Federation-Apocalypse Session 172a – The Wheel of Incarnations

Elminster

What do you mean "I'm not the star of this episode"?!? Are you MAD!?!

Marty, meanwhile, had fully activated both his multipresence and multitracking powers – and was more than a bit overwhelmed. Sure, the multi-tracking let him pay ATTENTION to all of those inputs at once, but the conflicting identities were quite another matter. And Kevin seemed to run it all smoothly…

No. He didn’t, did he? It was like that time in Inversion; the world had given him the identity it needed – and had sent him to where it needed him to be. When he’d no longer been needed, it had… thrown him out. Kevin… flickered from one identity to the next like a movie shifting scenes, flowing into the mold of each identity like mercury – and he didn’t even see anything wrong with that.

Was there anything left of the boys personality except that iron determination to adhere to his promises? Even his hobbies seemed to be facets of particular identities or of the drives he’d been burdened with.

Ah well! At the moment there were too many distractions to worry too much about THAT – and he hadn’t yet decided what he could do about it anyway!

His first identity was in the Green Galaxies, where a gravitational step-function limited the size of stars, arranged them into interlocking grids – and formed living dyson spheres of air and water around them. Marty had always enjoyed a quiet tropical vacation – and, this way, he could be on one all the time!

And that was… wow. It was even neater now! His mathematical powers let him genuinely appreciate what he was seeing – and the sheer scale was awesome. Even if you could only really used an average of a hundred miles or so out of the thickness of the spheres for living space (and it might be more) and used a 1 AU standard, that was still some 43,474,579,056,000,000,000 cubic miles of living space around each of this particular galaxies 12,182,000,000,000 stars…

With a mere turn of his head – a glance around the particular living dyson sphere he happened to be occupying – he could see as much thriving life as the fifty billion planets of the entire Core galaxy supported.

The makers here had dreamed very, very, large indeed.

And – as the quintessential Mary rose up again – he realized that this particular biosphere was all HIS. More room to kick back in – and hold wild parties – than he could ever need!

Marty leaned back to relax, idly catching drops of fermented nectar to sip from one of the fifty-foot flowers while watching a swarm of beautiful hundred-foot butterflies sipping from them.

Marty left Marty to enjoy his vacation with his complete attention while he shifted his… drat it! This called for an entirely new vocabulary!

Over in Faerun, things were busy. The Waterdeep Amarant Solutions office had been busy… Marty hadn’t been there – but now that he was, he knew what his local bardic identity had been up to while he wasn’t in it. One of the dark gods – Bane again most likely – had somehow stolen the dragon portfolio from Set, as he had stolen it from another god before him, and was now stirring up a dragon war across the Sword Coast. Many chromatic dragons, and not a few of the weaker-willed metallics, had rallied to the “cause” of loot.

 There had been an early strike on Shadowdale and Elminsters tower. The tower had been reduced to rubble, but neither Elminster nor his library and gear was found in mess afterwards. Marty’s local identity had been one of the scouts and messengers who’d braved the trip through enemy territory to search for him.

Marty had to grin at that. The old codger had probably done some divination and teleported to one of his other strongholds.

Waterdeep -his current location – was, of course, at the center of things again. In the Realms it was something of a tradition. There had been a couple of attacks, but – so far – the Guild Mages had kept the damage from going past the superficial level. On the other hand, many of the evil creatures of the wilderness were rallying behind the dragon leadership at the moment.

There was also a baby waiting for him; she’d been dropped with the Thralls a few hours ago; the message to him about it was still in channels.

Oh. OH. That was definitely something notable there! She wasn’t a half-dark elf though… She was human. Apparently the mother was a young female bard who’d used a bit of magic to get the pregnancy over with quickly. After all, there was a war on!

Her name was Syrlinell – and her mother had left a note saying that, since she’d had the baby, she was being pursued by some unpleasant mages. Ergo, she’d left the baby with the agents who specialized in bodyguard and protective services and who seemed to serve Marty. She might not be up to dealing with the child, but would rather not see her snatched by some cult or other.

He had to admit that she was a smart woman. Sadly, she really hadn’t left much information about the mages – but apparently she didn’t have much.

Marty was making sure that his new daughter was well-fed, had clean swaddling, and had a good dose of cuddling, and was issuing orders to get her safely to Kadia afterwards when she looked at him with her glowing violet eyes…

Whaaa….?

That was a rather supernatural trait! What was… Oops! Since he was manifesting as a local god, however minor, that made little Syrlinell her a demigoddess, and (by default) his local high priestess. No wonder nasty people had been after her! Especially with the Godswar heating up again!

And no wonder the mother (What HAD her name been?) Hadn’t felt up to dealing with an infant demigoddess.

Well! His first divine baby! He got her some silken swaddling and smartclothes.

The thralls weren’t for baby demigoddesses though. They know about normal and anthro babies, and werewolf babies, and dragon hatchlings – but were fairly sure that demigoddesses might have a bit of a learning curve!

(Marty) “Well, she looks like a normal baby other than the demigoddess part. I guess just watch out for sudden magic outbursts and let me know when they happen.”

Oh dear! It looked like natural chaos magic for the baby… That was going to complicate things!

He got her out of the war zone, and away from her pursuers.

He supposed he’d have to take some Thralls and get involved in the dragon war – but, for the moment, until he got used to handling so many situations at once, it would be best to hold off on that until he got used to handling multiple roles at the same time.

He left himself to investigate – and to look for spots where he and a dozen or so thralls could have an impact – and turned his attention elsewhere.

He really did need to find out what was wrong with Kevin – and this multipresence thing made keeping an eye on what the boy was up to really difficult!

Huh. Budding God and Mentor to an Adolescent Lord of Darkness. That future would never have occured to him a year ago… No wonder Gelman was so nervous! He wouldn’t have trusted himself back then with a beer run!

Aaarrrgghhhh… With all of them active at the same time, his various identities all had their own perspectives on each other and himself! And it was hard to argue when the people with the opinions were all you!

In the Dragon Empire he was an adult Green Dragon with a small holding – a dozen or so slaves (not counting some hatchling slaves that had belonged to a couple of them before they challenged him and lost), eight wives/concubines, and thirty-four young offspring. The Dragon Emperor had issued a decree requiring that all hatchlings be sent to Ailill’s school for testing.

He didn’t like that at all! Despite his natural draconic urge to just let the kids sink or swim on their own! That meant that his less competent (sigh… at least 20% or so) kids were at serious risk of winding up as slaves or pets before they even got out of the nest!

Still, he had six months on that before the scheduling for his sector came up… The decree recognized both the limitations of transport and of the testing facilities.

He evaluated where his weaker kids were in terms of strengths and weaknesses – and spent a fair sum on crash courses and the like for them, to give them one last chance to improve. With any luck, he could get almost all of them to pass – unless one or two were really hopeless or badly fouled up the tests.

Still, at least he could get those back by just paying the testing fee up front instead of having it be a percentage of the failures.

Wait a moment… He quite clearly remembered claiming his territory, defeating and enslaving his challengers (weird; no matter how much his dragon-self savored those memories of battle, triumph, and the ensuing enslavements, his human side made those memories a distinctly guilty pleasure), claiming his concubines, and siring his children.

Yet his human self didn’t remember ever actually visiting in his dragon-ID to do any of that in the first place. The instincts, memories, territory, ten-year-old kids, and defeated enemies (with their own memories of the battles) had all… come with the identity.

That was SO WEIRD.

Reality – at least once you reached the power levels he and Kevin were working on – was a lot more malleable than he ever thought it was before he started traveling. It might only be real HERE – but here it was indeed real, and with multiple identities active, he was in both realities at once.

A certain level of disorientation seemed to come with this power – at least as long as you didn’t just go with the flow and let the local identities more or less run themselves while you… whatever “you” meant in this situation – jumped from channel to channel in your own mind.

This was going to take some time getting used to

Still. He was NOT just a dragon! He was going to make sure that most of his kids at least passed, and set aside money for the ones who looked hopeless… Hey! He could just have the Thralls running the school ship them to Kadia if they washed out and put them into Kevin’s “get dragon’s souls” program. That way he could introduce them to all the other kids too!

By the time he was done with all of THAT, he had a challenger.

Oh of COURSE. That was pretty much one of the iconic features of this universe! You took up a draconic ID, things came to fight you.

Fortunately, he had an arena dedicated for the purpose!

Wait, he did? Oh, of COURSE he did!

He’d have to visit the school when he took the kids up; the Thralls would easily recognize him.

It was a semi-natural cavern system. A full formal battlefield would be a bit above his current station.

It was a young adult green named “Kruath” who wanted to take over his holdings and concubines and enslave Marty and his offspring…

Boy was THIS kid in for a shock! Hm… It looked like he had some slaves and concubines of his own to put up for stakes along with himself! That was even better! Soon they would be his as well!

Marty decided to toy with the kid a bit, and let him show him what he had before his victory celebration. Reacting a little quicker than his challenger, he slipped into a side tunnel rather than moving directly to the attack!

The youngster muttered something about “Chicken!” and breathed a blast – which split up into a dozen hawklike elemental spirits and zoomed down the tunnel after Marty!

That was pretty good! And showed originality! But wouldn’t he be immune to another green’s breath? What did the boy think he was up to?

Marty gave the kid the first one, just to see what he thought he was doing – but managed to dodge most of the others.

Ah! He was having them combust – well, they were made of highly-active chlorine gas – and thus blow up doing physical and fire damage instead of chemical damage, thus bypassing Marty’s natural immunity! They hit fairly hard too! That was very clever! He’d say that… against a single target, who failed to dodge enough, they might even be more effective than the basic breath weapon – and they could be sent out to hunt people down! No wonder the kid had some slaves of his own already!

He might want to learn that trick himself!

Fortunately, he was tougher than a normal adult green!

Using actual weapons in a dominance duel was considered extremely cheesy at best – dragons were supposed to fight with their breath, natural weapons, and magic – but his claws made quite serviceable knives…

He popped out a few moments later to hit the kid with a stunning blow – mostly as a prelude to using his own breath – but the kid had another batch of breath-elementals circling around him, and he had to dodge some more.

Ouch! He let his healing powers handle what got through his defenses – but the kid readily resisted his stunning fist, and struck back with his own Crushing attack.

That hurt! Still easily within what his healing powers could handle, but the kid was doing very well for a youngster!

Hm… At the moment the youngster seemed to be willing to make it a slugging match for at least a few rounds – almost like he was stalling. Ambushes were pretty unlikely, but he could be working on some really big effect. After all, the stakes were pretty high!

He hit the kid with a powerful euphoric effect with his pleasure magic – THAT would spoil his concentration if it worked (although he did make it non-addictive though, to spare later awkwardness) – and the kid failed to resist it.

Bad luck for him! For his lapse in willpower he got mauled… It was easy enough to lay him out (this was a dominance duel! The kid was of little use dead, save for being sold for magical components) during the brief period when he was unable to defend himself!

That had been rather invigorating! And fun! And now there would be more fun! And information!

He called in the servants and had them stick him in the dungeon – which was just beneath the arena for ease of access.

They took him away and restrained him properly.

Marty took care to be there when the kid woke up.

(Marty) “Not a bad trick with the hawks, kid. Too bad I’m trickier.”

The kid flexed against the restraints – but they were quite solid and professional. After that, he just gritted his teeth and looked sullen. He couldn’t really talk though the anti-breath-weapon muzzle anyway.

(Marty) “Yeah… I made sure those don’t break. So you’re stuck. Now then… what were you stalling for?”

Marty launched a telepathic probe, keeping his own mental defenses up.

Ah, that was simple enough. The youngster had invented some good tricks revolving around animating his breath and changing it in various ways – but he could only do it every few rounds. He just needed to stall a little longer to pull off another fancy trick. He’d been… going to animate his breath as a major elemental, which would have held Marty to be pummeled with crushing blows for as long as it could – and would THEN explode.

That WAS pretty good! And it looked like he’d developed it entirely on his own!

Not that it did him much good now…

Marty hesitated… It would be a lot of fun – at least as a dragon – to go with the social norm and the basic challenge-bet, take everything the kid had, and turn him painfully into a harem guard to go with the six harem guards the kid had owned and the four concubines he’d had. He “remembered” the pleasure of doing that to other losers “before”.

The youngster’s mind was fairly open – after all, he had no reason to resist – and he was expecting the procedure to start as soon as his new master was done gloating.

But to the human side at the back of his mind, even some of the restraints on the youngster – never mind the implements – were downright embarrassing.

No. He wasn’t letting a dragon-identity take him QUITE that far – at least not in the first day or two! He was going to show some leniency, since this one had something interesting to “offer”!

(Marty) “Mwahaha! Tell you what, kid. You teach me to do those breath tricks, and I let you keep your manhood and your favorite concubine and slave. You’re still not going to be a free man, though. Deal?”

The boy nodded without hesitation – albeit with considerable astonishment.

(Marty) “You have something worth offering me. But one betrayal, and you’re GOING TO GET IT.”

He used Kevin’s dragon-slave conditioning technology with a few functions turned off?

The dragon part of Marty enjoyed that a lot – while the human part still felt a bit guilty.

On the other hand, he was QUITE serious about taking those few concessions away if the kid screwed up. There were things you just couldn’t tolerate!

As it turned out, the kid hadn’t had all THAT much personal wealth other than a few smaller holdings – but Marty had endless cash reserves to draw on anyway.

He stuck the kid in his newly-established magical research department (the kid must have a good understanding of that if he was already able to manipulate his breath weapon like that) and got his three new concubines and new slaves set up. The new concubines were young adults – a little younger than he was as a dragon, but (at eighty years or so ) older than he was as a human (which was also a little odd).

Hmm. He’d have to start improving the holding! It wasn’t all that impressive at the moment… Maybe add in a traditional waterfall to hide the arena entrance, and traps in case some defeated challenger didn’t accept his fate?

Oh wow… He was really starting to understand the appeal of this for Kevin. Being a dragon came with some powerful instincts and a LOT of appealing factors! The combat, and defeating a challenger, were both as much fun as the concubines! Dragons seemed to be built for that…

He hang out with the concubines for a bit – then shifted his attention before the identities hold got too strong.

It was no wonder that Kevin – as an inexperienced teenager – had gotten caught up in a dragon identity! They were positively ADDICTIVE!

He switched his… not his attention, but perhaps his focus?… back to the Green Galaxies.

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