Federation-Apocalypse Session 136 – Sunheart

   The Hellstorm’s bridge was actually… fairly normal. OK, the color scheme gave the impression that you were drowning in a river of blood, but it wasn’t like that was inappropriate – and military vessels were rarely big on the interior decorating. It had the usual Star Wars panoramic layout, lots of consoles, busy staff buzzing around, a huge command chair (red) sitting in the middle of the floor (also red), overlooking some of the major consoles (mostly red), facing a massive window looking out to the ongoing battlefield and looking like a gash offering escape from the inside of an artery.

   Kevin, waved cheerily! After all, he thought he had his own power back under control, and that was always a good feeling.

(Kevin). “Uhm… doesn’t this make it hard to avoid tripping or find the right controls?”

(Marty, considering Kevin, was also visibly relieved.) “Color scheme’s over the top, too.”

(Voice coming from the chair with it’s back turned to you. Also somehow managing to sound red) “I would ask that you leave my bridge immediately.”

(Marty) “No. We went through a lot of trouble to visit.”

(Kevin) “Besides, why? You can’t go anywhere at the moment, and the battle is mostly over anyway.”

(Voice) “So it seems, and I have you bunch to thank for that, do I not?”

(Kevin) “Well mostly I suppose. What is it you were actually wanting around here anyway? So far this seems sort of pointless.”

   The chair turned slowly – revealing a man dressed like a Sith and wearing a faceplate mask. Well, it looked like they’d found Darth Revan.

(Revan) “I was hoping to destroy that ship you rammed into the bowels of my own. Which in it’s own way may accomplish what I was hoping for soon enough. I doubt that….. woman can hold out for much longer against this ship.”

(Marty) “That’s no woman, that’s an angel!”

(Kevin) “Oh, for a while yet. And there are lots more reserves to bring into play. Not quite what I meant though; what is it you’re trying to accomplish overall?”

(Revan, to Marty) “If you say so. All these extradimensional visitors begin to look the same after a while. (Continuing to Kevin) “Me? Well, I plan to depose that Emperor of ours and replace him with a proper Sith Lord ready and willing to protect this realm from the extradimensional threats that jeopardize it. Threats like weird technicians able to build ships like that one and this one, small children able to destroy entire fleets with the powers they barely hold in check, and shall I go on with the list of outside threats to our way of life?”

(Kevin) “None of which would happen if the majority of the actual people here were unwilling to see it. They could just reset the place if they wanted. That’s what the Old Empire is all about!”

(Marty) “Yeah, why don’t you go there? Darth Vader or Palpatine are fine roles for you.”

   Marty didn’t really think that Revan would give up his own ID – but the Old Imperium could doubtless fit him in somehow.

(Kevin, puzzledly) “Or… don’t you realize that you – and the local population – could do that if you wanted to? Regardless, have you looked at the state of your crew lately?”

(Revan) “I have seen powerful people come and impose their will upon the local reality, I have seen a local Dark Lord learn to do this himself and set himself up as Emperor, and you really think that people who have been unable to tap into such power can override them? Laughable at the least, and naive at the worst. As for the crew, I have not brought one person aboard this ship since I gained control of it, the crew is a manifestation of the ship itself and it’s dark power.”

(Kevin) “And you think that working with the Hellstorm will somehow make the world a better place? As for shaping reality… where do you think that power comes from in the first place? Neither the Emperor nor I create it. We are merely foci for THAT power.”

(Marty) “And even if you take both of them down, SOMEBODY will show up and unseat you. It’s like your universe wants these cycles of rebellion to happen.”

(Revan) “At the very least it has given me the power to repel the intruders to this realm and to build up a resistance to this so-called Emperor. Come now, you should know better than to lecture me on such things. After all, Sith don’t create the Force, but they still are the ones that use it, not the galaxy at large. As for the endless cycle of rebellion, maybe that is how it should be.”

   Ah. It looked like a fairly fundamental refusal to accept the nature of the Manifold – or that his universe was the manifestation of human desires, and not even one that he belonged in. Kevin found himself doubting that Revan even realized that this universe was CREATED by people who wanted to try a new plotline – although how he continued to miss the fact that he had died thousands of years ago in this timeline was a bit beyond him. Surely the man knew that he was an intruder as well?

   Kevin left that information at the top of his surface mind, just in case the man was trying a bit of mind reading. It probably wouldn’t do any good to point it out verbally, but if he picked it up through his own powers it MIGHT do some good.

(Kevin) “Ah, fair enough in some ways. But the Hellstorm – or at least it’s power – is also an intruder in this realm, and I think that it’s time it went home.”

   Kevin was – once again – SO glad that he’d learned to generate sacred energies as well as unholy ones.

   He quietly started pouring out tremendous amounts of sacred power – and attempting to dismiss the demonic power of the Hellstorm. They were inside the thing after all so that should at least make it really uncomfortable even if he couldn’t entirely banish it. Fortunately, they were a long ways from any other suitable host – and dismissal usually sent the power back home to the abyss anyway – especially with Menthas pushing too and whatever Ryan is up to too.

[Gamespeak Interlude… “Of all the times to roll a two on a save!”]

   Marty decided to run distraction while Kevin did that.

(Marty) “And how do you plan to do it now? This thing can’t move. I made sure of that.”

(Revan) “Just because you managed to put a hole in this ship does not mean it cannot be moved. With most of it’s mass located elsewhere, it is surprisingly light. Shall I demonsrate?”

(Kevin, distractedly) “Is there a point? Yes, it can be moved – I could move it to another universe myself – but why bother?”

(Marty) “Try and I’ll demonstrate how surprisingly fast I am with a blade.”

   Members of the “crew” were quietly vanishing – and the color scheme was reverting to military white-and-gray – as Kevin’s sacred power gently washed the area clean of the demonic taint.

(Revan) “Why move it? Well because looking at the battlefield outside, it occurs to me that a 10% change in angle would present a much more valuable firing angle for the starboard guns.” Revan raised a hand – and, around them, the metal of the ship began to groan.

   Kevin was occupied. He couldn’t do much else while he was generating sacred energy at such a rate – but he could talk – and at least the Hellstorm wasn’t screaming or flashing any additional warnings or anything at the moment. Perhaps it was already signaling with everything it could due to Ryan’s actions.

(Kevin) “Mr Revan… do you really want me bringing – say – a planet aboard your bridge? I don’t think there’s really any more reason to injure people right now.”

(Revan, somewhat irrationally) “And people call me a monster for blowing up military installations. You seem to think that I have lost and that this fight is pointless, I disagree.”

   Marty was sorely tempted to stab him and be done with it.

(Kevin) “No, I think it was pointless from the beginning. All you could ever have succeeded in doing was splitting off yet another cosmos, and one that would probably be home to almost no one except yourself.”

(Marty) “What IS the point? Making your own universe? Making others miserable?”

   The Hellstorm had begun to rotate as the metal-groaning sounds quieted. It looked like it was… turning to target a super star destroyer on the Imperial side of what little was left of the fight. What with the few remaining ships of Revan’s fleet outnumbered better than ten to one, and most of them crippled to boot, it was basically a bit of mopping up around the fringes.

(Revan) “To protect the galaxy and it’s people from the outsiders that seek to exploit it for their own selfish uses. All this drivel about splitting universes and such always seems to come from those in power, or from those from outside this galaxy.”

   Meanwhile, down in the bowels of the ship, waves of demonic security droids, war machines, and demonic power were being hurled against Ryan and his companions. The Hellstorm’s control of it’s internal reality was being used to counter Ryan’s reality-warping abilities, while massive technological assaults were pressing his companions hard. The Hellstorm had been well-prepared for Ryan – but it was being pressed hard elsewhere as well.

   Ryan frowned as he felt another annihilating wave of demonic energies begin to build – and then collapse as another blast of sacred and psychic power hammered at the Hellstorm’s occult shields and forced it back on the defensive. Not that he wasn’t grateful – too many more demonic attacks like that and he might well be driven out, or blasted back into the Manifold before he could reach the power and computer cores – but that hadn’t been Menthas! Even backed by all those Neodog channelers, she was an Ofanim – a militant angel of the Order of Michael, yes, but still a defender and a guide, not an avatar of power and destruction!

   Power and destruction.

   But… how could that possibly be Kevin? Hadn’t he accepted the darkness? You could be good or you could be evil; to attempt to combine the two simply led to gray mediocrity as they cancelled each other out!

   Another volley of missiles – followed up by a horde of defense droids and then a slog through some hellish lava pools in the face of defending walkers and war-droids – interrupted things for the moment.

   It worried him though… Was there another way? Could you separate the light and darkness within your own soul and draw power from both? Was that why Menthas had been willing to come and assist Kevin? Because he subordinated the darkness to the purposes of the light?

   Back in the Forgelight, Menthas smiled… The Hellstorm’s vast demonic power had battered and scorched her, and had driven the Forgelight some ways back from the hole it had punched into the Hellstorm’s dark interior – but the Neodogs continued to pour their power into her, and the Hellstorm’s assault was weakening as more and more of it’s attention and power was diverted to it’s internal defenses.

   She could hold it for some time yet – and she had not studied tactics under Michael for nothing. It might not be enough time to destroy the essence of the dark power that inhabited the Hellstorm, or even to prevent it’s escape – but it would be gravely weakened at the least, almost inevitably driven from its host, and it might even be banished to the abyss from which it came. All she had to do was to give the boarding parties enough time to do their work.

   The sacred fire flared around her as she transmuted the massed energies of the neodogs into a holy shield around the Forgelight and into blazing lances of sacred energy to hurl against it’s inner darkness.

   Overmatched she might be, but – unlike the Hellstorm – she was not alone.

   Meanwhile, back on the bridge.

(Revan) “Now, are you going to leave my bridge, or am I going to have to assist you in leaving?”

   He apparently hadn’t noticed that the bridge was now empty save for themselves. The phantasms the Hellstorm had generated to help out Revan had evaporated.

   Hadn’t the fact that no one wanted to be aboard his ship registered on the man at all? It would have given most people some doubts…

(Kevin, sighing) “Don’t you need some crew for that?”

(Marty) “That’s because it really happens. We witnessed it.”

   As Kevin and Marty realized what Revan was aiming the main guns at they took action.

(Marty, taking out his knife and heading Revan’s way) “I don’t think so!”

   Elera and Minel promptly boosted him – and settled down to watch to counter things. With Marty up against someone like Revan, there were bound to be some nasty surprises in store!

   Revan, of course, had his own boosts already running. What else was combat precognition for?

   Fortunately, he lacked the reflex enhancements that Kevin and Marty were using.

   Kevin frowned… Even if he’d had time, he didn’t want to unleash the Darkness to power major spells again anytime too soon. Blowing the place up seemed counterproductive, oratory seemed a bit unlikely to work… Wait! He could try to push the bridge systems – now that they were purged of demonic energy – into running their error-checking routines on top priority.

   With Revan distracted by Marty, the Hellstorm under siege closer to the computer core, and the systems engaged in a massive reset anyway, that proved possible. While the Hellstorm continued to rotate – but it would probably be impossible for Revan to fire on anyone for at least a few minutes.

   Kevin had a few of the Thralls focus on keeping the process going while he went back to generating sacred energy. The longer the Hellstorm was unable to fire, the better it would be for everyone. As Marty closed, he pushed some of his own energy into his knife… A lightsaber block would be hard on it otherwise.

   It flared up – and out – with blue-green fire. A light-knife? Well, he could work with that.

   Unfortunately, Revan had far more practice – and had sensibly waited, with a longer weapon, for Marty to do most of the closing.

   Elera and Minel threw up defensive shields which reduced the damage Revan would have inflicted, but were unable to stop the flurry of blows as Revan casually leapt over Marty’s head to strike down. Fortunately, Marty was impressively durable – but it was pretty obvious that a change of tactics was in order.

   Revan managed to block or absorb most of Marty’s counterstrike – but Marty was cautiously pleased; at least he’d managed to get his own shot in!

   On the other hand, the girls couldn’t keep throwing up shields that way for long – and if Revan managed to draw on the Hellstorm despite it’s current three-fronted fight, he was going to be in trouble.

   Kevin was frantically adding mentally… there were still a few Thralls available to throw in to support Marty if necessary – but he was still entangled with the exorcism. Still, with Revan no longer watching at least he could channel power directly into the computers; they were the focus for the Hellstorm’s mind – and the bridge computers were linked directly to the main computer cores down by the main power cores. Outside of that… well, the Hellstorm was just too big to bind from the inside, blowing open the bridge still seemed inadvisable, and opening a gate to some holy realm was simply asking for a disaster. Besides, he didn’t have any Thralls stationed in generic realms of light – and the inhabitants of such a realm probably wouldn’t see any real distinction between himself and the Hellstorm at a glance since he couldn’t open a gate AND generate holy energy at the same time.

[The Hellstorm rolled a “1” on it’s save as Kevin channeled holy energy into the computer systems – and shuddered violently, as sections of the hull and internal structure began to break apart]

   Ryan and company, deep within the twisted internal reality of the Hellstorm, were battling their way to the hypermatter-hellfire reactors – and were out of touch.

   The Neodog Thralls with Menthas said that she was doing better. The Hellstorm was apparently focusing on Ryan’s group at the moment – presumably they were getting close to something critical – and the breathing space was letting her recover nicely. The Forgelights positive-energy reserves were depleted, and the few Neodogs who could generate a bit of that power continuously had their paws full simply keeping up with the drain of simply being near the Hellstorm – but the burst-channelers had almost a 20% of their reserves remaining and now had an efficient spell-supported feed to Menthas running, which would let them stretch the remainder a bit longer.

   On the other hand, a great number of demon-droids had come pouring out to attack the Forgelight physically – hacking at the hull and even simply pushing it away. They weren’t too effective yet – but eventually they’d get inside, and their sheer numbers would make them quite a problem. The Forgelight had never really been designed to fight internal intruders.

   As the Hellstorm shuddered, floor panels and a control console collapsed into a deep abyss for no apparent reason – leaving Marty and Revan dueling beside a vast pit. Pieces of the flooring begin to crack and crumble along the edges as the hole expanded.

   Kevin was pretty sure that – if they got down to the bottom – they’d find Ryan and company fighting at the power core at the bottom of the pit! It wasn’t like normal geometry had much to say about it, and that WAS the nature of the realm!

   Meanwhile Elera and Minel were frantically weaving protective effects around Marty; their boss was in dire trouble! He’d just about exhausted even a Toon’s regenerative powers!

   Marty swore, using the Sixty Successive Sacrileges with which he’d twice won the yearly Greater New York Freestyle Blasphemy Competition! Ryan had warned him about abysses!)

(Revan, glancing momentarily at the hole) “Now why does this always seem to happen whenever I get into a fight personally? Ah well, nothing to be done for it save for taking advantage of it!”

   Marty was just replying when the telekinetic blast hit him in the chest.

(Marty) “Because you’re a BIG FAT JER-uuurrrkkk!”

   The blast flung him out over the chasm, where he (just barely) got his hand on a protruding girder to prevent his fall – although that left him hanging by one hand over the abyss with Revan walking towards him.

   Well, that was what he got for calling a Sith Lord a big fat jerk!

   Still, he had telekinesis and heightened agility too! He flipped himself up, bounced on the girder like a springboard and did several flips in the air before landing his feet again.

(Revan) “Guess I need to push harder next time.”

   Hm. Was he not used to fighting people who approached his own level?

   Kevin had most of the spare Thralls start focusing on general disruptions. With any luck, they could confuse the emergency responses and hold off the shutdowns until even more of the ship’s systems had a chance to tear themselves apart!

   Four, however, were standing ready to step in and help out Marty.

   Revan blurred for a moment and disappeared, reappearing behind Marty – and attacking – after moving supernaturally fast. Fortunately, his four extra aides had healing magic ready to go. Unfortunately, even that wasn’t enough to heal damage as fast as Revan could inflict it.

   Another shudder rippled through the ship, and more structural collapses occurred. Half of a catwalk that they hadn’t even noticed dropped onto the bridge. More consoles exploded, hurling debris everywhere – and flashes of electricity arced up from the abyss.

   Marty grinned, reached out with Witchfire – and turned the electrical discharges onto Revan. No reason not to use the weapons that presented themselves!

   Meanwhile, Ryan was approaching the power core – and was unleashing some of his prepared spells to try and hammer his way through the demonic barriers protecting it. The blasts fed back through into the power-conversion systems – sending up spectacular flares of energy and burning out several critical systems.

   The resulting blast ripped up through the pit into the bridge, high “above”

   The first arc of lightning lashed out, and was readily deflected by Revan’s lightsaber. The second arc lashed out and was similarly readily blocked – bu then the entire room was inundated with an intense white light that left everyone except Kevin and a few thralls temporarily blinded. The blast that followed threw molten metal everywhere and vented the bridge to space for a moment before the shields kicked in. The blast doors tried to slam shut, but ran into the debris instead and wound up tearing up even more of the area.

   Healing and regenerative abilities kicked in all around.

   Revan’s lightsaber was a smoking ruin now on the floor. His right arm was also smoldering and badly burned. It looked like he had used the Force to redirect the blast – although more or less via brute force.

(Revan) “I did not expect you to coordinate your attacks so well. It seems I have underestimated you. A mistake I will not make again.”

(Kevin, somewhat startledly) “Uhm… actually we’re just doing our usual stuff at random. What is it with everyone thinking we plan stuff?”

   Marty grinned through the burns and the shrapnel.

(Marty) “Aw, baby lose his . . . OW!”

   His healing abilities were almost totally exhausted though. He couldn’t take too much more of this.

   Hm… It felt to Kevin like… the resistance to the holy energy he’d been pouring out had dropped substantially with that last blast. It was like some sort of barrier that had been shielding things had been destroyed.

   He promptly dumped most of his dragonfire reserves into a tremendous flare of sacred energy – hurling his blast straight into the infernal heart of the Hellstorm. More of the bridge structure began to crumble away as the chasm grew larger. A slight hissing sound could be heard over the background noise.

(Revan) “Regardless, I need to go after that technomancer quickly I think. But first……”

   Revan lashed out at Marty with tremendous bolts of Force lightning.

   Kevin, however, felt that he could not allow Revan to go after Ryan. Ryan needed to finish the Hellstorm and THEY needed to finish this. He let Menthas and Ryan know that he probably wouldn’t be able to support them any more for some time. Hopefully they wouldn’t need it.

   He warped time a bit and used his negative energy magic to turn himself into a grounding point for Revan’s psychic power, cancelling out Revan’s immense energy reserves with his own – and with those of the hundreds of nearby Thralls.

   That hurt. A lot. All of that raw energy – all of Revan’s destructive potential matched by his own burst of power from the Thralls – was going to reappear as heat. Inside his own body… Holding his consciousness together in the conflagration called for even more power – which went to more heat.

   With his Thralls to support him Kevin could exist as a disembodied psychic entity for some time – but achieving that state (and -550 HP) in a few instants of flame was not an experience that he ever wanted to repeat. Across the manifold, the four other manifestations he’d been maintaining shimmered and vanished – leaving several groups of rather startled Thralls to cover for their vanished master.

   Marty gasped as great gouts of force lightning poured uncontrollably out of Revan and wrapped themselves around Kevin – transforming him into a raging pillar of flame – before exploding outwards. The bridge – or it’s smouldering remains – was further vented to space, it’s atmosphere held only by the emergency shields, it’s shattered flooring surrounded by the panorama of deep space, the planet, the fleet, and the starry background looking down at the slowly rotating ship.

   Revan was left kneeling on the floor, exhausted, out of breath, and propping himself up with his hands – while Kevin was reduced to a glowing ball of energy (upon which a bunch of very dismayed Thralls were trying to push healing effects).

   That was… both impressive and dismaying! He’d begun to think of Kevin as nigh-indestructible!

   Of course, that was partly because he usually stayed out of fights.

(Marty) “Ow, my foot . . . KEVIN! EAT KNIFE, YOU!@#$%!”

   Marty focused his full power into the blow – although Revan’s decapitated body and loose head simply shimmered and vanished, leaving his clothing behind – and provoking more loud swearing from Marty. How was he going to be sure the guy was dead?

(Kevin, whispering with the vibratory effects of Witchfire) “Oh… well…”

(Marty) “Bard, where’s Kevin? What the hell happened!?”

(Kevin, still a barely-detectable whisper on the wind) “With… luck… it… will…. take… him… a… long… time… to … build… another… body… He… won’t… have… thrall… help…”

(Bard) “He’s over there! He’s… gone disembodied I think! but he’s not reverting to Kadia! He’s hanging on here somehow… Is that part of being an Opener?”

(Marty) “That’s not… KEVIN!?”

   He had Limey start helping with the healing!

   He needed the kid to recover! He owed him one hell of a party for that little lifesaving maneuver!

(Marty) “I… he turned into a miniature sun?”

(Bard) “I think he channeled – or absorbed – more power than he could physically handle – but all the Neodogs with positive energy nearby may be helping him stay alive despite not having a body… IS that healable?”

   Another shudder rippled through the devastated remnants of the bridge – and Marty and the Thralls could hear the sound of metal groaning. The hiss of escaping air was getting rather loud.

(Marty) “We gotta get out of here!”

   Marty started looking for the way back to the Forgelight… He could see the back end of the Forgelight sticking out of the hull about three kilometers from here.

   Oh hell. He’d jump and use a bit of telekinesis to get back; the smartclothes would work as spacesuits for a little while

   So Revan had foreseen the arrival of Manifolders, concluded that they were a threat on the level of those extragalactic invaders that the novelists had come up with, and embarked on a campaign to eliminate the rest of the manifold and their sympathizers at home.

   “Discussion” had probably never been a real option. This had pretty obviously been dark-side Revan.

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