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.
(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.