progress. This one I wasn’t going to be able to counter readily.

(Samhain) Big Spell INCOMING!

(Night Templar) On it!

Him using the Lights of Luathon invocation neatly countered that Darkstorm spell at least and it looked like the fighting was winding down on all fronts as the spellcaster was subdued. While the others took the others to the police to be questioned and arrested, I worked at assisting the emergency services treat injuries and undoing whatever had been done to Amoebro. We even called in that ritualist we’ve worked with in the past to try and undo the Kyinn transformation on the suspects.

Eventually we were back at Silverhold where we swiftly were descending into an argument over why the accidental death of a suspect resisting arrest was somehow more tragic than the deaths of thousands of innocents due to our lack of foresight for our own actions.

(Night Templar) You killed a villain and now he’s just going to be WORSE!

(Samhain) But all the people killed on Zantu were only innocents!

(Night Templar) Good! That means they are not going to be going to Hell and becoming superdemons!

My eye was twitching and I felt the distinct urge to throw something at him as hard as I could manage.

(Armageddon) Please, if you are going to argue, take it into the Danger Room, away from the kids.

(Samhain) Oh no, you don’t get to lecture me! You punched his flesh right off of him and corroded his very bones with that punch!

(Night Templar) I really cannot understand how that could be worse than a new Superdemon wielding Darkstorm Energies and a grudge. Those innocent people probably went to Heaven and are happy now.

I fear for the day when he realizes the logical conclusion of his own twisted thinking. I also had to admit I looked forward to the opportunity to brain him before he does anything remotely like that. And this only reinforced my concern that the Canadian government felt the need to put HIM in charge of this team all things considered.

Diplomatic Mission Notes from Knight Enforcer Cola (Samhain) – Session 56

With the Titanosaurs relocated to Mars, it was time to consider our next move. This job was far more insane than anything I was normally tasked with doing on Zantu as a Knight Enforcer. We didn’t have insane idiots cloning long dead monstrosities and merging them with other monstrosities from the racemind. Those were simpler days I think.

(Night Templar) At least we’re getting hazard pay for this stuff.

(Armageddon) True enough. Superheroes are generally on continuous hazard pay.

(Captain Mayhem) But.. you get paid?!

(Samhain) Yes, yes I do. After all, this IS a government sponsored team… I get TWO salaries: Canadian and Zantu. Although, the Zantu salary was docked for a few months pay though.

(Captain Mayhem) …What?! You get paid officially? Son of a dammit!

(Samhain) Why yes, are you not?

(Captain Mayhem) I have to shill cheap booze to get dinner!

(Night Templar) He is getting paid. It goes to his bar tab first.

(Armageddon) He may not see any money for a long time then… So then; our next priority?

(Samhain) More titanosaurs?

(Night Templar) The dinoes in Canada on the way back? We do not know who it is after so it will be a little harder.

(Samhain) Well, by this point we might be able to get the dragons to tell us the locations of the dragons we don’t know about considering these things are out to kill them.

Once again, here I am being the sensible one it seems. Contacting Chi’an and Darvain did get us a list of Orthallen, their typical “territories” and basic contact information. There did seem to be gaps in the list though for various reasons though. At least the location of known teleports of Titanosaurs was matching up well with the list of known Orthallen. Sadly, it looked like many of those were effectively beyond our jurisdiction to readily intervene or assist without diplomatic issues. This probably meant we needed to delegate those to some of the other so-called hero groups. At least we can offer assistance and see if they take us up on it.

The one Titanosaur teleported to the Canadian Midwest though did line up with with an Orthallen named Arach “The Black”. He apparently was a specialist in enchanted weaponry and supposedly pretty stealthy although I figured that meant stealthy for a giant magical mass of fusing plasma. At least this one was undoubtedly in our jurisdiction. The decision seemed pretty clear cut to me, but the others felt the need to argue and debate for a bit.

When they finally did come around to the obvious conclusion, it came time to call ahead to Arach. He appeared to have some old Terran style armor and a variety of weapons both primitive and of more modern vintage. Unfortunately, Arach did not react well to the idea of standing down while we handled this.

(Arach) But that would be cowardly!

(Samhain) Considering that these things are created by one possessed by a powerful Kyinn mage to kill dragons by summoning titan monsters from Olympus to possess powerful psychics, we would rather not test his theory that this might work. In fact it is probably in our best interests to ensure this Kyinn be deprived of as much information about the bunch of you as possible for strategic reasons.

(Arach) But that sounds like a challenge!

Definitely an over-enthusiastic self-trained nine-year-old warrior-mage type. The hormones (or whatever passed for hormones with THAT metabolism) probably were not helping either.

(Amoebro) No, if you go fight, he’ll kill you! That will make us all very sad!

It took some effort for us to make him see the wisdom of our methods. He wasn’t happy about it, but I was more concerned that he cooperate as opposed to how happy he was with any given plan.

(Arach) Do you need some weapons? I have lots!

(Night Templar) Hmmm…. what kinds of enchantments do you have on them?

I had an academic curiousity regarding what level of enchanting this “kid” was capable of and so decided to look while the others “shopped”. From what I saw, there were two major varieties of devices: independent boosters for more or less normal weapons and boosting devices for one’s personal powers. It was also evident that the kid was getting much better over the last four centuries. He wasn’t the greatest expert I’ve seen, but he was pretty good, spared no expense, and has a great deal of personal power to pour into things.

Far more concerning in my opinion was the fact that this kid had several centuries worth of artificing stashed away. A stockpile of magical weapons this large in the care of small children was more than enough to make me nervous.

(Amoebro) Ooh! I want a magic-eating booster!

(Night Templar) Well, it is hard to say no to an offer like that.

From what I saw, most of this stuff wouldn’t really help us too much considering our own abilities, but would be very effective in the ranks of normal people. After all, in some respects I am the weakest member of this team and I still would rank as an SS-Rank or maybe even the legendary SSS-Rank back home. Still, there was perhaps some potential to getting some of this equipment for the more minor members of our team.

With that out of the way it was best to return to the task at hand.

(Samhain) Alright, so what monstrosity of a Titansaur are we dealing with?

(Night Templar) Looks like… The Minotaur, in the body of an Edmontonia. Saurian powers… earth control, armor, life support.

(Samhain) What about the minotaur itself?

(Night Templar) Should have superhuman strength, weapons mastery, rapid healing, high resistance to mental powers, ability to entrap people in dimensional labyrinths.

That combination of abilities was going to be…. problematic.

(Samhain) I am leaning towards trying to ambush it on a lake or river. Attacking it over water sounds like our best option.

(Armageddon) Yep. And – annoyingly enough – it has human level intelligence.

Standing back and attempting to entrap it while we hammered it with really long range conditional attacks seemed like the safest bet. That also gave us plenty of water to try to use for entrapment and other effects that couldn’t be countered by its own ability to manipulate earth.

(Armageddon) It is currently in northwest Alberta, roughly halfway in between Fort Nelson and Fort McMurray.

I had Love Divine pull up a map of the region.

(Love Divine) Best bet for water… is likely the Wabasa River. There are plenty of little lakes, but I think you want something bigger. Next best if it keeps moving is the Peace River, you MIGHT be able to drive it to Margaret Lake though.

(Night Templar) Yeah, I can’t think of what else we could try there, but how do we lure something smart and earth controlling away from solid earth… unless we are banking on one of Mayham’s guns?

(Samhain) Layered images spells to bypass the mental defense for illusions?

(Armageddon) That would do it. Those can’t actually hurt anything, but it may be possible to mislead it.

(Amoebro) Perhaps of something tasty.

(Samhain) Or of impassible terrain that it is better off walking around as we move it off a straight line path.

(Night Templar) I don’t know how much something tasty might motivate it if it has the minotaur’s intelligence.

(Samhain) We also haven’t determined how these things are finding their targets. If it is a special sense, we might be able to slowly divert it that way using specialized illusions targetting that sense.

(Love Divine) Well, there IS a report from Fort McMurray about a monster – but it’s tagged low-urgency, since it apparently left again.

(Armageddon) Well, if we can find it and monitor it for a bit, and get Arach to help, we might be able to determine how they are tracking. If it is a special sense then having Arach move several hundred miles should result in a path deviation of noticable amount.

(Samhain) That might work, but I don’t want Arach getting too close too it though.

As we flew towards the area, I started reading up the report that Love Divine had found. Reports consisted of a towering upright creature, alternately described as “Angirus” and “Gamera”, came through the Eagle Ridge division of Fort McMurrey. There was some damage – mostly new footprints/potholes in the roads – but nothing major. It was apparently carrying an enormous axe and wearing armor made of rock (quartz mostly apparently). It went through the drive-up at Teppar’s Donuts, got two gross and twenty gallons of coffee in a huge mug, and paid with a small stack of gold nuggets. At the moment, half the staff had quit, the other half were hoping that whatever it was comes back. It ignored the police and headed off into the woods again; everyone who tried to follow it wound up lost in a maze which erupted out of the ground in it’s wake. It went away a few hours later though.

(Samhain) Hmm, it seems at least vaguely honorable considering that it paid. Perhaps it can be negotiated with if we can undo the geas on it.

(Night Templar) Might be worth a try.

(Armageddon) If nothing else, we know it likes donuts then.

(Night Templar) Or cardboard.

(Amoebro) Coffee, anyway.

(Samhain) How does it know about coffee?

(Armageddon) Maybe check those other modern reports?

(Love Divine) It’s appeared in Greece (most notably in a conflict with the Children of Eris), and has been summoned by a few mages here and there.

(Amoebro) Which mages?

(Night Templar) I would think lots have since it is a famous guardian.

(Samhain) I concur.

(Night Templar) It is indeed “lots”. From the records… it appears to treat a good fight as a sporting occasion, and generally sticks to implied rules – no cheap shots, pull lethal blows, and that sort of thing. Generally only wants to fight suitable opponents. Also drinks enormous quantities and – when in appropriate form – is quite a womanizer. Actually pretty normal for a demi-deity.

(Samhain) Negotiating with it may not work, unless we can get it to agree that attacking a child is unsporting. Maybe get it to accept us instead?

(Amoebro) We should have Captain Mayhem approach it when it’s at a bar.

(Armageddon) Heh, a trade: a barrel of the super alcohol for leaving! Or have Captain Mayhem challenge him to a drinking contest, only drink allowed is the super drink.

(Samhain) Or have it duel the bunch of us in exchange to leaving the child dragon alone?

(Night Templar) Well I guess we have to talk to him somehow. I rather like the build a bar in his path idea and have Captain Mayham do the talking this time.

(Samhain) Another option is an image projection avatar. But I guess have Captain Mayhem try first?

(Armageddon) Yeah, bar and Mayhem are first attempt.

Between the bunch of us we were able to make a reasonable facsimile of a bar in the middle of the woods. Why the Terrans insisted on spending so much time drinking a concoction that was mildly poisonous even to them was not something I’d ever understand. I also suspected the Minotaur would suspect a trap of some sort given how blatantly weird it was to have a lone building here in the middle of the woods so far from any town.

However, my fears were quickly shoved aside when the Minotaur cheerily stopped to eat giant pretzels, huge bowls of nuts, and drink a few hundred gallons of beer like it was nothing unusual. The nearly sub-sonic voice was more than a bit hard to understand though. Not being particularly familiar with the etiquette of “pub-crawling” I could only presume that the fact that glasses kept getting filled and songs sung were good signs. The singing was…. crude and loud for lack of a better term. Plus it was nigh unintelligible given the frequency it was running at.

(Amoebro) Yay! My vacuoles are vibrating!

(Night Templar) I think we might have hit a snag in the “talk to him” plan.

(Samhain) Sigh…..

(Night Templar) Hmm, can we get a phone app that frequency shifts your voice to let us hear him better? I have no idea if those will work for subsonic but it is worth a try.

(Samhain) A spell can also handle that.

The moment I got that spell working I immediately regretted it. Evidently the ancient Greeks knew no shame at all as the lyrics clearly demonstrated. I didn’t see much of any sign of inhibitions either in all of that. Best to not let Caera hear this I think. However any hope of that was going to depend on Amoebro not repeating what he was hearing, which considering he was singing along at the moment meant trouble. Armageddon seemed to recognize the problem at least as he pulled something out of his pocket and handed it to Amoebro.

(Armageddon) You might want to listen to that instead.

(Amoebro) But the song is pretty!

(Samhain) Try not to repeat the song in front of others Amoebro, it’s liable to get you in a lot of trouble.

(Armageddon) It may be pretty, but it is an adults only song.

(Amoebro) Oh, OK!

In the meantime, the conversation between Captain Mayhem and the Minotaur was finally winding it’s way towards our objective of preventing this thing from attacking the Orthallen.

(Captain Mayhem) You know that your targets are just little kids?

(Minotaur) Children? Hrrmph! That will not do at all! And I thought that most dragons were CREATED as fully adult monsters! Now I have a mage to hunt down and smash after I deal with this bothersome geas!

(Amoebro) Can I eat the geas?

(Samhain) Might be better to dispel the geas rather than have to deal with Amoebro now being geased. Might be able to banish it from the dinosaur and then resummon it to possess it again with a different constraint.

(Night Templar) So we would need to transform him to get rid of it and most likely require a new limitation in its place.

(Samhain) Don’t know how much magical resistance it has, or if it can willingly lower that.

It turned out the Minotaur did have a fair chunk of magical resistance, but it also possessed a fair amount of control over it too. From the looks of things, the underlying dinosaur species relied on throwing up barriers and vanishing into the depths of the earth for survival, so it had fewer uncontrollable defenses.

(Samhain) Alright, what do we wish to replace the geas with as I cannot actually break it, only alter the terms of it?

(Amoebro) Sense of duty to us?

(Night Templar) Let’s not do that type. It is perhaps unwise if it finds it annoying anyway.

(Samhain) Use a long-term counterspell and deal with it as it wears off? It will give you time anyway.

(Armageddon) Could alter it with something like “Enjoy being a hero”? Or perhaps Enjoy life?

(Samhain) Sounds like we do the counterspell and renew as it wears off until we have time to come up with a more permanent solution.

(Night Templar) He is going to be pretty awkward to have around though. Huge dinosaurs are like that. Fortunately there is a LOT of Canadian wilderness. But hey, its a dinosaur we did not send to Mars.

I guess that was a point in some ways. At least once we got back to Silverhold, the questions I had asked regarding the ships seen around Zantu were finally turning up answers as Love Divine gave a report summary. From the reports, identical craft had been seen around Earth shortly after it had exited the Rho Field and again in the last few weeks. My initial fears that they might be a prelude to the Arrehenis Swarm was swiftly shown that the timing simply didn’t add up. There were heavy reports for several years, then it tapered off rapidly – but it had kicked off a UFO frenzy by then. Current speculation centers on some sort of survey being made after the Earth emerged from the Rho-Field – it seems like it would be worth an “after” study – but it wasn’t positively identified. Most telling was that the NSD didn’t go after them.

(Samhain) So possible survey of Zantu going on then.

(Love Divine) Quite possible. They do not, however, seem to be using FTL drives.

The ones most likely to be conducting a survey then were the Orthallen or their proxies. Which meant that Zantu has finally managed to attract the attention of one of the adults. Probably me talking to Chi’an Lung that did it. Hopefully this doesn’t lead to the outcome of an adult Orthallen attempting to sterilize the planet as a precautionary measure. Blowing multiple holes in the planet was bad enough, I couldn’t begin to imagine what would happen if I had inadvertently caused the Orthallen to try and exterminate my entire species.

Diplomatic Mission Notes from Knight Enforcer Cola (Samhain) – Session 55

Returning to Silverhold for the moment, I got an updated report from the staff about the situation at Zantu. Apparently there were reports streaming in from across the planet of weird, mostly non-magical oval-shaped ships making passes over the planet. No attempt at communications met with response and the vessels seemed to ignore the Zanti except to dodge potential “collisions”. As of this time no hostile actions had been reported, but what this ultimately meant was an open question.

I could only presume that if an emergency situation arose that recall commands would find me shortly.

(Love Divine) Sir, incoming call from Caera.

Odd, this was supposed to be school hours. Why would she be calling now?

(Caera) Alp! Daddy! THEY’RE IN MY HAIR! AND THEY TICKLE! AND HAVE POINTY TOES! (Random beeping sounds) STOP POKING BUTTONS ON MY PHONE!!!

(Samhain) Where are you at?

(Caera) School!

(Amoebro) Oh no! The gremlins are attacking Caera!

And there came through the phone a snapshot of a throat with huge, massive, fangs. At first I expected to hear sounds of screaming and whatnot but was surprised to hear only more annoyed yelling. Further images received suggested whatever was going on, it involved small mammals of some sort and the picture I had just seen was an issue of perspective as opposed to a large predator.

(Samhain) Alright, on my way now. Love Divine, send a message out to the others on the team, let them know I am heading to Caera’s school to handle some sort of disturbance going on there.

(Captain Mayhem) Would you like some assistance?

(Samhain) You can come, but I am assuming this is just some child’s prank getting out of control or something.

(Captain Mayhem) Uh…. ok. Now I feel too awkward to join. Well, call in case a supervillain attacks.

(Caera) She might get yucky cooties!

Flying off towards the school with Amoebro and Armageddon in tow, we landed minutes later to find the place seemingly overrun by small, hyperactive, furry things. They were about a foot or so long, very skinny, hopping all over the place, climbing on people, swinging from peoples hair, and otherwise being really annoying. One kid – looked to be about eight- was down, yelling something about “pinching”, and “in his pants”, and “sorry”, and with about forty jumping up and down on him.

Probably a conjuration spell that has gotten out of control. Well, the start things off, I formed a magical containment vessel and started scooping up creatures to stuff into the containment sphere as it followed along behind me. One kid sized fuzzy creature went by us apparently body-surfing on a wave of the small fuzzy creatures while eating what appeared to be candy. I could only presume he was the source of the issue or someone really good at opportunism.

(Amoebro) Ew! Cooties! We need to set up a quarantine!

I thought quarantines were for diseases or something. It was also becoming apparent that a number of these things were down right impossible to grab regardless of the qualifiers I placed on my capture spells. Probably illusions then. The ones I was managing to capture were definite summonings with various minor abilities. Annoyingly this included methods to get through barriers. That means I need to update my containment spell then….

Meanwhile several of the things were “tunneling” into Amoebro to swipe his snacks.

(Amoebro) EW! NO COOTIES!

(Samhain) That’s a first. Most things try to get out of Amoebro, not get in him.

As disgusting as this was already, it was made even worse when Amoebro began to spit slime covered fuzzy creatures all over the place. Great, now Amoebro is spitting up hairballs….

(Amoebro) Waa! Go away, cooties! EW! STAY AWAY!

Armageddon was also throwing creatures into the containment spell with little success.

(Amoebro) Be careful, Armageddon! The cooties will get you!

(Armageddon) Hm… Only about a quarter of them show up to my consecrated perception ability. That is impressive, are they immune to Holy energies you think?

(Samhain) I am figuring illusions myself. I think we’re looking at a targeted wide area dispel dispel or extradimensional transit effect to start cleaning these things out. Let me try something.

(Armageddon) So, that one is real, and that one. Those over there are all fakes.

Yeah, that quickly confirmed the bulk of these were illusions.

(Samhain) Right, Armageddon and Amoebro, follow the directions this drone is going to give you, that is the summoner. I’ll deal with the mess here.

Caera I found on the roof with another kid, looking for a spell that will keep all the ferrets away… She was not, however, trying to invoke Luathon for this one at least. She was really annoyed though.

(Caera) They’re smelly and kept getting IN MY HAIR! YUCK YUCK YUCK YUCK!!!!!

From the look of things they had also gotten into her pockets, lunchbox, and desk plus those of everyone else in the school. Definitely appeared to be a child’s set of prank spells that had gotten completely out of hand somehow. What was amazing about it though was the fact that these things were generated from Rank 15 spells. That was eight times more powerful than even I could muster with a cartridge backing me. Still, the basic design of the spells was highly simplistic and thus there were no defenses on anything, nothing to stop gradual ongoing drains, and no active resistance either. Some basic gathering and dispelling effects should be able to clean most of this given time.

This was also quickly becoming obvious to be the work of an invocation or set of invocations. The power and the relative lack of skill displayed in using it attested to it. This didn’t bode well for the long term survival of the Terrans if children were being given access to invocations of this kind of power.

(Caera) WE WERE JUST HAVING LUNCH AND SUDDENLY WEASELS! WEASELS EVERYWHERE!

(Samhain) Weasels? Is that what these things are then? Any idea who could have cast a Rank 15 invocation spell?

Caera seemed to be clueless on that front. At least Armageddon and Amoebro were having more luck in apprehending that larger one of these creatures that I suspect was at the center of all of this. Working my way to them while cleaning out the school, I was able to ascertain that this in fact the summoner of all the “minor” weasels that had been running about. This one also appeared to be a Terran child that was channeling the spirit of a weasel similar to Ahmik or the various wolf children with the Mandate. Age appeared to be about seven years.

(Samhain) Alright, can any of us account for a weasel spirit channeler or are we dealing with a spontaneous development here? (Look to kid) Care to explain how this might have happened?

(Spirit Channeler, EXTREMELY rushed, and pointing at another boy) Hestolemypuddingcupandcandybar!” (Continues twitching almost fast enough to hum in audio frequencies, having a small mammal metabolism on a sugar rush). IDONWANNAGETEATENBYTHEBLOB!!!!!LEMMEGO!!!!

(Amoebro) I’m not going to eat you! But you’ve been a very bad boy! You need a spanking or a timeout!

Not sure that Amoebro was mature enough to be making such decisions….

(Spirit Channeler) BLOBBLOBBLOB!GETTITGETTTMGETTIT!!!!!

Alright, this was getting hard on my ears. Best to institute a calming spell and possibly a sedative on top of that.

(Samhain) I think someone needs to calm down.

(Amoebro) Waa! I’m not a blob, I’m an amoeba!

Not really helping there. At least the calming spell seemed to work as the spirit channeler reverted to mostly human form. The use of hand sanitizer to get rid Amoebro off of him was probably doomed to failure. This was quickly proved correct when Amoebro ate the hand sanitizer.

(Amoebro) Zesty!

(Samhain) Right, care to try to explain again?

(Spirit Channeler) He stole my pudding cup and candy bar at lunch! So my friends pinched him!

(Other kid) I’m sorry! Don’t make them come out again!

(Samhain) Ok, and how did this proceed to involve the entire school?

That took some piecing together. It looked like the pinching led to running around and screeching. Somewhere along the line while that was happening he got hold of a big handful of candy bars and then got rather hyper. It all went downhill from there quickly. And this is why it is important to ensure either the educators are prepared to efficiently handle children losing control of spells or to ensure that the children are not made capable of casting such things before they’re ready. Invocations certainly seemed like a way to vastly increase the casualty rate of the most vulnerable demographics for little practical gain. Ergo, the ones granting invocations had to have ulterior motives not conducive to that of the Terrans or were incompetent.

(Icos) You’ve got that look again….

(Samhain) What look?

(Icos) You’re extrapolating generalizations based on minimal evidence.

(Samhain) I am hardly leaping to conclusions when it is eminently apparent this kid nor any kid should have been granted access to those invocations.

(Icos) Yes, and your using that to bias your judgement towards those that actively wish to assist you.

(Samhain) Are we seriously having this conversation again?

Any reply from Icos was swiftly interrupted by Love Divine indicating that Captain Mayhem was calling.

(Samhain) Yes?

(Captain Mayhem) So… uhhh.. just thought I’d mention that all the news stations are rushing to the school. Just FYI you guys. Do you need to call in the army?

(Samhain) I think the army is a bit late and a bit much at this point. Although you may want to send Ahmik over. Or bring him.

(Captain Mayhem) Can do! On both ends

(Samhain) Love Divine, please contact the police and inform them that the situation is now contained and handled. They should still probably send someone to take a report though.

(Love Divine) Understood. Informing them now.

It took some efforts and divination to find out how young…. Jeremy Robinson had acquired his abilities especially since his parents were clueless as to how and when he might have done so. From the look of things, a weird amalgam creature (the others called it a chimera) showed up on the playground one day to Jeremy, proclaimed him the King of Ferrets, gave him a cardboard crown, made him him glow for a few moments and then departed while giggling madly. The glowing thing appeared to be a powerful chaos-transformation effect that may or may not have been related to the same chaos magicks of Icos, Athena, and the other Olympians.

The others figured this the work of a trickster-spirit, possibly even Loki. Still, there didn’t seem to be any geasa or curses on the child that I could see. What in the galaxy the “Great Ferret” was that was granting the invocation Jeremy was using was an open question, but I was beginning to suspect a children’s character from the Imaginal Realms. Tracking this chimera down looked to be near impossible though. Unfortunately, additional divinations seemed to indicate that other children in the Montreal area had been “gifted” as “Kings” for Rats, Dogs, and Raccoons as well as “Queens” for Seagulls, Cats, Garter Snakes, and Squirrels. None of them had made enough of a commotion yet to attract attention yet and seemed to be shielded against direct scans.

Oh this is going to be a lovely mess to have to clean up somehow.

Alright, we were going to have to leave Jeremy with Ahmik so that arrangements could be for training to handle his powers responsibly. Night Templar also put a “curse” on Jeremy to ensure that his access to that invocation was a bit more limited and controlled than what had led to this current mess. I did find the enthusiasm Night Templar had for cursing the child more than a bit concerning.

(Samhain) Do you just sit around all day dreaming up curses to fling onto children?

That got me a disturbing “YES!” from his spleen.

(Night Templar) Does not have to be children.

How has this guy not ended up on a watchlist or in permanent government custody? Or is this posting to Aurora Ward the government’s idea of doing exactly that? And am I included in this group for similar reasons?

(Amoebro) Hi Night Templar’s spleen!

(Samhain) Right….. well young man, your new teacher is going to be Ahmik here. He is going to teach you about the responsible use of your abilities. Invocations are powerful and dangerous. As such, they are not suitable to children to be using to settle schoolyard disputes with.

It was a straightforward enough matter to parent Jeremy into submission. However, the parents’ demands that we “fix” this were going to be difficult to comply with though. All we could do was minimize the damage really considering the issues tied up in attempting to separate the animal spirit from the child’s soul. Not much that could be done besides putting out a watch for this chimera thing and hope that a report comes up in time for us to intercept it and stop it before it does this too much more.

Oh well, with that out of the way, it was time to move back to other priorities. It was fairly quickly agreed that intercepting the Titanosaurs on their way to Chi’an Lung before he did something reckless was probably our top priority now. Unfortunately, it looked like there were three Titanosaurs on their way towards Chi’an: a triceratops possessed by the Nemean Lion, an Ankylosaur possessed by the Gorgon, and a Utahraptor possessed by a Harpy.

Getting Chi’an Lung to sit this one out was a chore in and of itself. More so than the others, he seemed to have been bitten hard by the Alpha Male bug and was keen on proving himself to the other Orthallen to further reinforce his dominance. Still, he did respond to parental style guidance (in a fashion) and I was eventually able to talk him down. That just left the Titanosaurs though.

Consulting with divinations, Icos, and Athena, we found out the Nemean Lion/Triceratops was going to be able to fire off a large number of weird conditional defense ranged attacks at anyone it saw. The Gorgon/Ankylosaur main threat was a weird defense mechanism whereby anyone who looked at it visually would be transformed into stone. And the Harpy/Utahraptor’s biggest issue was going to be an immense speed factor that was liable to be nigh impossible to keep pace with unaided.

Attempting to concentrate our forces to fight these things one at a time with overwhelming force looked promising but time-consuming and potentially had issues with casualties even amongst ourselves. We really needed to fight this smarter instead of harder especially if we wanted to intercept all three Titanosaurs before they reached the Drake Estate.

The obvious answer in the case of the Gorgon/Ankylosaur was to use Amoebro’s lack of eyes to let him fight the creature. Night Templar could readily render himself immune to most of the Nemean Lion/Triceratops’ attacks and fight back at the same time. The bigger issue was the Harpy/Utahraptor given that speed. I was probably going to have issues keeping up with that while simultaneously taking any hits I didn’t manage to dodge and that didn’t even get into the issue of trying to hit it at the same time I was trying to dodging it. Armageddon and Captain Mayhem volunteered for that one.

This mostly left me as the backup remaining at the Drake Estate to sit on Chi’an Lung to possibly assist if one of the three interceptions went badly. For the most part I occupied my time by controlling drones to set up pit traps, walls, fortifications, and illusionary terrain to assist the others with their battles. Amazingly enough, the plan actually worked quite well as the Titanosaurs found themselves unable to effectively fight back against the opponents we set up for them. Amoebro did end up eating the Gorgon/Ankylosaur creature and (hopefully temporarily) gaining its power to turn anyone who looks at him to stone. However, we did successfully capture the Harpy/Utahraptor and Nemean Lion/Triceratops.

Which probably means I’m going to have to whip up some more long term life support spells so that the others can haul these creatures off to Mars again. I get the distinct impression that this may end up backfiring on us somehow.

Diplomatic Mission Notes from Knight Enforcer Cola (Samhain) – Session 54

With the Titanosaur taken care of for the time being, it was time to focus our attention on the genetics lab and Relan apparently wanted destroyed to hide incriminating evidence. Given that most of the city was already well evacuated at this point, there wasn’t likely to be much in the way of opposition or collateral damage to worry about. I wasn’t holding out much hope of catching any suspects on the premises though. Anyone left behind was likely uninvolved, to stupid to know anything, or had been deemed expendable.

The building itself was fairly modern looking with crisp white framing and large glass windows and doors forming much of the siding. Parking lot seemed to be empty and there were no indications of anyone being present in or around the building. As for the building itself, security seemed to consist of what I’ve come to learn are basic commerical warding spells: an effect that suppresses magicks from unauthorized personnel by one rank, and another effect that warded against scrying techniques. The kind of things that could stop a Terran amateur from doing anything. There was also a low-grade maintenance and repair effect and a minor security spell that locked doors and closed windows. The kind of stuff that might make for a good class project one week for a bunch of young students back home.

This didn’t account for any possible technological security mechanisms that might be in place. those I found a lot harder to discern with my senses. I probably need to spend time with Captain Thunder just to learn more about this sort of thing and try to assemble the necessary spell libraries. Of course for all I knew, the staff back at Silverhold may already have submitted such libraries for review to back home. I knew for certain that mountains of textbooks and genetic samples were already being shipped back. Still, that didn’t solve the immediate problem.

(Samhain) Uhhh, does anyone here have computer skills? Or do we need to call in Captain Thunder?

(Night Templar) Our hacker is out riding a hydra. Simply advance since it is unlikely that the computer possesses major firepower?

(Samhain) But if the computer security is rigged to delete data upon intrusion….

(Night Templar) Let’s get the data first then. … Captain Thunder might actually be a good idea though.

A call to Captain Thunder went out as the rest of us went to the front door. First barrier to entry appeared to be a keypad with numbers on it. Given what little I understood about Terran security systems, entrance was prevented unless a certain number sequence was entered. Why exactly the Terrans seemed to think this was a decent security check was beyond me as it was a fairly trivial proof in divination theory to show how to defeat it. And lo and behold, proper application of theory into practice gave us a green light and an unlocked door. Upon opening the door and entering the lobby, a computerized voice spoke out.

(Computer) Have you mislaid your identification badges? Please check your vehicles or check in with the security guard.

(Samhain) Hmm, should I attempt a specialized illusion against its sensors? That way the computer sees what it wishes to see?

(Night Templar) Worth a try.

(Samhain) Alright, so what sensors am I trying to fool?

(Armageddon) Since it was after we went inside, RFID seems likely.

(Samhain) Alright, can you explain to me how that works? Trying to construct an appropriate illusion while effectively blind doesn’t yield great results.

This resulted in a bunch of explanations and words that didn’t make much of any sense to me. Trying to build an illusion using explanations that it sounds like Armageddon and Night Templar didn’t really understand required a lot of assumptions and just plain guesses on my part to fill in the gaps. There was only so much that divinations could do to cover for missing information unfortunately. And apparently my attempt did not go well from the computer’s viewpoint.

(Computer) Intruder detected! Notifying security! Not responding! Notify Police! Not Responding! Notify nearest available superhero group!

And Night Templar’s phone immediately began ringing.

(Night Templar) Hello, Night Templar speaking.

And got a computerized notification of unauthorized intrusion at our current location, and a request to please apprehend the intruders if we had time. It also informed him that all the doors were now locked to help restrain the intruders though.

(Night Templar) How should I enter to get them?

Apparently it was willing to leave the doors we just went through unlocked and turn on the lighting to lead us to ourselves. This computer was evidently not the clearest block of crystal in the box.

(Night Templar) I will be there shortly.

Part of me wanted to admit hoping that the computer would lead us to ourselves, figure out the logical contradiction and then immediately recognize us as intruders again simply to help me retain my faith in the sanity of this world. Unfortunately (or fortunately) life was not so accommodating.

(Night Templar) So it can detect us. Now we need to figure out how to change that if it is not already wiping the drives.

The first few steps through the lobby though revealed lights turning on in response to our own movements like the computer had indicated.

(Night Templar) If the room lights up we are failing to sneak in.

(Armageddon) Should we try concealment magicks until it calls Night Templar to say the intruders have left?

(Night Templar) Yes.

(Samhain) Or have illusions of ourselves arriving to arrest ourselves.

That took three or four minutes to sort out. From the basic tests we did, it looked like the computer could identify “people” with visual pickups but relied on whatever this RFID was to do the real sorting job. As such, any visual pickups with no associated RFID matches were labelled as “probable intruders”. I wouldn’t put it past this thing to identify hats on a coatrack as intruders. Terran computers definitely were more independent (given that it was running despite none of the staff being in the building), but they seemed to have exchanged their intelligence to get that independence.

Oh well, with the computer thoroughly fooled, it was time to collect evidence. I left Night Templar and Armageddon to the job of searching the computers while I went through the hardcopy notes. I didn’t really understand Night Templar’s assertions of just taking the “hard drives”, but whatever. There was quite a bit of material on genetics and various forms of Terran gene-splicing techniques, but quite a bit of the notes and labels meant little to me without the requisite knowledge of Terran biological sciences and how those words translated into the equivalent Zanti terms.

What did eventually catch my eye was the word “Apatosaurus” on a filing cabinet. That was obviously the creature (or part of it) we had just fought. Thumbing through the files in that set of cabinets revealed more weird phrases like Triceratops, Adelolophus, Ankylosaurus, Acheroraptor, Bactrosaurus, Tyranosaur, Deinonychus, Edmontonia, Geminraptor, Stegosaurus, and Utahraptor. Given some of the illustrations of fearsome feathered and unfeathered creatures in each of those files, I could only presume these were more species in the same general clade of animals. Lovely, this confirmed Athena’s assertion that there are more of these things out there. Oh well, best to have Love Divine scan copies of all the paperwork and have it index and annotate things for later review.

We did eventually find a room whose purpose I was familiar with even if I wasn’t quite as familiar with the specific methods the Terrans used to accomplish it: the cloning vats. The basic operating principles were nearly identical to what was used back home to rebuild lost species and even create Justina from old DNA samples. However, there didn’t seem to be any works-in-progress here. It wasn’t apparent if that was because work hadn’t begun or if work had been completed already even if I did suspect the latter.

(Samhain) Love Divine, find any shipping manifests on nutrient solution or the appropriate feedstock in those copied documents? We might be able to determine how many of these things they actually produced that way.

(Love Divine) Records have been found, but given the uncertainties in metabolic requirements for the various species determining the state of progress is difficult.

Night Templar and Armageddon showed up at this point is a cart loaded with a pile of metal and plastic slabs.

(Night Templar) How about we send the hard drives out for more technical work?

(Love Divine) Sir, if I might make a suggestion?

(Samhain) Go ahead.

(Love Divine) A new spell is on file for reading Terran storage media directly. Authorship is the staff at Silverhold with Captain Thunder as a consultant. Formulation has already undergone extensive review and updates back on Zantu as more and more Terran data is sent there in bulk.

Well, now that was handy.

(Samhain) Alright, pull it up, let’s get what we can out of these “hard drives”.

That took time, but produced a wealth of information that would keep a small army of AI’s busy for weeks indexing, correlating, and sorting. Still, that did quickly generate basic results to a number of questions. It did look like the initial cloning phase had been completed some time ago. The specimens had grown large enough for testing and then – supposedly – stowed away. Most current research had been focusing on genegrafts that attempted to induce saurian powers in humans. While the researchers showed some awareness that this was a VERY bad idea in large quantities, they seemed to be trying to develop some relatively-safe psychic catalysts, some temporary – like a regeneration serum.

(Night Templar) Ooh dinosaur based combat drugs. That could get nasty.

(Armageddon) So, is this lab a complex of buildings or just stand alone? As I remember it the hydrasaur was supposed to attack several buildings?

(Love Divine) It’s a complex. This is the sequencing and cloning, actually raising them to be old enough to work with is another building. There are a couple for support, and one for specimen storage, where the ones they’re done with are in hibernation-storage.

(Armageddon) Oh boy, so which one do we investigate next?

(Samhain) Let’s check out hibernation storage. As they may have missed or abandoned some.

(Armageddon) Good point.

(Night Templar) Sure.

Not too surprisingly, even if it was annoying, the computer again tried to call security when we opened the doors. It seemed to be concerned with escaping animals as much as intruders. Whether this was from prior experience or just sensible precautions was an open question that I didn’t feel like having Love Divine dig for answers to. What quickly became obvious was that the computer didn’t seem to be getting an accurate visual feed from the cameras. Checking a guard terminal, it was deduced that the computer (and the guard terminals) were being fed a continuous loop sequence instead of anything real.

The whole area was shielded against magical traces leaking out and there were a lot of traces of a number of rituals having been performed here. From the look of things, the rituals weren’t that old and seemed rather rushed. At a guess, I would say the rituals involved summoning, binding, accelerate-to-maturity in a few hours, and teleporting effects. Needless to say, there weren’t any dinosaurs in storage anymore despite the records showing a large number being here. This led to another interesting question though.

(Samhain) Hmm, they had to be using quite a bit of the Tier 2 transuranics for this.

(Love Divine) One moment…. it appears that the necessary transuranics were imported from elsewhere in the galaxy according to what records I can find. Records are not detailed enough to ID a seller though.

(Samhain) Awesome, so someone elsewhere in the galaxy is helping with this nonsense. More Kyinn you think?

(Night Templar) Well we did know about someone visiting them.

(Captain Mayhem) Possibly. Could simply be a trader of some sort. The stuff is fearsomely expensive, but the quantities needed are incredibly small – and it’s hard to find a better trade item than THAT. You can even strain the stuff out of supernova remnants with the right tech/magic/psi, so there’s a mining industry of sorts.

(Night Templar) Could also be from any number of sources or even Zantu.

I suppose that was always possible. I couldn’t help but recall a number of rumors that there was a lucrative smuggling ring on Zantu for the stuff despite the blatant lack of a market for the Tier 2 stuff. Tier 1 and Tier 3 was understandable, but the Tier 2 stuff never seemed to have economical uses. Of course, that was before the discovery that the stuff was tied to psychic abilities. Maybe the smugglers learned that sooner than the government did?

Since it was obvious that none of the creatures in question were shipped out and instead were teleported, looking into shipping manifests for signs of live cargo was likely to be fruitless. Still, probably worth having Love Divine mine the data looking for anything unusual. The teleport traces gave us a short list of regions where however many Titanosaurs were presumably dumped: New York Bay, Canadian Midwest, Coast of China, Tibet, Antarctica, Australia, Finland, Egypt, Kiev, Japan, Taiwan, and local. Several teleports were to local destinations, two were to China, two to Kiev, three to Alaska, and a number of the others were too muddled by overlapping residual energies to discern well.

(Armageddon) Oh boy, best if we start notifying the relevant hero teams and government entities about this.

Meanwhile, we turned our attentions to what was left of the magical signatures of the suspects. Definite Kyinn/Darkstorm energies involved with several minor participants. The lead ritualist was a lot more powerful in terms of Kyinn/Darkstorm energies with traces of numerous secondary magicks: Fae, Demonic, and Black Necromancy. If I had to guess, this was someone with some talent and a tendency to acquire spells seemingly randomly as opposed to any sort of formal education.

(Night Templar) Hmm, I would say the demonic traces are a partial match for Moloch the Devourer.

Whoever that was.

(Night Templar) We should also warn the relevant dragons we can get in touch with. By my count we’ve got at least eight matches on teleport destinations correlating with known dragons. That leaves four unknowns.

(Samhain) Probably best to tell the dragons not to engage and instead call in hero teams. As we don’t want to confirm dragon locations if possible.

(Night Templar) That is a good idea. Fortunately, most of them will take some time to hit full size, and probably won’t attack until then.

(Samhain) Definitely seems like this was all rushed.

(Armageddon) Well, from what we’ve seen… a Kyinn mage is obsessed with living forever. Realized the dragons were scanning the area for him and sent in a strike force. We blew up one of his students. Ergo…

(Samhain) Ah well, can either of you think of anything else to hunt for here? Perhaps a list of employees and see who can’t be found anymore?

(Armageddon) That is a good idea.

(Love Divine) They are all evacuated right now. Would you like me to check recent absenteeism?

(Samhain) Yes, and have the cops afterwards do a follow up on all of the employees to see who cannot be located. That list can come later though.

Next came declaring the entire complex a major crime scene and getting forensics involved. Given that the city had just been attacked by a dinosaur like creature, getting the police and judge to rule that the dinosaur cloning facility was likely involved was a simple procedure. The Orthallen however were proving obstinate in the face of attackers by wanting to prove themselves in battle. The territorial tendencies wasn’t helping matters. At least they responded to standard parenting techniques and tones.

(Night Templar) Anyway, I guess it is time to try to use some clairvoyance to determine what type of monster dinoes they are.

(Samhain) Or consult with Athena and company since they seemed to have a leg up on some of this.

(Night Templar) We might not be able to find the dinoes but the imaginal energies should be large if they stick to the pattern.

(Icos) Well, if I may interject: Athena does indeed know which monsters are missing from the realm of Olympus. Notable missing: Scylla, Typhon, Ophiotaurus, Lamia, Echidna, Nemean Lion, Eyrines, Harpies, (The) Griffin (much bigger than the minor ones), Chimerea, Gorgon, and the Minotaur. Not that anyone really wanted them considering most of them were badly failed divine offspring who got WAY too much chaos mixed in.

(Night Templar) Hmm… Echidna could be bad if it can birth more monster dinosaurs.

(Samhain) Hmmm, that roughly matches the number of dinosaurs known to be cloned. Eleven dinosaurs unaccounted for (unless there are duplicates) and thirteen monsters at least.

(Icos) Now, there might be a minor creature or two missing, but there are a couple of hundred of those and they aren’t that hard to call, so minor powers often do. By superhero standards… Tireless bronze horses with a minor flame-blast from their nostrils are just stylish steeds in this era. Like Ares’s arrow-shooting birds… who counts? A bird that fires arrows was pretty deadly before shotguns. Not much of a pain for superheroes like yourselves though.

(Samhain) I suppose you are right. Although these dinosaurs are going to be a pain, especially if more than one shows up in the same place. Right, what is our next step Armageddon and Night Templar? And how long until the ambush of immense overkill?

(Armageddon) Hmm. I think it’s about eight days at this point.

(Night Templar) We should go to the one that has no heroes stationed nearby or the three in Alaska.

(Armageddon) The next step is to try an avoid a suprise visit from one of the dinosaurs. Perhaps give the Archmage a call and see if he wants to do a scan for them?

(Icos) They should be detectable; they are all spawn of a particular highly magical chaos realm after all.

(Samhain) Not a bad idea to call the archmage, but I would also say that if we only have a little over a week until we are ambushed by all the villains we might want to consider how we can prepare in a way that can’t be countered by more time travel by our opponents. Probably will take the Archmage time to scan the planet.

I really thought though that we needed to at least devote some attention to the upcoming ambush. Yes, it was making our lives easy now, but the consequence of that was we were going to be potentially overwhelmed in short order once the event arises. If it was a simple matter of numbers, we should be able to handle it by just calling in favors and reinforcements, but time travel added a horde of new wrinkles to the mess that made any sort of planning I could think of weirdly recursive.

(Samhain) Anyone have any brilliant ideas on how to defeat pre-emptive, retroactive counters to our plans using time travel?

(Night Templar) The one we are worried about is an invocation so we might be able to make areas immune to it if we have one who has the invocation helping us. The Doctor himself noted that it was an invocation, and subject to various limits that avoided disturbing the timestream too much. So we need to make altering the timestream have a big impact and maybe abuse someone that has no such limitation.

This sounded like a bad idea on all levels. After all, there were rules on just how much you could fold space on itself before bad things happened. I didn’t want to see if there was analogous disasters when dealing with manipulating time like that.

(Samhain) I rather ensure our survival, not destroy the universe. Hmm, the Ambush I think we decided was a distraction for another job. Did we ever determine what?

(Night Templar) I do not think so and it might be impossible to tell as he might not have been hired yet.

I didn’t think he was getting the point. There may well be something important about that particular place and time that could then gives us clues as to our ambusher’s plans and thereby how to counter them.

(Samhain) But if it is a theft or assassination job, then a target may be apparent beforehand.

(Armageddon) Well, we could Google that date and time and see if anything comes up on news and events.

(Night Templar) I have been running under the assumption that the way to avoid it is to ignore the ambush and watch for what we would be watching since he needs a distraction.

I hate time travel….

(Samhain) I figured the ambush would be dropped on top of us when he needed the distraction.

(Night Templar) Then we drop our counter ambush and time travel somewhere else to watch for what we are being distracted from.

I REALLY hate time travel….

(Night Templar) Or we can get to time traveling now if you really want to know.

(Armageddon) What if we go forward to what we determine is the main event? Beat him there and he won’t be able to go back and add additional foes to the ambush if we succeed and he decides he needs to up the distraction.

(Night Templar) But if we render the area immune to time lords he will not be able to come back there?

(Samhain) Don’t you have to lock a region of time AND space? So putting up a ward now won’t accomplish anything then.

(Icos) Tricky, in theory possible, in practice potentially messy.

(Armageddon) Hmm, if I remember how the rules of Time Lords work, if we can meet our future selves from after the event don’t we lock that event as permanent? Ergo, if we can arrange a way to meet our future selves alive we might win this. But that is ultimately a way of rephrasing the same question isn’t it?

And yet time can manage to branch itself (multiple times at that) and that all of those potential and mutual exclusive futures can be affecting the present at the same time.

(Samhain) Sigh, this leads back to the problem of dealing with villains who can keep going back in time and adding more opponents until we are killed or sufficiently distracted to not interfere in his plans. If we go after whatever objective he is after now by going forward in time, that just means he managed to hammer us with sufficient force in our future.

(Night Templar) Or we can figure out a way to stop him from traveling once the ambush starts. He lands the ambush and we hit him with something that stops that him from time traveling till we find him and stop him.

I did not have a lot of faith in our ability to block an invocation in such an esoteric field given how much power invocations typically have behind them.

(Icos) If I may interject: as a rule that does not work well at all. Once you go somewhere and interfere… trying to do it again tends to be blocked out.

(Samhain) I was under the impression that this was his plan as he was kidnapping all those villains forward in time to the same general date/time. Unless he is just going for sheer chaos all over the city. Besides, I don’t think any of us have the ability to block invocations.

(Night Templar) It would have to be a large draining effect unless you used the limitations inherent in the invocation.

(Icos) Not quite what I meant: if he gathers up twenty villains and drops them all off… waiting to see the outcome, and then getting more if he loses is not really in the cards.

(Samhain) As he’s managed to lock the event from his perspective then?

(Icos) Exactly.

(Night Templar) So it is more of the nature of if he sees the result it gets locked in.

(Armageddon) Schroedinger’s Trap?

(Samhain) So simply going into the trap prepared with lots of power and allies may actually work then instead of leading to massively escalating series of nonsense.

(Icos) More or less. Once you’ve fiddled around once, trying it again tends to fork timelines, bring in intervention, or otherwise backlash.

(Night Templar) And inherently violate Timelord limitations I assume.

(Icos) Yep.

(Night Templar) So no need to worry about the crazy twisting time here.

(Icos) No. Same reason you’re not getting attacked, and then finding that the failed attacker disappeared ten minutes ago and you’ve got Piper in to complain about his headache.

(Samhain) Good to at least have some rules.

(Icos) Even if part of the enforcement is by conscious entities (you’ve met at least one) according to a “nothing too stupid” rule.

In ways it was comforting to know that there is someone keeping the nonsense under control at a high level. All too often there seems to be a certain lack of that lately.

(Samhain) Alright, so what is the priority? Titanosaurs or Ambush prepping?

(Night Templar) Is there much more to do for ambush prepping? I thought we had it handled.

(Armageddon) Well, I think that was mostly: We know when, keep noncombatants out of the way, call in some allies, be ready.

(Samhain) Fair enough.

(Night Templar) If you feel we need more help we can always try taming the titanosaurs.

And we’re back to the insane ideas again.

(Armageddon) You get to housebreak them then. That is a lot of newspaper to have to put down……

(Samhain) Right, I think Alaska was Night Templar’s first pick?

(Night Templar) Yeah. It is close to canada and has the guy most likely to go totally overboard. There were a few in Canada that should be next but that was a lot of them and catching them young seems like the best.

(Armageddon) And we don’t want Chi’an Lung and his allies trying to deal with them by throwing great gouts of raw power about.

I couldn’t help but agree with that one. Best to limit just how much insanity gets injected into the situation before it causes an even bigger mess.