Federation-Apocalypse Session 183a – A Darkness Upon The Deep

The Examination and Trial of Father Christmas,...

And on his alternate, non-blood, throne...

Raphael was wondering… He’d never thought of Santa Claus as a Lord of Darkness before – but giving people whatever they asked for… People so rarely considered whether getting what they asked for would actually be good for them! There was a reason why stories of twisted wishes, evil Jinn, and monkey’s paws persisted – and why “getting what you asked for” carried a seriously ironic overtone!

Kevin didn’t seem to mean it that way – but he didn’t really seem to think about what he was doing either! He just threw gargantuan energies – enough to blow this entire dimension to bits if the boy had slipped up if HE was any judge – behind a casual, and slightly sarcastic, request!

Yes, the old man had been a guardian of sorts, and the islanders had quite a few kids… but STILL.

Bad enough that the boy had that kind of power available in the first place… Was it just that he was operating with a fleet full of his Thralls around him at the moment? Midnight Gardener had been impressive – but at least it was power on a social scale; it required the efforts of tens of thousands with Kevin doing little more than directing those resources. The Emperor Skywalker did the same…

The implications went beyond what he could control. Was it time to consult the Emperor? Or the authorities of Core? Or the Unified Church? Or the Galactic Elders? Or the Oracles?

Or perhaps all of them?

(Raphael) “Hey, Kevin? Was it really… WISE to give a bunch of island primitives the power to completely shut down all traffic through a potentially major trade route indefinitely?”

(Kevin) “People can always sail around!”

Marty had to laugh! When Kevin went full power, he went FULL POWER.

(Kevin, growing aware of the LOOK Raphael was giving him) “But they asked!”

Trading was complete by morning, the tide was turning, and the Captain was ready to depart – and there were no more questions or requests (outside of a pair of kids who somehow got by the watching shamans, asked for candy, and were handed endless bags of it before returning to be severely switched for such temerity and disobedience).

Meanwhile the random distortions to the local reality were rippling outward from the island…

Marty had thought a little through the night; He was rather glad that Kevin had never turned his full power on Battling Business World – or on himself for that matter – although he kept that off the link. After all, Kevin was VERY unlikely to do that unless he lost control.

Still… He’d gone through his Smartclothes files. “The Darkness That Defends” was it? The “Destiny Of The Race”? Kevin was a friend… How much was he actually bound to “The Will Of The Race”? What exactly did “The Race” demand? Was there any limit?

Well, OK, he was also apprehensive about the upcoming wedding (although he wasn’t sure whether he was more worried about something going wrong or having it go smoothly), nervous about the upcoming court summons, and – of course – about the troubles of assaulting a japanese banking firm full of ninjas, to which he’d had a small flashback for no apparent reason.

Well, it wasn’t as if it was out of the question! You never knew where those little guys would hide or when they would pop up!

Raphael had set aside such speculations for the moment, and was thinking about how much easier this would all be if the ship handled like a matrix hovership. If there were stormy skies and horrible dangers on the ground to get past as well it would feel just like the old holos of home!

Kevin wasn’t worried much about anything! He was mostly being cheery, with offhand thoughts of breakfast, and rather more thoughts of how much fun he’d had in bed with his concubines last night!

They should have paid a bit more attention to the fact that the local reality had gotten rather weird and malleable. The Thralls noticed – but that wasn’t uncommon when Kevin had done a major working. Usually they just stabilized it for him – but this time it didn’t seem to be working. Maybe it was that they’d all been involved in it? It might take an unconnected thought-pattern to do it…

Marty got the overwhelming feeling that was being watched – while Raphael started to hear a familiar – and ominous – buzzing, along with the sounds of a firefight.

Kevin had noticed – but knew that meddling any more at the moment would just make it worse. The locals would settle it down soon enough!

(Marty, now paying attention) “Oh hell. Kevin, I think you broke the dimension.”

Raphael spent a little of HIS personal mana – and rather a lot of Stabilization magic – to try to hold the fleet (or at least the party) together just out of a reflexive desire to not wind up there alone…

(Kevin) “Oh it should settle down! The fleet alone is enough to hold a pocket realm of this size!”

(Voice) “Mr Tabard, I believe it is time you came with us now.”

It looked like a dozen Otters dressed in suits, wearing sunglasses, and wielding knives and briefcases.

Raphael saw a hovership, currently under assault from nearly three dozen sentinels, materializing off to the side of the fleet as the storm whipped up…

(Marty) “Where?”

(Suit Otter) “She hasn’t decided yet, Mr Tabard. She just said she wants to see you for something. Now, are you going to come quietly, or shall we have to use this restraining order to tie you down?”

(Raphael, muttering) “Must not use connection to other dimension… must resist temptation… Robot four, shoot those sentenals!”

Marty was miffed! The restraining order looked to be a high quality one with a signature from a high district court judge. Pretty strong! It would take a lot of time to break out of or appeal.

The cartoon piece of paper flexed it’s huge muscles and did a bit of weightlifter-posing.

Marty didn’t even WANT to know what the little speedo was covering.

Well, that was Battling Business World!

Crud! It looked like he’d be going with them, then!

Kevin looked to the Thralls – but they were already busy trying to settle things down with magic.

Why just magic? Oh yes! They were in the same bind that he was! They’d contributed mana to creating the disturbance, so more of their mana risked feeding it instead of settling it down!

He had the ones who weren’t good at the right kinds of magic settle for protecting the normal crew instead! Hopefully none of THEM were latent reality editors!

(Kevin). “Drat! Looks like I may have overdone it a bit!”

(Marty) “What did I just tell you a few minutes ago?”

Raphael’s robots began shooting at the sentinels. Some of the sentinels broke off their battle with the hovership and came towards the fleet. Meanwhile, the restraining order had grabbed Marty in an enormous bear hug and begun to squeeze money out of him – a fountain of bills flying in all directions!

(Kevin) “Aagh! He’s hemorrhaging solvency!”

(Suit Otter) “Soon everything of yours will be transferred to her. I don’t recommend resisting Mr Tabard, although it might give me some amusement.”

Fortunately, the islanders – watching somewhat bemusedly from the borders of their own little archipelago-world – were safe enough; they didn’t know what was going on, so their naive faith in the local reality was holding things stable for them.

That and the open sea was ALWAYS a place where worlds melded into each other! Everyone knew that the sea led to a myriad wonderful realms!

Raphael continued to try to stabilize the area – but he was beginning to fear that his efforts might simply lock in a small nexus right where they were…

He poured in more power – and THAT, in addition to the Thralls efforts, began to stabilize things – although the sheer scope of the problem was obviously only beginning to become apparent. It was going to be a several hour ordeal.

(Marty) “HELP!”

Blood was one thing, but – to a Battler – money was another thing entirely!

Raphael noted that three sentinels had landed on the ship and were doing battle with the thralls – and that Marty was in the hands of Agents while screaming for help.

(Kevin) “Hey! The majority of his assets are legally sheltered and operate under inconvertible axioms! If you want to squeeze him you need to go through the Courts of Kadia!”

(Raphael) “Robot three! Pull that paper off him.”

(Marty) “You bastards didn’t say anything about finances!”

Kevin, as the supreme legal authority of Kadia – where most of Marty’s assets were – started throwing in some opposing orders.

Marty tried to slash his way out. That, in combination with the robot helping to peel off and rip the restraining order, soon got him free – at which point Suited Otters suddenly started pouring out of the Crow’s Nest, the galley, from below decks, and from over the sides of the ship, all swarming towards Marty.

Raphael saw them as dozens of agents, seemingly appearing out of nowhere and swarming past him as they leapt from ship to ship.

Marty started wondering if Contracting Magic could be used to Summon Lawyers!

Oh, wait! Of course it could!

The evil version of “Summon Lawyer” had no spell level and could be cast by anyone. The third-level version required a sacrifice of money, but wasn’t evil – and could be upgraded to get more than one lawyer as usual, although the financial component could get costly rather quickly.

Kevin, meanwhile, had set up a sign that said “Immigration Paperwork! Please form an orderly line!” and had started stamping passports for Ciarkian AND the Local Islands Subreality!

Raphael groaned. The kid was just playing along! Was he just trying to deplete the residual energies by channeling them into yet more silliness?

Meanwhile, Marty was summoning up a powerful legal team with his Contracting Magic and some of his vast wealth!

Raphael was busily warping time to let him – and his robots – match the speed advantages of the otter-agents! That would let them fight while he focused on dodging and controlling the environment…

Marty’s spell resulted in the formation of a major dark portal lined with runes of damnation – from which a figure cloaked in black and followed by billowing black fog stepped forth on to the ship. A layer of frost has began to accumulate on the deck near him. Eight more appeared through the portal behind him.

(Cloaked Figure) “At last, I have been summoned to battle! I, the Dark Witch-King of the Nazghul, shall defeat these pathetic weaklings who think they can claim my client’s money! That is my job!”

Well, Marty had put them on retainer as his attorneys!

Meanwhile a large number of people of stereotypical ethnicities have begun forming a line at Kevin’s immigration station that was causing the ship’s deck to become very crowded.

(Marty) “Keep it up Kevin! If we get enough people aboard, there won’t be room to breathe, much less fight!”

Kevin immediately put several more Thralls on paperwork duty!

Raphael groaned… It looked like their ship had become the center of attention – and was now sitting a bit low in the water and dropping steadily. The addition of so many people and the rapidly spreading ice and rain wasn’t helping matters either. The Nazghul smiting people so hard that they were flung off the ship WAS helping – but it wasn’t enough to keep up with the weight gains.

Kevin threw a buoyancy spell under it – but that was a stopgap at best!

Meanwhile, Marty was busy fighting a number of weak lawyers who were threatening to simply overwhelm him with numbers. He wasn’t sure where he’d gotten the metal staff from.

(Marty) “What am I doing wielding a STAFF?”

(Kevin, cheerily) “Well, let your staff deal with them while you’re busy! You can afford a good enough staff for that!”

Marty groaned. Had it actually come down to a pun battle?

Oh well. He let the staff go and do it’s own fighting while he pulled out his knife again.

Raphael directed the Thralls to boost the ice-effects. If they could get the ship perched on a small iceburg there would be plenty of floatation and room!

Eskimos appeared, turned into agents, and swarmed over the side of the ship onto the deck.

(Raphael) “Oh come on!”

(Kevin) “Papers please! Form an orderly line!”

(Witch-King) “By the power of my hate, I call upon the freezing winds and icy rain to heed my bidding. LET FROZEN RAIN BE YOUR BANE!”

(Kevin) “And a tremendous pain!”

Within moments the storm became a veritable blizzard as snow, freezing rain, and enraged yetis appeared out of nowhere. The ship was now thoroughly encased in ice and the various agents and sentinels were quickly becoming covered with ice. Meanwhile, a conga line had formed leading up to the immigration desks.

(Marty) “Bring us your poor, your tired, your Cuban dancers?”

(Kevin) “I know I have a mask around here somewhere! Is it time for Cuban Pete?”

(Raphael, finally blowing his top) “All right. no more!”

He made some grand gestures and used his telepathy dweomer to create a huge illusion that none of this was happening on the assumption that the group was making it happen by expecting it – directing his robots to defend his allies against anything that continued to exist while projecting an aura of raw confidence and the appearence of competence at the same time.

Suddenly the scene wavered and shimmered before disappearing completely. Raphael stood proud and alone, looking incredibly smug about something.

Kevin was kind of disappointed! He was an EXCELLENT dancer!

(Marty) “Wow.”

(Raphael) “That was just too silly. I had to stop it”

(Marty) “Think you could do that over an entire dimension?”

(Captain) “Alright, what the HELL JUST HAPPENED?!”

(Marty) “What day is it?”

(Captain) “Sunday, why?”

(Raphael) “I am good – but not that good”

(Marty) “Yep, just another Sunday. More seriously, I think we had a bit of dimensional overlap. Sorry about that!”

(Kevin) “Oh, a bit of reality disturbance! It always settles down after a bit! It gets too self-contradictory for stability and the excess energy runs out!”

(Raphael) “Or I get annoyed and stop it either way”

(Captain) “Right, now who were those guys?”

(Marty) “I think they were just manifestations of what we were thinking about at the time.”

(Captain) “Does this happen often? And why do you find yourself thinking about people in weird clothes attacking you in the middle of a blizzard while flying golems try to carve up the ship in the middle of a dance party?”

(Raphael) “Some of that was from my people’s home. Some was from Marty’s home, and some other stuff I did not recognize”

(Marty) “No, only when Angkor spends too much of his energy on things. And that’s just how what we were thinking about combined.”

(Raphael) “I might have been thinking about the golems.”

(Marty) “And I was thinking about the lawyers.”

(Raphael) “Lets move on to something more pleasant to talk about.”

(Marty) “Yeah, I agree.”

(Captain) “And what exactly do you want to talk about?”

(Kevin) “Breakfast!”

(Marty) “That is a VERY good thing to talk about. What do we have onboard?”

(Cook) Already people are asking about breakfast. I was busy defending the food stores from the rats and now people are asking what is to eat…

For a moment, Raphael considered trying to test to see if the local reality was completely stable by messing with the inventory – but decided against it.

(Cook) “Fine, I’ve got salted pork, eggs, and a hashbrown casserole I can whip up shortly. The milk will need thawing though.”

Kevin (still cheerily) had a few Thralls assist. He wanted lots of sausages!

Breakfast passed by with only minor hijinks. Rain had resumed falling, but thus far no major storm had materialized.

(Kevin) “Well, we should be restocked with supplies, the trading was fairly good, and we’ve had a little light exercise (with no serious injuries!), so I suppose it’s time to set sail again! And the Islands (what are they called anyway) are much safer than they were!

(Marty) “I won’t argue with that!”

He got the Lissifea ready to go.