In Yu-Shan, Dumenza, the Calibration Gate, was busy waking up his second circles – the twelve central gates of Yu-Shan and a few of the others. The Celestial Lions… hadn’t even known that most of those were Manses; it would have been a MOST unpleasant surprise to discover that they could be affected by geomantic disruptions during an emergency evacuation. A good thing that they were getting ready!
Righteous Hala… was recovering from excessive laughter. Even a Lunar’s endurance had limits! And that set of six “My Little Pony; Friendship Is Magic” manses – each producing a tailored rank-5 Hearthstone designed to work together with the others – had been entirely too much! She pretty much knew what he’d say if she asked him too… “They seemed like a nice idea!” – and he wouldn’t get why she found it so funny.
Oh, just wait until she showed Lytek and got the expression on HIS face… For all she knew, Luna was visiting regularly!
More seriously though… “They were a neat idea, so now they’re real! What else is world-building for?” was definitely more Primordial than Exalt! And the boy was still far, FAR, too inclined to take “that would be neat!” as a reason for doing almost ANYTHING – at least as long as it didn’t hurt anybody.
Over in the Hedgerows, the Blatant Beast was updating! Hat-mounted cameras, hands-free microphones, notebooks, pens, and recording systems. If people were going to be presenting stories like that… It was going Paparazzi! You never knew when you might need multi-channel narration with the appropriate gods commentating!
“Telling it your way” had always been a pretty big power – and a very easily abused one. The temptation to present yourself as flawless, and all opponents as more corrupt than Satan, was pretty big. It was, after all, a classic human frailty. Combine that with forty or fifty Solars using super-linguistic charms to produce perfect versions of what THEY wanted to be the truth and it was surprising that the records made as much sense as they did – which wasn’t much. It would have been better if they could have at least agreed on one version – but we’re talking about Solars here, as well as Gods and Sidereals trying to edit things to produce specific effects later on…
The goods of history, commentary, and so on had been bemoaning the lack of decent records from the Primordial War for thirty millennia. It was NOT going to happen again if THEY had anything to say about it!
Meanwhile… Aikiko was calling home.
(Rei Tanaka) “Ah, hello Aikiko! It’s been a couple of months… (with a very slight parental edge) I take it that you’ve been busy?
(Aikiko) “Pretty busy, Mom… there’s a lot of stuff I’ve been checking into.”
(Rei) “Anything interesting?”
Oh dear! She was kind of torn between coming clean and making up something. After all, it would all be blatantly obvious in a couple of months, if that.
The pause lengthened, as Aikiko’s mother started spinning ever more disastrous scenarios in her head!)
(Aikiko, more or less giving in to the inevitable) “Hey, have you been hearing about these crazy ads in the papers? That’s what I’ve been investigating!”
(Rei) “What, the “new planets opening” things? It would have been kind of hard to miss them! Since they seem to be worldwide it would be a LOT of effort for a prank – and a lot of people in refugee camps have been vanishing too. So SOMETHING is definitely up!”
(Aikiko) “Yeah, that’s what I think too.”
(Rei) “What have you turned up?”
(Aikiko) “Well… this is going to sound crazy, but somebody’s come up with gate-based faster-than-light travel.”
Well, that was fairly obvious if you took the ads at face value – and they weren’t physics types.
(Rei) “Well… I take it that the ads are more or less honest then? THAT’S going to upset the status quo around the entire world!”
(Aikiko) “I know, right? People will be leaving all over the place, governments will be trying to control the new planets, aliens might or might not be involved… it’s going to be crazy!”
(Rei) “Time to lay in a few months worth of supplies I think! At least! Things will probably settle down somewhat in a few months – I hope!”
Aikiko was abruptly concerned. There might well be some pretty major disruptions! She might have to make arrangements to keep them safe. Well… she had a moderately large house with an onsite skateboard park amd a nice view of the singing forest over in Aden…
(Aikiko) “To be honest, I’ve talked to the guy responsible. He’s pretty obliging. I know he wouldn’t object if I moved you into my place in his world!” (Singing forest, actually!)
(Rei, with some shock) “THE guy responsible? HIS world? Er… (and the obvious thought; Oh-Oh! She may be on something stronger than usual!)
(Aikiko, sighing to herself) “I’m actually sober right now. Would you like to see? I can have him open up a gate. Seriously, you might need to stay with me for those few months!”
(Rei, after a very definite pause) “Uhm, yes… a gate would work…”
(Aikiko, calling up Charles) “Hey, Charles, can you open up a gate? I… need to convince my parents I’m not on something strong! Um… not in the front yard, though! Too many questions! Go for the garage.”
She asked Rei to shut the garage door first!
That was easy enough after opening a scrying link. Charles sent an… uhm… pony to meet her! A unicorn! If that didn’t convince her mother, nothing would! (Well, OK, if it didn’t he’d just thave to send something else.)
(Rei, blinking, after the Unicorn showed up) “But wait… aren’t you… a children’s cartoon?”
(Unicorn) “Well, I am based on one! Charles really likes it!”
(Rei, with some incredulity) “Erg… is the person behind all this basing his efforts on CARTOONS?”
(Unicorn) “Not all of them! Sometimes he bases them on novels, or movies!”
(Rei) “Oh good lord… No wonder he doesn’t seem to be thinking about the consequences! In real life things don’t usually go conveniently along with the plot!”
(Unicorn) “He does have advisors who’ve kept him from going completely off the rails, but he is a handful!”
(Rei) “So… a child who can… warp the world enough to bring cartoons to life, with little appreciation of consequences, and apparently the ability to affect the entire world – or more than one? Er… No offense to you that is.”
(Unicorn) “Very perceptive, ma’am! Charles is very young and very powerful! And he can only terraform one planet at a time!”
(Rei) “Oh dear… and my daughter is somehow entangled with this? I’m not sure that cocaine or heroin or some such wouldn’t have been easier to deal with!”
(Unicorn) “Oh my! I think you need to talk with her, then!”
(Rei) “Well, this… hole in the air… is supposed to lead to “her place”! So…”
And Rei worked up her nerve and stepped through – emerging right at the doorstep, with a commanding view of the singing forest – where she abruptly found that she needed to sit down for awhile…
And Yoshiro arrived home, hit the garage door opener, and found a unicorn and a hole in the air in his garage!
(Yoshiro) “WHAT the HELL?!?!?”
(Unicorn) “Ah, hello sir! Your wife is currently visiting your daughter at home. Would you like to join them? The singing forest is lovely this time of day!”
Yoshiro looked for a moment, shook his head – and experimentally closed and reopened the door.
(Unicorn) “Hello again sir!”
(Yoshiro) “Erg… And why is there a technicolored unicorn in my garage?”
(Unicorn) “Charles sent me to monitor the gate and explain things to your wife!”
(Yoshiro) “Oh boy… And what was it that was being explained to my wife?”
The Unicorn told him about the ads, and the visit with Aikiko.
(Yoshiro) “Well… it’s weirder than most things, but I’ve seen a more than a few other oddities in my time… I suppose I’d better join her then!”
And in he went! He had seen some magic and such in his life, and there was no use in arguing when it popped up again!
Aikiko… had a splendid house, in a lovely location – and with a couple of cheetah-kids acting as servants and runners. It was really quite impressive – although it was obvious that the skate ramp, and the skate loop, shouldn’t be possible to skate on all the way. (Actually it was downhill all the way around – regardless of which way you went)!
(Cheetah-Girl) “Hello! Can I get you something? Sandwiches? A drink? Pocket Computer? Phone? Book?”
(Mr. Tanaka) “Where’s my daughter?”
(Cheetah-Girl) “She’s in England! Doing some investigating in the Hedgerows and bringing in a hundred and thirty young slaves!”
(Cheetah-Girl) “According to the notice she sent in she picked them up at a faerie market! And from some gypsies!”
Fortunately, it wasn’t all that long before Aikiko made it in – picking up Samuel and popping over! In the meantime… she asked the Cheetah-Kids to Keep her parents calm and have a soda ready for her!
And… she elected to appear wearing Skoll, albeit with an illusion to make it look like she wasn’t wearing the helmot.
(Rei) “Er… AIKIKO?”
(Aikiko) “Hi Mom! Hi Dad!” (rubbing the back of her head) “I have a lot of explaining to do, so let’s get started!”
And there were explanations at great length. It was pretty hard to believe – but she could produce any amount of supporting evidence, including artifacts, fantasy creatures, gods and elementals, passing spacecraft, and so on – as well as Aden itself, eccentric devas, and any amount of wealth!
Given all that… and that Aikiko was willing to basically drop Aden on top of them… there really was’t be much argument – except for wanting a good explanation of why she was buying child-slaves! And “To rescue them” was pretty straightforward.