Aikiko elected to attend the fraternity party; after all, the cops didn’t have charms and the party would make an excellent cover for disturbing the wards. She’d have to be cautious; frat dudes weren’t famous for taking “no” for an answer… and she didn’t want to accidentally kill any of them just for being obnoxious and drunk…
The actual party turned out to be surprisingly sedate – and, while there was a bit of pushiness, there wasn’t much. It took her a few minutes to figure out why – and then it hit her; local boys, in a small town, intentionally inviting the cops to show up…
No, there wasn’t going to be anything rough; she was in bloody MAYBERRY.
It actually was kind of pleasant though!
(Aikiko, Jokingly) “Oh, dude, I bet they’ve got MIB sensors! They’ll use the blue flashy thing on you!”
She did take a closer look at the wards while she had a chance though… thaumaturgy of course; Air essence. That meant an Air Aspect Terrestrial – or an Awakened.
She kept the Essence detection up!
The frat boys didn’t know what kind of alarm the pesky cops had set up, but they couldn’t sneak back in without setting it off – and so they seemed to fully intend to “accidentally” set off the alarm (no matter how it worked) as many times as possible, just to annoy the cops.
(Aikiko) “Oh, bros, that should totally annoy them…”
And it would be a good distraction for her to slip in, although she didn’t say that out loud! Discreetly shifting the behemoth cloak to look like their standard outfit would did wonders for blending in; fraternity T-Shirts were easy to fake – and wearing one would probably make most of them assume that she was already with one of them…
Once she was in the yard… It was fading, but the yard… reeked of the wyld. It was still effectively a bordermarch – and it HAD been deeper than that! In addition, a VERY powerful essence-based weapon had been used here. There were scattered bits of a concrete garden set – it looked like the original table had weighed several hundred pounds and the chairs at least half that – around too…
Whoa. It was a good thing that she was wearing a behemoth cloak. It gave her some protection against shaping – and, for that matter, giant monsters with incredible strength!
Unfortunately, Aikiko’s attempt at further – and deeper – analysis of the essence-signatures botched – and she interpreted the remainder as divine power.
An awful lot of divine power too! That was weird! It seemed to have struck into the yard from outside, from near where that phony footprint was.
Which the plants were rapidly – far TOO rapidly! – filling in.
Oh, of course. Wood and Earth thaumaturges doing a cover-up. Well, into the house!
The house had traces of wyld energies all over the place. Weaker – bordermarches intensity – but many more layers – enough to be an obvious, maintained, low-grade wyld pocket – and it was mixed with that same divine signature. Maybe some god snatched them? A wyld pocket would explain where Salin got his endless party supplies from – but that kind of shaping was only available to Fey, Lunars, or Solars! Sure, even mortals could build very small and weak wyld pockets, but they needed to get some material from a larger or natural one to sustain them on a fairly regular basis. If that was the case, where could Salin have gotten it?
The place was quite well appointed… Pool table, big-screen plasma TV, wet bar, music system, big music-and-video collection, comfortable rooms… frat members liked their party stuff – but this was pretty lavish for a small frat house out in the boondocks! Most would be fortunate just to have the plasma and pool table!
She stuck her head into the first room. It was fairly lavishly appointed – not up to Yu-Shan standards, but bloody good for earth.
In the third bedroom – and by far the best – the bedspread was apparently ambrosial, and was woven with delicate little scenes of Yu-Shan. Very nice! But clearly not something you would find in any normal frat house! What in Creation was going on here? From the nametags… Salin’s room.
The blanket was… beautifully made, embroidered in marvelous detail, incredibly comfortable of course, unnaturally tough, and presumably never stained and never needed washing – all the good features of ambrosial crafting. It seemed fairly normal otherwise.
It really was genuinely ambrosial! Maybe Salin was God-Blooded? It seemed to fit – but surely a god or his nanny would have taught him better.
Hm… Salin’s room was at the center of the house – and the artificial wyld pocket, although there were signs that someone had been methodically banishing the Wyld energies and taking the pocket down in a controlled fashion. Either they hadn’t noticed the blanket or they hadn’t bothered with it though… If they’d had any idea what it was anyway.
Oh good grief! No wonder the police still had the place sealed off! Even if there wasn’t anyone one the force who knew why, the thaumaturgists doing the cover-up had surely provided some convincing reason!
Man, the frat guys weren’t going to be happy when all their cool stuff was gone…
Aikiko put the blanket back on the bed. As much as she liked ambrosial stuff, she was a daredevil, not a thief.
One of the other rooms was also nicely appointed – but there were several impact-cracks in the ceiling in front of a full-length mirror, the bedframe was bent, and there was a barbell set tied in knot. in the closet. Whoa. SOMEBODY around here had superhuman strength – and lots of it.
There wasn’t really much need to check – but it was indeed Darius’s room. It looked like the “flung a concrete chair” bit might be quite accurate. Okay… That couldn’t be coincidence unless it… was the kind that got Exalts together. Hoo boy.
Time for a theory! Even if it was early enough that it would almost certainly be entirely wrong! Say… Darius and Salin were both Exalts, likely Solars. They met at this fraternity. Salin generated the Wyld pocket to make things more fun for his frat brothers. Unfortunately, as a member of a society where magic is not common, no one told him about the dangers of Wyld shaping. Meanwhile, Seri got her hands on a cinamystic artifact. That interacted with the Wyld pocket, and SOMETHING from the dream inside got out. Where all these people were now was till open…
Still… Solars would account for the Wyld Shaping, and maybe for Salin’s apparent Yu-Shan connections – but Darius might well be a Lunar; he certainly displayed the raw strength for it from the stories – and he had been reported to abruptly get much larger, which might fit in with the broken bedframe and the cracks in the ceiling.
Wait, you could build a Wyld Pocket with nothing more than Thaumaturgy, provided that you had a source of wyld energies to import and contain. Next easiest was manse powers and Raksha assumptions. Could she check on some sort of registry of god-blooded? Ambrosia wasn’t normally found in Creation, but…
Darn. It still really could be almost anybody!
All right; that looked like most of what she was going to find in the place… And she’d already had to duck the cops twice, even if they were only normal humans. It was time to go do a little (sigh…) research. She needed to check some backgrounds!
That meant waiting for things to open up in the morning – but that was no trouble at all. It let her call for some assistance with the computer work.
Darius… Had a pretty normal record. Local family, drivers license with a few points from a speeding ticket taken off after a drivers safety course, school course records, grades, and athletics all fair – but nothing all that special. About three months back he’d been involved in an incident with a grizzly bear while camping – and had killed it with a sharp stick. That had gotten a fair amount of local attention. Since then he’d… been rapidly moving up in the athletics department. He was very fond of camping and mountain climbing (at least on the local peaks), and seemed to be a decent enough fellow.
Well… Rapid advancement COULD be a sign of Exaltation – but without other real evidence… Most new Exalts kicked up a much bigger stir than moving up a bit in the athletics rankings.
Salin, on the other hand… had a detailed local record, local relatives, superb grades over the past several years, was part of a band that was quite popular locally, and was a minor (if purely local) celebrity. On the other hand… there seemed to be no out-of-state records on him at all. No taxes, no nothing. It had taken some digging to determine that his SSN matched to a dead kid – a small boy of the same last name but a different personal name who’d died in a traffic accident in New York about fifteen years ago. That would make him about the right age though… The kid had been almost eight years old.
OK. That was definitely weird. According to the records in Yu-Shan, Abyssals were apparently made from dead people – but again, not enough evidence. And if you did turn a kid into one… would he or she grow up or not?
Come to think of it, she hadn’t seen any family photos in his room though. That WAS kind of suspicious! He was a small town boy after all!
Time to look into those local relatives – with a personal visit.
Hm. The Bards were an old family in the city. In person… there was much general conversation; they certainly remembered Salin, they were very proud of him, he’s… well, they were very proud of him!
The repetition and vagueness was weird again. It sounded like Salin had access to some means of brainwashing – or of using unnatural mental influence. Or perhaps he was just dead, and they couldn’t admit it. Still… they did seem to know him, and knew he was their kid – but they just didn’t seem to actually have any details on him.
Definitely suspicious. No matter how frustrated her parents got with her, Aikiko knew that they had still kept her baby stuff and remembered things she did. These folks… knew nothing but generalities. From Salin’s drivers license, they didn’t look at all like him either. That meant that Salin was either a raksha playing the role of a college student, or something even more worrisome.
And it would be hard for even a Raksha to insert all those grades and records and things. It was sounding… more and more like an Abyssal wiping out records (they were good at that kind of stunt) rather than inserting them. But that didn’t explain Godzilla… And why a wyld pocket? Abyssals could get comfortable in a LOT of ways.
Could the pocket actually be of something else? Sure it FELT like the wyld – but could it be the Underworld?
Nah, that was REALLY reaching. Time to get some more facts, and a little rest.
In the morning it still seemed like the best bet was that Salin was an Abyssal – if possibly a renegade – and it seemed likely that Seri knew a little more magic than just the standard New Age woo. Perhaps she was the one who set up the Wyld pocket? She’d need to be pretty good, but if she was hanging out with Exalts that wasn’t at all unlikely. Why would an abyssal have a fluffy blanket from Yu-Shan though? Unless some god was considering defecting to the underworld – it had happened in the past – or was planning to use him against Heaven’s enemies… It had happened in the past and Oblivion didn’t really care too much about what its chosen killed as long as they killed.
So; Salin had almost died, got offered abyssalness, took it, and was currently partying with a likely lunar at a fraternity? After all, some Abyssals did miss the joy of life – and the two could be bonded.
She had to wonder who her Lunar partner might be. With her luck, he ro she was probably working for the DEA and very VERY straight-laced.
Salin might actually be related to his “family”; he didn’t look like them, but the Black Exaltation did cause physical changes sometimes.
Still, if they were for real… they did seem pretty mind whammied when discussing him! Still, in that case, why no out-of state records? Either they were his real relatives, and he’d done some computer trickery along with the mental influence, or he’d used mental influence to convince them that they were his relatives. There was that stolen SSN with a different name.
She tried inquiring around campus – and everyone on campus did seem to remember him being around for years. A few were convinced that they’d known him in grade school. Most said that he’d been very close to graduating, they’d known him for years – but everything before about 4-5 months back was utterly vague. About when the semester began…
OK, that was a big “Yes” on the mental trickery – and probably said that he’d just moved in and used mental influence to make a place for himself. Had he been on a mission here, or just on the run? She could understand if a deathknight didn’t want to kill existence. He was a very powerful mentalist though if he’d arrived and convinced hundreds or people that they were his family, that he’d lived here all his life, and that they knew him well. He was a rocker… maybe he wove it into his performances somehow? That would require a lot of essence development – or some sort of a special knack.
Still, that wasn’t important right now, though . . . she still didn’t know where they were!
Gah! She was going in circles! Time for a new style of research! The only thing to do was… rent all the Godzilla movies! Oh yeah! She could smoke a bowl, get some munchies, and… well, she could probably crash SOMEPLACE. There had to be some Toho fans around here…
OK, so she was looking for where Godzilla hung out…
Tokyo was obvious – almost too obvious – but there was Monster Island, the South Pacific, various oceanic trenches, the arctic, and a few other places.
She spent quite a lot of time on TVTropes and the IMDB… It was serious research! Fairly mundane lives might be at stake!
Besides, watching all the movies was fun as well as being good research! Besides! Monster Island might not be as fictional as she’d previously thought!
Godzilla was definitely a cult classic – and there was only one major cold-blast weapon in the series – Mechagodzilla’s “Sub-Zero” cannon, which (somehow) reduced temperatures in what it hits to near absolute zero. That matched the blue-white light, the ability to fly away, and the glinting…
Of course there were two versions there – the first one was extraterrestrial and disguised as Godzilla, the second was a Japanese defense project, with a team of pilots, created to stop colossal monsters – and it was that version that had the cold beam.
Good grief. Maybe it was Japan. The geography, while a bit of a stretch, was not out of the question. This was the West Coast. But why go so far to grab Exalts? And who would be piloting it? And why use a movie monster as the template?
Well… She did have a sentai team of Terrestrials hunting her. Why and how they would use a movie monster was another question though! Could it be a genuine robot? But where would they get the funds to hide, much less build and maintain, a warstrider?
Japan it was! She’d always wanted to see the place in person anyway!
So, regardless of further theories, she was now fairly sure that…
Two exalts – one with Yu-Shan connections and either a partially-erased or more likely a created ID, one likely a fairly new Lunar – were hanging out a small-town fraternity, using a Wyld Pocket to hold cooler parties, whereupon they were attacked, defeated, and kidnapped by Mechagodzilla, piloted by forces unknown. The local police do not wish to believe this – and so were putting up no resistance to the Terrestrial Exalted using magic to cover it up.
OK, Exalts had probably dealt with more absurd situations, but usually not outside the Wyld!
She couldn’t blame the local police though. Still, somebody had to get to the bottom of this, and since she meddled, well… Still, why didn’t anyone spot someone building a wyld pocket in the middle of a city?
Oh, thaumaturgy. The same containment that kept your wyld pocket from leaking away would make it hard to detect. Still, she could just SEE the local dragonbloods reactions to being asked to cover up a KAIJU ATTACK… “And how are we supposed to cover it up when it comes back and EATS THE CITY!?!?!?”
Well, nobody ever said Exaltation was easy! She hadn’t been expecting this on her first case either! It would be a lot easier if she could just punch the problem. She could even do knockout punches, so there’d be no need for anyone to die!
Hopefully they’d work on Mechagodzilla! The charm did work on constructs as easily as it did on human beings, but he might be too tough for it… At least as crewed by Exalts or by something else powerful enough to get the thing. Still, as long as it was piloted, at least she could get in and punch the pilots.
Hm… Would the pilots have been silly enough to keep Mechagodzilla anywhere near the captured Exalts? It would be incredibly dumb to keep resources of that scale close to unfriendly Exalts. It would be the first thing they targeted upon escaping. And who was to say what the biggest warstroder ever created – and one with it’s own cult rating yet! – would be capable of?
Punching probably wouldn’t solve that either – maybe subversion or infiltration. Either way, it would probably be a good idea to head to Japan. The local dragon-bloods could cover things up to their hearts content; they didn’t seem to be using anything beyond inertia, unwillingness to believe, covering up the actual evidence – and maybe a tiny bit of memory-wiping. There really wasn’t any reason to interfere – although how they kept it up was beyond her (even if things usually weren’t this messy).
So; off to Japan.
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice LXXXIV – On The Oregon Trail (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
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- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice LXXXI (Part II) – Aftermath and Multiplication from Emergence Campaign Weblog (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice LXXVII – Aikiko’s Search (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice LXXXII – The Deluxe Ranchero (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice – The Modern Gates, Part IV (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles Of Heavenly Artifice LXXXI (Part I) – Too Many Cooks from Emergence Campaign Weblog (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice – The Modern Gates, Part II (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice – The Modern Gates, Part III (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice LXXIV – Alchemical Factions from Emergence Campaign Weblog (ruscumag.wordpress.com)