Meanwhile, back in Aden, Elzeard was stuffing a few things into his pockets – and putting up a disguise-spell. Charles had indeed risen to the challenge, dealt with a fair number of people in person, and set up a conference to address. It would be most unfair not to live up to his end of that tacit bargain!
And he wanted to anyway – despite the pesky people wanting to take over the waterworks. The Human Race definitely needed a good talking-to about managing the earth!
Most of the others were being quieter; Mishinago was removing pollution slowly and quietly (if sometimes on a very wide scale), Gothmug’s interests were all but completely in Aden, Chaffari was busy setting up the gates that would link Earth to the new worlds – but they were all inactive as of yet, and so on. There would be time for massive social interference after the basic physical environment was in proper order once again!.
Gothmug did insist on sending a security detachment with Elzeard though; after all, there was some pretty high-powered opposition out there – and he expected at least a probing attack with a few cheap-and-disposable pawns.
While Gothmug still (mournfully!) disapproved of the general lack of Baalgrogs in the area, providing Elzeard with a few Coatl in his pockets, some human-disguised Inukami aides, and a few Baalgrogs behind the scenes (and donning a disguise of his own so that he could join the audience) was SOMETHING.
Unfortunately, Baalgrogs weren’t nearly as impressively depressing when they had to be in disguise, though!
Elzeard showed up as a big and imposing – if somewhat elderly – fellow with a beard and a heavy cane (actually he’d loosely modeled the image on Edmund Gwenn in the original “Miracle on 34’th street” – even if he had made it considerably sterner) climbing out of the back seat of an equally-imposing fuel-efficient hybrid black car with a couple of aides along.
Unsurprisingly, the analysis-effects started immediately – showing some remarkably good wards with massive quantities of Wood essence beneath them – along with a solid dose of Adenic and Earth and Water essence – and traces of other energies.
Most of the observers soon decided that he had to be some rogue divinity – hiding from the Insidious wanting to mess with his plans, perhaps? – or a powerful elemental. Worth monitoring in either case, and probably worth making some deals with!
The universities lecture hall was packed, despite it being one of the largest ones available… It had, as requested, a projection screen – even if he was intending to simply create the images he needed on the lens of his projector. There were climatologists, biologists, botanists, hydrologists, ecologists, a scattering of graduate students in all these fields, representatives from the EPA, and even a handful of people with elemental Essence signatures – a Fire, two Water, and two Wood, to be precise. They were detection-warded, but Elzeard could penetrate that easily enough, out of specialty or not. He was – like all the other Guardians – absurdly good. He glanced over the audience, and let the supernatural members of it feel that he saw them. There was no point in some silly pretense of ignorance!
The audience waited eagerly for him to begin – and the ones with elemental signatures were being especially polite, even for this crowd. To them Elzeard’s essence-aura blazed like a miniature sun…
(Elzeard) “My greetings to all of you. I am Elzeard – something of a specialist in biological and ecological manipulations. It is my position that the current planetary trends towards deforestation and desertification must be stopped. To this end I have a number of projects underway. While I have made arrangements to ensure that the desert-dwelling species have sufficient refuges to ensure their comfortable survival, and have recorded their genetics in case of major disasters – as I have recorded the genetics of many other species – substantial areas of desert will soon be yielding to far richer and more diverse ecosystems.”
He followed with a short summary of the changes currently underway in the Sahara, the Middle East, and the Gobi – and with some detailed projections of their long-range effects – before calling for questions…
There were quite a few. How was the Sahara facility being powered without any apparent source? Why had he done this without consulting anyone? Where did he get the resources? What refuges does he have set up for the current local species? What was his next move going to be?
(Elzeard, sighing) “The Sahara facility derives it’s power from geological sources” (and that was quite true enough!). I did not opt to consult various groups because the areas where I placed my facilities were uninhabited wastelands who’s ownership is – at best – a formality and because decades of pointless debate seemed counterproductive.”
There was a certain awkwardness when Elzeard mentioned that he didn’t want decades of pointless debate, but then academics could be bad about that. There was much note taking and recording as well…
(Elzeard) “Now, as for the refuges…”
Elzeard cheerily put up a map showing the refuges and the eventual greatly-reduced but still present range of deserts.
“As you can see, the various desert species will still have a range of habitats, including a broader area which can serve as a genetic reservoir to maintain the original species and a selection of smaller, isolated, biomes where speciation may be expected to occur, further broadening the ecological diversity.
As for resources… given sufficient energy, a more advanced technology makes exponentially more resources available. My resources are by no means inexhaustible, but they are sufficient for the task at hand – a limited rejuvenation of Earth’s ecosphere.
As for my “next move”… most of the remaining deserts are smaller, less severe, and have inhabitants. Thus consulting the inhabitants of those areas is in order. Most of those contacted so far have, however, been eager to see more water and a greener landscape. There is some question of governmental legal entanglements, and of the environmental impact, possible failure modes, and potential side effects in some areas as well – but such complications can be dealt with, in part through conferences such as this one.”
That led the questions that half of those present had been looking for a good point to insert, in many variations…
How did the power supply WORK? Where did the energy come from? Was he willing to go into details? What little they could determine about its operation was quite incredible and the actual power source was proving impossible to trace.
A couple of the individuals showing elemental power signatures were smiling knowingly.
Elzeard was willing to explain – within limits. After all, he could quite truthfully state that HE had not invented to basic power system and that he was not currently at liberty to disclose the full details of it’s operation – although that might become appropriate eventually and it’s benefits were substantial, even for limited applications. He could (and did) explain some of it’s properties and reveal that it drew on geological forces for power and so was entirely non-polluting and almost – if not quite truly – perpetual. If properly designed it would run for many centuries with no or minimal maintenance. He could take on some students under certain conditions – primarily a serious non-disclosure agreement – but that would require individual interviews and discussion.
Out in the audience, several truth-sensing charms continued to reveal that Elzeard was indeed sticking with the truth – if sometimes extremely literally.
Meanwhile, Gothmug – who was in the audience as an exceptionally morose and broody climatologist who felt misunderstood because of his discipline’s controversies and who inflicted that opinion on all and sundry (and especially to one of the wood essence types – who was enduring it while focusing on Elzeard hard enough to have failed to realize what it was that was sitting next to her.) – was running some security sweeps… A conference like this would make a regrettably good target for a terrorist attack or the like even if there hadn’t been any major supernatural elements to it… Of course his wards and alarm-wards were subtle and powerful – but he, if anyone, knew that there were ways around THAT!
He soon concluded that the individual with Fire essence, and both of the ones with Wood essence, were almost certainly Terrestrial Exalts – and would probably want private interviews. Also, both his detections and Elzeards’ were showing a small group of warded people backstage – and Gothmug was sensing a rather nasty poison on one of them, as well as a selection of guns warded against various forms of mundane detection.
The wards covered visual detection, camera detection, magical detection, and audio detection. Evidently whoever was behind this attempt had not been expecting thaumaturgy on the Guardian’s scale; there were no alarms or magic-counters.
Gothmug quietly transmuted the venom into colored water, the explosives into sand, and any radioactive materials they might have (it was possible!) into inert lead. His skill in transmutation was nothing like Mishinago’s of course – but it was more than sufficient for that.
When Elzeard returned backstage there was a bit of a mess – and a group of four people being questioned by university security and local police.
(Elzeard) “Is there some problem?”
Hm. Perhaps fundamentalists who felt that he is messing with gods ordained state of the world?
(Security officer) “Protesters. I’m pretty sure they were going to squirt you with sand and colored water.”
(Policewoman) “But why would they use real guns? This doesn’t make any sense.”
Elzeard gave them a more detailed look… conservative clothes, pair of older individuals, a middle-aged man, and a young woman… all outwardly human. Lots of confusion. It looked like… the last thing they could remember was… going to church. Either a VERY good disguise or someone using UMI.
(Older Man) “Where are we? I’m confused.”
Hm. The middle-aged man had ted the car, and the next thing that they could remember, they were here, holding guns, and being subdued by security! The older woman was quite distraught, but was hiding it well.
(Elzeard) “Well no harm done! I suspect that they were simply confused somehow!”
(Policewoman) “I’d still like to take them in for questioning… this is weird.”
Elzeard tried a deep probe – right down to analyzing their genetics and blood lines (there were plenty of skin cells floating about). Should he just try to get them sent home?
Fairly average humans, very much of European descent, from the local region. Whoever had been using UMI on them was strongly connected to death Essence. It had been some hours, but the sensations still make Elzeard a bit queasy.
Gothmug was quite disgusted too, but for different reasons. “Dark” was fine, but not when it was that hostile to life!
Elzeard gave them some good long-term wards against that, a good luck effect, and tried to persuade the cops to let them go. Hopefully the good luck will help them avoid running into any more nasties!
They were only ordinary cops; they couldn’t stand up to Elzeard’s oratory.
As for private interviews… the Fire Aspect and Wood Aspects were first, then the two Water Awakened, and then the EPA. The EPA would have gone first, but when one of their people saw the Fire Aspect, he deferred.
(Elzeard) “And can I help you?”
(Shannon, the Fire Aspect – a man who would be imposing to a human) “Hello, Mr. Elzeard. You’ve made an impact in the Sahara-how are things upstairs?”
Ah! “Upstairs” with that emphasis… asking about Yu-Shan.
(Elzeard) “Improving somewhat! Repairs there are not my department, but they are underway!”
(Shannon) “Interesting. I must ask you more about that. And what of the rats (Sidereals) in the baseboard?”
(Elzeard, with some surprise) “Why would they be relevant? Their job is simply to fix causality errors.”
(Shannon) “My apologies, they are not giving you trouble?”
(Elzeard) “Not in the least!”
Shannon scratched his head and a faint radiance of heat shimmered as his brow furrowed.
(Shannon) “Please, tell me more about these repairs up there.”
(Elzeard) “That realm has been mostly detached from this one for some twenty thousand years, greadly limiting access, reducing the available resources, and leaving many jobs undone. That situation is being corrected.”
(Shannon) “Well, I knew about the detachment part. Do you have any idea who is to blame for that? And just who is doing the correcting?”
(Tamara, a Wood Aspect) “Oh, and Terrestrial or Celestial Bureaucracy? You forgot to ask, Shannon.”
Dropping out of being indirect were they?
(Elzeard) “The universe was nearly annihilated by the Wyld at that time. It was saved by being reshaped from a flat realm slightly bigger than Earth to it’s current scale of some ten to the hundreth-power light years. That has, unfortunately, left the old links more than a little strained. Only a few are even on earth now, and many are more or less unusable. Charles is taking responsibility for correcting those problems, amongst others. Fortunately, Gaia is assisting him to some degree.”
(Jasmine, the other Wood Aspect) “Charles… the boy you referred everyone to?”
(Tamara) “This is only getting more complicated!”
(Elzeard) “Yes. Charles really needs to deal with people more, instead of burying himself in making things and magic – and the universe often is very complicated.”
(Shannon) “How can we get in direct contact with this Charles? One of my mentors is acting very strange, and I think it’s his fault!”
(Elzeard) “Hm. Who would that be?”
(Shannon) “He’s the head of the Morgan Clan. About a week ago, he met with some of our superiors. They’re keeping mum, but my sources say there was some violence. AND I haven’t heard from Ethan since. His oldest son isn’t talking, his sister isn’t either, and no one’s heard from the bastard.”
(Jasmine) “That’s not a nice way to refer to Howard, you know.”
(Elzeard) “Hm. I shall have to advise him to check on them. It should be straightforward enough.”
Elzeard referred that the Charles. Peter, Howard, and Raymond had all been given access to Adenic Thaumaturgy – but Ethan had a healthy bit of paranoia from decades of being a house head – and had wanted to reserve judgement – although Charles had told him to just call if he was in trouble… Either he had managed and was taking time to cool off – Fire Aspects were not the most patient or controlled bunch – or something he wasn’t prepared for had happened. Behemoth Cloaks were good, but there were ways around almost anything.
(Shannon) “Thank you, Mr. Elzeard. As for the facility… no connection to Yu-Shan at all then? Just improving the Sahara? I just want to be clear on that.”
(Elzeard) “None at all! Yu-Shan is someone else’s problem!”
(Shannon) “And not mine, Tamara’s or Jasimine’s this time. My superiors will be surprised, but that is the way things are.”
That group departed…
The EPA was wondering if Elzeard had plans to do something similar in the Southwest. It would help a great deal with the water situation there.
(Elzeard) “There is an upcoming hearing on the topic already is there not? It is my intention, but since the area is inhabited, consultation is required.”
(EPA) “Yes indeed – but we would like some clarification on the methods used, since it IS a populated region. It’s obviously nonpolluting – but what about safety?
(Elzeard) “Ah. The system is perpetual – but there are some methods of geological sabotage which could cause a significant disturbance. For good or ill however, large quantities of explosives are quicker, simpler, and far harder to counter than such techniques. Studies can be made available.”
The EPA representatives would indeed like to see those studies. That information would also be useful for the hearing.
Elzeard cheerily provided some studies on the difficulties of geomantically destabilizing a manse, the consequences thereof, and how much easier it was to blow things up with bombs… Water-supplying manses didn’t need to be spectacularly powerful and essence vents were an easy way to prevent blowups; with them the place would simply drop quietly into power failure.
The EPA representatives actually got some of that. They’d called in supernatural specialists on this one. Accusations of quackery or not; the power source couldn’t be explained by science.
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