While Jarvian continued alternately berating his mech, drooling over various modifications, and yelling at the (compliant) phantasmal technicians to bring him various tools and parts as it rebuilt itself into a combination of Singular and Core technologies, Kevin and Marty decided to find out where they were. From Jarvian’s statements the Battletech Realms were constantly at war and were divided into numerous hostile factions. It might be worth finding out just who’s facilities Jarvian had landed in. They left Stonewall/Mirage/The Mech mulling over its update package and went out to see – and for Marty to find a drink.
They turned out to be on Solaris 7, some sort of semi-neutral tournament planet with lots of spies, experimental technology, betting, etcetera. Marty joined in of course – and it looked like a fair dose of off-realm tech was at play already. At least betting got them enough local currency to pay off Jarvian’s repair bills – or at least it looked that way until the techs started placing frantic calls about the mech going berserk. It was wandering around, yelling up a storm and is making numerous calls for the “Supreme Allied Commander.” It seemed that the update package was still being decrypted and checked for viruses, trojans, and so on.
They spent some time talking it down. It was kind of upset when it realized that it had lost 99,990 Tons and was down to 10. It was also upset with the notion of dimensional travel and at currently being located in a game universe, with universes splitting off, with the fact that its homeworld – and the people who had lived there – were mostly dead, and with a wide variety of other bizarre facts, such as the natural formation of alternate dimensions. It had been certain that they were winning. It didn’t know about the asteroid hit, about the horsemen of the apocalypse, or about the apparent deaths of Supreme Allied Commanders Matthington and Wingates. At least it had had enough active sensors to register the gate transition it had passed through.
Kevin poked a hole in the dimensional barriers to let it call home directly and Marty got it a nice drum of heavy water to fuel its fusion reactor. It obviously already had a soul.
It was pleased to find out that most of the human population had evacuated to other dimensions rather than dying. Kevin pointed out that nobody likes being killed en mass – so circumstances usually conspired to prevent it out in the Manifold anyway. He’d personally thought that it might be necessary to destroy a planet a dozen times or more, but it had never actually worked out to be necessary.
That comment seemed to go by the Mirage, at least for the moment. It was busy scanning some core texts on the manifold that they’d uploaded to it.
It shortly decided that the House of Roses was about the closest analogue – and successor – to the Allied government anyway. It might actually want to join – and didn’t mind working with Jarvian in the interim. Besides, it was impressed with the microfusion warheads. It’s old shells had weighed more than it did now – although it did have three positronium shells (about equal to 100 tons of TNT) available. That kind of upset Jarvian. He was against “naval-scale” weaponry. Kevin advised him not to pick up any antimatter guns then. The group left Jarvian to talk with the Mirage and Kevin and Marty headed off to get Marty familiar with his new, thrall-derived, resources and communications.
Afterwards it was taking-stock time… They’d completed their first mission – hopefully the house would come up with some more definite objectives (and less of a circuitous testing-route) for the next one. Anyway, there were some personal goals – some of them even went along with things the House had expressed an interest in. They wanted to drop by Baelaria and set up a business front of some kind, as well as finding out what the mages guild was up to. A visit to Greenwald would fit in with Kevins plans, Jarvian wanted more Mechs (or at least some frameworks to work with), Plageious was also interested in Baelaria, a visit to the Classic Empire was in order, the needed to start thinking about what to do about the Hellstorm, the Mirage wanted to do a test run (but decided to stick with the current realm), and there were some low-priority rescues in the Underdark. They had Neanderthals to locate, Silmarils to play with, disease and disaster realms to visit, the House to confuse, kids to recruit, contacts and roles to get involved with, and the core to upset. There were also businesses to build, Battling Business Executives to soothe over a star employee who was overdue, Jarvain’s regiment to explain to, and reports to write. There were Praetorians to stop, mages guilds to overthrow, priestesses of Lloth to get revenge on, Arriancar to check up on, Russian AI’s to make sure were completely destroyed, Horsemen of the Apocalypse to check up on, killer memes to stop, new technology to analyze, parties to attend, technology to analyze, and Ilthuldir to find a new home for after he was tired of touring (It’d been fun so far – and the power of technology had not been lost on him). Ok, so only a small segment of that actually had anything to do with them, but they liked to take an interest in things.
The group decided on a quick visit to Battling Business World (if they could find a gate and avoid the local men in black) while Jarvian and the Mirage went out on a test run – despite the initial confusion over the marionette piloting system. The testing didn’t turn to full-scale panic until the orbital flight systems tests started.
Marty’s original gate was in core lower manhattan – and there probably wouldn’t be many others around. First thing: start looking around for gates.
There were quite a few in the tournament arena – which had lots of downtime. The coliseum in Core Earth Rome, some anime realm with a “Dark Tournament” going on, some campy sci-fi movie realm about aliens kidnaping humans to fight in gladiatorial battles, the “Samurai Jack” world, the Roman Imperium, Battling Business World, and an assortment of other Mecha and tournament-themed worlds. They took the gate to Core and conventional transport to London to report in.
Meanwhile, Jarvian was a bit unhappy. He was feeling outclassed and replaced by the Mirage. He couldn’t really see what it needed in a pilot despite its noises about humans being more creative and able to come up with responses in emergencies and combat better. He felt better after a couple of assault mech pilots challenged him to an impromptu match and he simply overheated them (the Mirage had a lot of ways to make heat – and enough precision to take out heat sinks) into shutdown without any significant effort – or more than a few scratches on the Mirage. It also helped show him just how much information the Mirage’s sensors could pick up. Still, by the time he was done with that – taking them down without damaging them much did take some time – got them salvaged, got back to town, and discussed combat philosophy with the Mirage, Kevin and Marty had pretty much completed their report/debriefing/new mission briefing to/from M.
At least they had come up with some likely suspects for the recent attacks – and found that their enemies were sticking their hands into a lot of realms and recruiting agents there. The House felt that their next target was probably Baelaria, and asked the group to set up a business front there, to see what the mages guild was up to, to find out more about spellweaver, to recruit some allies form the neighboring realms, and to keep a general eye on things. They settled on an import-export business, probably bringing in exotic metals, possibly some elemental spirit related magical items from the Forgotten Realms, and selling steam-driven items and manufactured goods in the fantasy realms. They’d probably need at least a dozen employees to even make a start.
The House was also interested – extremely interested – in Kevins agent-recruiting and -enhancing abilities (especially in his ability to give them gateway-traveling abilities: that was supposed to be impossible), as well as in recruiting agents with unusual abilities. In fact, both Plageous and Ilthuldir were interested, at least until they got on their feet a bit.
M finally came right out and asked Kevin about what he was doing – and pretty much got the complete explanation of the indenture and the powers. He wanted to know why children – and was informed that it was simply because Kevin could only make it work with people who didn’t have much of any abilities of their own yet and were fairly flexible. Secondarily, of course, they needed the help the most. Kevin had the Thralls demonstrate their various abilities as well, and discussed the options for advanced training. Both Marty and M found that fairly impressive; Kevin handed out a great deal of power to his Thralls. (Unsurprisingly, the ones that Kevin had sent to apply for jobs with other factions had mostly been accepted into entry-level positions).
Kevin, of course, was hoping that the House would start doing some of his recruiting for him. After all, he didn’t offer at all a bad deal – in fact, it was about as good as was possible – and it provided a way to keep youngsters who wanted to adventure, or to help out the House, or just were at risk – such as from the escalating violence and rage-memes in the Core – safe while still allowing them to do something useful. M at least apparently agreed, as in “Ah well, I shall see what I can do about getting recruits; arrangements will have to be made and officials convinced.
I’m sure you understand”. He also informed the group that they were being promoted to the next agent rank and were being issued another communicator.
They headed back through Rome and into Battletech to pick up Jarvian and the Mirage on the way to Battling Business World, where Lloyd’s of London was attempting to take over all of Lower Manhattan. Worse, they were winning. The Stock Exchanges had fallen and Amarant Solutions was currently rallying the various National Banks in defense of the Empire State Building. The Brits apparently specialized in these big maneuvers. Marty promptly headed off to help organize the defense. Upper management had taken heavy losses – and Marty promptly informed everyone that Kevin and the Thralls were “contractors”. Apparently in Battling Business World that meant highly-skilled wetwork specialists.
They started organizing some ambush points and terror-tactics (as well as stoneskin and protective spells all around). The locals were unfamiliar with the supernatural, so some special effects would probably go further than simple damage. Oddly enough, magic seemed to work just fine even if the locals didn’t use it… (Maybe something to do with those “Men in Black”). Of course, they were a long ways out.