Inversion, beneath the Berlin Arcology
With the door of the cell open, they had a clear view of a young man, suspended in the air, with large metallic rings spinning around him on three different axises. He didn’t seem to be conscious at the moment – but at least there weren’t any alarms going off that they could detect.
Well, it did look like Spellweaver from Greenwald. No apparent controls except on the rings themselves. It was hard to say what the rings were actually doing – but Kevin thought that they looked vaguely reminiscent of some of the oddball Unified Energy Field Theories Ryan had been known to publish from time to time. One of those notions on making universal magical – psionic – technological gadgets or unifying the fields.
Kevin had always doubted that that could be done unless the devices were alive and adaptive, the laws of nature varied so much, and so fundamentally, out in the Manifold. Still, particular worlds might offer relationships to work with… Like Inversion seemed to. If it didn’t, his currently psychicly-based magic wouldn’t work – and it did.
Marty, perhaps more practically, had been looking for the controls. Buttons? Levers? Voice? Ah… Touch pads on the rings. There might be voice or wireless controls but those usually weren’t visually obvious. Not much color-coding… The outermost ring did seem to have a status display showing all green lights. Did they need to be pressed in a particular order? Top to bottom? Running around the device trying to keep pace with it as it spun while pressing buttons? He could do that, if not too easily. Running in a circle while trying to press buttons on a spinning device in a certain order…
Oh, wait; this wasn’t a toonverse. This was Coretech… Yep. There was a wireless interface in the area – even if it did want a password.
(Marty) “Hey, Kevin? Try that password-divination again…”
Hm. “Dark Founder of the House”. Well that was obvious enough. Hogwarts. Slytherin. It could be “Ryan” – but not many people knew that even now, it certainly hadn’t been known at the time, and it was only true in a manifold prequel version anyway.
And if that didn’t work, there was always the violently destructive approach. Marty hadn’t had a chance to smash something in a while – although he didn’t want to do it while someone was in there. He wanted to smash somebody who deserved it!
(Computer) “Working: Access Granted. Please specify subsystem to interface with: Archives, Reports, Containment, R&D, Personnel, Utilities, and Tracking.”
OK: Tracking first – to see who was there – and then Containment. They’d better hurry; the hair on his neck was starting to rise.
Tracking: Serah Traelin, Anton (A), Dora (D), Friedrich (F), Adrian Mercati, Michelle Wingates, Rose Jearns, CMA, CMB, CMC, CMD, CME, CMF, M1, M2, M3, M4, M5.
Containment: Adrian Mercati (Active), Michelle Wingates (Active), Rose Jearns (Active), CMA (Active), CMB (Active), CMC (Active), CMD (Active), CME (Active), CMF (Active).
Summaries: Biographical Data, Power Analyses, Date of Capture and Suppression Measures, and Conversion Progression.
Kevin voted for starting to let people out right away while they had the authority – but Marty wanted a little more information first.
Wait, wasn’t that supposed to be the other way around?
Well, anyone who was almost totally converted would probably need a little work before being turned loose anyway. Maybe it would be best to look at a few details first…
CMA – Name withheld, explosives transmutation expert. Psychotic personality ideal for Class K agent, personality problematic for Avatar process (5%).
CMB – Name withheld, power negation expert with logical personality, ideal personality for Avatar process although powers have proven difficult to work around (75%).
CMC – Hubert Gibbet, magical assassin, excessively violent personality ideal for Class K agent. Power package ideal for stealth magical assassin.
CMD – Ophelia, soul binder, able to take on abilities of bound souls temporarily. Highly addicted personality makes control difficult. Use as Class O agent recommended. (18%).
CME – Lacus Kriskow, sympathetic bonder similar to Serah. Rebellious personality makes conversion difficult. (21%)
CMF – Animus, necromatic mage. KEEP AWAY FROM LIVING OR DEAD ORGANISMS, DANGER RADIUS 100 METERS (0%).
Hm… That sounded faintly familiar from somewhere. Oh well. Maybe it would come to them later.
M1 – Unknown Core Manifolder.
M2 – Unknown Toon Manifolder.
M3 – Unknown Demonic Manifolder.
M4 – Guild Mage.
M5 – Knight Lord Derfel Cadarn.
(Marty) “Hey! A fellow loony!”
They started letting people out. Spellweaver first, since they might need to explain. hopefully he wouldn’t have a fit – although what little they had on him suggests rationality.
(Computer) “Warning, disabling containment system. Manifolder Class A mage being released. Take appropriate precautions.”
Hm. The warning went out over the wireless network – and probably tripped alarms elsewhere. It was an obvious precaution. They ordered a general containment shutdown.
The rings stopped rotating and sank into the floor. Spellweaver gently drifted to the floor and awoke almost instantly, suddenly propped himself up on one hand, and pointed the other hand at Kevin, Marty, and Xellos. Magical diagrams nearly four feet in diameter appeared around his finger in an instant, collapsed into a ball of light at his fingertip that was brighter than the sun. A fraction of a second later the ball of light was hurtling towards them – whereupon Kevin absorbed it. He had kind of been expecting that…
(Spellweaver) “Damn it, he’s replaced the energy absorber already?!”
(Marty) “Nice to see you too.”
(Kevin) “Nah, we turned all of that off. We were leaving though, and were going to take everyone else here along. Want to come?.. Oh, your young friends relatives gave us a message or two for her.”
(Spellweaver, looking at them) “Wait you two look like the pair I ran into on the tech world. Turned me into a goldfish or something like that. Working for this self-proclamed God or wandering around just for kicks?”
(Marty) “We’re trying to fix things. Want to help?”
(Kevin) “Oh, we were looking into what had happened there; I suspect that our conflict there was entirely a mistake. Random’s good too though; you find all kinds of interesting stuff.”
(Spellweaver) “Well if you are here to perform a rescue. We need to get Michelle out of here immediately. She’s top priority… Have you taken care of the Avatars nearby already?”
(Kevin, heading down the corridor) “No, we just guessed their passwords. It was easier.”
As they ran down the corridor, a diagram of some sort appeared on one of the walls ahead. It almost looked like it was carved into the wall. With an explosion of smoke and what looked to be a flicker of negative energy, a charging white rhino appeared.
(Marty) “Oh boy.”
(Kevin, unable to resist an ancient joke) “Take away it’s credit card!”
(Spellweaver) “Looks like the summoner is alive and well. This could get interesting.”
(Marty) “Dammit, you beat me to it Kevin!”
Kevin threw up a momentary wall of force, and let it bang it’s little head. If that wasn’t enough, Marty could probably take it apart in a few blows.
The wall held, and the rhino accordioned from the momentum of the impact. After shrinking to half its length, it disappeared in another explosion of smoke. The path was clear for the moment.
Kevin hit the final release on everyone, in hopes that they hadn’t been overridden yet. Drat… It looked like they had been, or a general release required extra confirmation or something. Michelle’s door refused to open – and another pair of circles was being carved into the walls. One on each side of them down the hallway.
Kevin grinned. Two could play at that game; he inscribed random symbols on top of their symbols, and waited to see what happened. Since the would-be summoner was providing the power, he bet that they wouldn’t be happy with that.
One of the summonings lit up briefly before going dark with no effect. The other did go off with another explosion of smoke – leaving a ball of water that suddenly lost form and splashed across the floor, resulting in nothing more than wet feet.
Still, the door wouldn’t open for them.
(Kevin) “Locked out of the system are we?”
It looked to be that way. The system was no longer responding to interface requests.
(Marty) “Well damn! Guess I’m going to have to see what I can do!”
Marty started trying to dismantle the solid metal door, while Kevin sent some spells racing out to inscribe random magical symbols over every available surface. There was no reason not to put some obstacles in the summoner’s way…
The door rang like a bell under the furious impact of Marty’s telekinetic storm – but held; it had apparently been built to withstand enormous stresses. He could dent it, but actually breaking it – or even forcing it open – just didn’t seem likely.
Marty hadn’t had his powers long enough to really think about their move subtle aspects; Kevin – done scribing – simply switched to the molecular level and crystalized the metal, rendering it frail and brittle – and had the Thralls work on the other cell doors.
(Marty) “Right! Let’s SMASH THIS DOOR!”
The next blow shattered the door into fragments, that crumbled across the floor.
It had been pretty bloody thick.
(Marty) “%#$#@! Whew! Thought I was going to have to bring the roof down!”
In the cell there was an apparently-exhausted young girl floating in the air between two shield units set in the floor and ceiling. She looked at them and struggled to raise a hand. Spellweaver went running towards her only to trip and fall on something invisible before being pulled up into the air and held spread-eagled as the same invisible force grabbed for the rest of them.
Wallfields. Botheration… Something grasped Marty’s left foot and pulled him into the air. Kevin felt something try to grab his right hand and pulled it away before the field could get a firm grip – and Xellos simply seemed immune. The Thralls were mostly being ferrets in pockets of course, and seemed to have been overlooked or ignored.
(Marty) “Hey, let go!”
(Spellweaver’s eyes begin to glow as he tries to move his hands.) “Blasted technology.”
(Xellos walking up to Marty) “My my, these things can certainly be annoying can’t they? Do you need a hand there?”
(Marty – half expecting Xellos to clap) “Yeah, I’d appreciate it!”
Xellos rammed his staff into the floor with a shower of sparks as he unleashed an entropic pulse – while Kevin, now seriously annoyed (the wall-fields shouldn’t be bothering HIM!) – raised his hands and unleashed a fraction (18 spell levels worth, for 18d6 base) of his stored energies as an electromagnetic pulse. He was careful to shield Michelle – a bit of electromagnetic manipulation covered that – but the Smartclothes and their gear would definitely need some pretty good repairing spells. Still, THAT wasn’t too hard.
Hopefully the five hundred feet of rock above them would adequately shield the arcology. Still, if they were using any electromagnetically reinforced structural components it could be messy.
All of them could feel their skin tingling as their smartclothes went dead. There was lots of hissing, crackling, popping, and sparking and some spectacular electrical arcs as components melted and burned. The lights went out, and the smell of burnt electronics filled the air. There were multiple thuds as Marty (head first), Spellweaver, Michelle, and the one trapped Thrall hit the floor.
(Marty) “Thanks Xellos… Now let’s find whatever’s doing this and teach it a lesson! Gah! It smells like dead sapient devices in here!”
They threw a few minor spells for lighting and repairing their personal gear, while the hissing, sparking, and sounds of electrical equipment in it’s death throes died away.
(Spellweaver) “Ow, so what did you do there? Drain the energy or something? Technology like this is really not my thing.”
(Kevin) “Overloaded it actually. Fed it too much random energy for the systems to handle… Well, lets let everyone out while we can. I think a few may be escaping already anyway.”
Marty was busy checking on Michelle. She was laying on the floor, looking very weak. It didn’t look like she’d be able to stand on her own, although she appeared to be uninjured. Marty scooped her up.
(Xellos) “Well that certainly should foul up their security systems. I wonder if they will try to engage us down here in the tunnels.”
(Marty) “Who knows? We might be able to take them, or they might slaughter us.”
Kevin handed Michelle a fully-charged heavy-duty Core power cell. It was good for sustaining the force-field structure and drive of an ultralight for months, it should be enough to get her feeling a bit better. They were shielded against EMP’s anyway, thanks to their metal casing and high-power circuitry. She took the power cell with a distinct hunger in her eyes – and they could all hear a barely perceptible hum as she suddenly stood up and began stretching.
Kevin checked on the rest – they really had to get going! – but the other doors were opening quickly enough as the metal fell to bits and the security systems failed. None of the other doors were nearly as robust as the one to Michelle’s cell anyway – and all the occupants were beginning to ask questions about what exactly was going on.
Kevin unleashed his local ID’s mental-cleansing power. It should work at least temporarily…
(Lacus) “Alright what’s going on? Is this a breakout or what?”
(Marty) “Well, we’re trying to start one.”
(Kevin) “More a rescue technically I suppose. It was supposed to be quiet, but somehow things never work out that way.”
(Ophelia) “You suppose? Well then, I suppose we should probably be getting the hell out of dodge before that nutjob gets down here and puts us back in cages.”
(Hubert) “Does anyone know the way out besides up?”
Hm.. With the area cleansed, most of the escape-prevention stuff was gone. The global mana background suppression effect was still operating. Magic is still operating under the restriction that it was not a normal part of this universe. Psionics was now more or less at full power.
(Marty) “We got here using the elevator. Maybe we can gate you guys out, if my associate can do it without being caught.”
Kevin promptly opened a psychic gate to the moon and started ushering people through it. There was no potential profit in sticking around any longer that he could see (at least now that the “quiet rescue” idea was a complete bust), and Spellweaver and the rest might have quite a bit of information.
As the portal opened, the floor began to shake and the ceiling above you them began to bend upwards and tear open. The gateway opened as the sound of metal tearing became deafening.
(Kevin) “Everybody out please! I think someone cranky is on the way!”
Marty hung back to play rear guard. Kevin might need the backup – or worse, the Kid might try to reason with whatever was coming or fall back on sarcasm. There were times that that kind of thing worked, but this didn’t seem like one of them to him.
People were shoving to get through the portal – although Spellweaver was holding back for the moment, drawing symbols with his hands to create a barrier of some sort around the party and the gate.
(Booming voice from above.) “Looking to escape with my playthings? Foolish. All you can do is run it seems.”
(Marty) “Well, yeah! That was the plan!”
There was another fusillade of groaning-metal sounds, and they suddenly found themselves exposed to the surface, or at least to the interior of the arcology. Millions of paper airplanes suddenly dove into the hole towards them and collided with the barrier before bursting into flames. Behind the paper airplanes they could see something massive blocking all light as it grew ever larger.
(Kevin) “Well, so far it’s actually been rather dull, and you’re a boring and pompous host.”
(Marty) “Paper airplanes? Really? What are you, an elementary school kid?”
(Kevin) “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar you know! And that’s no more cliche than this display!”
Hm. Well, everybody else was through, and Spellweaver was making a break for it now.
(Kevin) “Tell you what; Pick the place up a bit, arrange a nice picnic, and we’ll talk about dropping back by for another visit!”
(Marty) “Yeah, and serve us some of this great local beer! But for now, we really need to be going. Depressing dictatorship and all.”
The large thing blotting out the artificial sunlight suddenly collided with Spellweaver’s barrier. The barrier holds for a moment before breaking with a minor explosion – leaving them all waist deep in guts, flesh, and blood.
(Kevin) “So this is all the power that the Slytherin possess. How dull! Dull, dull, dull…”
(Marty) “Gross! It’s like that raid at Jimmy Dean! Is this sausage or people?”
Kevin and Marty stepped back into the gate, as Kevin started to close it around them.
(Voice) “Hmm, usually the blue whale works. I suppose I might have to try something a little more potent than animals.”
(Marty) “Oh, you can talk! I was getting worried! I thought you could only speak through disgusting and disturbing images!”
A black ball formed in the middle of the hallway, or what was left of it, and began to expand and suck in blood, guts, and metal as the portal closed around them. They found themselves on the moon, dripping red gore, and with a large crowd of bystanders looking at the mess that came through the portal.
Kevin sighed and did some magical cleanup. So did Marty… “God” really did know how to make a disgusting mess. No wonder the Earth was in such poor shape.
It was probably a good thing that the ball hadn’t come through the portal with them.
(Kevin, to the crowd of assorted travelers and bystanders) “Well, that didn’t go quite as hoped, but it never really does.”
(Security guard) “What the hell is going on?! (Sniff) Has someone been slaughtering a whale around here or something?!”
(Marty) “No, that was just some creature that could talk only through reenacting horror film scenes.”
(Kevin) “Oh, we were just emptying out “Gods” private prison. I was hoping to do it quietly and without a fuss, but that part didn’t quite work out.”
(Spellweaver) “Not much with that ego maniac is quiet.”
(Marty) “Does he always talk that way, Spellweaver?”
(Spellweaver) “The few times I’ve interacted with him has always been like I was an ant being targeted with a magnifying glass. Rather annoying really.”
(Marty) “Heh, I think the Number Lords are friendlier than that.”
(Spellweaver) “Number Lords?”
(Marty) “The eldritch abominations from my home realm… Hey Kevin! Did I pronounce “eldritch abominations” right?”
(Kevin) “Oh, I think so!”
(Marty) “Finally got it! Anyway, what now, other than getting you guys to safer worlds?”
(Kevin, to Spellweaver) “Anyway… I take it you were following “Gods” machinations back?”
(Spellweaver) “Trying, managed to get this far before I was overpowered and locked up. The mental blocks kept him from trying to use me as an Avatar, but the real issue was I let Michelle get captured as well.”
(Kevin) “Ah yes. Michelle. We have a few messages from her relatives for her.”
(Spellweaver) “Relatives? I thought there were no other survivors from that world. Well, save the partial remains of her parents, but those were blasted with insane amounts of corrosive energy.”
(Marty) “Weren’t they her grandparents, Kevin?”
(Kevin) “Grandparents, an Aunt and Uncle, and a few others, along with twenty thousand or so survivors from the same universe, who are at least closer relatives than most of the cosmos.”
Marty filled in Spellweaver about the Singularites a bit, and told him that they lived in the Star Wars New Imperium now.
Kevin was considering… It had been well under a day since they left the moon; they’d probably still be doing fine.
(Spellweaver) “The moon? Great more outrageous technical mumbo jumbo I suppose? Wait, why does my arm fall to my side slower than usual?”
(Marty) “Because the gravity is a… sixth? Yeah, a sixth of what it is on Earth. Things fall more slowly here.”
(Spellweaver) “Why is the gravity lower? More technology to lower gravity?”
(Marty) “Oh boy. Does anybody have a primer on gravity for the kid?”
(Spellweaver) “Seems the rest of the cosmos thinks technology is the answer for everything. Turn yourself into an evil eldritch abomination? No problem! Air too easy to breathe? No problem! Not enough servants to wait on you hand and foot? No problem, we will turn the very walls into telekinetic powerhouses able to tear people apart. We will even tear the souls out of children and turn others in mechanical automatons able to bend steel. All in the name of SCIENCE! (With a mocking fist pump into the air.)”
Arguing had begun to break out as several of the other former prisoners started in on their own, often conflicting rants.
Kevin sighed, and had one of the Thralls with divinatory magic grant Spellweaver a basic understanding of physics and technology for the next few hours. It would wear off of course, but it would make life SO much easier in the meantime.
(Kevin) “CAN WE SAVE THE RANTS UNTIL AFTER DINNER PLEASE?”
(Voice from the back) “And how exactly am I supposed to revive the buried dead as an unholy army of the damned if there is no one buried here? Save for the people and plants around here, this hunk of rock is more lifeless than anything I’ve ever seen.”
That had to be the necromancer. It made Kevin and Marty wonder whatever had happened to Darth Plageous? They hadn’t run across him since getting him a new body at the Tomb Archive.
(Kevin) “Well, I’d suggest dinner first, than discussion, then travel arrangements!”
Hopefully they could influence them all enough with Oratory to get them to have a meal and then get shipped off to more congenial places. After all, at the moment, they were still potentially within reach of “God”, and arguing with the people who had just rescued them might be more trouble than they’d want immediately.
Kevin would have preferred Inversion’s Moon to Kadia – he really didn’t want to invite all of these crazy people into his home – Still, Marty really felt that Kadia would be better, and Marty had done a lore more conferences and negotiations than he had. Besides, the worst were probably the necromancer and the assassin, and there was no death in Kadia.
Marty had to chuckle at that image. A necromancer crawling around Kadia crying and screaming, trying to kill something ineffectually. Going into withdrawal from the lack of death. Yet another reason to take them to Kadia! It would be funny!
Kevin sighed. They had gotten their files, and none of them seemed like they’d be a serious menace in Kadia. He’d take a better look, and set up some special precautions, and hold the dinner in some distant corner of the realm. They could get a few people in from the House to help with the debriefing.
At a glance, it looked like the biggest issues would be with CMA – the nameless explosives transmutor – and Ophelia. CMA could apparently transmute almost anything with the appropriate elements into an explosive while Ophelia was an addicted soul-binder. The rest were manageable given that death didn’t really exist in Kadia – and it wasn’t like Kevin wasn’t an addicted soulbinder… Still, he couldn’t allow that in Kadia unless she too was into full disclosure; if she wasn’t willing to behave until he could send her somewhere more appropriate, he might have to just ship her somewhere more appropriate directly. The explosives expert could be annoying, but with force fields he would still be a small-scale problem at worst.
So far, while “God” was overwhelming, he really didn’t seem to use his abilities at all effectively. Hm… It seemed almost certain that “God” would conceal that the prisoners had escaped and let the announced trial continue anyway with a stand-in defendant even if it wasn’t going to have been In Absentia to begin with. He probably wouldn’t attend, but canceling it would be a PR hit and a blow to his pride. He’d probably also try to turn the new hole in the ground at Berlin into a terrorist attack by Manifold/Lunar agents.
Oddly, there was something in that that was drawing Kevin…
Well, the preparations in Kadia were more urgent. He wasn’t at ALL happy about bringing this batch of powerful nutjobs in (he was only doing it at Marty’s urging, and against his better judgement; he had Kids in Kadia!), and he already had most of his ability to damp unwanted powers there invested in defenses against his major enemies.
He reviewed what he did have running. He was suppressing the Weaponized Memes (-3 levels/1 choice), non-follower spells and psychic powers of above level five (-6 levels/2 choices), non-follower gates and reality bubbles (requires 9 extra mana to set up/3 choices), enhancing transformation magic (one level easier to use/1 choice), and suppressing other deities use of Godfire (it’s use required three extra Godfire points/3 choices).
He had some of the Thralls with strong spellcasting ID’s in Kadia prepare damping, absorbing, and related effects around a very isolated area – except for the Thralls who’d be working the conference, a hundred thousand miles from anything else which was currently important – and had them set up a large-scale but rather subtle illusion to affect physical, magical, and psychic senses. It would make the area look like a fairly standard pocket-realm that faded off into some of the long-range travel realms – highway, catacombs, high seas, etc – rather than a segment of a major realm. They could set up some magical out-only gates too, so that the attendees could leave if they had to. He had them lock down the computer, directions, and transport systems and get the conference area layered in containment spells – as well as in special defenses set up to handle any abilities listed in the prison files (he sent those). What else… Ah. Inhibit long-range teleportation, communication, and related effects to fit with the boundary of a pocket realm.
As for other guests… Perhaps a couple of House of Roses experts on debriefing and diplomacy – he wanted this kept calm and quiet – and perhaps some of those “Tradationalists” from Marty’s world. Some of them had been wanting to meet him anyway.
Hopefully there was enough general gratitude and relief amongst them to get them to behave for a few hours and leave quietly if they didn’t want to talk, rather than making a mess. Any who did want to leave, he could simply gate out to the appropriate travel realm. They did just all have the Mental Cleansing effect applied, but if he could figure out anything about how God controls his avatars and conditions people, that will be a bonus.
And if he thought of anything else, he was bloody well doing that too.