Well, it was off to the gravesite of Michelle Matthington, the Praetorian. Even if no one knew what her relationship to people going crazy was, she was one of their better clues at the moment: she had seemed to be defending the broadcast against the Ourathan. The House had very good connections: it only took them a few hours to get an Orb ready – even if it wasn’t loaded with the usual nuclear armaments and only had low-power thrusters. They had plenty of hand weapons available as well (but they weren’t willing to have the Orb listen to the kids as well; after all, those were Kevin’s employees, not theirs).
They were also issuing a few mystical items (which they would like returned in good condition later) that they’d need along the way: the Ward of Eibon (a device which protected a modest group against negative energy), a set of “Tinfoil Hats” which protected against mental effects – at least in a few realms – (Despite Kevin’s worries, the route did not go through the dreaded “Conspiracy Theory Zone“). The first section went though the old roman ruins at Bath to the Catacombs, Coral, a Mind Flayer City, a Negative Energy Realm, and an Unknown Sith World… Marty took some booze, Jack wanted a heavy missile launcher, and Raphial wanted a heavy-duty linecaster.
Kevin was very disappointed at how matter-of-fact everything was. Hadn’t these people ever hard of Drama?
“No, No! You have to dramatically thrust your hand into the air, proclaim the terrible risks, that the fate of all civilization hangs in the very balance, and that this is the one chance to avert certain doom!” (He did so, using a little witchcraft to provide backlighting, dramatic shadows, and a faint roll of thunder). How else can you get everyone properly worked up? May I point out that we’re all leaving reality behind here? Attitude is IMPORTANT out in the manifold. I just like a little drama, that’s all.
They ate quite a lot – and upset some tourists, and shot up an elevator speaker – on the way out.
The Orb provided a fairly comfortable ride through Catacomb. Most of them were treating it as a kind of a tour until some sort of undead stink-monster attacked. It couldn’t do that much to an Orb though – fortunately it wasn’t immaterial enough to pass through the force fields (although its supernatural stench was) – and they had plenty of firepower. Fighting their way upstream was a bit of a problem though, even if the Catacombs realm did allow L5 magic, Kevin was very reluctant to burn enough mana to power that kind of stunt. They bulled their way though on sheer mechanical force, witchcraft, and low-level magic instead.
Coral was relatively peaceful, at least after they took (numerous) emergency actions to keep Jarvian’s mech from being entirely crushed by sheer water pressure. They were better than a mile down. Fortunately, the gates in and out seemed to be able to moderate the pressure effects. They still got out of there as fast as they possibly could. They couldn’t detect anything of real interest beyond the general sea life and luminescent light-show anyway.
The Mind Flayer world gate opened up to a mind-flayer who’d been exiled and lost his slaves. Fortunately, the hats worked well, allowing everyone to simply talk to him (after Kevin used a Tongues spell). Unfortunately, most of their gear was transformed into magical equivalents (probably a world with a lot of local magical devices), albeit with most of the information-processing systems down. It looked like everybody except the kids wasl dressed as adventurers (the kids got servant/porter outfits). At least magic and psionics both worked well – even if Cyberware had become tattooed runes, the Orb had become a covered wagon, and Jarvians Mech had become enchanted golem-armor.
It looked like they’d have to go through the gate the Mind Flayers were building to infuse themselves with negative energy – but first they’d have to get past the Minotaur. It didn’t prove that hard to beat it up and make preparations for enslaving it. They even managed to rescue enough of the Mind Flayers slaves to make a deal with it for a little guidance (it also liked power, mystical artifacts, food, being able to torture and kill its rivals, and mates) – although Kevin made sure to give the impression that the things they really wanted to find were the absolutely last things they wanted to encounter.