The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice XVII – Leonine Customs

Afternoon light on the jagged grey mountains r...

We put those there for a REASON you know! Stop moving them around!

The next urgent summons was from the Celestial Lions. They definitely wanted to talk; The Dimensionless Truesilver Sands of Cecelyne were extremely rare and incredibly dangerous stuff… The creation or abrogation of dimensional borders was a power that could all too easily unleash some disaster upon both creation and the heavens. They weren’t illegal to possess – that would more or less require explaining WHY, which seemed like a bad idea – but they were certainly suspect!

For good or ill, Charles was a most cooperative youngster. When the two lions – Shengdu and Chengyan – inquired about the Sands, they got a perfectly straight answer.

(Charles) “I put it in some magic amulets! Want to see one?”

They did indeed – and Charles (somewhat proudly) promptly showed them one.

(Charles) “They let you travel around Yu-Shan really quickly, and that makes getting to the gates to gather ingredients and commuting a lot easier!”

(Shengdu, rather dryly) “I can think of other things that would make easier. Now, kid, where did you get the sand? We like to keep records of that.”

(Charles) “I got it from an artist down on Earth who had some!”

(Chengyan) “Huh. Normal mortal, God-Blooded, or something else?”

(Charles) “A mortal glassblower. Someone had given it to him, because they thought that unusual sand would be good for his work. Probably good for him that I sent someone to buy it; it might have done something really strange if he’d tried to make it into glass!

(Chengyan) “That’s an understatement.”

(Shengdu) “Did he say who exactly gave him the sand?”

(Charles) “I don’t recall it being mentioned offhand to me… I could go get the agent I sent to buy it though! He probably knows more!”

(Shengdu) “Well, send for him then.

(Charles) “I’ll be right back!”

The amulets special effects depended on the essence of their user – and Charles dissolved into a swarm of tiny sci-fi starships, ranging from X-wings through Shuttlecraft (of various sorts) and on to the USS Enterprise.

That rather startled the Celestial Lions. They hadn’t left in millennia and didn’t exactly pay attention to popular culture on Earth.

Charles was indeed back in a minute or two, swirling back in as a few thousand tiny ships spent a few seconds “building” a two-foot-across “space station” (Perhaps a Death Star?) and turned back into Charles and the Inukami he’d brought along.

(Charles) “Here we go!”

Well, the boy had certainly used the sands to make at least one working Amulet of Celestial Wings or gotten someone else to do it for him. That was impressive in itself; there hadn’t been many of those made since the first one, and that was so far back that even they would have to look up the details.

The lions got what little information the Inukami had. Sadly that wasn’t much; he hadn’t really been interested in where Mr Santhia had gotten the stuff; he’d simply wanted to get it from him. Some wealthy collector had given it to him. The man might have been a thaumaturge, but Mr Santhia really hadn’t known.

(Inukami) “Is it especially vital to know? Several earthly groups apparently have access to the stuff, and I DID promise to try to keep the supernatural away from Mr Santhia.”

(Chengyan) “We want to keep track of WHO has access to it. Nobody will bother that guy, since he isn’t involved beyond receiving it.”

(Charles) “Oh, I can try to find out where it came from!”

After all, the collector might have defenses, but the “delivery from” should be available.

(Shengdu) “Really? Well. No need to break your back over it, just give us any information you find.”

(Charles) “One minute!”

He called over to the research assistants at the Observatory and had one of them try using the Efficient Secretary Technique to find out who sent the sand to Mr Santhia. It might not work – it wasn’t all that potent a charm or an artifact producing it – but it was easy.

The lions looked at each other. Kids often were obliging, especially when dealing with an authority figure – but they would have expected a kid in a Celestial position, even a contractor, to ask for a bribe. Besides… they’d been meaning to ask about how he’d found out that Mr Santhia had the Sands – but it was ambrosia to dirt that the kid had just tapped whatever information network he was using NOW and asked.

Just how well-connected was this kid?

Charles, of course, never even considered asking for something. After all, it wasn’t much trouble at all and he didn’t NEED much, even if “bribe” had really been part of his lexicon.

It looked like… a Mr. Antonio Oberloni. He so informed them.

(Chengyan) “Thanks, kid. I’d go down myself, but I haven’t been down there since . . . I don’t even remember when.”

(Charles) “You’re welcome!”

(Charles) “Oh, I was wondering… You do most of the maintaining order in Yu-Shan, right? Is there anything that would make that easier?”

(Shengdu) “Yeah, that’s right, kid. An amulet like that (pointing at the Celestial Wings) would help. You got a source? The only other one of those I’ve seen has been around Yaogin’s neck.”

(Charles) “Uhm… I only had enough sand for a partial production run. Would some of those help?”

(Shengdu) “That’d do. That sand’s not easy to get, as it should be.”

(Chengyan) “Maybe some kind of non-lethal ranged weapon too. I mean, I have Charms for that, but it doesn’t seem fair to use them on the mortals.”

(Charles) “I’ll see what I can find! I should be able to schedule something.”

(Shengdu) “Hey, I know what the kid could do! You ever work Orichalcum?”

(Charles) “Well, yes… I’ve worked with all the major materials.”

(Chengyan) “See, there’s this buddy of mine, Yangzi. He raided a God-Blooded crime lord’s mansion a while back, and came under heavy bolter (artifact automatic firearm) fire. Didn’t stop him from doing his job, but it took a week for all the chips in him to heal back up. Think you could make some armor for us? It’s embarrassing for us to be dinged up like that.”

(Charles) “I should be able to! How many sets would you need?”

(Shengdu) “Well, we’d have to get the design through committee before they’d let us requisition a big load. How about a prototype?”

(Charles) “Uhm… Let me check… (he rummaged in his pack and pulled out a sash-belt)… Would these work?”

(Chengyan) “Is that good against bullets? I hated firedust and I’m not that crazy about gunpowder either.”

(Shengdu) “Why ask? It’ll fit, try the thing on. Kid’s offering.”

(Charles) “It should be!”

The Lions looked it over, and – satisfied – one of them wrapped it around his head as a headband.

(Chengyan) “Lot of functions here. Who’s your supplier, kid?”

(Charles) “Uhm.. I run a factory-cathedral and some workgroups! There are lots of designs in the archives!”

The Factory-Cathedral job had come up on their quick check – but it had seemed virtually certain that he was fronting for someone. Was it possible that the kid really was running the factory-cathedral – AND some workgroups – on his own? And, if he was, who had put him into that position? He couldn’t possibly have enough contacts on his own to have arranged THAT!

That merited a little more confidential investigation. Even if the boy really wasn’t making any trouble, he’d be a new factor, and it was a good idea to keep an eye on those.

(Shengdu, looking Charles over) “Yeah, I’m sure. A kid could get into a lot of old records in that kind of position.”

(Chengyan, still considering the various functions of the armor-sash) “Something like this doesn’t come every day. Bet this would save a lot of lions a lot of trouble. Let’s take it to the station.”

(Shengdu) “Yeah, see what we can do with it. I think we’re done here. Let’s leave our contact stuff here, he might need it.”

(Charles) “Thank you !”

(Chengyan) “No, thank you, kid.”

The two customs agents left, whispering quietly to each other on the way out.

(Charles) “Bye!”

They waved with their massive paws, then took off, making sure that they did not disturb other gods along the way.

Their conclusions about his talents were likely to be fairly accurate – although their source would almost certainly remain questionable.


5 Responses

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