The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CLVIII – A Hidden Rapport

Charles sighed. This just kept getting more and more complicated. Now he’d need to know where Yu-Shan was hooked into Creation. Were her poles are linked to the Elemental Poles? It would explain the “Spike of Pole Unbinding”; Autochthon had probably artifacts or manses to do the linking. Worse, the elemental poles were big enough on the Creation side to make searching for the exact locations of the links there impractical. Ergo, he had to find them and trace the links from the Yu-Shan end… Fortunately, now that he knew what Yu-Shan’s poles were it would be straightforward enough to locate them and trace the links; he did have a map of all the major geomantic centers compiled, he’d will just have to do some analyzing.

The Song of Creation didn’t need mush more work at least. Manufacturing shouldn’t take up THAT much time; even artifacts on that scale only took a few minutes apiece on the average. Manses… that would depend on how many would be required to replace Yu-Shan’s inputs!

Which went right back to LOCATING those inputs so he could measure them and gauge what disconnecting Yu-Shan from Creation would do!

Then there was Authchthon and the Yozi’s, since Aikiko seemed to be handling the souls of the Neverborn. That pretty much came down to preventing the creation of new Neverborn, fixing the ones that do exist, and healing the “lucky” ones. The Gate project, spreading out the human population, picking up refugees… were all more mechanical problems that his Guardians could handle. Blocking the Arbiter and the Neverborn project that Aikiko had reported… Well, those were more of a reactive problem – although he’d gotten a start what with assigning bodyguards.

He had (thanks to Instant Genius Method, vast computational power, and various geomantic mapping projects) some possible locations for Yu-Shan’s poles though; he might as well get started on checking them!

The Hannya would just have to wait a bit – although he might have to rush that too; he’d need some pretty high-powered Wyld assistance to forge the relevant defense artifacts for Gauderis Athelstane! Perhaps displacement into another dimension that didn’t admit the existence of Exalts would work? After all, dimensions had a perfect defense against interacting with people who didn’t accept their rules… but that would make it REALLY hard to interact with this universe, which she also wanted to do. Perhaps a compromise? Something that protected you against a modest number of Exalts at any one time, but allowing the selection to be changed?

Maybe the self-duplication charm too? That would be pretty cool for a Primordial, even if it wouldn’t work for Celestial Exalts. Armor for a Primordial… was going to be tricky. Maybe if he gave it to all the Deva’s it would extend to the Primordial too? It seemed reasonably likely…

Meanwhile, Aikiko – having called ahead on one of Charles’s perfectly-secure phones to get summoned – was reporting to Lytek. The Hall of Celestial Stability was as imposing as ever, and ihad been refurbished a bit; everything was clean and polished, repairs had been made, and the security had apparently been tightened; there were some local guards in addition to the Celestial Lions!

Considering how slowly the bureaucratic wheels normally spun, the repairs were probably Charles again; he was pretty big on fixing everything within reach.

Rahamvar-Geta had been getting used to Lytek’s odd visitors, and sent her right in.

The Celestial Lions were definitely curious though: Aikiko didn’t have a “public ID” in Yu-Shan (and had a concealing artifact) – and a Priority Summons from the Right Hand of Power in the hands of… a young human woman of no apparent importance was a long ways out of the ordinary!

(Nalithian, Celestial Lion Chief Guard) “Would you care to explain this Ms Aikiko? Lord Lytek generally isn’t even aware of any Unexalted humans existence, much less of minor employees of city gods!”

Aikiko considered that for a moment – and no sensible explanation of any kind came to mind, save for at least a partial truth.

(Aikiko) “Well…”

She deactivated the concealment effects for a moment.

(Nalithian) “Ah; I see… So that’s the way of it then”.

(Aikiko, via telepathy) “VERY secret business, sir! I’m sure you understand…”

(Nalithian, also mentally) “Well, I would of course PREFER to understand – there are entirely too many odd things going on around Yu-Shan recently – but (Sigh…) you and Lord Lytek do have a right to your private business – and a better right than most at that”.

He scanned her for weapons and hostile intent – and then looked SEVERELY puzzled and somewhat alarmed!

(Nalithian, mentally, and with some shock) “You are carrying with you… some ancient powers indeed! And – according to what I can tell – have examples of virtually every weapon every made stashed away in Elsewhere! How is THAT possible?”

(Aikiko, mentally) “I found this really potent artifact when I was on Lytek’s business! I’ve got it stowed in this chancel. I can understand why you’d be worried.”
Hrm… She’d hate to leave Skoll behind anywhere! Even now that he was HER robot buddy, he was just too powerful to leave unattended, even if Celestial lions were generally well known for their integrity.

(Nalithian, still mentally) “If you would be so kind as to wait a few minutes? We do have some equipment available for such eventualities”.

They had to get it out of storage – but their solution was a wristlet that prevented the wearer from summoning things from Elsewhere while worn. It was hard to remove without they key, although not impossible – but it would, at the least, take several minutes.

Well, that would work!

Nalithian offered an apology, which greatly confused several other gods in the area!

(Aikiko) “It’s okay, guys! You have a job to do – and Lord Lytek’s an important god around here.”

Huh! She had to wonder… just how many times had they heard something like THAT from a Celestial Exalt’s mouth? Perhaps not all that much recently; Lunar visitors were fairly rare, Solars hadn’t been back for long, Sidereals hadn’t been welcome, Dragon-bloods hadn’t been coming to Yu-Shan much if at all recently… And some of the gods are almost visibly rummaging in OLD memories.

(Aikiko) “Um… wow. I guess this hasn’t happened since…”

By the Incarnea! Stuff like THIS probably hadn’t happened since the Usurpation! No one was likely to have tried to disarm Charles; all he ever carried was an unbreakable stick – and the general threat level of sticks was fairly small by divine standards. Besides, half the guards probably thought he was Lytek’s kid anyway.

Not to mention his being BLATANTLY harmless, his having “Diplomatic Immunity”, and the steadily-rising traces of Primordial Immunity…

The guards hurried her in so as to avoid too many divine questions. Only Lytek’s personal secretary seemed unsurprised – at least at the wristlet.

(Secretary) “Ah, Miss Aikiko? You are expected. Please try to avoid disrupting the security wards on the way in.

Margaret Norris: “Yes, sir!”

Lytek… was currently looking… rather more glowy than he used to; Rather like Gri Fel in some ways!

(Aikiko, with momentary startlement) “Oh, right… Charles accidentally bought in more Exaltations. That would be very good for you, Lord Lytek! I hate to ask, but mind if I put on some sunglasses?”

Charles hadn’t denied it – and the rumors were all over within hours of the loom disturbance, and the “go to Charles” message had gotten on the gossip network almost as quickly.

(Lytek) “Not at all Ms Aikiko…”

(Aikiko) “Thanks, Lord Lytek.”

She put them on; he was kind of blinding at the moment! What with the Lesser Exaltations and doubling up on the number of Celestial Exaltations… He’d probably increased in power quite a bit!

Lytek was busy checking the Privacy defenses… both the ones Charles set up and his own; he didn’t really think that Charles would have left a personal loophole, but then Charles had done plenty of unexpected things already!

Besides, it was only sensible.

(Lytek) “I take it that you have some results to report? And I see that you, too, have been doing something unprecedented. You seem to show resonances similar to Charles’s… Is it CONTAGIOUS?”

(Aikiko) “Well, I’ve investigated all but one of those incidents you told me about-and while I was doing that… well, you can see the wristlet. That’s a big story right there…”

The report was fairly lengthy, but then Lytek WAS funding her at the moment.

(Lytek) “Oh dear… So, you’re carrying a cargo of Neverborn Soul-Fragments, an Automaton designed to challenge Sol Invictus – and which might just win – an assortment of other artifacts, and a link to a supercomputer with so much power that it’s calculations take physical form as entire star systems and produce essence-wielding creatures that can continue to exist if taken from the area before the system resets – and of which you also have a cargo.”

Aikiko made a note to let them out. It wasn’t like she needed them for anything.

Lytek sighed internally. What, was this the Curse of Charles? Was EVERYTHING the younger Solars did going to spiral completely out of control from now on? Still, a big chunk of Aikiko’s current… complications… were things that she’d simply uncovered; she hadn’t been responsible for them.

(Aikiko, perceptively) “If it makes you feel better, I’m as surprised as you are. And so was Charles!”

(Lytek) “Well… At least you have control of “Skoll” now – and I suppose that Charles would have insisted on rescuing the Primordial fragments if you hadn’t done so. I’m surprised that he hasn’t already launched such a project really!”

If only she could tell him!

(Lytek) “So… At least one of the other children is indeed creating their own inner world – but they seem far less focused on such things than Charles. I suppose that was to be expected; Twilight Caste’s are often utterly focused on building.”

(Aikiko) “If anything, I’d be more concerned about him getting involved in divine politics; we’ll have to make sure he’s not exploited. Charles, at least, just steps around them.”

(Lytek) “Well, at least his powers are on a much more… reasonable scale. Young Charles appears to deal with most of his problems by simply throwing more and more power at them until something happens.”

(Aikiko) “I won’t argue there!”

(Lytek) “Well… there are still three more out there – although, thanks to young Charles, I can now assign you some assistants if you need them.”

(Aikiko) “And maybe I’ll find the next one in England! I could use some help, so if you can give me more assistants, I’ll appreciate it.”

She was a little weak on the social end and thaumaturgy… perhaps some kind of advisor?

She was assigned an elegant young woman in a vaguely Japanese / Chinese outfit, complete with social martial art and one similarly dressed elder-scholar type. Lytek was kind of traditional after all… She thanked Lytek profusely!

(Lytek) “Ah, you are more than welcome! If anything… I am having trouble finding something for everyone to do.”

(Aikiko) “He is very generous with them.”

(Lytek) “Impressively so; Exalts many times his age rarely controlled such resources…”

Lytek described Charles’s fiddling with the Shinma.

(Aikiko) “Whoa! All that just to cover your tracks?”

(Lytek) “Just to rescue a single person.”

(Aikiko) “Wow. How many shinma is he going to invoke if something BIG happens?”

(Lytek) “That is what worries me! He seems to be perfectly willing to turn the universe upside down to make it better.”

(Aikiko) “And I don’t think there are many things out there that could stop him… except a good scolding. Maybe.”

(Lytek) “I suppose that there never WERE many things that could stop the Exalts – but usually it took more of them working together, at least until they were much, MUCH older.”

(Aikiko) “I guess it’s having a world-body at a low Essence level! He has so much infrastructure in his soul that he just doesn’t need the high end Charms. I bet if the others developed theirs to that level, it’d be the same.”

(Lytek) “And I suppose the sheer excess amount of power – and the presence of his Devas! – makes his essence level seem unnaturally high anyway.”

(Aikiko) “And confuses things… good for him!”

(Aikiko) “Now, I did suggest getting babysitters when he had those Irish Dragon-Blooded visit, but even that might not be enough!”

Lytek looked rather mournful at the thought of an Exalt with baby-sitters.

(Aikiko) “Hey, SOMEBODY with more sense needs to keep him under control! You’re very busy with your new Exaltations, I’m off investigating stuff, and we both know most other Exalts and gods are busy too.”

(Lytek) “Well… at least many others seem to be reaching that same conclusion. Besides, we can’t have him giving artifacts to sweet-talking people who’ll misuse them… Well, thank you for  your report – and I do have some good news; I’ve gotten approval to assign you a departmental salary, even if it is only class-2 to start.”

(Aikiko) “Thank you, Lord Lytek!”

That WOULD be handy! It would be nice to get an actual apartment in Yu-Shan, even if it WAS likely to be in an inconvenient area.

(Lytek) “Oh, you’re quite welcome! There’s been more going on in Yu-Shan in the past year than there was for the last hundred – and you’re helping to deal with it; a salary is only fair.”

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