Summary:To deal with their Lethe issue, the Solars settle on a wild gambit -- rescue the crippled Primordial Atomnos.

XP:C4, I4, L4, S4, V4, Z4


< Shadows and Statues | Sol Invictus Logs | The Dead Animal in the Well >

Sweeping across the region that Creation's cartographers have been slowly settling towards referring to on new maps as the "Inner South," the golden light of the Fable blends with the reddish-orange light of the setting sun as its reflection off the white sand dunes below causes them to glow like great hills of gold.

With a plan beginning to form for the Solars' inevitable final strike against the First and Forsaken Lion, Zahara had convinced Imrama to take a group of them out on a scouting trip for the living lands closest to the Lion's fortress while the details worked out thus far were laid out for him.

Imrama turns away from his company and stares out at the gilded horizon for a long moment, blowing rings of silver smoke bent at rigid angles: here a heptagon, there a rhombus. He shakes his head and turns back. "Alright," he says with resignation, "explain the plan to me again?"

Varanim Varanim, certified day-hater, mumbles from under the brim of her hat. "Spring wants to use Letheon to flood Netheos. Supplementarily, I think we should make a Brightlord."

zahara "What could go wrong, really?"

Cerin "Whilst they're working on the Lion's army, we close the with the Lion."

Thesun continues to dip below the horizon, sending arcs of purplish-blue out to mingle with the gold that darts across the sands. These days, the sun's blackened crescent tends to sit on its southern side, such that it leaves an odd gibbous shape to set over the horizon.

Cerin frowns faintly at the setting sun. It was getting much thinner. But when would it vanish entirely? And could it have anything to do with the Mask's plan.

A little back-of-the-brain math suggests to Cerin that given the current rate of degradation, there are three distinct factors which should all fall within 5-10 days of each other: the dark omen spoken of by Zahara's ghostly ancestor and to which the Thorns device was timed, the sun reaching the halfway point of its blackening process, and the start of Calibration.

Cerin "Varanim, I don't supposed you'd check some maths for me? About when do you think the sun will be half-blacked?"

Imrama rubs his left temple with the hand not holding his pipe and asks, "And we hope to loose the waters of"

zahara "I'm sure there's a... a plan."

Varanim Her eyes go unfocused for a few seconds, then she says, "Probably about the same time you think it is, or you wouldn't have asked." Sitting up from her slouch as the sunlight fades, she helpfully adds to Zahara's explanation, "The kind of plan that happens before we hit that seven week mark and presumably grumpy things happen."

Cerin "Oh good," he nods to Varanim. "But yes, that would probably be a good timeframe for the plan. Dire portents can only make things more complicated."

Imrama scratches his chin. "And who will meet the Lion's army, whilst we engage him?"

Varanim "More generally, Letheon and Netheos are both connected to the meat world in strong but opposing ways; left to their own devices they don't touch each other. Forcing that connection would probably be hilarious but maybe the kind of joke that you can only tell once. More reliable would be opening a channel to Letheon and routing the water from there to a second opening, to Netheos."

Varanim shrugs to the question of armies, leaving that to people who have them.

Cerin "That is the point of the waters, I believe, Imrama."

Cerin "That is the point of the waters, I believe, Imrama."

Imrama "I see. We have already constructed several interplanar canals through the material of the Wyld. But perhaps something on a different order of magnitude is required here.

Spring "Indeed." Spring approaches, having mostly finished the extremely intricate pattern of lines and glyphs he has been drawing in the sand for the last five hours.

zahara "It's a shame the Gates don't work anymore."

Spring "Can they be repaired?"

Cerin "It is. But that is what happens when a transportation system's metaphysical underpinning wakes up and tries to invade Creation."

Spring "Ah."

Spring "Right."

Spring "We need another Dragon."

zahara "I could make one!"

Spring "It may come to that."

Imrama "If a new Primordial could be easily forged, I believe that, in and of itself, would constitute a coherent plan for undoing the Lion."

Imrama "Possibly a more coherent one." Imrama takes another long drag on his pipe.

"That sounds like a lot of work," comes a voice from down below the deck.

zahara "Of course it is. If it wasn't, it wouldn't be worth it."

A certain Verbena -- who may or may not have asked permission before stowing away on this particular trip -- pops her head out from the stairwell leading below decks, and an (as usual) smiling Arathi follows a little distance behind her. "It still seems like an awfully circuitous way to fix a couple fancy doorways, especially with a seven-week timer running."

zahara "I suppose you have a better suggestion?"

Varanim "Well, opening a door is only second-circle business, so I wasn't planning anything more complicated than propping them open for a minute. But you know how these conversations get."

Imrama gives a baroque salute to Arathi - a compromise they worked out sometime ago between the etiquette of an airship commander during the first Deliberative and that of a Shogunate field officer.

Imrama "Perhaps we do not need to make a new Primordial." Imrama muses. "What about Atomnos?"

zahara "Last we met, he was a touch grumpy with us."

Imrama "Yes. He appears to be mad, and infected by something ancient and foul. But if he could be restored to his former self, he need not be our enemy. We have already made allies of his followers."

Imrama "And he has shown the capacity, in the past, to pierce the wall between planes."

Verbena Arathi returns the salute with vigor. "Well met, sky-captain." Verbena, meanwhile, turns to listen to what Imrama has to say with interest.

Spring "I would not call him so much mad as lovestruck."

Spring "For a cure for that, we would need Phoenix."

zahara "Phoenix is unreliable."

Spring "How true."

Cerin "So, in the absence of Phoenix," Cerin says. "How, then, do we fix his lovestruck heart?"

Verbena "If you've gotta go big or go home," Verbena adds, "I think that idea's as good as any." She takes her special chalk out and starts doodling in the air. "A static pathway system presents a singular weak point," she says, drawing two circles with a drop of water falling between them in golden light to illustrate.

Verbena "When the zombies come" -- she draws several stick figures with arms outstretched on either side -- "they can enact a singular plan here and shut down your operation." She Xes out the two circles.

Verbena "Instead, we can enact multiple redundant cross-planar methodologies, each with a distinct native guiding intelligence." She draws a stick figure with googly eyes and a walking stick that is presumably intended to be Varanim, a large rectangle with a face that seems to stand in for Atomnos, and a childlike drawing of a sailboat with a stick-figure waving on it representing Imrama.

Verbena "With three distinct and separate methods of intraplanar travel active, you can target distinct areas of the enemy's army, as well as easily transport in your own forces to mop up anything left that doesn't evaporate just from getting life-wet."

Verbena "Standard disclaimer: my interest in this plan has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with any interest I may or may not possess in studying the unique local geomantic crystallomotonic structures of a Primordial." Her eyes get shifty for a second.

Cerin "I'm not sure anyone was suggesting we only fix the gate network, merely that it might be desirable."

Spring "Hm."

Spring "In your plan, Varanim, what would the ideal intervening spot in Meru be to store the waters?"

Imrama turns away from the separate conbrosation that he has been having with Arathi. "That is your standard disclaimer? Do you have a lot of routine involvement with plans that involve up-close examination of Primoridals?"

Varanim "Ideally it wouldn't be stored at all, just run through a channel. Who wants to drink stale Lethe water?"

Spring "Hm."

Spring "I suppose we can just use the river under the Cascade."

Lucent "Not me." Lucent walks in, throwing away some festival decorations out of his hair. "What did I miss?"

Spring "We already know the little god."

Imrama "But there's already regular Meru water in there. Why not a conveniently dry canyon or some such?"

zahara "Why not a portal from one plane to the other directly?

Varanim "Probably hilarious, but only once."

Varanim "Flooding Netheos," she says to Lucent, then thinks a second about the relevant supporting documentation. "With Letheon."

Spring "If we are to deal with the Primordials eventually, we will need to grapple with the necessity for replacing them in the infrastructure of Creation. The Gate system may serve as a test case."

Cerin "Like a desert canyon, say, conviniently near to the Thousand."

Spring "It is clear that various forces possess the ability to transit the space between the planes, down to Shadeborn levels of power."

Spring "It should not be necessary to construct a being as...dangerous as a Primordial in order to serve a singular purpose in the space between."

Lucent "Oh!" Lucent looks about Varanim as if looking for the 'Save Netheos!' signs. "Can we not flood The Thousand itself through that?"

Spring "That is the plan."

Cerin "The issue is not that any one transit is demanding, Spring. But the gate system had thousands of gates. Millions of routes. Operating simultaneously and more or less independently. Which is why whatever we use will need to be rather powerful, and thus potentially dangerous."

Verbena "Pfft, dangerous. Just because the last one nearly tore the entire planar structure apart and also tried to eat Creation for breakfast."

Varanim "Your obsessive fangirlishness is showing."

Verbena Verbena's mouth drops open in momentary surprise before she collects herself. Meanwhile, Arathi sneaks carefully around Verbena's now rather-expansive golden chalkscape and finds his way over to Imrama, whom he rather awkwardly attempts to draw the attention of with a half-raised finger.

Spring "Thousands of gates does not necessarily imply a creature with thousands of times the power necessary. Why not thousands of individual creatures, each only powerful enough to run one gate?"

Cerin "Unions?" Cerin quips. "Or more seriously, because they would need to be linked closely enough to be able to route to any gate. And the converse idea, of one creature per route, swiftly requires impractical numbers of creatures."

Imrama pays attention to Arathi.

Spring "I question the concept of impracticality."

Verbena Arathi coughs quietly then begins to whisper to Imrama. "I understand that the plan being constructed for the confrontation with the Lion intends to eliminate as many of his forces as possible without direct conflict, but I expect in the end it will come to that nonetheless, and..." he trails off.

Cerin "That was with the implicit 'Within a reasonable timescale'"

zahara pours herself a cup of wine and leans back against the ship's rail.

Spring "Atomnos was really more of a square," Spring comments on Verbena's drawing.

Spring "In any case, Verbena, for Atomnos to be of any aid, we must convince him that not killing us all is the appropriate course."

Spring "I am frankly at a loss as to how to make this point clear to him."

Imrama places a hand on his friend's shoulder. "And?"

Verbena "I, ah, wish to take a position of leadership amongst the forces that engage in the coming battle," he says, still whispering.

Verbena looks over at Spring. "Isn't that what that guy's good at?" She chucks a thumb over her shoulder at Lucent, over on the opposite side of the boat.

Imrama "It seems right that you should do so, Arathi. What did you have in mind?"

Spring "So I have been told."

Spring "Tell him to raise his voice," Spring comments to Imrama.

Imrama turns to Spring. "Why, are you going deaf in your old age?" He offers a quick smile and a slight bow, nonetheless. "Arathi wishes to volunteer to lead the charge against the Lion's forces." Imrama smacks his fellow

Imrama Solar on the back with pride.

Verbena Arathi stands up a bit straighter and nods. "Ah, yes."

Spring "Yes, I know. In order to lead soldiers, they will need to be able to hear him."

Spring "Assuming he raises his voice, I see no problem with this."

Verbena "Yes sir!" he says with both enthusiasm and sufficient volume.

Varanim looks briefly askance at the enthusiasm over on that side of the boat, then goes back to correcting Verbena's stick drawing.

Verbena "Hey! I was drawing that."

Lucent smiles. "I have no objections. The time for your light to shine is eight hundred years overdue, Arathi. Let us see if you can make up for it all."

Varanim "I look nothing like that. My head is much bigger, to fit all the brains, see."

Varanim "Also, have you ever seen a zombie?"

Verbena pouts slightly. "I've read all seven volumes of Jilard's Motonic Life Variants. There were detailed diagrams."

zahara rolls her eyes. "I'm sure you'll get a chance to see some up close and personal, rather soon.

Spring "Lucent. How do you feel about convincing Atomnos to like us instead of being in love with Cytherea?"

Imrama "A team effort may be called for. And it would be excellent if we could convince Phoenix to take a part as well."

Lucent "I cannot do that."

Spring "Hm."

zahara Don't tell me we're going to have to recruit a baby to do that

Lucent "I can, however, convince him that our cause is just, and right, in addition to being in love with Cytherea."

Spring "Strange words from Lucent Copper Haze!"

Spring "Oh."

Lucent "But I am not going to break love."

Spring "Varanim?"

Varanim "And this part is usually kind of goopy and... what?"

Spring "Can you convince Lucent that destroying love is a good idea?"

Varanim "Results aren't in yet, ask again in a year or two."

Lucent "You do realise I am RIGHT HERE and can hear you."

zahara "It's a false love, really."

Lucent "It is?"

Imrama "It is not a matter of destruction, Lucent. Change would be quite sufficient. There are any number of beings, objects and concepts in Creation that would be more worthy of Atomnos' love than Cytherea."

Spring "This rock, for example."

zahara "Or us."

Spring "Or Varanim," Spring notes, brightening.

Lucent "Love is not about worth... but you are right in that sometimes they need to be changed to... healthier subjects. And Varanim is more likely to catch Glimpse's eye."

zahara "Aw you just say that because he's your primordial."

Lucent "I am NOT fighting off a giant machine man-child primordial rival."

Spring "Again."

Imrama "Oh? That seems a pity, Lucent. I'm sure it would have made for a EPIC poem." Imrama musses the Kashaen lords hair playfully and passes him the pipe.

Varanim "Since either pairing would be the proportional equivalent of me wanting to fuck a particularly retarded patch of, say, fungus, I hope they don't hear you," Varanim notes from her nearly-complete zombie annotations.

Lucent "It is hard enough having to fend off a Sidereal." Lucent pouts. "But who should he love? Gaia would make Luna angry, and Vice-Versa. Zahara would just give us another Malfean. Phoenix..."

Verbena is trying to look as irritated as possible about Varanim's corrections, although it's relatively obvious she's also closely examining them for later cross-reference with the Motonic Life Variants.

zahara "Wait a minute, how would I give us another Malfaen? I mean, unless he pisses me off or buys me the wrong presents."

Lucent "Cerin."

zahara "Oh." She tilts her head to one side. "Yes, that would probably do it."

Spring walks over and starts drawing little golden lines of power in and around the Atomnos figure, then a little bursty forehead vein to indicate how angry he is.

Spring "Imrama is the obvious choice," he notes to Lucent.

Varanim considers, then adds a little sweatdrop to the Imrama drawing.

zahara "You don't think that Auntie Chill will have something to say about that?"

Imrama raises an eyebrow. "I would contend that Phoenix is the obvious-er choice. She has experience in the arena of being loved from afar by a man of power."

zahara "We haven't even see Phoenix in months. Why does everyone keep suggesting her as the lynchpin of our plans?"

Spring "Yes, but she never shows up to meetings."

Spring "We need someone who we are still sure is alive and not evil."

Spring stops suddenly.

Imrama "And yes, I expect that your ancestor might have quite a bit to say about it." ::Perhaps not so much anything negative:: Imrama thinks to himself alone. ::But quite a bit.::

Spring "Can you make Atomnos love something...a little more theoretical?"

Spring "Do you remember that play about us saving Creation?"

Spring "There were all those teenage girls who wanted Lucent and I to..." Spring trails off. "In any case, they were in love with the idea of US being in love."

Spring "Could you do something like that?"

Spring "Not with Lucent and I."

zahara "Why must he love something? Cannot he just support our cause? Or become enthralled with the idea of being something bigger?"

zahara gives Spring an odd look

Varanim sits back to watch this unsuspected side of Spring unfold.

Spring "With Atomnos and...Lucent and Varanim. Or Zahara and Cerin. Or Imrama and Jinanna. I suppose it does not really matter which."

Spring "Zahara, Lucent seems disinterested in getting rid of his love entirely."

zahara "It doesn't matter if he's in love or not, does it? We don't need him for love"

Lucent "Imrama and Jinanna need to be closer together! Clearly..."

Lucent "Imrama."

Lucent "How difficult would be to stage a fight with Jinanna when we go talk to Atomnos?"

Lucent "We can show him up close the infinite intricacies and complexities of human relationships."

Varanim ::I don't like to believe the stereotype that men are good for nothing but housework and reading frilly romances,:: Varanim notes privately to Zahara, ::but sometimes it's hard.::

zahara ::Ah, well, life will often disappoint us, I suppose.:: She smirks.

Imrama "I am not sure that I like the idea of hinging the cosmic realignment of one of the ancient and alien authors of Creation on a staged bedroom farce. But it would not be particularly hard to arrange a fight, I'd wager."

Lucent "We can make it a real one!"

Spring "I am given to understand that the original cosmic alignment was essentially centered around a bedroom farce as well."

Varanim "Remind me, why are you talking about doing... this thing... to Atomnos?"

Spring starts to answer, then stops, then starts again, then stops again and thinks about it.

Varanim "Something with gates," she prompts helpfully.

Imrama "Because he is currently an enemy, and could easily be our ally. Because a significant number of his followers now inhabit Creation, and we can't keep them separate from him much longer. And in the immediate, he offers an excellent potential for making planar gates and''or resurrecting the Gate network."

Spring "Yes."

Spring "That was why."

Spring "Also, for entertainment purposes."

Varanim "Great. Have fun with that," she says, clearly eager to wash her hands of that part of the plan. "Who's going to visit Pluto about this Brightlord business, then?"

Verbena "Isn't that sort of thing usually your bag?"

Spring "I also assumed Imrama would go. And I would be pleased to accompany you if my schedule permits."

Varanim "Great. What's next?"

Spring "Did Verbena make any other hilariously inaccurate drawings?"

zahara "I would be interested in going, too, actually," Zahara puts in after some deliberation

Verbena She points helpfully to a diagram she has just finished of a guy in a hat with an extremely large mouth.

Spring "The party would not be complete without you, Empress."

Spring "Needs more teeth."

Spring "I have thirty-four."

Spring "Good."

Spring "Then I suppose we can go."

< Shadows and Statues | Sol Invictus Logs | The Dead Animal in the Well >

Page last modified on May 04, 2010, at 03:57 PM