Federation-Apocalypse Session 123b -The Descent from Lunacy

   While closing up the conference, Kevin took a few minutes to consider the overtones he’d picked up from Cardinal Richar… It looked like… they were projecting twenty years until he got into trouble? He’d never believed that the upper limit on the number of Thrall-bonds he could support was anywhere NEAR where it was now! Conservative statistical estimates of where he might be in twenty years suggested that he’d have bonded every ensouled child in the Manifold by then if nothing else intervened – so if it was a bond-limit they were predicting it shouldn’t be anywhere near twenty years.

   Ah… That was when they projected that the first major wave of thralls would go independent and start wandering off on their own – at which point they felt Kevin’s restraining personality-imprint and restraints on the powers he’d granted would fail, and they’d be on the loose with a great deal of power at their disposal.

   Now wait! He didn’t imprint his personality on them – just skills and “how to be a servant”. They maintained their own personalities, just like all the Thralls at Hogwarts! They just didn’t show them much while they were being servants… He knew what powers he gave them too – and there weren’t much of any hidden aspects!

   For that matter, he’d been taking Thralls for nearly fifty years – and a few of the oldest had been starting to show signs of going free before the powers he granted started to increase and the time-scale (a good thing he’d never promised a particular one) had started to lengthen again. He could feel the bonds with their souls, and they were beginning to fade – but they were still happy wiggly property at the moment, and would be for quite a while longer!

   Wait a minute… some of the bonds WERE a lot weaker. The bonds with the kids he’d pulled out of Faerie on the strength of the “Tiend” routine.

   Hadn’t it been one of those – the oldest in fact – that he’d left with the Church? Those kids would go free a lot sooner; they had already possessed quite a few of the powers he granted though; it had only been because they were already fey-bonded that he’d been able to transfer their links to him. If they were going by that kid, it was no wonder that their estimate was a LOT shorter than his. Checking the links… He’d still stand by the “somewhere around two centuries” estimate (more if the power he supplied kept increasing so fast), and not a lot of additional powers.

   They could go early – but if they simply internalized the directly-granted powers and dropped the link, they’d lose all the stuff they got from what he’d been told was his “divine influence”. That would be a major power cut – and if they hadn’t wanted all those nifty powers, they wouldn’t have taken his deal in the first place. Some might do it, but probably not very many.

   Besides… If they broke the links, their immortality would go with it – and quite a few of them seemed quite happy working for him. It wasn’t as if he gave them very many nasty jobs.

   The Church probably saw them as being infused with demonic power, and was projecting that they’d run amuck once loose – but that really seemed sort of unlikely to him. The Church had a lot of experience, but he could feel their souls directly – and most of them seemed like typical kids and he hadn’t infused them with much demonic power – just the hellcat totem, and that was purely physical, not mental.

   He’d have to really look into it though. The Church had a lot of experience and had done a lot of research on Pacts and such, so if they were projecting chaos and rebellion – or competition – they might be right, even if the Darkness WASN’T a power he was giving them.

   Less importantly, the Church was definitely seeing some signs of Godfire at work in Kevin – but he wasn’t showing all the signs, and that did have them somewhat confused. Still, they were willing to believe that it might be some interaction with being an Opener – and that worried them even more. Two of the greatest, and most uncontrollable, known powers in the hands of a boy who was bonded to the powers of darkness. If Kevin lost his precarious balance above the abyss and fully fell, he might become a scourge upon the worlds…

   Anyway… It was time to get back to Inversion’s moon. It didn’t look like it was an immediate problem, no matter who was right.

   Back to the moon then. The lunar representatives were kind of confused by many of the services available in Kadia, but they weren’t having hysterics quite yet. That would probably come later when they got the reports from their observers, who would doubtless make inquiries about Kevin and be informed that he had created Kadia – and that it had a divergent hyperbolic geometry as a “planetary surface”.

(Kevin, privately to Marty) “I think, if possible, we’ll want some confusion and then a strike at the gate – or at least a good look at it.”

(Marty, privately) “So, should we head to Antarctica from the moon then? I’m all for landing somewhere in the wilderness near the suspected gate location.”

(Kevin, privately) “That depends… It’s still a day and a half until the trial, and I doubt that “God” will be attending now – but I bet that the trial will be publicized and that the persecutor is known… Ergo, lets drop by in a messengers uniform an hour or so before the trial with a sheaf of legal papers and a need for a signature. We’ll take his place with the help of a bit of illusion, and get to the trial. There are ALWAYS last minute papers – and we can slap some high-priority seals on them.”

   Marty was doing a little checking. There might be an audience, and he wanted to be in there in case something went wrong – or just to see the looks on the officials’ faces live… Drat. It looked like there WOULD be an audience, but the trial wasn’t open to the public – although it would be (very widely) televised. In fact, it would be a worldwide priority broadcast on several channels.

   Kevin was planning to assign some Thralls to make sure that it kept going out, and to broadcast through a lunar relay if necessary… Maybe they could get Marty in as a baliff or bodyguard? This was supposed to be the trial of a powerful manifolder, and guards with powers would be required. It would be easy enough to bring in Marty if he could replace the prosecutor – and his local ID should make that relatively easy.

   Spellweaver would want to come too of course – he really did want to get revenge – but if they could replace the prosecutor, they could probably get him in too. Besides, they always wound up improvising anyway. On the other hand, the guards might be looking for him specifically. On the third hand, they’d obviously have to be totally crazy to come back to Berlin after that prison break – especially given that they’d pulled out immediately when confronted with the Wrath of “God”. He probably wouldn’t expect anyone sane to come right back – and probably thought that, with his victim gone, there wouldn’t be any reason for anyone to interfere with his show trial.

   He might though. It was hard to say, he was obviously megamaniacal but he also had a Core childhood and education. It could go either way and largely depended on what was dominant and what was an act. Still… if he was acting, he’d be aware that he was overdoing it to the point of self-mockery. It really did seem likely that his mind had broken – at least partially – and that he was a raving nut case.

   Marty felt that THAT was obvious just from the paper airplane attack and the slaughterhouse waste manifestations – even if the slaughterhouse routine had started off as the summoner dropping a high-velocity blue whale on them to break the shield.

   Well, at worst they’d have to see what happened.

   They got their new allies readied for poking around the gate and soothed the lunar authorities a bit until it was nearly time for the trial.

   Then they went back to Berlin, running a variety of psychicly-based cloaking spells and such – and snagged some new electronic identities. There wasn’t time to get original ones, but it was easy enough to snag a few youngsters, copy their identities, and put them on ice for a few hours. If divination failed, they could just put in a request for some physical-parcel delivery boys and use detaining whoever came. Meanwhile, the Thralls (in various small-animal forms) deployed themselves near the broadcast uplink stations, ready to bypass the feeds if they got shut down.

   That proved easy enough – and a bit of shapeshifting and transformation matched the physical appearances of the kids they’d snagged – so they headed for the persecutors office. It was in a fairly normal government office building near the Reichstag.

   Marty had to grin. It was kind of fun being a kid again! It brought up a lot of old memories! He’d stay in kid form if he could… Maybe the prosecutor could be humoring the kid! Or at least using one as a prop! The old “we must protect the children!” routine!

   It didn’t prove very difficult to get past security and the secretaries – so they soon found themselves outside the prosecutor’s office.

   They knocked.

(Prosecutor) “Who’s there? I’m busy!”

(Marty) “We have urgent papers for the trial!”

(Prosecutor) “What papers?”

(Kevin) “They’re sealed sir!”

(Prosecutor) “Why the hell is someone sending me sealed papers at this time?”

(Kevin) “I don’t know sir! I just have to deliver them and get your signature!”

(Prosecutor) “Bloody hell, leave them on the desk then and I’ll sign. Then get out.”

   They headed in… The prosecutor was an older man, who looked haggard and tired. The office was full of books, disks, pictures and diplomas. He was sitting in a chair, looking out the window at the city below.

   Hmm… It looked like he was a reasonably honest man, and he wasn’t happy. He didn’t like having drawn the direct attention of “God” and was more than a little upset with the script given to him. He seemed very uneasy with the recent terrorist attack in the city by a bunch of manifolders trying to rescue their comrade too.

   They sent him quietly to sleep, using a small silencing effect and an illusion to hide events from the inevitable bugs and camera systems. The poor man seemed like he cold use the rest anyway.

   The man went out like a light. Another one for the transform-and-tuck-away pile – after a minute of probing for standard procedures and if he was supposed to bring a guard or assistants.

   Hm. He was expected to bring assistants – and there were lots of standard procedures. It looked like Germany was STILL fond of standard procedures.

   They called in the assistants, took them out the same way (none of them were even remotely powerful enough to resist), and did a bit of shapeshifting – as well as checking the mans script. They’d depart from it soon enough, but it would be best to appear to be following it for the first few moments.

   Hm… It looked like he was supposed to come up with a lot of diatribes about terrorists from the Manifold and Lunar Rebels with a lot of talk about how the security of the world and the future was at stake. How they could not possibly allow one of the enemy to wander around free to do as he wished, as it might very well result in the destruction of more lives.

   Well, they could work with that. Kevin would be the prosecutor, and Marty and Spellweaver could be his two assistants. Xellos was gone again, but he’d certainly turn up somewhere. They set up their cloaking effects, had a couple of Thralls take the messenger-ID’s and depart, got their shapeshifting done, used their smartclothes to copy the ID’s of the people they were supposed to be, made sure that they knew how to get there, and the courtroom’s layout, and the proper forms of address for the judge, and all the rest.

   Hopefully they wouldn’t walk into an ambush – but there are only so many precautions they could take and still hope to avoid a bloodbath.

   Marty took a moment to report back to Mr Leland via his mystic links; with the power “God” had, he might not have another chance if he bit it here.

Federation-Apocalypse Session 123a – The Kadian Accord

   The survey of the records didn’t turn up anything that looked like it would be TOO difficult to handle. On Marty’s advice Kevin threw in a few more thralls with draconic Kadia identities to boost security a bit (and provide an impressive physical presence, even if he was having them stay in the background) – but it didn’t really look like it would be necessary. His powers in Kadia really were quite appalling.

   So: Themselves, some Thrall-Attendants, their six oddities, a representative from the Unified Church, a few of the people from the Inversion Lunar Alliance,

   Hm. The explosives-transmuter would be a pain, but the computer systems and Thralls could handle him as long as he was limited to chemical explosives.

   The negator was impossible to predict given how he seemed to negate most everything thrown at him and possibly around him, but he didn’t seem especially irrational.

   Hubert Gibbet could be annoying, but again nothing the computers and thralls couldn’t handle.

   Ophelia would need watching, to be put into confinement, or to be sent somewhere else.

   Lacus should be fine.

   Animus shouldn’t be able to do too much in Kadia – although he was going to go nuts without an unholy army of the damned at his beck and call. Still, he was already going a bit nuts on the moon. He was arguing with people there already…

(Animus) “What? It’s perfectly natural to want to raise the dead in an orgy of necromatic power!”

   Ophelia’s soulbinding technique seemed to almost divine, as opposed to just magical, psionic or technological. She had probably had access to godfire at some point based on the trace energies around her, and might well have been making pacts with that energy. Still, if she didn’t have any reserves at the moment, she should be manageable for now… Kevin suspected that she wouldn’t have been able to bond very many victims that way, but it would probably be a very tight bond – and it might not require quite as much consent as He needed. Still, they could just keep an eye on her.

   Meanwhile, Animus was still ranting.

(Animus) “Hmm, I wonder if I can overcome the limitation that it was never alive to begin with if I put more power behind it?”

(Kevin) “Why not just settle down for an hour or so? Can’t the undead army wait until after lunch and a bit of conversation? After all, we did let you out, and after lunch I can provide transport to any of a wide variety of places.”

   Marty kind of wondered if he’d fit in on Necropolis – but it really seemed like a bad idea. They’d already made enough trouble there anyway, and it hadn’t needed any more to begin with.

   Animus looked resentful and angry, but he quieted down…. for the moment.

   They repaired to Kadia – with Kevin quietly suggesting that – since he and Marty were making trouble for “God” – any useful information they passed on contributed to cheap revenge.

(Animus) “Nothing high quality is cheap! What if I just animated that entire nearly dead world for revenge for all of us! Hell, I’ll even do it for free!”

(Lacus) “Agreed, we need to take that bastard down any way we can. I’m willing to help any way I can.”

(Ophelia) “Information? Sure I can do that”

(Kevin) “Well, it is a no-magic world, which rather limits some of us. I take it you (Kevin indicated Animus and Lacus) can both work around that?”

(Hubert) “Someone else willing to take him down? No problem with that. No contract is worth this much trouble.”

   That word – “Contract” – caught Marty’s attention. What kind of… Oh. Professional assassin, right. Presumably someone had wanted to get rid of “God”.

(Lacus) “It’s not a problem as long as I can keep the power and range within limits.”

(Animus) “Nothing can restrain the unholy powers of the necromancer! I scoff at your ideas of limitations. Mortal limitations have no effect on me! – although if Hubert had taken a contract on “God”, capital G, he might be a bit overconfident.

(CMA) “I am quite willing to share information, as long as I get to be in any fireworks that might occur.”

(CMB) “I’m afraid I may not have as much to give as you might be expecting. This “God” as he likes to style himself is rather secretive.”

(Kevin) “Well, that’s not too unexpected – but you never know what minor detail might prove important.”

   Kevin kind of suspected that there would be three basic groups here: the ones who wanted to help do something about “God”, the ones who were willing to supply some information and possibly angle for getting Kevin and/or Marty and/or Xellos as useful contacts, and the ones who just wanted to get out – although it was just possible that one or two would inspect the setting carefully and either get curious or want a Thrall.

(Marty) “Don’t forget the donuts. Hey, don’t look at me that way, they’re really important!”

(Kevin) “There shall be plenty of refreshments Marty!”

   They started with why they were captured – and any clues as to what “God”, Merlin, and the Horsemen were really up to. They already had a rough summary on the Avatars.

   Lacus was a native of Inversion who’d gone adventuring in the Manifold. She’d returned to find his home being taken over and had tried to serve as a rallying point for the defense. Eventually she’d been captured and put in confinement.

   Ophelia had wandered in looking for souls to bind only to draw God’s attention and get overwhelmed and captured. God had expressed great interest in her powers.

   Animus came because he’d sensed a profound amount of death and had been hoping to cash in on some of it. He’d been overwhelmed by massive modern weaponry and put into confinement.

   Hubert had gotten a contract to to track down the “original” and kill him while another group tried to keep the avatars and Serah busy. Unfortunately, he’d run into a trap – or possibly the entire offer had been a trap – and he’d been caught.

   CMA – Renalt – liked to blow things up, and had simply been overwhelmed by the authorities.

   CMB – Elight – had been following leads on rumors of a group that had found many new ways to manipulate negative energy, and had been caught asking too many questions.

   Apparently the people in the “tracking” system weren’t necessarily under surveillance; they’d just been observed, were believed to be still on Inversion, and were EITHER being looked for or were under surveillance at the moment. Ergo, several of them were probably themselves, but they’d been able to get past security so readily because they’d lost the attempts to track them at some point.

   Hm. Animus wouldn’t really be much help. It looked like “God” wanted to keep everyone miserable, and so a horde of undead running around wouldn’t actually bother him much. If anything it might make him look a bit better.

   Marty suggested leaving him someplace where there were no bodies, but there were lots of therapists.

   Kevin considered somewhere where – say – a demon horde was slaughtering all life, and he could have a mighty war.

   As for what “God” was up to… what it came down to was that they knew that “God” was gathering people with unusual abilities, funnelling souls through a gateway to somewhere else, taking revenge on someone (they didn’t know who), and trying to prepare for a war with the Linear Realms.

   Marty wondered if he could get that on pay-per-view… Wait! There were loads of Thralls, all with Smartclothes, in the thick of everything! Each one capable of relaying live, personalized, coverage! It would be easy!

   Spellweaver thought that God was most interested in capturing Michelle and gaining control of her. She was the only one with the Master Control Codes for the American Legion Robots. With her under his thumb, he could add them to the Final Army.

   Kevin suggested that it might be a good idea to change those – not that troop strength really means that much in Manifold warfare. For that, she would need to visit each of the central nodes and interface with them directly – unless a remote telecommunications connection could be made.

   That was actually easy enough. They could distribute the new codes properly across a committee again, so that no one individual would have override access.

   Secondarily, “God” and Serah had been busily trying to erase all traces of their existence back in Core and elsewhere – even going so far as to exterminate an entire colony world to do it.

   Marty sighed. Well, nice to be sure what had happened on Greenwald.

   Kevin sighed too. Demonic energies. They didn’t want anyone knowing their true names. Silly of them really. Had they forgotten just how redundant the core network was? Or… wait; they’d left Core before the network had been linked through the Manifold. They didn’t know that wiping the records would require destroying human civilization throughout the Core and a dozen other places.

   They might not have diverted all of “Gods” and Serah’s attention to themselves though, even though they had to be aware that the group knew their origins. Kevin had another hundred Thralls immediately report to Dumbledore at Hogwarts, with more standing by – even if there were already nearly a hundred there. Snape could sneer at all the new students if he liked.

   Well, that was more information than they’d really been expecting, and less than they’d hoped for . About average really, even if most of their stories amounted to “I arrived, I got kicked around a bit by heavy weapons, and I wound up in a cell”.They must have thought that they were going to a world that didn’t have psychic powers AND high tech.

   The debriefing experts from the House of Roses had been asking careful questions too… Apparently the Gateway through which “God” was funneling souls was on Inversion itself. Most likely in the Southern Hemisphere. Apparently one of the Avatars and Merlin had gotten into a serious argument over it; Merlin had wanted it relocated somewhere else, and “God” hadn’t been willing to trust Merlin with access to that kind of power unsupervised. Their compromise agreement had involved keeping a Knight-Lord there at all times and some unspecified concessions to the Commonwealth. The House’s information suggested that the gate was most likely in antarctica, given their own intelligence, data from the Lunar bunch, and information on Avatar movements. Most likely in Marie Byrd Land, probably near the coast in one of the cities that have sprung up down there.

   Well, the way Inversion was, that was as good a place for a city as any! Come to think of it, with their level of warming, the area should have a reasonable temperature now…

   Marty resolved to get ready to do something about that gate, or get “God”. He didn’t want this going on for much longer!

   Further questioning had also revealed that “God” had problems when controlling the avatars beyond a certain distance.

   As for why so many of them had gotten overwhelmed, it fell into three camps: didn’t do research ahead of time, did research and took precautions and still got overwhelmed, or the fact that traffic in and out has been so closely guarded that the information that things had gone sour hadn’t been available to them.

   Well, that did just about cover it – although a location on Inversion for the gate that Merlin was funneling souls through had seemed likely anyway, even if they still had no clue as to it’s ultimate destination.

(Kevin) “Who wants to help assault “God”?”

   They had been heavily warned that they weren’t up to confronting Merlin, and presumably not his backers, directly at the moment – but allies would probably suffice for at least a probing raid. Maybe they could weaken the gate or reverse the flow or something. They really needed to make matters difficult for Merlin et al…

   It seemed that Lacus would like to, but thought that she would be unable to help in an actual confrontation. Ophelia was out. Hubert was in. Animus was all for massive mayhem and destruction. Elight would like to participate. Renalt is all for participating. Spellweaver was in, and Michelle would like to be in but Spellweaver objected.

   Well, Lacus wasn’t really a combative sort anyway. That gave them… The Necromancer, The Assassin, the Transmutor-Bomber, the Power Negator, and Spellweaver. Michelle shouldn’t participate until after she had returned the codes to the government of Singular.

   Lacus would like to go to Inversion’s Moon. She still wanted to help with the defense, but she was quite sure that she wasn’t up to a direct confrontation with “God”.

   As for Ophelia… The Unified Church representative wanted her in custody to undergo counseling. Unsurprisingly, Ophelia wanted to go somewhere where the Church and other “pushy” people couldn’t tell her not to do her thing.

   Evidently she’d been the soulbinder that the Church had pushed out of Core. The Church was not happy to see her again – or in Kevin’s presence.

   Kevin pinned down the Church representative and exerted his own talents to get the man to part with a little more information.

(Cardinal Richars) “Although I am loathe to part with this information, I will because it may have relevance to defeating this false god. I do fear what else you may use it for though. This woman is one of the few who possesses godfire. It means she can take the energies of those around her and use them herself. Most tend to use this to enhance themselves and give back a small fraction to those they command in limited bursts. Usually this requires a great number of people in your service to get much of anything as the god skims off the top.”

   Ryan had told Kevin that he had “Godfire”… nice to finally find out what it was. The Church probably still wasn’t sure as to whether or not Kevin had this “Godfire”; enough simple magic and mana could create a world (and they KNEW that Kevin had plenty of those), and imprinting part of his self on the Thralls would explain the power-bestowal. For that matter, Kevin might have it – but he STILL had no idea of how it could be consciously used.

(Cardinal Richars) “She makes a much deeper bond, able to pull on more of the powers of those bonded to her and then use them herself or funnel them back to another. The bonds she creates are very deep and very personal. Unfortunately, that level of bonding tends to lead to a massive amount of bleedover and the bonded begins to become a lot like the bonder. The few we were able to treat seemed to be as addicted to being bonded to her and she was to bonding them – and take years to recover even if the bond is severed. The damage she is inflicting on those she bonds is not something we can tolerate… Now, you have shown that you are funneling most of the power back towards the bonded after “filtering” it to some extent. I suspect the children are all taking on some aspects of your personality and that this is the source of their powers. Our projections show you will start running into serious problems with your “system” within two decades at most.”

(Kevin) “Well, it’s entirely an improvisation anyway…”

(Cardinal Richars) “Although, should you feel the need to try and duplicate what Ms Ophelia is doing, then we can accelerate that timeline projection immensely.”

(Kevin) “It sounds like a bad idea to begin with – and there wouldn’t be much point: they all get lesser versions of my abilities anyway.”

(Cardinal Richars sighed and shook his head) “Does that answer what you wish to know child?”

(Kevin) “Unfortunately, yes; Still, I’ll have to send her someplace – and attempting to confine her while she has that power available is a temporary measure at best.”

(Cardinal Richars) “I would then suggest somewhere full of phantasms or otherwise empty. If such a place also had Addiction Counseling Services, it would be nice. Although it does occur to me that there is an option… Would you be willing to allow and outside gate to enter this place?”

(Kevin) “If you need one, certainly. This area is fairly well isolated anyway.”

(Cardinal Richars) “It shall be a few minutes while our Opener gets into position, but a gate should be incoming shortly.”

(Kevin) “I’ll assign someone to help damp the disturbance and help the targeting.”

   A few minutes later a gateway did come to Kadia at their location… It opened to show a place with a blinding white light and the Church opener on the other side.

(Church Opener) “I am told there is someone needing a pickup here?”

(Kevin) “Indeed. Ms Ophelia? Your gate is here.”

   Ophelia seemed resistant until she saw the look on the Cardinal’s face and seemed to resign herself to the trip. She walked through and the Church gatekeeper waved to everyone before leaving and closing the gate.”

   Kevin and Marty waved back. One of the sacred dimensions perhaps? Very near the edge?

   Then they got on with planning what they were going to do next!

(Animus) “Raise a massive army of the undead?”

(Marty) “No. No. Just… no.”

(Animus) “Why not? I promise it will be fun with lots of death and mayhem!”

(Kevin) “I think it’s best to hold that option in reserve. After all, “God” – amongst other things – WANTS to wreck the planet and drive everyone there to utter desperation. A massive army of the dead would only help him.”

(Marty) “Exactly!”

(Animus) “But….if we are holding that in reserve….. what do we have left? (Sniffles)”

(Marty) “You need to diversify, kid! Maybe go into negative energy channeling, or pacts, something other than raising zombie hordes! It’s the only way you’ll succeed in the modern job market!”

(Animus) “Pacts! Hey, that girl that just left was supposedly very good at those! Just imagine how powerful I could become if I cowed the living into taking pacts to serve me!”

   Animus seemed to be awfully specialized… Kevin probed carefully to see what kind of mental shields he had… Nothing worth mentioning.

(Marty) “Is putting people in servitude all you care about?”

   Well, Animus was quite welcome to be a necromancer, but a sane one would be much better… Just as importantly, how old was he really? Sniffling seemed a bit… childish.

(Animus) “And destroying the landscape, raping and pillaging, and set the woods on fire with chipmunks… on fire.”

   All of about twelve. With an aging effect on his body to make him look like he did now. OK, time for some major mental healing.

(Marty) “That’s going to get boring. Maybe you could learn to do THIS!” (Marty made a bright and entertaining illusion).

   Kevin was working the initial spells, and then got the massed Thralls to work, led by Kelsaru. Twelve was a bit young to be burdened with out-of-control necromancy… Not all that long later they had a very confused child. He’d probably tapped into far too much power or something.

   Marty easily spotted the change in demeanor, so he shifted the illusion over to things a preteen would find entertaining to help calm him down until they could get some Thralls in to play with him and find out where he came from and such – if that could be done without upsetting him. If he ran amuck and destroyed his home and family, it would be best if it stayed forgotten for now.

   That left them with one contract-assassin who was apparently sane enough, Spellweaver and Michelle (who were both wondering a bit; they were both subtle enough to pick up a lot of the power-signs of Kevin’s manipulations), the power negator, and the explosives expert/fanatic.

(One of the House representatives, apparently testing) “Go in with guns blazing, chucking nukes at everything that moves, and see what remains standing and hit that with an orbital strike?”

(Kevin frowned at him) “Actually, I was thinking more sabotage and covert ops…

   He thought that he’d be dropping by the trial. It should be due to start in the next day or so, and he just had to replace the prosecutor.

   Kevin sent Lacus back to Inversion’s moon with the lunar representatives- although he explained the nature of her powers to the lunar representatives and found out what they thought about them first. She’d be great for morale, but they might object to the ability.

   The lunar representatives appreciated the disclosure, and would keep an eye on her. Should she get out of line, then they would remove and isolate her. In the meantime morale could certainly use the boost.

   They also got a report on what the youngsters they’d sent over were up to after their first full day of gate-training before they headed back.

   Hopefully they weren’t up to anything TOO weird – if only due to lack of funds. Still, they’d have at least 10 credits each, and there were a lot of minor things they could do with that.