FA Session 25: The Catspaw

   In the depths of the Crystal Palace, within the quarters of the Minister of Magic, the group considered what was most urgent – looting, the raging mob which would soon be bursting in, when the military was going to blow the place up, what Jarvian and the (damaged) Mirage were up to, whether Jarvian’s 50% clearance on the major artillery positions would be enough, the upcoming explosions (and whether or not they’d disrupt the Sunwell, since there probably wasn’t time left to stop them. At least they were a long ways down), releasing bound souls, dealing with the Ministries experiments, doing something with the bodyguards before they got possessed or something, the guy behind the wards that they couldn’t scry through, the local mafia, whatever Arxus was turning into, whatever traps the Minister had left, the horde of near-indestructible golems, the cavern under the city that was big enough to swallow it whole, the secondary magical wells, the soulless phantasms and weird constructs wandering about, or “The Other” and/or Merlin (presuming that they were different).

   As was so often the case, they came down on the side of “dealing with what came up while they were talking”. The underground explosions went off, the ground lurched, various ministry defenses went down (making it easy for the outraged mob outside to finish breaking in), the debris of the stairwell rained from the sky, and several neighboring buildings were severely damaged.

   Kevin sent the Thralls off to help deal with the injuries and damaged buildings while he checked the bodyguards; bodies functioning, but soulless and with blank brains: even if they put souls in, they’d be infantile at best. They already had nanite samples, but shutting them down – you couldn’t really call it “killing them” – might be awkward: best to shrink and stow them for the moment.

   Meanwhile, Marty was rummaging for loot and information.

  • “The Outsider” was believed to be an extradimensional entity (of course), and took the form of a glowing blue human about 5 feet tall and solidly built. It had no apparent anatomical gender, but the general build was male. It had been seen in multiple places simultaneously, was extremely difficult to damage, could change size at will, apparently teleported, had odd temporal senses, seemed to be able to read minds but did not speak, and had a nasty habit of showing up and killing people. It’s strength was in the 50 ton range both physically and telekinetically. The last reported interaction (although not appearance) had been with Hutchins and his team. The team had died various imaginative and horrific deaths and Hutchins had barely managed to destroy that particular manifestation (and save a small town), but had burned out his ability to generate magic in the process.
  • Merlin (definitely the Commonwealth version) had been by only yesterday; he was checking on the progress of the construction of the primary Well. He’d warned the minister that a party of adventurers was coming for her life and were likely in league with the Outsider. He’d first shown up mere days after the first appearance of the Outsider, filled with sweet talk about how he could help out and directions on how to finish building a massive magical power source.

   Well, that pretty much confirmed that Merlin had been manipulating things for his own profit. Probably disposing of rivals, getting a big magical battery, and gathering a few souls by simply summoning up this “Outsider” thing and talking to a gullible loon.

   Kevin – done with the bodyguards – started in on the locations and security on holding cells, kids to rescue, anything on Spellweaver, maps of Ministry holdings (including the secret installations unknown to the public), the identities of prisoners, and numerous other weird tidbits.

   Outside, the Thralls were doing well with the evacuations, fire extinguishing, healing, and general rescue work. It was always fun being a hero (and it was good advertising).

   Marty had started in with asset-location: expensive gear, magical documentation, golem programming tools, precious metals, stolen technologies, odd drugs, hosts of magically-bound servants.

   They had the golems and servants start gathering selected loot – as well as letting out the normal people in storage (and letting them know that they were being released courtesy of so-and-so, that the ministry was under new management, and that – if anyone wanted more information or if any youngsters wanted a job – Kevin had an offer for them at any of these local addresses). They’d have to look into the experiments a bit more before either releasing, fixing, or disposing of them. Fortunately, the files were well organized.

   Meanwhile, the rebel mob was in the garden. Marty went to meet them with a few golems and staff to back him up. It looked like they simply wanted to wreck the joint; evidently the Ministry held the world unpopularity record. Fortunately, proving that the Minister was dead defused a lot of things – but not the swarm of ectoplasmic monsters that started coming up out of the holes the explosion had left.

   Well, Arxus could absorb them – so they simply made lanes to channel them to him. Perhaps they’d see what he was turning into… Still, they had the approaching army to deal with, so they left the Thralls to provide support for Arkus and headed on out.

   The military had brought several battlemages, a large number of riflemen, a good deal of calvary, and some zepplins acting as mobile air artillery platforms. They were facing off against the remnants of the mages forces, who were sending out large numbers of magical constructs.

   Fortunately, Jarvian was in contact with the military: he was supplying point defense for the Zepplins and taking out heavily fortified positions. They could pass on some information – and be asked to do something about a horde of constructs that someone was summoning. An aerial view made it clear enough where the horde was coming from – so the group headed off to handle it.

   The battle lines were a chaotic mess of violent destruction. Explosive blasts being flung everywhere, hordes of constructs charging the attacking human lines, the bodies of the fallen constructs were forming a defensive wall that the constructs (reddish fluid-metal looking creatures) hid behind as they launched mass charges. Probably phantasm-class things made with lots of anger and hostility for military purposes. They were coming out of a particular string of buildings.

   They were fairly heavily defended, but no match for Marty and Smoke (who were both getting a bit short-tempered) dropping in from above while Kevin shielded them against energy bolts. Smoke swooped down from the sky, grabbed a flagpole, reversed direction, and flipped into the building through a window to land on his feet. Everyone applauded.

   Inside there were some crates labeled “Completely Innocent Equipment” – and full of stuffed animals. Below them, there were crates labeled “”Not So Innocent Equipment; Warning Flammable”. Heavy explosives.

   There was also a guy from the Ministry name of “Snyder”: their missing operative – and apparently both a double agent for Merlin and quite mad. He was out to blow up the “special Ops team”.

   Were they the “Special Ops Team”? Well, maybe in a way.

   They set of the explosives themselves and threw up a force-bubble. It was quite a show – but the Ministry fellow was just a projection. He had apparently been out to kill them, saw them as “very clever adversaries”, and had been attempting to distract them. Kevin pointed out that they’d been basically wandering around at random, and could have easily been distracted by a pizza and soda or by a martini lunch. He suspected that it said something about this man that he felt a need to distract people who weren’t focused on anything. Did he need some help? So far they’d randomly helped everyone who’d asked.

   Their “Adversary” decided to call it a draw. The group was surprised to be informed that they’d apparently been in conflict. Their only real “job” had been to look around, the rest had just been for fun. Oh well, Mr Snyder did reveal that they’d let the US Shadow Government out along with the rest of the people from Singular, and that they were behind the MIB. Well, that was news, if true, but the MIB had been voting for letting all the singular people die. Disloyalty in the ranks perhaps?

   3 CP all around.