Thursday, October 23, 2008

Book 3: Doc Quantum and the Circus of Midnight Lies

As a special treat, the cover blurb to Rey's third upcoming Doc Quantum book,
based on the group's first encounter with the deadly Midnight Circus!

Intent on taking a much-needed break after their recent adventures, Doc Quantum and his friends are lured to an evil circus where the vicious Ringmaster, Devlin Cavenaugh, has dark designs on the brilliant scientist. He intends to have his pet scientist, Dr. Fowl, create a clone of Doc Quantum! And Doc is separated from his faithful wolf shifter companions at the worst possible moment when they discover that the malignant masquerade is infested with the influence of their race's deadliest enemy!

But Doc Quantum is not without allies! After gaining the favor of the mysterious and lovely Etherian elf Lady Ishtar, who was once worshipped as a goddess but has now fallen under the sway of the Ringmaster's hypnotic powers, Doc Quantum vows to find a way to break Cavenaugh's control and free everyone imprisoned by the circus. In order to save the victims of this calamitous carnival, can Doc Quantum rouse the good in his evil double's heart? And will his wolf shifter allies be able to escape their own trap in time to help him?

Book 2: Doc Quantum and the Pendragon Seal

The popular acclaim of the first book leads to a publishing contract! Rey's second book, to be published a few months after the first one (hey, it's pulp; quantity over quality) is based on their three-part Enter Tillingtast adventure. Rey has graciously agreed to release the cover blurb before publication for his dearest fans.

A rival scientist has come up with an insane scheme! In a bid to recapture his country's ancient glory days, Dr. Tillingtast plans to fling England into the past using the energy harvested from captured wolf shifters and a powerful, precious Etherian artifact. Doc Quantum and his allies must do battle with the mad Tillingtast and the vile Sir Quinn to save England, even as they contend with the malevolent Illuminati, who pursue their own designs even as Doc Quantum saves one of their misguided agents.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Return of Tillingtast (oh yeah, and King Arthur)

To England! Ambrose wants to try to convince Tillingtast that Sir Quinn is a bad guy. Faris points out that won't work until they know what lies Quinn has been telling him.

In England, they hear a report that two robot knights robbed the British Museum on horseback and stole the Glastonbury Round Table. Following the trail away, it leads to the dead end of an alley. Ambrose finds a secret switch that opens the wall...and on the other side is Wales.

Ambrose hesitates. "See...if I go with you guys, he'll be suspicious. But if I go by myself...I don't wanna go by myself." Faris and Mark point out that Tillingtast doesn't know them. Ambrose smiles hopefully.

Mark rolls his eyes. "I'll go with you."

The Garou sense recent Umbral upheaval. All the spirits have taken cover. There's a temporal disturbance ahead--the castle on the hill. A very functional castle. Flying Balor's flag. In a four square mile pocket of Mythic Age.

Ambrose guesses that Tillingtast rebuilt the time machine using the Round Table to travel back along its time line, probably using fae energy to power it, but from where? He spots projectors on the towers.

Disguising themselves to suit the time (Saxons), the group heads in. Ambrose heads right up to the castle, escorted by a dubious Balor, who says Tillingtast is insane (no news there). Inside, a lion spirit is trapped in a cage, providing power to the time machine. The table is being used to try to open a gate to a locked realm (Sonya puts her bet on Avalon). Ambrose admires the robot knights. Tillingtast greets him enthusiastically.

The others sneak into the castle as staff helping with the feast Tillingtast decides to hold.

There's a young unconscious man being held in the castle. Tillingtast says it's Lancelot. "My mistake. Apparently this is why he didn't show at Caemlynn." As to the lion, "Lions always look angry. He's happy, Ambrose! He brought down many Balor when we caught him. Flailing about all teeth and fangs. Very happy." And Morgana is upstairs, locked out of Avalon, behaving erratically, getting along very well with the Balor. "They all like Fomorians," Tillingtast observes.

"This is...very impressive," Ambrose admits. Tillingtast adds that he also stole the Crown Jewels of England. Ambrose admires the diamond.

Jonas and Aila go into the kitchen to poison the food with iron filings (Jonas's suggestion). He backtracks when Jared and Rey are horrified (though probably plans to go through with it anyway). Rey and RF head upstairs to deliver mutton and come back down to tell the others that Tillingtast is holding Lion in a cage. Lion is one of Griffin's brood. Is this the reference to Griffin's favored son?

Lion's got about an hour left to him, the way his energy is being drained. Tillingtast says the castle is charged enough to hold for about a day after Lion kicks the bucket. Ambrose mentions that Black Spiral Dancers, who Tillingtast has guarding Lion, are Pictish, which has the intended effect of Tillingtast booting them out of the castle on grounds of being Scottish.

Tillingtast asks Ambrose to sedate Lancelot. Ambrose clandestinely feeds the man a system purifier instead to clean out the sedatives he's already got in him. The others come in with food.

When Tillingtast decides to move backward in time a bit further to speed up unlocking Avalon, the Garou decide they can't wait. They attack to save Lion. Two BSDs haven't left, seemingly mesmerized by Lion. RF and Sonya begin pulling out tubes from Lion's cage. Rey stands next to the door to lock and guard it. "Rey," his sword says. "Morgana is on the other side of the door."

Lancelot wakes up and begins trashing stuff, attacking Tillingtast when the scientist starts yammering about English greatness and Lancelot sleeping with the queen. Jonas makes a snide comment about Tillingtast having a thing for Ambrose. "That's just creepy!" Ambrose snaps at him. "Yes!" Tillingtast agrees, then makes a weird face.

"Hey, didn't Lancelot have a horn?" Ambrose asks. Then he spots MiBs in the doorway, aiming something at the Garou, and knocks them down. "No, Ambrose!" Tillingtast calls, still under the impression that Ambrose is on his side. "They're on our side!"

The BSDs turn into white wolves and start attacking robots. After they discover they can't get through the glass, Sonya grabs a robot and smashes it into Lion's cage. She feeds Lion the Gnosis she can spare, considering the battle, and asks Turtle to help him. Lion is too weak to protect himself.

Mark trips Morgana as she busts through the door. Jared tosses Lancelot the horn. Balors turn up behind Morgana, and get vaporized by a familiar boy with a staff. Lancelot blows the horn, which turns the burgeoning gate into a sucking vortex. "Is it a Pavlov response?" Aila complains. "Get horn, have to blow it?" Then everyone gets drawn in.

Everyone's split up. Sonya, Rey, RF, Tillingtast, Mark, and Aila fall into 1927 Chicago, in an alley. Tillingtast gives them the time frame, then leaves, telling them, "I'm going to England."

Then at the end of the alley, Doc Eon and his Terrific Trio turn up. Rey fanboys.

The others land in Avalon. One of the BSD/White Howlers land on Ambrose, who complains that he's very heavy. "RrrRr," the Howler replies, rolling off him. Looking around, they notice a big tomb and a castle. Lancelot is confused. Ambrose starts to explain about King Arthur's death, but Jonas shuts him up. "Oh, right." Ambrose remembers how it had a lot to do with Lancelot not being there, and revises his story. "He was fairytale-killed and his body was kidnapped by Morgana who brought him here to the tomb."

"So we have to get in there," Lancelot summarizes, and kicks in the door.

In Chicago, Rey fanboys enough to mention it twice. "You've read the books," Doc notes ruefully. He takes them to his awesome urban lair to explain the situation, and says he'll send them to England from there. "I can send you back, but you have to capture that fugitive." Referring to Tillingtast. He takes them to England in his experimental hyper-plane.

Doc Eon calls Rey by name. "How do you know who I am?" Rey asks.

"Your future, Rey."

"He'll never shut up," Sonya notes wryly.

"So Tillingtast is his name?" Doc notes. "We have to stop him before he becomes his own grandfather or something."

"I don't think that'll be a problem," Rey snickers, riffing on Tillingtast's unsettling fondness for Ambrose.

Doc suggests they use sonics to get through Tillingtast's force field, then starts blathering about the science of it. Everyone else commiserates about Etherites. Doc wonders what Tillingtast wants to do, so they explain to him about Tillingtast and the fae.

the folks in the tomb find a long hall. Ambrose throws a rock, anticipating a trap, but nothing happens. Skeptical, he puts up a force field and heads in. And well he does, because lightning bolts blast from the walls and bounce off the shield. Noting that the traps take a bit to reset, he motions the others through.

At the far end, there's a circular chamber with doors in many directions. Each has the blazon of one of the Knights of the Round Table. Gawain's door is notably huge. Lancelot explains that Gawain is a werewolf. He followed a sun spirit, he sasys, indicating Gawain's crest. "Only door you could fit a coffin through," he notes. "Unless they tipped it sideways."

"Okay...," Ambrose mutters.

"You think it's too easy?" Lancelot asks, apparently taking that for criticism.

"No, I'm just thinking how to get the door open."

"Well, you're a scientist. Like your friend."

"He thinks he's my friend," Ambrose retorts. Lance tells him Tillingtast talked a lot about Ambrose, who really doesn't want to know.

Ambrose spots a mechanism on the floor. The elaborate patterns, reflecting the Knights' blazons and the seats of the Table, can be rotated. Lancelot notes there's a spot for the Seige Perilous, but no corresponding shield for Galahad, then starts spinning the mechanisms to line them up and unlock Gawain's door. They head down the hallway.

Which leads to a room with a dragon in it! Lancelot jumps forward to fight the beast. Faris helps the others slip around it to get to the door it guards. Ambrose feels sorry for the dragon, trapped in there. He has to haul Lance along to keep him from getting distracted by a thrilling fight, and then strengthens the door to keep the dragon from busting through it after they close it behind them. "We'll have to deal with that on the way out," he notes.

In 1927: at the airport, Sonya hunts up a spirit and asks if it's seen a big man out of his time. The spirit points her toward town, where there's a freehold. The place doesn't bear any House markings, but then it's during the Interregnum. It's a Redcap bar. Rey offers candy around and asks the inhabitants if any of them have seen a "round guy."

"Fukkin' round guy came through about a hour ago. Shunted 'im into the Dreaming," a Redcap growls, grumbling that some kind of force field kept them from getting at him. "Tammy nearly fit the whole bubble in his mouth!" But since they couldn't eat him, they shoved him into the Dreaming. Rey negotiates to use their Trod to chase him down. "Big gay fuzzy people who don't belong," the Redcap grumbles by way of agreement.

Doc Eon keeps referring to the Dreaming as "Arcadian space."

They follow Tillingtast's trail to a scrap invention junkyard, where they split up to look for him. RF and Sonya, Mark and Aila, Doc Eon and Rey. RF hears Tillingtast harrumphing to himself. He's built a work bench and four or five robots. RF calls the others over. Sonya considers drawing the robots off, when Tillingtast lifts a huge gun. One of Doc's companions cusses to himself and fiddles with an electro-damper.

Rey makes stupid fake Army motions to catch Tillingtast's attention. Sonya makes real ones to signal the pack to surround and shut down the robots. She distracts him with cell phone feedback and the pack attacks. Tillingtast flees with a jet pack, but Rey leaps on him before he gets far. "I'm steering!" Rey crows.

"Steer me to England, then."


"You're steering me into the ground," Tillingtast rumbles.


"Horrible beast-person."

Lucky Skunk ruminates over how he'll write this as an adventure. "I'll have to add some ambushes on the road or something, flesh this out."

"Well, it might not be over yet," Sonya points out.

Rey realizes the guy with the electro-dampener is a younger Tink, the head Nocker at Dreamsoft. Doc Eon hauls Tillingtast, figuring to take him back to Chicago and get him back to his proper time. Rey, less of a Dreaming navigator than Jared, guides them as best he can.

He does so successfully, and back at Doc's base, he warns them about the danger Tillingtast poses. Rey has Doc autograph a book for Doc Quantum. "Why did I know you'd ask that?" Doc quips.

"Because you already said you're from the future," Sonya replies. "The bluntness is rather refreshing."

Rey wonders aloud if Doc is Ambrose's son. "He'll never have sex," Mark disagrees derisively.

"Astarte likes him," Rey defends his friend.

"Oh good god," Mark groans.

Entertaining as the conversation is, Doc has to get going. He has business. Sonya carts Tillingtast, belting him on the jaw to make sure he stays unconscious and out of trouble.

In the tomb, Ambrose ponders breaking the summoning circle around the dragon's room to banish or clear out the dragon. "If it's freed, it might make us another exit," Lance considers. So they decide to wait and head on.

When Doc sends them back, the group with Tillingtast is immediately confronted by Nazi ape-men and a walking eye. "Oh my god Nazi ape-men!" is Aila's response.

"Focus!" Sonya snaps. Mark calls Horizon while the others fend off flying Nazi jet-packers and Sonya protects Tillingtast with the Turtle Shell Gift. Jet-men bounce off the force field. "This couldn't get cheesier!" Aila shouts...then sees a guy wandering outside with armor, a beard, and long blond hair, who looks very confused.

RF tears apart the walking eye and beats up rocketeers with the legs. Rey grabs a jetpack and takes to the air with his sword. He sees the confused man, too. "You know who that is?" he asks his sword.

"I think that's Arthur," the sword says, sounding a little wobbly. Nazi jet-men go after him while he absent-mindedly wanders toward the lake a little ways from the castle.

Back in the tomb, Ambrose and the others reach the central tomb, but it's empty. A portal hovers above the open sarcophagus, slowly closing. Well, looks like Arthur's already out. So they leap through the portal back into Tillingtast's lab, and then run out into the fight they hear outside.

"Oooh, yeah," Ambrose hoots in appreciation of the chaos.

"Have you seen Arthur?" Jared shouts to the general crowd.

"Heading toward the lake," Rey swoops past to call back. "I gotta fight jetmen!"

Tillingtast stirs, so Sonya thumps him off the inside of the force shield. Knowing there's got to be one, Ambrose uses his visor to spot a Nazi zeppelin coming in under cloak. "Use your goggles, man!" he calls to Rey.

"Where is it?!" Mark yelps, also realizing there's got to be an airship around here someplace. Rey points; Mark hits a button on his phone. A Hermetic lightning bolt rips down from the sky through the zeppelin. The Hermetic courier stumbles out from his landing point,disoriented. "What just happened? I think I hit a zeppelin!"

"An evil Von Allman zeppelin!" Ambrose tells him cheerily, as the zeppelin comes crashing to the ground behind them.

As Arthur reaches the edge, a hand rises from the lake with a sheathed sword. Jared calls a tornado upon the jet-men. Ambrose shoots down some flying ape-men. Lancelot steals a jet pack and heads for Arthur. The Hermetic heads toward Tillingtast.

Ambrose watches the zeppelin for movement, and spots an SS lizard-man climbing out. "Nazi Sleestak!" he shouts, tagging it so he can follow it with its camouflaging.

Sonya's force shield goes down, finally crushed by a robot knight. The two BSD/Howlers leap on the robot before she even needs to do anything. The Hermetic grabs Tillingtast (whom Sonya knocks out again).

The Nazi fliers are cleaned up. "Anything else?" Rey asks.

"Sleestak!" Ambrose calls. Nobody moves toward it, seemingly stunned by...well, by the fact it's a sleestak. It runs. Ambrose bolos it. Rey walks over to look at it.

"What do we do with it?" Rey wonders.

"It's an officer! We interrogate it!" Ambrose tells him.

"How can you tell?" Rey asks, baffled.

"It's obvious!"

Seeing an opportunity for unparalleled chaos, Rey leaves a message for High King David: "We found King Arthur, talk to ya later!" and hangs up, then starts following Ambrose toward the famous knights.

Jared gets the callback. "Seriously?!" Jared gets to be stuck with the explanation, as usual. Rey laughs at him.

The Garou, meanwhile, do pay attention to the sleestak. It tells them Von Allman wants Tillingtast's technology. "He's tangled with Doc Quantum before," it hisses with a touch of drama. It also informs them that the Nazis have taken over a good chunk of Hollow Earth. They're still beseiging the Great Library and the Rainbow City, and having trouble with the Dero, as always. Von Allman is tapping Hollow Earth's resources, building stuff, and hiding something.

The Garou are kind of flabbergasted about all this talk of Hollow Earth. Ambrose gives the knights some hot tea, figuring they could use a nice soothing hot beverage.

With the mayhem fading, Faris carts everyone to Tara, where he talks about turning the lizard-man ("Sleestak!") over to the Ailill. The lizard-man tells them that Hollow Earth connects to Pangaea and the Garou Homelands. Von Allman plans to build a spirit bomb to blow up the werewolves, but he needs a casing for it from one Wilburforce Sanders. Ambrose explains that he's an Etherite armorer who specializes in indestructible materials. He's usually to be found at the Gernsback Continuum, but he's currently on a speaking tour for Paradigma and not due back for three weeks.

Rey gives Ambrose the autographed book, which says, "Ambrose, till we meet again," and then lists a complex equation. Signed "Doc Eon." Ambrose spaces out a bit.

"Do you need a room?" Sonya asks him.

At Tara, they're shown in to the king immediately. "We found something of yours," Aila tells David.

"I think he belongs to himself," Ambrose counters.

"It was a joke, and you ruined it!" Aila laments. "Why...?"

Ambrose calls the Etherites to warn Dr. Sanders, and to tell them about Von Allman taking over Hollow Earth and blowing up the werewolves. "He has a thing for them, in the bad way."

"Like the Tillingtast way?"

"No, in the 'I'll destroy you all' way. And what?!"

"Nothing! He just really likes you!" Ambrose is requested to try to talk sense into the good doctor. Ambrose ponders getting King Arthur to come talk to him. That'd certainly get through to him.

Book 1: Doc Quantum and the Ether Paths

Based on the Ambrose's own Etherspace-wandering history and the group's first few adventures (the first session through Nighty Knifey), Rey's first book is published! Since you're one of our most esteemed readers, have a peek at the cover blurb:

After an experiment goes awry, Doc Quantum and his faithful mystic friend Marcus are thrown through time and space to find themselves wandering the mysterious and distant paths of Etherspace! With the help of their new-found allies, who belong to a shape-shifting race of Etherian wolf people, they discover a databank containing forgotten secrets of a long-lost wolf-shifter civilization. Indebted to Doc Quantum and impressed by his noble ideals, his Etherian friends choose to follow him back to Earth and aid him in his quests.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

There used to be a chantry there

Ambrose sends a letter to Doc Eon's action sidekicks. Rey and Mark protest that mail is too normal for such a job. Ambrose tells them about Alexis Hastings' experiments with telepathic snail telegraphs. Even the fae think that's bizarre, though Faris points out that the Grail armor is said to be guarded by telepathic snails.

Ambrose informs them that he sent the message the old-fashioned way because the old fellows are comfortable with regular mail...and anyway, it's nice to get letters sometimes.

Jared gives the key and the werecat to High King David. Rey has his first novel, Doc Quantum and the Ether Paths, published--the first of a new pulp series.

RF gets a memory-vision about a reservation in New Mexico, where he sees an abandoned caern with some kind of big machine sitting on top harvesting Gnosis from it. He has the impression that it's happening either now, or soon.

Since only eight of them can go to the Circus anyway, they split up.

RF takes Ambrose, Rey, Olesya, and Caleb to the caern. Sonya goes to the Midnight Circus with Jared, Mark, Jonas and Aila.

In the desert, RF hunts up some locals to learn about the site. They say some surveyors went there recently from Endron. RF is sure the rig is Ambrose's sort of thing, but Ambrose says he needs a closer look to get an idea of who might've built it. So they plan to sneak out to the location under cover of night.

In Chicago, the rest of the group get on with their thing till the Circus arrives. Aila notes a kid at the arcade who's older than he's pretending, and warns her friends away from the Circus...but that just makes this kid interested. He likes to play the original Gauntlet, and introduces himself as Max. Says his family is from New York.

"This is way boring compared to New York," he comments in a disaffected tone.

"Yeah, last time I was there, there was a lot going on," Aila agrees cheekily.

Max says his parents work for some corporation--he doesn't know what. But he's been lots of places: London, Hong Kong...he says he likes Italy.

The rig on the New Mexico caern is Von Allman's work again, and it's not drilling for something so mundane as spiritual energy. They're drilling for caern history. Pondering what sort of information he could want so badly, RF tries to "remember" what knowledge this caern contained. Information on pathways to the Mokole homelands...information on a ritual regarding Eater of Souls.

"Why's he got such a hard on for it?" Rey grumbles.

"well, it's the ultimate death ray, if he could harness it," Ambrose poins out.

Olesya spots Nazi guards--ape-men in SS uniforms, led by an Etherite in a Victorian waist coat. He's a young guy; Ambrose doesn't know him. Rey and RF spot the Progenitor Nephandus further up the hillside, also skulking. "What's that?" Rey asks.

"I think it's a cravat," Ambrose replies absently, eying the Etherite.

"No, that."

"Oh, snap."

In the Circus, Devyn meets them at the entrance. Aila greets him cheerfully. "You realize," he warns, "that you can't interfere with me in any way while you're here, or you'll break your little pact." Jonas mocks him about selling evil candy apples to children, which Devyn thinks is asinine. But he does point out that under the terms of the contract, they can see barbs and taint.

Jonas and Aila pick on his Snidely Whiplash moustache. "You know, you won't be under this deal forever," Devyn growls.

Jared breaks off and heads to Astarte's court, where he presents the Autumn Queen with a ring made of metal from the Arcadia key, and gathers two more songs.

Aila spots some kids from the arcade, including Max...and the werecat! Jared catches a glimpse and says she's not really Danielle, but a chimerical copy. But...where'd it come from? She's helping set up acts in the big top. "This one looks smarter than the real one," Aila notes.

Danielle hits her hand with a hammer.

"She still looks smarter," Sonya comments.

Back in New Mexico, Rey makes the Progenitor smell like bananas so the Nazi Apes chase him. The anonymous Etherite, annoyed and confused, zaps some of them with an electric prod. The Progenitor hides. With their path cleared, the group sneaks in.

Ambrose casts around till he finds the console. It's being hacked. He tries to pump false information through the intrusive connection, but it's too late; they've already got access to the data.

"Smash that," Ambrose tells the Garou, stepping back. RF rips out the hard drive before the hacker can finish copying the data. It's only a copy, Ambrose warns them. The data is still stored in the caern. He cuts off their replies: "Let's clear out before the apemen get here." But it's too late! They turn to leave and see the Etherite and some of his ape-men standing in the entrance. The exasperated Etherite closes his eyes and sighs.

Ambrose shoots him. "Make him smell like bananas!"

"No. I've done that already today."

"Ape musk," Olesya suggests.

Rey gets an evil expression on his face. That's too good to turn down.

"What're you doing?!" the Etherite shouts at his ape, while the others dart past.

Outside, they see the Progenitor and his Akashic ally fighting more ape-men. "Why do you smell like bananas?!" the Akashic snaps at his companion. "Really poor choice in the circumstances!" The group dodges past that cluster and flees.

The group in the Circus meets with Cara's fortune-teller representative to cut their deal. Protection from the Circus's illusions and immunity from being held by it for up to twelve people, in return for expanding Cara's influence in Texas (she tells them about a purification ritual to draw off the Wyrm's influence). She warns that this does not defend them from the actions of the Circus's personnel as individuals. Devyn may well move against them personally.

They kidnap the chimerical werecat on the way out, tossing her into a sack in her trailer. Decarabas is at her door as they leave, grumbling about her and her show. "Have you talked to her?" Sonya asks him out of clinical curiosity. His eyes widen and he seems to suffer a sudden attack of the vapors. He wanders off, pausing to set her trailer on fire.

They bail out past Devyn, who's at the exit with a pair of Freaks from the show. Aila swings at one with the sack o' werecat, they leap over Devyn and take off running toward Dreamsoft.

Once there, they send Chimerical Danielle to Tara.

Meanwhile, Ambrose and Co. get back to Chicago. Ambrose snags Joe the VA to help him study the hard drive...but when they hook it up, the Nephandic IX girl leaks out, forming out of a black ooze. She system-havocs the room, knocking out Joe (and melting his PC to his crotch, poor bastard.

Ambrose shouts for help, and tries to hold her till reinforcements get there. But she's tough, so he takes the better part of valor, snagging the hard drive with his grappler and throwing himself backward over the bannister into the first floor lobby, absorbing the impact with a neat roll and armored jacket. This at least attracts attention from lounging magi. He throws the hard drive into one of the extra-dimensional vaults set up in the chantry.

Seeing her target put out of her reach, the girl huffs and turns to run. He knocks her down in the doorway. He flings him off over her head into the street, and as Ambrose rolls to his feet, Mark gives her the people's elbow from the other side.

A cop car pulls up on a report of a girl being held captive in the building. At a loss, Mark knocks the policeman out.

And then the Chorister Nephandus crashes through the front of the chantry in a stolen car, stunning everybody by screaming through a megaphone. Ambrose, behind her and thus out of the worst of the sound, wraps the sound waves back around her. "Ohhh yeah. Ohhh, that hurts," she moans, apparently liking it.

Ambrose spins and manages to knock out the IX girl, who's disoriented. Then the Progenitor turns up, coming down the street with zombies. And Ambrose again realizes he's about to be attacked from behind by an Akashic Nephandus. "You're almost as bad as that ninja!" he snipes, just barely managing to dodge.

"How so?" asks the Akashic, looking like he might be offended.

"Well...the ninja was faster," Ambrose needles.

The Akashic begins some kind of move that's so fast he's dopplering...and Jared takes him in a flying leap from the car Rey hits Robert the Progenitor Nephandus with--prompting the line, "Was that a flying fairy?"

"Nice time watch," the IX girl says, suddenly at Ambrose's side, trying to steal it.

Outside, the Garou arrive. Aila flying-kicks a zombie while the others head into the building, except for Sonya, who pauses to exorcise the zombies.

Mark is taking on the crazy Chorister woman. Ambrose shouts a warning to all and sundry about the Dreamspeaker and the chantry vaults. He can get to the hard drive! Mark darts past to grab the hard drive, and then throws himself backward from a tanned hand reaching for his face. "He's in the Umbra!"

Outside, Sonya sees a tall native man, who looks at her, blinks, and suddenly has serpent's eyes. The tainted Mokole. Two homeless fellows who'd been huddled in a nook on the street suddenly...change, and their eyes flash red. HITMarks assigned to watch the chantry! They head for the chantry. The IX girl dodges over, grabs, them, and their eyes turn black as she takes control of them.

The Mokole begins to shift...oh. He's got wings. But then a net launcher drops on him, shot by NWO agents on the roofs. "I was having a moment here!" the Mokole shouts.

"We've got possessed HITMarks!" Ambrose shouts from the front lounge, which now affords a commanding view of the action on the street. Mark curses. Aila grabs the Dreamspeaker's hand as it reached out toward Mark again, hauling him fully out of the Umbra.

Mages hesitate as Paradox crackles through reality like the leading shockwave of a bomb blast. "GET DOWN!" Ambrose shouts. "He's gonna blow!"

...And then time freezes. Ambrose, the only one not affected, sees a teenager (Aila would recognize him as Max step through the hole in the front wall and push the Dreamspeaker out of reality. Time returns as the NWO agents lob the Mokole through the front wall (taking out whatever was left of it) at where the Dreamspeaker was an instant ago. It goes crashing through the rest of the first floor and out the back.

When the dust clears, the rest of the Nephandi are gone. The MiBs gun down the rogue HITMarks. One of them looks at Ambrose and says breathlessly, "We'll call." They take off.

Aaaaand then the chantry head, the chantry's Akashic, and a few other mages return from their grocery run. Ambrose gives them the grin of somebody who knows there's no hope at all of explaining, and chirps, "Well, that'll teach them to mess with us!" Then he starts snagging Etherites to help put up pillars to support the building, since the Mokole took out some of the load-bearing walls.

"...What the hell happened here?!" the chantry head demands belatedly, finally finding his voice.

Ambrose starts to ramble a disjointed explanation. He remembers to point out the poor unconscious cop. "Great, yeah, I'll take care of that," the poor chantry head grumbles.

"No need," Sonya says. "I've got it."

"I just went to get frozen pizza!" the chantry head laments.

"We might need a new stove...," Ambrose considers.

The chantry head takes charge. "Everyone, start cleaning up. All the Etherites but Ambrose, fix the kitchen. Ambrose, write me the report."

Sonya and the pack take over the issue of the hard drive. They'll get some Glass Walkers to help with it. They might have a safer angle to work from. Ambrose asks around, but nobody else saw the boy. He's confused, because the kid didn't just stop time, he paused the Paradox.

Aila meets Max again the next day. She takes him to Dreamsoft since he's disappointed about what he perceives as the death of good arcades.

As it happens, Ambrose is there to meet Rey before they head off to visit Joe "Lucky Skunk" Ross, one of Doc Eon's guys. He spots Max, and recognizes him as the kid who intervened with the Dreamspeaker yesterday. He stops to thank him for saving everybody's bacon, but Max just acts confused. Aila thinks Ambrose is being weird again.

Doc Eon's boys teach him more about using the time watch--he shows Ambrose how to set it so that nobody else can use it--and they spend some time talking about Van Allman. All agree that Doc Eon's around someplace, probably laying low.

Rey asks copyright permission to use Doc and the rest. "Hey, you got the watch," Joe shrugs. Rey gets stuff autographed.

When they return to Dreamsoft, Ambrose decides he's curious about Max and decides to check him out. "Going to hide and take some special pictures?" Faris ribs him.

"Yeah," Ambrose answers distractedly. "I think...oh, that's disgusting!" But scans aren't conclusive. Max does look more like a mage than anything else, but there's something odd about it, and his timeline runs backward.

When they get back to the chantry, the head drops by to tell Ambrose he won't be charged for damages...then, glancing at his desk, asks what he's doing with photos of a boy. Ambrose explains.

"What, like Merlin?" the man asks incredulously.

Ambrose is amused. "Yeah, that's what I said."

They talk a bit, the chantry head catching up on Ambrose's crazy life--and kind of curious about werewolves. "What do you call space...Umbra...around werewolves? Squmbra?"

"It makes them happy to use their words," Ambrose says dismissively.

"Wow. Those're the words I use too. Way to be condescending about us 'primitives,' Ambrose."

The chantry head muses that Ambrose leads a strange life to be able to be believed when he says that this kid is the same...whatever that froze time as an explanation for how he's not stalking children.

After a couple of very, very long days, it's time to hit the hay. Ambrose is awakened at 3 am to the sound of the time watch beeping. "Temporal disturbance. Sir Broderick Quinn, Wales," it tells him.

He calls Faris, who gives him a hard time about the kid again. Ambrose interrupts. "Would you know Merlin if you saw him?" Faris allows that he might, if he watched for the narrative flows. "Try that next time you see Max!" Ambrose hangs up on Faris, then his phone rings again.

"AMBROSE! It begins!" booms Tillingtast's stentorian voice, then he hangs up. Ambrose stares at the phone in horror.

Then he gets up, heads to Mark's room and knocks till Mark grumpily answers. "Tillingtast just called," Ambrose tells him groggily.

"To Wales?" Mark asks him.

"To Wales," Ambrose affirms dejectedly. "Oh! You know that kid?"


"I think he might be Merlin." Ambrose turns to shuffle back to his room.

Mark chases him. "Wait, what?"

Ambrose calls Faris back, who calls Rey and Jared. Jared also gets a mysterious call from someone who tells him, "Take the Pendragon horn."

Ambrose calls Aila, the least scary Garou. "Tillingtast called. There's a temporal disturbance in Wales. Meet us at Dreamsoft. And I think Max might be Merlin. Or Doc Eon." He hangs up.

Aila wonders if he's drunk.

Ambrose's phone rings again. "Dr. Quintrell, are you ready to talk about what happened earlier this week?"

"I'm really busy right now," Ambrose demurs.

"Too busy for us?" the MiB asks in a tone halfway between amusement and menace.

"There's a temporal disturbance in Wales. I have to save the future."

Thus everybody congregates at Dreamsoft. Jonas and Aila act weird. Mark tells them about Ambrose's "I have to save the future comment," which Rey just adores. Sonya stares at the horn Jared's carrying--"Why do you have that?"--so Jared tells them about his own mysterious phone call. Nobody recognizes the number.

"Did it sound like a teenager?" Ambrose asks. Actually, when Jared thinks about it...yeah.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sergei Burning Heart is dead. Doc Quantum is born.

Shadow Lord funerals are fierce, as uncompromising and unsentimental in death as they are in life. It takes place under an angry sky, Grandfather Thunder summoned to witness the passing of one of his children, and the Shadow Lords howl to the storm and dance in the lightning that fires the old wolf's pyre.

Sergei's death tale is worthy of the Silver Record.

Ambrose spends the time with the fae children, teaching them the joys of Science!

After the funeral, they turn over the soul eater thing to the Margrave. After studying it, the great Theurge tells them it's the core of Eater of Souls. It cannot be destroyed, but it would be useful in the purification ritual to free the Croatan. Freeing the Croatan would weaken it more. Ice will keep it, especially in a caern of purification. They consider leaving it in the Memory Caern where they buried the Mammoth Bone. Sonya stares at the frozen thing thoughtfully, wondering aloud whether it would be possible to kill a Triatic Wyrm. The Margrave begins to deny it...then reconsiders. Perhaps it is, but he cannot conceive of what conditions would be necessary.

He asks them what they will do next. They need to face the Circus and forge the pact with Cara. Sonya is concerned, though, about getting into the Circus to forge the pact in the first place.

Ambrose has an idea on that. Remember those amulets that the Arcanum agent had, that allowed him free passage? They look at him funny. But that's what they are, he points out; relics of an old pact. If the Garou can study one, maybe they can recreate it or communicate with Cara through it or something. And Aila has the Arcanum agent's business card.

But first, they need to return the children. After that, they will take the airship to the Gernsback to have it safely overhauled and any of Von Allman's nefarious work removed. Ambrose thinks he might keep it, if it's safe. And...why not show the children the Gernsback Continuum before they return them home?

At the Continuum, Rey spreads a manuscript he's written about "Doc Ether" around among the Etherites. Ambrose feels rather sheepish about that--it seems a bit grandiose to have people publishing things about him--but proposes Doc Quantum as an alternative to Doc Ether (taking the name of an entire Tradition for a personal moniker is just gratuitous, in his opinion). Doc Eon didn't call himself Doc Ether, after all, and if anyone had a right, it was him. The Etherites around them have to agree with that.

"Maybe he didn't call himself Doc Ether because the name was already taken in the future," Rey counters, which the gathered Etherites also consider a potentially good point. But Ambrose demurs. "You're his successor," Rey tries again. "He gave you the watch."

Ambrose freezes. The room goes silent. When Rey pokes at him, Ambrose pushes back his sleeve to show them the watch, and the wrapping paper.

When Etherites begin to breathe again, they start arguing about titles more avidly. Some of them point about that Doc Quantum is more modern and understandable.

Rey argues that "doc Ether'll go over better with all the time traveling we'll be doing."

Ambrose counters that his last name begins with Q. He wins Rey over a little when Rey considers using a lightning bolt as the dash of the 'Q'. Ambrose thinks that's kind of cool, too.

"Maybe a representation of the dual nature of the construction of light," one of the Etherites suggests.

"Oh, that's very good," Ambrose approves.

Anyway, while they ruminate over that, Ambrose gives all the childlings a tour of the Gerns and sells them on the wonders of Science! Noting that Jared's Dougal squire is blind, he plunks and interactive headset on her. She really quite likes that.

Jared has a private meeting with the High King, handing over two more songs about Queen Astarte that he collected from House Varich at Sergei's funeral.

Rey bemoans Doc "Quantum." Faris suggests Doc Quantum, the 'singular hero,' but Rey wanted Doc Ether, the quantum hero.

The pack contacts the Arcanum agent and arranges to examine one of the amulets. They turn out to be low-level fetishes, containing a Jaggling whose purpose is to ensure safe passage in order to make bargains. They learns they can deal for free passage for eight people at most, one time, in order to get in and make the full deal.

And Ambrose goes on a Seeking.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Rastov part 3: burning hearts and newborn dreams

Rey, Olesya, and Te Hwan will go free the children. Ambrose rigs the teleporter to send the children to the ship as they're freed. The rest head to the top of the castle.

But as they blink into the room, a force field activates, blocking them off from the rest of the room. Sergei, Sonya sees, has been Embraced. She carefully restrains herself from reacting. Danielle has been hooked up to an energy chamber full of chrysalis energy.

Downstairs, the children are guarded by two war ghouls. Rey casts a silence spell so they can sneak upon them. Olesya starts mauling. Te Hwan summons a totem spirit. They follow a long corridor to a shadowy door at the far end. Rey tries and fails to summon sunlight...but his sword begins to radiate it. The shadows are dissolved and they begin to free the children.

Upstairs, Ambrose hisses to Jonas, "Distract them!"

"Right. Uh..." But then Jonas sees Timon top of the Flux column. The Nuwisha unzips his pants and unceremoniously takes a whizz on Von Allman.

"That works," says Ambrose. He quickly recalibrates the transporter and teleport-hops them out into the room. Aila hesitates at the wealth of targets.

Danielle yells at them from the chamber she's trapped in. "Have you tried to break out of that?!" Sonya snaps.

"Yes!" the bastet replies.

"Have you tried shapeshifting?"

"Ohh!" Danielle transforms and begins ripping her way out.

Sergei, apparently under Rastov's domination from his strangely-wired throne at the room's far end, heads for Tim, who runs and moons him. Growing increasingly angry and frustrated, Sergei's building Rage seems to make him pause.

Caleb guns for Rastov. Sergei activates the Aegis Gift so that things can't hit him.

Ambrose fires at Von Allman with a plasma rifle he snagged from the ship, which doesn't activate. "Do you really zink I vould design a gun-" Ambrose whips out his laser pistol and shoots him with that.

Mark and Sonya exorcise spectre-ridden Empty Knights as they appear. Aila shoots spectres. Jared and Jonas attack robots. Lady alison shoots lightning bolts that drain the robots' energy into a receptacle she has.

Tim continues to tick off Sergei. Sonya takes a look around, noting that the body in the coffin smells more Wyrm-tainted than anything she has ever encountered. There's a pretty vampire, whose blood is being drained into a centrifuge.

RF covers Ambrose's back while Ambrose tries to shut down that centrifuge. "You fool, you'll ruin everyzing!" Von Allman shouts at him.

Caleb cuts Rastov and sees something moving under his skin.

When Danielle frees herself, Aila calls her over to her.

Tim winds up near Ambrose. "Wow, he's really chasing him!" Ambrose glances over to see Sergei chasing an illusionary Tim.

Jared notes that there's nothing stopping him from cracking open that chamber of crysalis energy and letting it go back where it's supposed to. In fact...when he thinks about it, he really wants to. He pauses briefly to think about it, but isn't really coming up with any good reason why not...

Robots attack Ambrose. RF defends him, smashing the things into each other.

Dr. Von Allmans backpack, it turns out, becomes an exo-suit. He goes Lex Luthor at the same time as Lady Alison breaks Rastov's control over Sergei...who looks at Rastov, then at the coffin.

Caleb is now dodging tentacles that emerge from Rastov's body. One darts past him and grabs Danielle. Aila shoots it with a plasma cannon. She's pleased with the success of plasma guns on vampires, so she goes on to blast the other vampires in the room.

RF has to now defend Ambrose against exo-Allman, slamming a robot into his legs and wrecking the servos. Sergei grabs the body out of the coffin, lashing it with the Sunspear Gift over and over again, killing himself along with it. Ambrose at this point has brainstormed the device's workings and start rerouting all power into the Flux column. Von Allman shoots RF with some kind of silver-energy cannon, just barely missing him. Caleb and Aila succeed in tearing Rastov's head off...only to have tentacles from inside suck it right back on.

Von Allman is shouting science crap at Ambrose as he tries to stop him: "Don't you see?! Vampires, zheir Avatar ist in zheir blood!"

"...Yeah, I do see!" Ambrose says excitedly.

"Then if I do this..." Lady Alison breaks in, pointing her gilgul wand at Sergei, and firing it, which sloughs the vampirism out of him.

Sonya throws up Luna's Armor and wades through the fire to help Sergei kill the thing. If he wants it dead that badly, then it's first priority.

Jared finally gives up pondering, and smashes the energy chamber open.

Downstairs, the floor is shaking. About fifty childlings go into chrysalis at once. The Boggan nanny with them--Rose, one of Jared's friends--steers them all onto the airship. "Just want to be there," she suggests to them.

Upstairs, Caleb finally gets a good grip on Rastov, crushing him into a bearhug and cracking his skin open. Tendrils and snapping mouths on tentacles and eyestalks and even less savoury things pour out of him.

Sonya shoves her fist into the gaping hole of the undead thing's chest to grab its heart, and fires lightning bolts straight into it, finishing it off. Sergei slumps to the floor with it, not letting go, dying. Hauling the remains of Abisimilliard away and tossing them into the fire, she scoops up Sergei's body and carries him back out to the others.

As the chrysalis energy lashes out in widening arcs, Jared and the Garou sense the forest spirits moving. All this activity has awakened the Leshyii. Caleb finishes crushing Rastov and the...thing inside him, then Jared freezes it in a tidal wave of Glamour-powered ice.

Von Allman is gone.

...because he has teleported to his airship's cockpit, in the chair next to Rey's. Who draws his sword and goes after him. Startled, Von Allman flees, but stuff in the cockpit activates--bombs placed in the castle. Rey calls the others to tell them to get out. Ambrose tells him he can't--he has to keep the Flux energy from exploding.

Te Hwan uses her joss and swats a button that just so happens to be the deactivation switch. Ambrose finishes stabilizing the Flux beam...and hears a bampf behind him. He glances over his shoulder to see a cyborg tyrannosaurus rex! After taking a second to gape wearily, he lobs a matter disintegration grenade at it.

Rey starts the launch procedure, noting something weird going on in the air with all the Glamour lashing out. It's beginning to coalesce into something... Balefires begin kindling all over the place.

Ambrose finally notes the ice-thing and Sergei's body.

Aila wants to put the werecat on the ship.

"I don't need to be safe," Danielle argues with her.

"You need to be safe or you'll disintegrate all of existence, sweetie," Aila tells her.

And then everything outside stops. Heading down, they find a rainbow key lying in the snow. The fae know, instinctively, that it unlocks Arcadia's gates. Lying near it is a horn with red and white dragons on it. Ambrose recognizes it: the arms of Arther Pendragon. Bits of the metal the key is made of are lying around, so Ambrose picks some up, and finds he can shape it with a thought. He shapes some into rings for Jared and Dierdre.

Rose the Boggan reams out Jared and criticizes Rey. He loves her. Jonas notes that Tim is awfully good at his job, and never sticks around. He's not a young Nuwisha.

Sonya goes to the edge of the forest to speak with the Leshyii. This is what Sergei fought for. She wishes to light his pyre here, and asks the Leshyii if it will summon those who would honor him to this place.

The Shadow Lords come, and the Silver Fangs. House Varich, and the Margrave Konietzki.

Ambrose's phone rings. He hesitates miserably before deciding to answer on grounds that it'd only be worse not to.

"Dr. Quintrell...what have you done?"


The MiB starts to speak. Ambrose cuts him off with the story, which goes on for quite a while. The MiB mutters now and then, "Oh my god... Oh my god."

Still sounding a little stunned, the MiB finally finds his voice as Ambrose comes to the end. "Dr. saved reality. Very well done."

"I'm a Son of Ether," Ambrose shrugs. "It's what we do."

"It's what Electrodyne Engineers do," the MiB counters.

"That's what I said," Ambrose agrees, then adds almost sadly, "We're not the ones who changed. That was you."

There's a brief eloquent pause, then the MiB tells Ambrose he'll be putting a commendation in his file, and hangs up before Ambrose can figure out whether to argue.

Ambrose catches Rey telling the children all about the exploits of "Doc Ether." He takes Rey to task, because he thinks that's an inappropriate name, but he's secretly rather pleased by the idea of earning a nickname. Rey, however, wants to stick by Doc Ether, and decides to run it past other Etherites.