The Chronicles Of Heavenly Artifice CXCV – Calibrating Chaos

OK, she’d been impatient what with the waste of her time, and had simply left the RPG club turned thaumaturgy class with her contact information, but Aikiko had to wonder… a compulsion artifact? That didn’t seem like Charles’s usual style at all. Had he been silly enough to – somehow – put artifact-bestowing on some sort of automatic system based on what people wanted? That WOULD be just like him! He’d never even think about the fact that quite a lot of people wanted things that they really should not have or which were more than a bit unethical… nerdish teenage boys wanting to catch some girls with little effort was just one of the more OBVIOUS cases.

At least none of the gamers had seemed at all violent; like most RPG clubbers they were intelligent, inclined to fantasy rather than activity, and a bit socially outcast.

Oh well. Arranging to get some film crews into Yu-Shan wasn’t that hard; it would be during the festival anyway. Now finding the last Guardian… that was turning into quite a project!

Meanwhile, Charles was calling ahead… He had a bunch of artifacts ready for Gauderis Athelstane. The sonorous geological grandeur of the primordial tongue echoed through space and time, whispering across the universe – carrying a message that wasn’t so grand at all.

(Charles) “Hi Again Grandmama! I’ve got most of your artifacts for you!”

After a considerable delay, and the vague sensation of that message being run through a lot of precautions…

(Gauderis) “And the others?”

(Charles) “Those are all ready! And the manses and things!”

(Gauderis) “Very well, child! I shall open up my defenses to let you in!”

(Charles, busily making sure that nothing snuck up on “grandmother” while there was a hole in her defenses) “Let me know when to come over!”

And with a faint shimmering of the Wyld, a portion of it resolved itself into one of Gauderis’s deva-towers.

Gothmug didn’t even need to say anything this time… Charles actually took a good look at it before heading in. It might have been someone being mean, whom he’d have had to make go away!

It did show her basalt-and-crimson theme of course, but Even Charles recognized that a color pattern wasn’t that hard to fake. Still, he sent Tsunami and Mothra Leo back inside once he was actually at the entry – another one of those tunnels with the razor arms crawling around.

(Charles) “Allo Razorcarls!”

The Razorcarls crawled over him, performed some analysis, and cheerily let him through. This time his grandfather’s deva-tower was open to him; the door slid aside when he approached and shut when he entered (Huh… he had to wonder; was using those same doors for heavy-duty entryways in Star Trek something conscious or unconscious? Or was it patterned after the Jadefolk, who’d lifted the concept of fortification from Her? Hard to say at this date!). Anyway, since his nana didn’t function on the fastest time scale, he’d have a few minutes even if she expected him more-or-less immediately. That was handy sometimes! He could drop by to see Gramps if he wasn’t busy with something! (Or, even if he was busy, if he was being attacked or something).

(Charles) “Is Grandpa in?”

One of the First Circles – an armored man carved of stone – pointed him upstairs; Gramps turned out to be upstairs in the study, which, while it was also basalt and Crimson, had a very classical selection of books and furniture. The ceiling provided a view of Creation, in all its distant, numinous splendor – although Charles suspected that that was much more useful before Creation expanded so much! Still, that was one reason that he’d brought along a very, VERY, powerful artifact telescope with autolocator functions!

(Charles) “Hi Grandpa! I finished up with armor for everyone, and a lot of other stuff! And for Great Grandma!”

Grandfather had been doing some doing some reading before Charles came in, but smiled benevolently when he saw him and got up to give him a big hug – which Charles happily returned.

(Charles) “I brought you some artifacts and things!”

(Richof) “Ah, Charles, my boy! I trust you had a productive trip, then!”

(Charles) “I’ve got pretty much everything ready!… Oh, and I got a pretty good self-updating map of the ley lines and energy flows for a few hundred billion light years around the Milky Way! You usually have to zoom in a lot though…”

(Richof) “Excellent… That should help me at work, though I suspect things will be VERY different soon… Ah, and is this telescope for me as well?”

(Charles) “It should update for that, although it may take a little while! And it is! And this stuff too…”
And there was much setting up of telescopes and donning of artifacts, especially the protective ones!

(Charles, helping) “They’re very good ones! And they include the wyld-based self-duplication-and-decide-which-one-was-“real” later on effect! That one was kind of tricky to get; I needed a lot of Raksha help to make that one!”

(Richof) “I assume the progenitor – your great-grandmother – is getting much the same?”

(Charles) “Yep! Hers interlocks with the rest though, so she can take care of it for everybody if she needs to!

(Richof, thoughtfully) “It’s a rare Exalt that would do such a thing for a Titan.”

(Charles) “Well, I don’t really see why… a lot of Exalts get pretty weird though!”

(Richof, looking a little sad for a moment, but then returning to smiling.) “So, tell me what you encountered out there!”

And there was lots of showing!

(Richof) “Hmm. It would seem Creation has affected even the Hannya! Aren’t those two from those video things? – Though, I must admit, they do make good predatory narratives.”

(Charles) “Well, sort of! But when they hang around near Creation… it’s narratives and imagery can be quite consistent, so it’s no big surprise that it echoes!”

(Richof) “Ah, it’s good that it has held up!”

(Charles) “Well… it does provide a common frame of reference so that everyone can interact!”

(Richof, thoughtfully puffing on his pipe) “And isn’t that grand… Even if it has persisted beyond its creators’ intended stay.” (Another puff) “What would you do if they came through? Your plan is grand, to be sure, but it IS possible.”

(Charles) “Say hello? After all… once the place is unbound from Yu-Shan, they can always just leave it behind!”

(Richof) “Even if they lash out at you, or Yu-Shan?”

(Charles) “Well, that’s what defenses are for… I’d have to try to find out why and make it better!”

Oh dear. The boy was so bound and determined to fix anything and everything. No matter if it wanted to kill him! Good character, but not necessarily the best at knowing what Yozis could do! At least… his inner world had gotten considerably bigger and more defined too. He might well be a primordial himself soon – or even now – but how would he fare against multiple Yozis? His defenses were very good though – and he’d done well so far in a dozen impossible situations. SOMEHOW all his random meandering was taking him just where he wanted to go.

He’d earned some trust.

(Richof) “I just hope you can protect everyone else if such a thing were to happen.”

(Charles) “I hope so! I have to go fix the Yozi’s next anyway.”

(Richof) “And good luck to you, my boy!”

(Charles) “Thank you!”

And it was off to see Great Grandmother – who once again greeted him in the form of her fetich (she wasn’t ready to show him the non-world one yet).

(Gauderis) “You came back, child! And… With many MORE powerful items within. And very quickly indeed…”

(Charles) “Allo! I got your artifacts ready! I’m sorry, but it turned out that I can only set it up so you can make a few dozen exalts not exist for you and vice-versa at any one time… There are lots of other defenses and self-duplication effects though!”

(Guaderis) “Humph. This is why one needs to have outriders, to see threats. Your grandfather is a quite capable outrider!”

(Charles, happily) “I brought him some more boosts too! And armor and stuff for all your Deva’s.”

(Guaderis) “And some for me to apply across my entire hierarchy, I see . . . You must have no fear of these being used against you.”

(Charles, rather blankly) “Should I? they’re almost all purely defensive of course… I suppose you could be hostile with the duplication, but it doesn’t seem to be your thing and they are made just for you!”

Ah… the child had no idea how dysfunctional the Primordial family was.

(Gauderis, sighing) “Not me, but some of your relatives are… Dysfunctional.”

(Charles) “It needs helping!”

And no doubt he was already planning on doing just that as soon as he was done with Yu-Shan. The child’s tactics adapted freely, but his overall strategy was completely predictable and he’d stated his goals often enough.  A pity that Yu-Shan was one of the few who wasn’t sick or corrupted! The others would be harder. She could hear him now. “Oh well, it needs doing!”

It wasn’t like she had any objections anyway; if they left, so could she!

What? Oh… the boy was “hugging” her again. Still so human – despite the fact that he’d… already developed or installed a set of poles, started to unify his essence flows, and was well on the way to transforming his “false” souls into real ones. With physical contact that was easy enough to feel! That left little doubt – but so FAST.

(Gauderis) “I wonder how soon your transcendence will be…”

(Charles) “Will it matter much?”

(Gauderis) “No, but it will be fascinating to have Richof report in on it. (Shaking her head) it won’t be very long at all, a mere few weeks.”

Or a mere few hours from her point of view.

(Charles) “Well, probably while I’m very busy… things tend to work like that!”

(Gauderis) “And thankfully not like the last one.”

What would the child expect? He was ALWAYS very busily rushing about at an insane speed! That was the only time that anything HAD to happen in!

(Charles) “Ooh! There was a last one?”

(Gauderis) “Humans… Such a short time to accomplish anything, or so you were made to think. And you are not even the first! You probably won’t even suck in any waypoints, with those means of powering it. You have more than enough as is!”

(Charles) “Well, I can always just generate some more!”

(Gauderis) “Now THAT I can appreciate! No energy wasted on theatrics!”

(Charles) “Too much to do for that!”

Gauderis looked rather proud (or at least provided a good simulation thereof), while Charles was pleased to see that she wasn’t upset that he hadn’t been able to simply let her opt out of dealing with the Exalted totally. Still, at least that meant that he could still visit!

Gauderis had never really expected him to find a way to do that even in part, much less to find a way to get some Ishvara to cooperate on it. Exalted were GOOD at finding ways in! She had witnessed some of that, even if it was fairly obvious that the days of massed attacks were long over. Being able to just “not exist” with respect to a couple of dozen Exalts should be quite enough – or so she hoped. It was certainly an improvement anyway.

The boy was obviously shaping extra time to do his shaping in; hopefully he wouldn’t accidentally put himself in a loop! That had been a big pain when his Uncle Oramus did it! It took even more time-shaping to fix, and it was all too likely that the kid wouldn’t know when to begin. They could find themselves with a bunch of him all too easily!

Regardless… She gave him the Spike of Pole Unbinding to give to Gaia.

It was surprisingly mundane looking: just a long, sharp piece of chilly iron – but it’s aura was frightfully powerful indeed! It was coruscating with the power of all five elements!

Back in Yu-Shan, Gaia was deep, deep underground, where the Heart of the Canals was – so Charles sent her a message that politely waited until she wasn’t busy. That took a couple of days – but Gaia sent an avatar to Aden after that time. A rare occurrence! Even Aden looked more vibrant and vital with the Emerald Mother present! She arrived at the Eternal Forest Pavilion in the Singing Forest; it was a bit regulated for her tastes, but Aden really didn’t have any “untamed wilderness” outside of a few manses for exploring and camping and training and such, which really didn’t count. Her presence made the area resonate to the wilds call of course – not strongly enough to revert to a wilder state, but things certainly FELT more untamed around her as the music grew substantially wilder and explored evolving new subthemes!

(Charles) “Hello! I got the Spike for you!”

(Gaia, who was pleased to see him!) “Good! I was worried she would let her paranoia get the better of her! That thing is no toy, and if you didn’t prove yourself, she would never part with it.”

(Charles) “A bit perhaps! But I made her some things!”

(Gaia) “Just like brother…”

(Charles) “It’s sort of what he does too I suppose!”

(Gaia) “Now I must go, and actually USE this.”

And she looked a bit worried.

(Charles) “Hm… I wonder if his illness makes him more inclined to consider things that might hurt him? Oh, there’s not a BIG rush… I’ve got to get the concert set up first! Oh! I don’t think you’ve seen the more recent plans? Things have gotten a long ways past just Wyld Stunting and hoping to maintain control!”

(Gaia, with much relief) “Oh, thank the shinma. There’s only so much even a Primordial can do with THAT.”

And Charles proceeded to show her the whole absurdly detailed and intricate mess, including the hundreds of major artifacts, the Song of Creation, and the rest.

Gaia did the primordial equivalent of blinking. Just how much was the child accelerating himself? Yes, Autochthon had mode… more elegant and sophisticated things, but he liked to leave enough time to think about what he was doing! Charles seemed to be barely allowing enough time between whimsical conception and shaping things into reality to figure out what he was actually making, much less to consider the ramifications and consequences. Was he really shaping things into existence before he’d actually finished deciding what he was making? That would explain some of his… odder… creations. Still, she might have started the avalanche – but he was still a monomaniacal Solar.

(Gaia) “You did this in HOW short a time?”

(Charles) “Uhm… Four months now I think… It needed doing! Oh, and on the Creation side… This is the manse network to stabilize things there….”

That was most ambitious! Even by Solar standards! None of them had ever sought to redesign redesign a primordial, much less by giving them multiple linked aspects that would vastly increase their versatility and redesigning Creation at the same time! Much less moved the feat so close to reality right under everyone else’s nose with… honesty, kindness, and random acts of benevolence. Perhaps there was more to the Raksha and their notions of “Karma” then she had ever given them credit for.

Charles was pleased! At least Gaia didn’t seem so worried now!

(Gaia) “Charles… Can you stop the energies from bleeding out of Yu-Shan? I don’t think Dumenza and his subselves can hold all that back!”

(Charles) “Well, at least some of the essence backflow will go out through the old and new gates – but there are manses on the other end, and a bunch of new planets to take the backwash! There should be plenty of margin!”

(Gaia) “Well, then. There will be more than enough happening that it shouldn’t matter! What are a few more energy reactions when we have a sister to save?”

(Charles) “It is pretty urgent, even if a bit of cleaning-up is likely to be needed afterwards!”

Oh the child had NO IDEA. There would be CLEANING. LOTS of CLEANING. Especially considering how many others were likely to get involved! It was pretty obvious that she had a much better idea of how much opposition was likely to pop up than Charles did! Power or no, he wasn’t even fifteen yet.

Still, he did have to beat out Stanewald – which she had NOT have known about and which was still ongoing, ever faster; the Sidereals were pushing their own schedules too!

Charles… had to go and make concert arrangements – and after that a LOT of people would need tickets! He might have to send another aspect to take care of that! Even if the Cauldron-Born would probably just pull thoroughly official original tickets out of the Wyld (who was he to complain? He’d pulled six originals of Luna’s writ out of the Wyld so that he’d have spares…), the time of Calibration, and the Carnival of Meeting, was coming close! Scheduling was tight even for him, and to get the right spot he’d need to be registering early. After all everyone in Heaven with any Performance skills of note wanted to play close to the festival grounds! It was a decent way to get a worshiper whose prayers actually meant something!

And Saturn HAD asked him to time the event to her annual competition with the Sun, too.

The best location would be the Central Gate Pavilion. At least violence was impossible (for most people anyway) for the duration of the festival… That was available on a limited basis, but you needed to keep paths clear for emergencies and for people going in and out. That was fine though! He wanted to divide up the seating to keep the various groups at least symbolically separate… Come to think of it, given the likely audience size, some space-warping to make more room was likely in order.

A good thing he had the Celestial Lions onboard for this! That would make getting through the bureaucratic maze easier! And it being festival time would make it easier for a lot of the guests to attend… Yu-Shan seemed to like having a wide variety of guests as long as they behaved! Even better… what with all the other things being set up, the odd people turning up, and the energies of calibration flowing around… it should make it easy to keep the initial setup quiet.

Charles double checked to make sure that Calibration wouldn’t call for any changes in the plans though!

Actually… When he added Calibration to the mix he got this weird feeling of approval. That was good!

He made sure to reserve spaces for major visitors. He had a feeling that some were likely to come! And for Mothra Leo on the roof! And for school friends, and museum scientists, and masons, and Raksha… Oh dear. It was going to require I AM to figure out the seating wouldn’t it? Especially since some of those seats would be for his opponents.

It wasn’t the first time that I AM had had to do this. The first age Solars had often been even harder to seat amicably, even with the need to set aside seating for Yozis and their third circles on this one.

Oh well! I AM had LOTS more experience and capacity than Charles, even if Charles had expanded his mind a lot. He didn’t argue!

I AM also wanted to what he wanted to do for concessions.

That… had never occurred to him! Some of the food gods would doubtless set up near any major event, but… He’d have to establish a manse-aura effect to handle basic drinks and snacks, invite the Cornucopia of All and Nine Grape and such to send Avatars and/or representatives, a Raksha table was definitely in order, and… well, as wide a variety of food as he could get!

Huh… Did Oramus do catering? It was obviously impossible for him, so he probably did! After all… he might be trapped in his own wings, but he was the avatar of doing impossible things and it was impossible for him to partially escape that trap, and therefore it would be something that he could do. Escaping totally was possible with the help of the Exalted, and thereby wasn’t something that he could do on his own.

Of course, by that logic, he was partially free already and doing weird stuff at whim… So asking about catering would be the quickest way to test! It was quite impossible for Oramus to hear and answer him without massive workings and potent magics… So he could just look at the nearest blank wall and ask!

(Charles) “Hm. Oramus? would you like to talk to me? I should be coming to help all of you out fairly soon!”

Insanely enough, what with solar-circle level wyld stunting, shaping, quasi-primordial powers, a thread of Nocturnal essence (which no one had known about to block), and kids being a part of Oramus’s mythos… that actually had a snowball’s chance of working. And as it happened…

(A wry, playful, but deep voice) “That took you long enough. I was worried you would never figure it out… You wouldn’t happen to have some quantum scissors, would you?”

(Charles) “I’d had the thought a few times, but I’ve been very busy!”

Would that be the third-rank lesser version quantum scissors or the major ones at rank five? The grand ones – beyond the ranking system – would be pretty hard to make!

(Charles) “Hm… I can try to make some! They sound complicated enough to take a little while though… I could whip up some Lesser Quantum Scissors for proof-of-concept pretty quickly though!”

(Oramus) “You really are a child, aren’t you? Oh, I’ve heard. You would fill the entire universe with quantum scissors if you thought it would help. But what happens when you run with quantum scissors?”

(Charles, thoughtfully) “Well, there’s a strong possibility that SOMETHING might get hurt or damaged! Or so I’d think anyway…”

(Oramus, with a lot of broken cackling) “The Divine Ignition! Thank you, I’m here forever!”

Charles was puzzled – but Quantum Scissors (whatever it was they did) were definitely going on the list!

And he got the feeling that something was knocking – not on the door, not even on the manse he was in… but on his soul… Which was, of course, also a world.

(Charles) “Anyway, it was obviously completely impossible for you to attend the concert and do catering, so I was wondering it that would happen? Although, to be fair, there are LOTS of things that are impossible and so you might do…”

He checked to see who it was – and there was an area near one of the Aden gates that was somehow a little fuzzier or more wyld-like than usual. It couldn’t actually be CHANGED that way of course, but – just like with Gaia – even perfect defenses didn’t block out alterations in FEEL.

Charles set up a manse area that overlapped to allow a sort of an “Embassy” effect.

(Oramus) “I see the door, and the door is open, but I can’t work the knob! Why can’t I work the knob?!” (Almost sobbing) “OF COURSE! I HAVE TO USE THE WINDOW!”

Charles consulted Malinda and some of the others! This was OLD crazy, and it was confusing him!

And in the embassy area he got the briefest glimpse of an enormous iridescent wing slamming up against something.

Hrm… Elsewhere contained at least Aleph-3 dimensions, and Oramus simply could not have transfinite power or he could not have been contained by finite means. Ergo, he had to be blocking himself in any realm he tried to access! Ergo, a Manse Gate could get in, but any attempt on his part to use it would be blocked off by his own power. Thus the wing. Ergo, he needed to give the gate a perfect defense against being blocked by Oramus during a moment when Oramus wasn’t trying to use it, and he’d be able to use it afterwards!

Well, in part. The portion of his energies that automatically tried to block him wouldn’t be able to pass, and so only a very limited portion of him would be able to come through. A third circle most likely, or perhaps two at the very most.

(Malinda) “Oh, goodness, dearie… Whatever those Solars did to bind him was at least equal to what you could do, and they were working together! This might take some more time to unseal him!”

(Charles, busily working) “Well… It should be much easier to give him a LITTLE access than breaking the binding entirely… Wait! Oramus governed the quantum probability-fans to maintain separate Creations…”

He asked Nox about quantum scissors effects. It rather sounded like a tool used to delimit the boundaries of the Creation-dimension anyway!

And… there was a mighty iridescent dragon, oscillating with the maddening energies of Possibility that even creatures of the Wyld could not handle without going mad! Perfect mental defenses were helping against that, but there was still a temptation to drop them to get a full appreciation of how he looked – and THAT was natural influence. His multiple wings were wrapped around him in fractal patterns that even Galieo was straining to handle… and he was weeping piteously.

(Charles) “What’s wrong? How can I help?”

And there was the voice of a young man in his head, familiar, but much clearer this time. He sounded like he was talking in his sleep.

(Nox) “Wow. It stinks seeing him cry like this… Still a good thing this is only affecting YOUR reality, kid. Otherwise Sunny would be on you like a ton of orichalcum.”

(Charles) “Well… I have a lot of compensating factors at least… What’s wrong with him? Or is it just being stuck that way?”

(Nox) “Eh, how’d you feel after fifty millennia of being stuck in yourself, when your whole self-conception is ‘I do the impossible’? With not even, say, a kindly old craftsman and some rash kid to give you an out? By the way? Thanks.”

(Charles) “Stress relief then! It may only be limited space to act in at the moment, but at least he can meet and talk to other people and such until I can get things straightened out more… And you’re welcome!”

(Nox) “It REALLY makes a difference, even if it’s just one being.”

(Charles) “Lots of things to fix!”

(Nox) “Ah well! One more Creation with me up and about very soon!”

(Charles) “Oh good! And the sanity-restoring manse construction has been moving right along too…”

(Nox) “Seriously, though, kid… Dad will wear on you if you just leave that open. And if you make the quantum scissors? 50/50 shot of you getting those to him in Malfeas. I’m figuring this out from him bursting out, of course . . . Can’t see in the King without his permission!”

(Charles) “Well… I can set it up to be a bit more isolated – and to automatically permit visitors minds to handle it safely. That way he can have lots of visitors, some influence on events outside, and even remote excursions without necessarily inducing madness in random passers-by. Would that do?”

(Nox) “With the way you’re warping Ayuji? Yeah. Don’t worry, you’re not hurting her! It just happens when she’s sharing reality-space with a Primordial!”

(Charles) “OK then! That should work nicely for the moment… And I can route in some events from history and the current time so that he can gossip with Yu-Shan; I suspect that the only thing that made HIM a “Yozi” was being so trapped.”

(Nox) “I think they’d like that. He always seemed sad about… You know, the whole sleep thing.”

(Charles, while busily setting things up) “Oh good!”

Oramus had been just staring blankly ahead while weeping, like he wasn’t really comprehending that someone was there- but now he was calming down. He still looked really freaked out!

(Oramus) “Is that really you, Gauderis Athelstane?”

(Charles) “That’s great-grandmother! I’m Charles! Unless she’s got a link set up… that would be sensible!”

What appeared to be a blue cabbage with tentacles had just materialized next to Oramus. Weirdly enough, Charles got the feeling that it was… what he’d been using as a Yu-Shan substitute. Oh dear. Things were going to get very crazy within this pocket reality interface weren’t they?

(Oramus) “Yu-Shan, do you hear that! We can finally escape, and I’ll never never let you eat strange objects again! But that would make that Possible. Hmm… Is that little Nox I sense? Bad Ayuji! You ate Nox! You know the Incarnae are off limits!”

(Nox) “Actually, it was more like… Eh, you know what, kid? I’m just going to let you deal with this mess! You can handle it!”

Well, he had to test sometime! Charles offered Oramus some of the yozi-sanity-restoring artifacts (one per Deva and one more) based on the Privacy Manse effects in the forms of a selection of impossible puzzles, to attune by solving! An opportunity that he could not resist even in the best of times, which these were not.

It did seem to help, even if it took time… There were millennia worth of insanity to work through after all! Still, anything to do other than escape was something. It was fortunate that Charles had persistent mental defenses, or it would have been quite disastrous. Still, Charles could easily devote a sub-aspect to it; he wouldn’t need his full concentration until Calibration…

Keeping the link open took up a not-insignificant amount of Aden’s processing… Not to mention attracting attention in Malfeas as Oramus thrashed around less. It was still a good thing to be doing! If not exactly a prudent one! Particularly since – as was true of quite a few Primordials – there was no record at all of Oramus actually doing anything objectionable. For the “grand villains of the universe, vanquished in glorious and righteous war”… there was little to no mention of them actually DOING anything except annoying Autochthon and MAYBE the occasional natural disaster equivalent, but it wasn’t like those didn’t happen anyway – and even more often when the Primordials were not around to keep things organized.

Well, Charles had always assumed that the winning side wrote the histories to make themselves look good – and events must have been DEEPLY ambiguous if a bunch of Solar writers couldn’t make themselves look totally righteous. Gramps had made sure that he’d learned to THINK about what he was read and told!

———————————————————————————————

Meanwhile, over at Toho Studios, Aikiko had pretty much blown her cover – and the air-aspected studio head and the rest of the senior management was wanting to know if Aikiko – who clearly had a much better idea of what was going on than they did, even if it WAS their movie monsters who were out and about – would be willing to be a part of their delegation to address the United Nations Security Council.

Of course half the delegates there were supernatural beings anyway, and most of the rest knew Thaumaturgy. After all, if you didn’t know THAT much you’d be lost at least half the time! Especially when it came to discussing how best to cover up the Raksha UFO’s!

(Aikiko) “Whoa… Well, I guess we’ve got no choice. I’m the one with the most experience on this, unless anyone else wants to speak up.”

(Morinopu/Forest Wind, the Studio Head) “Well, if giant Kaiju from our movies are going to be fighting over the fate of the Earth while stargates open up… there’s not a lot of point in hiding any longer! And if you can offer some explanation for it… we might as well send you to do the talking. It’s not like WE’VE got one.”

(Ariskari Mekan) “What, holding meetings without me?”

(Morinopu, sighing) “It was urgent, and we had no idea if you would come Sensai!”

(Ariskari) “What, you think that I would miss a meeting this important? The Kamikaze comes for the third time, this time across the greatest of seas, and the Gate will not hold against it. We must ride with it or we will surely fade into obscurity!”

There was a brief pause.

(Ariskari, sighing) “What, confused looks again? Many common fortune-tellers can see THAT much! Foresight may be clouded, but a warning of peril is hardly useless, even if you can see no quick and easy way to victory!”

Aikiko was considering… An Exalt she might be, and she’d been up to a lot in the past few years – but she was no politician and, as a teenager, might have a hard time impressing the Security Council. Ariskari obviously had a LOT of experience though – and was capable of impressing Dragonblooded. Clan enough to be called “Sensai”. Even if it was just age and experience, that might help a lot!

(Aikiko) “Sensai Ariskari? Would you consider talking to the Security Council as well? Your wisdom would surely be of great assistance!”

(Ariskari) “Are you sure that you are not just seeking to replace one crutch – the construct-servant you have taken from the great darkness – with another to aid you where it cannot? With training and discipline you should not need such things! Still, I suppose that you are still very young. I will be expecting rapid improvement though!”

Aikiko… was more than a bit taken aback! Of course he’d see Skoll that way – but the old guy was perceptive as hell, sharp as a razor, and obviously didn’t put up with much of any guff! And…. he wasn’t exactly wrong, although he probably never dived into interstellar beasties.

Not that she was going to open her mouth to say so.

And he was a hundred and eighteen years old? Even at his age… his stance was perfect, his confidence huge, and his reflexes better than most! He was obviously a bit weaker than he was at his prime, but there was still a fair amount of muscle under that wrinkled skin. A most irascible old man indeed!

And… a man who made her wonder what she could have been like if she hadn’t Exalted. Granted, he might well be one himself at that age, albeit possibly not of a type she recognized, and there might well have been an anima flare by now!

Although the details of his face were oddly hard to make out. Perhaps… a Sidereal who had dared to LIVE, rather than work all the time? A discreetly cloaked use of her perception excellency showed her… ambrosial… arch supports and compression stockings to help with very elderly feet and varicose veins. His cane was a minor artifact that provided unfailing balance and – as a stick – could be used with pretty much any martial art as a form weapon. He COULD be a well-connected Thaumaturgist of course – but those of his movies that she’d been able to track down often seemed to be teaching tools for very high end martial arts. Either a Sidereal playing hooky from the Bureau for some reason, a God doing the same, or a relative of either… With the difficulty of remembering the facial features and the fact that gods didn’t age… likely a Sidereal (although it would take a LONG time for a Sidereal to get THAT old) or Sidereal half-caste. Which made the whole discipline-and-training thing more understandable. Who would be more likely to put his faith in those things than somebody who knew just how badly people with more power than sense could mess things up?

Ouch. That probably described a painfully BIG chunk of Heavenly politics.

Still… hard to say without asking, and how to do so politely? Unless… He was wondering why she hadn’t asked already. She had just admitted to being involved with the supernatural.

His apparent age fit in well enough with 118 for a human. What little there was on him said that he’d looked abolut the same since he started making movies, shortly after Toho had built their studio-manse. His actual age was… Oh for Lytek’s sake! Very FEW people had protections against people determining how old they were! She could just check!

11,147 years old. And pretty much wearing an occult sign saying “Bug Off! I’m RETIRED!”

Erk! Now that was OLD. While even THAT wasn’t old enough for him to have seen the earlier ages without time-distortions or some such it was still quite old enough to have seen the earliest beginnings of the current human civilization.

She checked his Essence signature. She’d been assuming that he’d be hiding it – but at THAT age, why bother? Anyone who’d care, depending on what he is, would either be way out of his league, a possible worthy student, or someone to mess with.

An Elder Sidereal Exalt. Essence in the 8 to 10 range. And, obviously… not too much longer to go.

By the Incarnae… probably with all the longevity they could have. Probably Journeys – not that the distinction would mean much to HIM any longer! At THAT age he’d likely mastered every scripture, probably had ways of getting every Anima, and quite blatantly knew a LOT of martial arts! Even some of the old-type charm-cascade styles full of really weird stuff!

He’d likely pegged her style – and type – just from her own stance. She’d better stay on her best behavior with him, and maybe even use Skoll a bit less! It would be nice to get some of his knowledge before he died!

Come to think of it, he’d been recording all kinds of martial arts styles in his films – and had asked that she appear in some of them. That probably meant that she was in for some martial enlightenment whether she liked it or not!

————————————————————————————–

The Security Council. Who would have thought that she’d beat Charles to this? He was the one who liked to talk to people! Representatives of some of the most powerful nations on Earth – and these days that was no joke even for the Exalted. Humans these days… had LOTS of powerful weapons right up through nukes – and not a little power of their own, even if they mostly didn’t know it! Humans… were not so helpless any more!

(Chairman) “So; given your appearance here in response to our request, I take it that Toho Studios wishes to answer some of our questions? You do not seem to have been selected for bland denial, so it seems likely that you have some information to share with us.”

(Aikiko) “I can answer at least some of them.”

(Chairman) “Well then, perhaps it will be most efficient for you to provide a general outline? A barrage of uncoordinated questions seems inefficient.”

(Aikiko) “Where would you like me to begin? I know there’s a lot of weird stuff going on lately. What concerns the Council the most?”

(Chairman) “Most obviously… Stargates and Giant Monsters. Those may or may not be related – but it does seem likely that Toho knows something about the monsters; they seem to have been depicting them quite accurately for decades now.”

(Aikiko) “The Stargates? You mean from the ads pretty much everywhere? Yeah, those are real. A friend of mine is working on those.”

And there were various murmurs and much note-taking.

(Chairman) “So… in your own words… what is going on? And does it endanger the people of the world?”

(Aikiko) “Hmm… My friend, Charles, wants the universe to thrive with life. So he’s been constructing gates to other, habitable worlds out in space. They haven’t opened up yet. When they do, though, he and his creations will be there handing out supplies to anyone who wants to colonize space. He’s also been recruiting. I bet there’s multiple offices in New York City.”

(France) “So… your friend controls the resources to organize the colonization of seventy-two worlds by himself?”

(Aikiko) “To minimize potential complications my friend… has been terraforming those worlds from lifeless hunks of rock in otherwise uninhabited galaxies. Sending supplies to a few dozen worlds is probably trivial to him.”

(Chairman, with a censorious look at the French representative) “Your friend can terraform planets more or less to order? And he is concerning himself with the people of the Earth?

(Aikiko, sighing) “Charles is pretty much a living saint. All he thinks about is fixing things… And peanut butter.”

(Japanese Special Representative) “And the kaiju?”

(Aikiko) “Not him – well, except for Mothra Leo; I think he just made him to figure out what was going on with the others. Not Toho either. This group called the Cauldron-Born made them. Um… They’re a merger of fairies and powerful humans. Normally fairies want to eat your soul or your emotions, but I think the Cauldron-born just want a place in our universe.”

There was more muttering, and some unhappiness with the gibberish – but the United Kingdom representative spoke up; “Obviously there are rather a LOT of things going on – but there are at least two obvious things to do! First up… Ms Aikiko? Your “Friend” is apparently something quite incredible… Do you and the other two here possess some relevant special abilities? And is there some sort of history of all this we can look at?”

Aikiko looked at Morinopu and Ariskari… Were they OK with being outed? Oh of course they were! They were letting her act as spokesman and had already pretty much agreed just by coming along!

(Aikiko) “Well… He (nodding to the studio head) is attuned to the magical Essence of Air. He (indicating the director) is a master martial artist – and not just physical martial arts, but the kind that provide supernatural powers – and as knowledgeable about nearly every other discipline as anyone I know. I’m a skilled martial artist too… And I have my companion Skoll (as she called “him” forth). Now, if you want to know the history of the world before, here’s a download from the library in Aden, Charles’s… base.”

And the demonstrations, explanations, air effects, and bits of the WEIRDER Sidereal Martial Arts (teleportation-based, phasing based, elementally based, and more), went on for quite some time.

Aikiko found herself even MORE impressed with Ariskari! Even among the Sidereal Masters quite a few of those styles probably qualified as lost arts! Any ONE of those would be BEYOND handy!

Ariskari… was rather having fun! It had been some time since he’d actually had to USE most of his styles… Even the Sidereal Brotherhood hadn’t argued much when he’d decided to retire and make movies after more than ten thousand years of active service, even if he HAD had to arrange the construction of a manse capable of supporting such a project first.

They wound up taking the Security Council to visit Aden for a bit – after which Aikiko took the opportunity to get back to the tabloids.

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