First up was the Mayor. Sadly, with an already-overwhelming project load, no one was really willing to listen to the Mayor’s complaints about “Satan” – even if he was starting his own advertising campaigns – with slogans “Come to New York, Annex of Hell!”, bumper stickers “I (Satanic Heart) New York”, and even billboards “Come and visit New York, Satan’s home away from home!”. New York didn’t need this. Unfortunately…
The Chauffeur was busily involved with setting up a foundation for the rescue, advancement, and legal protection of lycanthropes – a project that seemed likely to consume much of his time for the next several weeks.
The Racaf were stashed in the Werewolf’s hunting dimension for the time being (not necessarily a stable situation with a bunch of primitive tribal alien mercenaries equipped with ultra-tech weapons and combat cybernetics) – but Kheilios was deeply involved in trying to locate their home planet, find a way to get there, and bring their civilization up to something reasonably contemporary – all the way from the stone age, in the face of the opposition of the Kraggan galactic empire.
Vasilkos parents were getting pretty impatient about coming to visit – and the group was going nuts both trying to make sure that Vasilko was ready for that (he was still a bit underconfident – if only because the last time he’d seen his parents, he’d been pretty young) and that the rest of the place was ready. At least the kids had pretty well agreed that they wouldn’t be trying to get any of their visitors to bite them… Still, Vasilko was managing to function in society, rather than running away from it. There was some good news: at least their massively-oversized werewolf pack was settling down a bit. Stephen’s lesser werewolves simply hadn’t been granted the extra powers – or magical weapons – that the original pack had, leaving them all stuck in the subordinate positions.
The teenagers they’d rescued from the Kragga’s recruiting program were from all over the planet – and at least half the governments involved were salivating at the thought of getting their collective hands on advanced alien nanite-cyberware military enhancements. About a third of the kids wanted to keep the stuff. For good or ill, about half the parents (for those who had anyone who wanted them) were inclined to let them – and, since they’d left it up to the parents, a few of them wanted it left in regardless of what the kids wanted. That meant 30-40 would be keeping the stuff… Oh well, if they couldn’t persuade all of them to dump it, at least that would keep the various governments from starting an undercover war over samples.
Equally unfortunately, they found out the hard way that several governments had managed to trace the various benign global spells that were cast during the Darkstorm War to Alaska – and had analyzed the power signature to get a fair amount of information about the spellcaster. That information, combined with Ranko’s comments about her “horse”, got the Japanese Government quite enthused about having a little talk with Ranko. According to the Mandate’s governmental connections, the defense department was investigating the alaskan dragon enclave as well, and had a variety of agents up in Alaska tracing things. God alone knew how many other groups were up there. Wonderful. Half the power groups on earth wanted to employ, jump, or eliminate a bunch of walking adolescent magical fusion bombs.
The White Necromancer had an appointment – thanks to his mother (and to that blasted Oni’s curse) – with the Department of the Treasury and their super-human training/restraint program. A couple of the others went along, but the initial evaluation mostly consisted of some power-level determinations (high), an account of his actions with the Mandate, some basic psychological evaluation – and a private interview for Jason. The block they used on the psychic link wasn’t very powerful, but Bobby decided not to try and push past it: that wouldn’t give them a very good impression – and he didn’t really feel a need to censor Jason anyway. OK, there were some bits he might have wanted to censor – but that was from embarrassment, not like it was criminal or something. Besides: maybe it would discourage the feds if they thought he was too weird. OK, probably not, but still… Well, anyway. About all he had to say was that he was needed, and was doing important – and possibly world-saving – things, right where he was.
He was too powerful for the basic program, so they’d get back to him within a few weeks. Not bad for a federal program perhaps, but he would have preferred a lengthier period.
When the group got back after that, they discovered that someone had been through like a whirlwind. More importantly, whoever-it-was had efficiently neutralized everyone; the werewolves had chased a white stag into the more confused reaches of the astral plane, the kids were off chasing pixies (they’d caught quite a few, but weren’t sure if you jumped on them to get healed), the Mr Smiths were chasing the kids and a will-o-the-wisp, and helping Monopole, a nymph with a pizza was occupying Arioch, Monopole was attempting (and failing) to deal with a gremlin infestation, the horses were being diverted by some phookas, the Hauntsman was out, Satan was being occupied by some animated trees, and even the ghosts and revenants were being diverted by a Banshee… The wards were bypassed, and the spells had… a power signature like… the Darkmage’s. Mixed with faerie magic. Other than that, whoever it was had covered their tracks well.
The mages were still playing with divination and such when someone decided to check the security cameras. Whoever it was looked pretty magic-obsessed, so maybe they’d have missed the security cameras.
There were some excellent shots of a young girl – albeit one with quite a lot of magical power – calling herself “The Black Enchantress“, complaining about people stealing “her” talisman, magicking her way through the house, and searching the place. Looked pretty human, seemed to take commanding the fey as a birthright, had at least a part of the Darkmage’s power. How could she have that? It should have died with him, it wasn’t like the man had some kind of… heir. Wait. Hadn’t the Darkmage had a half-fey daughter? Oh great. That fey-summoning sigil from his artifact collection must have been meant for her. It was probably a good thing that the Chauffeur had kept it with him so that no one could get ahold of it.
Well, at least she didn’t seem all that lethal. Annoying as hell perhaps… The Chauffeur scattered masses of iron around the place anyway (everywhere except where the Unicorn hung out). They wouldn’t stop her – as a half-human, she’d be immune – but it should discourage the things she was summoning.
The Darkmage had generally meant well and had caused catastrophes. Could they possibly be lucky enough to have his daughter mean mischief and cause nice things to happen? Probably not. Still, the Darkmage had had a real talent for disaster. Hopefully she hadn’t inherited that as well.
Meanwhile, Mina had decided to claim Bobby, A.K.A. The White Necromancer. He was just so cute the way he tried to peek around his censoring glasses while pretending that he wasn’t looking. He was a few years older, but she was a werewolf, and grew up faster, so that was all right – at least from her point of view. Jason went away obediently when Mina showed up. He wasn’t about to attempt to “protect” his master from cute young girls who wanted to get into his bed… Bobby was pretty nonplused – but he was fifteen, and male, and werewolves were pretty direct. The outcome was never really in doubt.
There wasn’t much time to follow up on the Black Enchantress. Atlantic City was being attacked by a giant monster, the Destruction Company – led by The Warlord – had taken over a launch facility and were demanding a 500 million dollar ransom, and (on a smaller scale) – oh never mind. Those were urgent enough already.
Perhaps fortunately, the giant monster – a full-scale tyrannosaur, complete with plasma generation, massive strength, durability, and regenerative abilities (also known as “Godzilla“) – was already heavily engaged, and was being held at the harbor by a couple of minor heroes, “Kristin” – an escaped NKVD cyborg-assassin – and an apparently-endless supply of smallish plastic-looking tanks (missile-launchers and energy projectors) manned by semi-identical “Japanese” drivers. The Japanese Defense Force, Anti-Godzilla Division? Plus a bunch of… film crews. The Producer again. At least this time he was actually being fairly helpful; it looked like he was just taking advantage of the monster this time around.
Kristin traced the tanks back to a weird plant-factory that was spawning them, argued with the (equally-artificial) “drivers”, and got a missile launcher from the real national guard before returning to the harbor, just in time to meet up with the Mandate.
The White Necromancer and the Chauffeur identified “Godzilla” as the dinosaur-DNA empowered guy who’d spun out into the sea a few weeks before, and went to work on reversing the transformation. Kristin put a missile into its eye and helped hold it off – while Kheilios went in with his fists and a sword. Between them, the national guard, and the producers tanks they actually managed to stun the thing for a few moments – as well as providing the Producer with enough stock footage to assemble his own Godzilla movie, which began appearing in Wal-Mart a few days later. (It featured Kheilios, “tragically infected by the Godzilla cells”, but now “Strong enough to go toe-to-toe with Godzilla!” as “A Glorious Defender of Edo”, along with most of the battle and a variety of classical cardboard sets strung together with a sloppy facsimile of a plot. For a Godzilla move it wasn’t at all bad).
They really ought to do something about the launch facility, but everyone needed a bit of a rest – and the White Necromancer, who noted the number of murders Kristin had committed as an NKVD agent, put her up in the crypt next to the gates of death. He thought she deserved a little ghostly harassment. Kristin headed up to the house to get someone to get rid of the wraiths, requested a small magnet to illustrate her mechanical nature, and soon – thanks to being met by Theodore, to the fact that she’d requested the strongest one available, and to the fact that Monopole stocked some super-strong magnets for nuclear research (mostly because he was Monopole) – needed major repairs. Monopole put in a lot of upgrades while she was on the table. The NKVD people just had no idea of how to build a PROPER cyborg.
Since the government was busy negotiating with the Destruction Company, and didn’t want any direct attacks – at least not yet – the Chauffeur spent some time probing “Godzillas” mind to try and trace where he’d been transformed into a supervillain (upstate new york somewhere, but he couldn’t get any closer than that). Meanwhile, Yuki got interviewed by the Japanese Government about Dragons (but didn’t know much beyond their location), an anonymous sponsor funded a production of the complete Faerie Queen (via an anonymous gift of cash; not much to trace there), there were reports of a terrible (and extremely garish) monster haunting peoples dreams (it demanded that they give it some words – a good speech, piece of poetry, or similar – which it hadn’t heard before on penalty of being eaten: those who failed to do so tended to wake up with awful headaches) but the Hauntsman was too busy to bother chasing it, VIPER was setting up a string of… family shelters, apparently as a publicity stunt (there didn’t seem to be any direct connection to VIPER proper outside of the name and… cash again), and that Kraggan ship out near Saturn was shifting its orbit – probably either departing or coming to call.
By the time they’d dealt with those problems, the government had found out that the Warlord and the Destruction Company were actually stealing warheads, as well as demanding a ransom. The Ghost Dance was about to go in – but in the face of the Destruction Company, the Warlord and his Strike Forces, AND the Fireteam, a few extra heroes wouldn’t hurt.
Despite the best efforts of the Mandate and the Ghost Dance, there were just too many villains. They got a few members of the Destruction Company – who turned out to be technically dead already, with their spirits bound into cybernetic bodies – but despite Jason surviving massive (but low-penetration) firepower, the launching of several missiles as a diversion (sans warheads), Livewire starting the countdown on one of the loose warheads, Snake attempting to revive unconscious allies, people heroically leaping aboard missiles as the launch sequences started, vampiric possession, minor earthquakes courtesy of White Buffalo Woman, and an unexpected intervention by “Satan”, the Warlord successfully evacuated most of his troops – pretty much all the ones he actually wanted – and escaped to… a WWI phantasm world?… with three-quarters of the warheads. He’d sent one of his stealth minions to pick up the 500 million as well, but Coyote had already replaced the cash with phony money.
Unfortunately, no one was in any shape to go after him. At least the Chauffeur had recovered the last six nuclear warheads safely and Livewire was headed to the north pole to assault Santa Claus.