Federation-Apocalypse Session 177 – Family Matters

Given a little time to think, Kevin had concluded that the proper thing for a wedding was extravagant festivities and gifts! Hm. A bunch of dragon-slaves of course! They were very classy and added color and impressiveness to any celebration! Perhaps a bunch of slave-girls with the magic to act as surrogate mothers? That would keep the burden off Mrs Fennwick… Still, that might be considered a little over-personal mightn’t it… Perhaps he should leave that decision up to her. A couple of nice, fully-staffed, mansions of course! A vacation home and personal gate to a mountain-peak palace in Kadia? Some Thralls of course! Perhaps a ship or two? A yacht anyway! Oh! A set of high-quality (and colorful, in honor of Parrots) outfits for everyone attending!

Party food didn’t make the list. Kevin was still shying away from that topic.

Festivities… Fireworks at the end of the evening of course! A three or four hour display over the entire city should do for that! Some Kabukai Theater would be fun! Robot battles and Kaiju Ballet? (Perhaps Ninja Cyborg Godzilla and Pirate Superhero Mothra?) And largesse and games and a carnival for everyone in the city! He could hire on the fox kid who’d been runner-up in the sociability competition to help get it going!

He’d have to ask around on the local customs too… Were a bunch of willing females expected to be a part of the bachelor party?

Raphael kind of felt that giving the groom a harem – or even a temporary one at the bachelor party – was in poor taste. Besides, the bride usually objected to that sort of thing, and there was no use starting off a marriage on the wrong foot! Did Kevin go this overboard on EVERYTHING he took an interest in? After all, Marty already controlled an entire dimension! Perhaps simple symbolic gifts were in order! Or – at most – something for his new wife to reduce the disparity a bit!

Still, the evening wound to it’s end. Raphael had had a long day building new robots, so it was time for a well-deserved rest. Marty had a few nightcaps and settled down as well – while Kevin, with adolescent energy, told the young lady “good night” but skipped out on a good deal of sleep in favor of spending time with his various personal companions – including the two new (and very happy-and-eager looking) panther-girl concubines.

Now that they’d taken care of the local assassins and troublemakers, squelched the mage who periodically caused disasters, and held still long enough for several of the major groups to put in an appearance, the night was relatively quiet…

Unfortunately, Raphael was one of those !@#$%^ morning people! And relentlessly cheery in the morning to boot!

Raphael didn’t see the problem! It was a good day! The machines were in their place serving him slavishly and all was right with the world!

He spent his cheery morning preparing his pirate cove to be turned into a working dock with a entry elevator into the city and a full lab and residence ready to work on robots and repair boats – or whatever else needed doing in a city’s second dock that was miles away from the first.

The city was agreeable enough; money and power both spoke loudly…

Kevin, grumblingly, eventually got up to check on a few things… He’d sent out some Thralls to try and catch some of the War Party Rabbits, the Wolf-Matron was still closeted with her major advisors, it was almost time to go with the Platypus trading expedition – and he still had a cute girl to catch!

Of course once they left they’d have a goddess to rescue, several court cases, reptile-people to talk too, and quite a few other things to do – including finding out what was going on with those machines that Jarvain kept complaining about. Hm… Perhaps it had been unwise to put someone with quite so many unresolved hostility issues in independent command of an interstellar battle fleet.

He decided to just wander around for a bit, confirming rumors through the presence of several new, youthful, panther-thralls.

Marty was checking out the local wedding customs. He certainly didn’t want any serious omissions!

Raphael was directing repairs on the ships when another ship arrived outside the barrier across the entrance – and seemed to be trying to get in… The flag wasn’t in any of his databases, but there seemed to be a couple of hundred people aboard – mostly arguing with each other while a team of six adventurer-types analyzed the cliff face…

Well, that meant that it was time to alert the city guards to the fact that somoene was knocking on their back door (he sent a Thrall to do that), to figure out that flag (another Thrall-job), and to go and see who was knocking – a job he kept for himself. Knowing that the Thralls would cheerily die by the swarm simply to keep him from being inconvenienced still gave him the creeps even if they did just come right back in Kadia and go on a shopping spree with their “Death Benefits”! The still looked like adolescent-or-younger kids!

Still, he gave the Thralls a few minutes; he wanted to see if the visitors would pierce the wards before someone came back to tell him what that flag meant. Besides… that gave him time to have his new robots generate an illusion of a small army waiting in the cavern – all in city guard uniforms.

His first response was Marty, who – having nothing better to do while he waited for reports on local weddings to get back to him – had unerringly headed for the commotion.

Shortly thereafter a translucent Raccoon mage appeared – arguing with someone unseen.

(Raccoon) “Alright I am inside, let me have a look around. Hmm, looks like a pirate cove filled with guards or pirates. No, I can’t tell who they are, and quit asking me how to open the door already! (As he noticed Raphael and Marty) Uhhh, we mean you no harm?”

(Raphael) “Hey what are you doing in my cove?”

(Raccoon) “Well it appears that my tracking friend has once again led us into a trap – or at least a detour. We are searching for someone and appear to have gotten off track is all.”

(Raphael) “Oh who are you looking for?”

(Raccoon) “Ah, what was the kid’s name again? Oh, Kevin Sanwell, thanks Jeorg. I have no memory for such things. They keep telling me to get a set of those damned “brilliant clothes” or whatever they call them, but those damned machines give me the creeps. (Apparently to someone else) Yes, I know you say they are perfectly safe. I don’t care.”

(Raphael) “Oh, those are pretty safe if you add the right safety features. They are really handy and totally worth the hassle… I might be able to summon Kevin Sanwell for you. What do you want him for?”

(Raccoon) “Ah, well that would be good then. I have a large number of people here looking to speak with him regarding some missing children. WOULD YOU BE QUIET! IT IS HARD TO LISTEN TO WHAT THIS GUY IS SAYING WITH ALL OF YOU YELLING IN MY EARS! Alright, sorry about that. It appears that a number of them are rather upset with this Kevin.”

Ah, upset parents! They’d finally stayed in one relatively peaceful place long enough for a pack of them to catch up!

(Marty) “Hey, you’ve got a lot of people horning in on things there! Where are they from?”

(Raccoon) “A selection of realms actually, they hired our party and chartered this ship to seek out this “Kevin Sanwell. They are aboard the ship on the other side of this… cliff wall. I’ve been projecting myself through the wall to see what was on the other side and found you bunch, but unfortunately I can hear the discussions on both sides.”

(Raphael) “Well I think it would be easier for me just to come out there then.” (then to one of the kids via telepathy) “Quietly ask Kevin if it is ok to overlay the version of him in Kadia with a boat full of angry parents in a few minutes.”(Then to Marty normally) “He’s projecting from that ship over there.”

The Raccoon was now studying the wall intently.

(Raccoon) “Just how do you open this exactly?”

(Raphael) “Oh I have yet to get around to figuring that out yet. I only found this place the other day. It was in a divination duel to find the largest unclaimed buried treasure in the area.”

(Raccoon) “Fascinating. I wonder if it becomes incoporeal or if it folds open somehow?”

(Raphael) “I was just going to carefully teleport to the other side. it would be nice to know but I really do not want to play with the doors until the guards are less nervous about suddenly finding a cove of this size here and I have it back in operating order”

(Raccoon) “Oh, ok fine. I presume you can teleport then, or do I need to teleport you?”

(Raphael) “I can teleport just fine. just give me a second to check if the door has any traps or wards which would affect teleportation through it.”

He could just take them down the coast of course, but then he wouldn’t get to “summon” Kevin (via a communications overlay) in Dragon form! It would be a lot more fun and impressive that way!

He did a few divinations to check for anything that would block a short range teleport out.

It looked like… there were a number of spells designed to ward against anyone coming inside. There didn’t appear to be any such safeguards against leaving… Interestingly enough, it looked like you needed a keystone to activate the enchantments that opened the door from either side.

He’d have to look for that later. It was probably somewhere in the cavern. After all, the ships were inside and it was unlikely that they’d been damaged in battle in the cave. Someone might have taken it along in fleeing to the city above – but there was no reason to expect that to have stopped the psychic cat-creatures, so it might be in some mage-school or collectors stockpile of weird gewgaws of unknown function.

Marty was impressed; Raphael was GOOD at analyzing things like that! Very handy! Much as he hated to admit it, there were times when physical violence was not the answer, and neither was talking or having Kevin throw another tidal wave of raw magical power at something…

Admittedly violence and raw power often chanced one problem into another one altogether, but they weren’t always actually SOLUTIONS.

(Raphael) “I’m going to teleport over to their ship and “Summon Kevin”; want to come along?”

(Marty) “Sure, why not?”

Raphael spent a few moments gathering energy – Kevin was dreadfully profligate in his use of personal power, although he usually drew on his Thralls for it – and invoked a simple short-range spacefold.

Hm. Had Kevin started collecting Thralls so early that he’d never learned to Gather properly? Maybe he should try teaching him; it might wean him off so much reliance on Thralls.

Meanwhile, of course, a few miles down the coast in Cyrweld, Kevin was showing off a tiny part of his collection of enslaved children… Mostly his three new panther-girl concubines and a few new servants.

Marty and Raphael appeared on a large wooden sailing ship, and were met by the mage you were talking to a moment ago, five additional adventurer types, and what looked to be over a hundred other people…

(Raccoon) “Welcome aboard the Fortune Oreo. I am Tyrmar Alaban.”

(Marty) “Hi, what’s up?”

(Raccoon) “Well, my companions and I have been paid by these nice people to help them track down Kevin Sanwell. My companion Alexander here says he traced a path to this location. Now, your companion here says he might be able to arrange a meeting with this Kevin.”

(Raphael) “So where do you want him summoned? and do you have a nice clear area to do it in?”

(Tyrmar) “Well, I suppose here on the deck will work well enough unless he is a very large fellow.”

Raphael tried to clear enough room for Kevin’s dragon form – just in case – and evoked his spell.

An eldritch wind rose, whipping out from a raging vortex of terrible magical energies wrapped around a flaming draconic form – which cycled through a half-angel-half-demon thing with rakish halo, and several other forms before the massive energies were sucked down into a human form which looked more-or-less like Kevin usually did, but with glasses, a scarf, and an english smoking jacket.

(Kevin) “WHO DARES SUMMON… Oh, it’s you Raphael. What do you want?”

There was a long moment of silence – but some of the parents aboard were too anxious and angry for even displays like that to inhibit them for long.

Kevin was wondering if the display had been good enough; it was hard to judge exactly when you didn’t know exactly who you were trying to impress.

(Raphael) “O these guys wanted to see you about their children”

(Kevin) “What, ill and they want to sign up or something?”

(Angry Mother) “What have you done with my child!?”

(Kevin) “How in the Abyss should I know? You could ask him, her, it, or whatever-the-kid-is by Email if you gave their name!”

(Angry Mother) “Her name’s Lillian!”

(Raphael) “It might help to give more than that there are lots of kids he’s ‘done stuff with’”

(Kevin) “Well, there are only… 1237 “Lillians” in service at the moment.- so that narrows it a bit!”

(Angry Mother) “Oh, all right, I’ll try the local… magic? It seems so weird to say that!”

(Kevin) “What magic? Things like last names, where she was recruited, and that sort of thing would work!”

After a moment of shock, the angry woman gave him that information… It looked like a “cold war” spy fiction realm… That narrowed the field to one “Lillian Markus”.

(Kevin) “Hmm… Looks like she was swept up in some sort of school takeover with ransom demands – a “high security” place with some officials kids or something? – and got broken out and taken to Kadia with some other kids by a couple of Thralls who happened to be in the area when the people doing the takeover started wanting to shoot lesser hostages. She was of age in Kadia, and signed up so she could go on rescue missions of her own. What’s wrong with that? They should have left a note! (after a moments pause) It looks like they did…”

(Slightly Less Angry Mother) “We thought it was a smokescreen for a terrorist group, though I really am beginning to wonder. So where is she now?”

She considered the flaming-dragon manifestation… It might just be special effects, but if it was all real… Talking might be her only chance of taking her daughter away from a demon-dragon-god.

(Kevin) “Hm… Looks like she’s doing rescue work over in one of the Old Testament realms! Those are popular destinations for some reason, but they’re very big on divine smiting and global floods and plagues and things!”

Raphael was considering… Quite a lot of them were wearing Smartclothes. They were kind of ubiquitous in a lot of the Manifold… He sent a brochure explaining Thralldom, and Kadia, and its benifits to each set of smartclothes in the area – as well as a tourest’s guide to Kadia while he was at it.

Hmph. Some of them hadn’t set their spam filters! He could get around the automatic ones since they WERE interested in Kevin and Kadia! It was SPAM TIME! That would teach them a lesson! More brochures about the wonders of Kevin’s operations, and on how great it was to be a Thrall, and some on why not setting your filters was just inviting hundreds of spam files to be sent to your inbox all the time!

And a warning about the dangers of machines taking over the world just to be sure that they knew.

(Kevin) “Lets see… (pointing to a middle-aged couple from Core) your kid ran away from Crusader and came to Kadia to sign up, your (pointing to a younger mother from the English Fantasy Realms) kid went was captured by pirates, sold into slavery, and purchased by one of my agents. He was permitted to send a funding request if he’d wanted to, but opted out since he said you had no money – and he elected Thralldom over indenture and school. Bad luck there! He should have written anyway! Your (pointing to a father from the Shadowrun world) kid was… Hmm… recruited by a thrall who did a basic witchcraft-link on her before some cultists sacrificed her, so she showed up in Kadia and signed up. She’s… chasing the cult on assignment, and has probably been just too busy to check in with you and may have been worried about explaining the bit where she was killed. Your (pointing at a couple from the “Jesus Realms”) son wanted the “cool powers”, and the money, and the sex, among other things, and signed up for that since he didn’t want to wait for adulthood to get his own nanite changes…

The various parents had been taken aback for a moment – but the various demands for contact information and links, for going to Kadia to chew out errant kids, for proof of some of these incredible assertions, and (for some of them of course) for the immediate return of their kids (no matter WHAT Kevin was or said), was growing louder.

(Kevin, to the ones demanding the immediate return of their kids) “Well, you can talk to them about it! Or possibly employ them!”

The majority (including many of the ones who’d taken a look at the brochures) were still very upset that Kevin would do – whatever the hell it was he’d done – to their kids without asking them, but they did want to see them.

(Kevin) “Hmph! Most of them were either out in the Manifold, running away, or escaping likely death anyway! There are lots worse things that can happen to a child out in the Manifold than signing up with me! You should see what Chernobog does!”

That wasn’t particularly soothing – but it did shut quite a few of them up. They didn’t particularly want to know what “Chernobog” – whatever “Chernobog” was – did to kids; a good many of them could imagine some really horrible things – and the reality was probably worse.

It was really… Chernobog was a mountainous dark god that used human bodies as the “cells” of it’s body – absorbing them into it’s gelatinous mass, fueling it’s terrible psychic powers with the unimaginable torment of the minds trapped within those bodies, and empowering the cultists who fed it a steady stream of sacrificial victims and occasionally shared in the dark ecstasy of their gods constant sadistic feeding. Eventually, of course, those minds finally burned out, the bodies perished despite the “afterlife” status of being a part of Chernobog, and the souls could depart – but that process might require many centuries. Those cultists who voluntarily joined their spirits with Chernobog became warped and demonic things, finding in the torment of others, and their own lesser torments, a warped ecstasy. They might endure for millennia – but they too would eventually burn out, hopefully to find a life less terribly broken.

Other entities opposed Chernobog of course, but it had other ancient evils as it’s allies, and the layered, defenses of it’s personal realm placed attackers at a tremendous disadvantage.

Marty almost had to laugh. Once again, Kevin presented himself as the least of the available evils… It was hard to say where the sleight-of-tongue lay however. Was he the least evil because he wasn’t evil at all, or did it lie in never mentioning that there might be good alternatives?

Were there good alternatives? “Good” seemed to give you what you needed, even if it was free of charge. It was “Evil” that gave you what you wanted, but charged high for it. Was it that Kevin somehow turned what you wanted into what you needed?

(Kevin) “Now, those of you who still wish to shout, can shout at your own kids as they pass through Kadia; there are some gates you can use in the city down the coast! Except for YOU (as he pointed at one angry father), you can’t shout at your daughter that way; stress is bad for the baby! Otherwise there are plenty of guides available in Kadia! ”

That caused a bit of a stir, with the outraged father demanding to know who had impregnated his daughter?!?

(Kevin) “Isn’t that kind of her business?”

That left him (and a number of others) somewhat flustered – and wanting to make a quick departure to ask.

Raphael provided the captain with directions for sailing to Cyrweld. He considered warning them about the machines in Kadia – they were dreadfully intelligent – but then they weren’t really very big threats, even if they DID need more safeties!

Kevin didn’t bother setting up anything special in Kadia. There were plenty of guides, and plenty of things to see, and their Thrall-kids to meet – and about the worst thing they’d find there was the possibility of betting yourself into slavery – and you wouldn’t do that if you had a lick of sense. You had to work hard on that, or let a unicorn sucker you into joining it’s herd or some such.

Pesky parents, expecting him to keep track of individual kids… Fortunately, he could consult the computers! Oh well. Kadia could handle any outraged parental outbursts just fine! And if they just HAD to have their kids back they could always rent them! He’d even do a reasonable rate, since that just meant putting them on “local recruitment” assignments for a decade or so at most…

Meanwhile, the Bishop had headed back to Core at high speed to consult the other senior officials of the Unified Church. At least in his opinion they could no longer afford to stand neutral on the subject of Kevin Sanwell. At the very least, they would have to act as intermediaries between him and the other races of the galaxy!

In Cyrweld proper the Platypi were planning the details of their voyage… They’d been planning a zig-zagging route along the coast and between various islands to maximize their profits and pick up speciality items along the way before jumping off to one of the other continents, where they turn such goods into a much greater profit – A multi-legged trading voyage in the most classic style!

With more ships and reinforcements aboard, they could even afford to come closer to some of the pirate dens – the cesspool city known as Ventorga, the floating fortress Alabaster, and Hables, (a rival city-state to the north).

Kevin was beginning to wonder if they’d gotten all the results they were going to get from staying in one place and waiting for people to come to them. But that was the advantage of having an expert and a diviner in your party!

He promptly turned to Raphael to ask. Would another week or two give any slowpokes time to arrive? They didn’t exactly want to advertise their position (that would scream “Trap”!), but would a few more really big spells help? If it was any help, the Thralls could loan him mana, power, and magic!

That was an interesting point! Raphael had known that Kevin drew on his Thralls, but hadn’t really seen the extent to which that power could be shared with other masters once they were formally assigned… That wasn’t much help in this realm, but other realms made things a lot more difficult – and it would be an immense help there!

Marty went off on wedding planning again; he liked the kaiju ballet idea, but wasn’t quite sure of how to fit it in…

Meanwhile, the Thralls were closing down the rabbit-hunt. They’d only participated on a small scale – but they’d mostly gone after the kids and teenagers, who didn’t really need to be involved at all, while most of the other hunters had gone after bigger targets.

That had quickly collected the minors and the lower level rabbits who were still resisting. A small number of higher powered rabbits had eluded the hunt and escaped however – including the now notorious ring-leader.

Well, that was more or less the cities problem…

Kevin checked on what the Rabbits – and the rest of the City – wanted done with the prisoners. Was it going to be bounties? Taking them away? Selling them? Dramatic public executions?

The Rabbits were open to enslavement, banishment overseas, or execution. Their sentiment mainly came down to banishment for the fodder, enslavement for the officers and middle ranks that went along with it, and execution for the ringleaders. The city sentiment was leaning towards banishment and execution.

Kevin promptly offered to pay off as much as was reasonable of their damages and fines – and, if those didn’t exhaust his offer, to pay the rest towards help in rebuilding – in exchange for ownership of the cannon fodder, middle ranks, and offspring (who mostly went with their parents).

That raised some eyebrows – he had that much money and had a use for that many slaves? Didn’t he have more than enough slaves already? – but no one questioned it.

Some of the more practical ones did wonder… Did he want a different set to haul his palanquin every day of the week? Besides… former rebels, brigands, rogues, and such didn’t really make very good slaves!

Fortunately, of course, Kevin would be shipping them off to his operations elsewhere – except whoever had passed the “do what you please” order to the three who’d attacked the lion girl. If she wanted to use them for palanquin bearers, she needed a matched set of four!

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