"You come from death, you carry death within you, and your path ends in death. I see for you great sadness, but also one shining joy."
-- Madame Strellisma, AS 2778.240
|2781.149 - 2781.153
Gateway and Craterrock
The first of the peril begins to arrive: the Mirage bounty hunters show up to collect on Ace (at the Crater). Elmer assures them that there is money enough for everyone, which distracts several of the bounty hunters and makes sure that they don't shoot Elmer, but it is insufficient to cause them to go away entirely.
Next is a Catastrophe: the five stolen mecha show up at the Mountain, accompanied by twenty Terran soldiers and one mysterious person sneaking towards the group.
The twenty Terran soldiers are disconcerted when their guns don't seem to work (the party minus Jim credits Elegant Simplicity of Motion, who has attacked all of them already, thanks to Jim's ambush; Jim has the epiphany it must be Dylanna). However, the mecha don't seem to have the same problem, and open up with their chainguns. Ruehan falls down, causing the holes to open up in the ritual - only Jim's tactical cover saves First Frost of Autumn. One percent of the population (including the Eyes of Ozymandias) succumb to the Flames. Kith decides that it's time to take some Glitter before healing people back up. Sharra sets off an EMP bomb so that it disables two of the mechs for a little while, but they're self-repairing, so it won't last forever.
The stealthing person reveals herself as Dylanna, and calls out, "Don't fight them, you idiot! I brought the override codes!" Alas, this proves not as trivial as one might hope, as what she has is five disks, which have to be inserted into the mecha. Jim picks her up on his scooter and they start passing out discs. Jim points out to Dylanna that redemption must be earned, but she's more worried right now about the mecha.
Meanwhile, at the Crater, another Catastrophe. Stone (and twenty Terran soldiers) have arrived. Tiercel manages to intercept Stone, and the two face off as various lesser fighters pound them both from a distance.
Cass manages to hallucinate one of the mech pilots, but discovers that they have bitey shields. Kith goes down to the chainguns, and another 1% of the population dies. (Maximilian von Warrick, the King of Highguard, however, is saved via some karma from Sharra).
The first of the override codes is installed in the mecha, which means it will shut down in another five phases. Darn - they were hoping it would immediately die. More chaingunning occurs before a second mecha gets an emergency shutdown installed.
Cassandra sets up an easel, and starts sketching Stone fallen, with Tiercel triumphant above him.
Meanwhile, on Gateway, everything is going swimmingly. They wonder if everyone else is having as easy a time.
The next peril to arrive are Red Insurgents, on Craterrock, going after the "Blue Pretender." Elmer works on convincing them this is a film shoot, which works for quite a long time (until the insurgents start taking damage themselves, after the Terrans have finally been cleaned up).
Dylanna heals Cass, who decides she's a good guy. Elegant Simplicity of Motion, on the other hand, is still hoping that she'll die die die die die. She does, in fact, fall to a chaingun, but Cass gets her back up.
Finally, Gateway is in for some Peril: Killer Robots! They advance somewhat slowly down the road. Forcewalls and shields start getting put up around Smeerp Patrol and Elmer's Captain; between the robots shooting and the active psi, there is some disruption to the ritual. Stormbreaker damps down the "noisiness" around Katya, so it's not too bad.
A Catastrophe finally happens on Gateway. Over the neutrino radio frequency comes an unknown voice: ``With ravish'd ears, the Monarch hears, Assumes the god, Affects to nod, And seems to shake the spheres.'' In reaction to this, Mirris (in the Bowl, and super-powered on a Gathering) extracts everyone from themselves. They no longer remember the Plan, their Skills, their History, or who their Friends are. (Though the Killer Robots still seem to be identifiable by most as Not Friends, due to their shooting people.)
To recover their memories, the Gateway players must play a Jeopardy trivia mechanic; 500 points will win back one of their four missing aspects.
Ace finally takes Stone down - Tiercel is still standing above him, but it's a close thing. Martan (who gets his memories back pretty quickly) tries to convince Katya to remember the plan, and reminds everyone "don't let the killer robots touch the bowl!" Vela stops him from kissing Katya, (following the theory that sometimes people get their memory back when kissed). As the robots are still obviously Not Friends, the bowl guards finish taking them down, despite not being sure whose team anyone else is on.
However, as Katya doesn't remember the Plan yet, she automatically fails her roll to keep the ritual under control, and another 1% of the population falls. (Kith saves Frederick of Crux in particular with some karma).
A set of low-rent bargain basement mooks show up at the Mountain. Elmer does his best to continue the "it's all a film" meme to the insurgents, and docks Sophia's pay for being late, as she's only just arriving from finishing an experiment.
The low-rent mooks are easily taken down by rocket launchers and grenades; Elmer's hapless confused insurgents finally start getting mopped up. The group of rabbits that IPX intimidated into showing up finally arrives to help.
Katya regains enough of her history and the plan to remember that Mirris was up to something Bad, and Ciernan blows her out of the Bowl. There is some discussion as to whether she needs to be kept unconscious or killed outright, but Katya finally settles on "kept unconscious". She does some memory-reading and forensic telepathy and notes that the code phrase set off some long-buried mental triggers, but that it's Mirris (or, at least, her old "bad" personality of Jessica) and not, say, mirror-mirror-Mirris.
Another Dramatic Event: the air begins to echo with the sound of faraway ship blaster cannon fire - whoever is fighting must be inside the atmosphere.
Cassandra takes down the last Red insurgent with a blaster! Who knew she was a fighter?
Katya, having gotten back most of her own memories, determines that much of Mirris' mind has been shredded in her giant extract-everyone gathering. It will take more than Jeopardy to put her back together.
On the Mountain comes another Dramatic Event: the Strategos transceiver chirps, indicating a message received. Hippocrates plays the last message:
Processing message queue;Jim is stunned.
Time code invalid;
Time code confirmed;
I am Strategos Ambros Nomarche, last of the Great Lords of the Linked Worlds. As you are receiving this message, at this time, and in this place, it shall be up to you to complete the work of our people and prevent the Darkness Eternal that is to come. Be strong, and know that I, and the massed power of all your ancestors, stand with you. Fail us not.
(He's quite inspiring, and everyone gets -1 difficulty to everything for the next turn.)
The battle on Gateway gets closer. The sensors provide telemetry to the Gateway infantry: it's the Bellarion coming towards the bowl, being shot by other ships. It appears to be on a powered dive, straight for the Bowl. People begin to panic.
Another 1% of the population falls, though Jim saves Dr. Randolph with karma.
The group of Creekians metaconcerts to try and divert the attack on Katya (in the bowl) to Akito (outside the bowl) instead.
"Akito, get as far away from the bowl as possible, it's attacking you!" -CreekiansThis just isn't Akito's day, but he flees for the edge of the map. Meanwhile, Katya puts up a force wall, Ciernan puts up gale-force winds and a huge earthwall, and Max (at a sensor tower) tries to spoof the Bellarion's targeting. Eon and Ella put up a force-bubble around Katya to keep her safe, after realizing that they can't bubble the bowl itself without disrupting things, and bubbling the planet won't keep atmospheric ships out.
After all this, the Bellarion hits several hundred meters away from the edge of the Bowl, with a great explosion. The buildings all topple, as does Ciernan's earthwall. People are flung into the air or trapped under collapsing buildings (except Katya, who is safely bubbled). A wave of earth radiates out from the impact site, until it hits the bowl, where it stops dead, as Martan holds the bowl in place with an insane number of dice. Unfortunately, this causes him to take an insane amount of damage. He holds up a hand to Katya, but is blocked by the force-bubble, and says he's glad she remembered who he was before the end. Stricken, Katya tries to put up a mental link with him, which in the bowl is a mind merge, and is merged with his mind as he dies.
Ryan Waites arrives, wondering if Akito can use some help - Akito's pretty damaged, so Ryan heals him up some. He's miffed when the group chases him away from the Bowl (because he's not a Defender). Katya invokes a gathering with the Vertaki in the bowl to vampirize everyone else's Str of Mind so she can make a final impossible Str of Mind keep-things-stable roll - after about ten karma, the roll is made and no more people die.
More reinforcements arrive - Hive bears and wolves. More enemies arrive - Serpent School has come to redeem their honor in Akito's blood! The Serpents poison Akito and Smeerp patrol (the Creekians divert some more of the Serpents from the Smeerps to Akito, proving definitively that they're out to get Akito). Some random mooks show up at the Mountain, but don't last long enough to be memorable. A group of Golden Ascension fanatics ("We shall not allow your foul rituals to keep the Other from sweeping us to the next world!") and a group of Memento Mori staff arrive at the Crater ("We don't know what you're up to Dr. Kye, but it stops here!"). The Hive bears and wolves prove quite effective at cleaning them up. Hippocrates proudly flashes a "Voriig Kye's Agent of Destruction" card before he takes out some Memento Mori thugs.
Vance Wade (along with some Terrans) shows up at the Mountain; the Tinoori infantry quickly web him into immobility, and the rest of the Terrans are quickly dispatched.
Ruthie shows up at the bowl to explain to Akito:
"Akito, some Serpent guys were looking for you so I sent them this way..." -RuthieThe last set of rolls happens; Donella just barely fails hers, but Ace steps in:
"Reroll that. You're my Hegemon." -AceThe last of the Serpents falls.
"Next time if you come at me with some honor, you might not be on the floor." -Akito "We came to reclaim our honor, we don't have any now" -SerpentsFinally, the Flames finish, with a massive Technicolor display in the sky. First Frost of Autumn is still standing, at least, for a moment or two, until everyone passes out.