Become a Titan
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In a secret location Hotwire Data Headquarters.
Code Monkey was looking at the information gathered from the Aryan's computer when he smiled seeing a list of names. "Oh, this is interesting."
"What is it?" Hotwire came into the room hair in a towel dressed in a T-shirt and jeans.
"Finally out of the shower I see."
"I haven't had a shower for months give me a break. What have you found?"
"It's an Aryan subscriber list."
Hotwire looked at the screen. "How can we use this? Blackmail? Do we sell the info?"
Code Monkey leaned back waving a hand and a list of possible Anti-Aryan groups came up on screen. "We have a few Anti-Fa that could be interested in it. Some Pro-Meta groups even the extream Human Superior groups. Being Meta myself I really don't like even bothering with Blackmailing. I want to target them direc..."
An alarm started going off cutting Code Monkey's comment off. Both him and Hotwire looked at each other then ran down the hall to a medical chamber where the body of Hotwire was laying in a bed with medical gear going off. "How do you shut off that annoying beeping!" Hotwire's body said as she yanked off another monitoring sensor.
"Janet?" Code Monkey looked at his Cybernetic sister then to the Hologram turned solid Sister. "Okay, this is odd. God, I hate magic."
Janet looked at her other self-standing there in the doorway. "How long was I out for you to make another me?"
"Another you? I am you... wait... what do you remember?" Hotwire looked at her physical body.
"I remember being hooked up to the internet when those Metalheads attacked then... a power surge? What the hell happened."
Code Monkey looked between the two. "When the Metalheads attacked you were still connected. You were unconscious for months. Your consciousness was lost... well I guess was copied, on the internet. She has been running things till now. For the last few months, you were in a coma nearly brain dead."
Janet looked at her brother and her somewhat other self. "What changed? Last I knew interaction of my Avatar with the real world was via holograms."
"Well, when I was cut off from my.. er our body? I somehow changed I could manifest without a hologram emitter and could take over machines. Then today some Aryan morons were causing trouble badmouthing Metas and..."
"No one messes with my little brother. Got it. So how come there two of me now?"
Code Monkey nodded "Magic. Some mage cast a spell on yo...er her. Then she became solid and can feel again."
"So now there two Hotwires one a cyborg the other a living Data construct. This is so freaky."
All three said at the same time "Fucking Magic."
Later on air
"This is your Digital Deva! Your Cyber Sex Goddess now..."
The second Hotwire appeared beside her blue-skinned white-haired double. "In Stereo!"
"That right the original Cyber Sexiness is back online and functional. Thank you, Aryans for finding a way to make my Awesomeness twice as good. Now so all of you won't be confused this seductive Cyborg will go by the handle Hardware! So take it away, my Software counterpart I got Game of Thrones episodes to binge watch!" With that, it was just the blue-skinned version on screen.
"Now for a Special Auction! We have a list of ARYAN Subscribers! Going for the highest price for the next three day just call your Villain Net contact and make a bidding! Winner takes all! Starting at 5000 dollars!"
Personal rules of good roleplay
1.) Nothing goes as planned.
2.) If it goes as planned it's not good RP
"Hi, Gayle Force! My name's Hank Talliaferro; I call myself Minstrel. I'm thinking what magic did, magic can undo. We get everyone we can who has both musical and magical talent, especially if they're linked. Add some professional music types like yourself, cause if the magic's in the music, more and better music should help. We make a playlist of songs about Hope and Recovery, getting back what was taken, that kinda thing, maybe some antifa, but all as positive as we can make it. Then we find a big enough stage... no, right here is better, Make a stage here if we can. Anyone affected by the Aryan's spell gets front row seats, and we see what happens...So, waddayathink?"
Foradain, Mage of Phoenix Rising.Foradain's Character Conclave
Millennium City Refugee.
Avatar courtesy of Satellite9
Tinker Belle pulled out her all-purpose laser, plugging the cord into her flight pack. She began cutting into the cockpit of the mech, taking care not to cut into the occupant. Rotten Luck wasn't likely to be wrong about the pilot being dead, and she couldn't care less about a bigot's feelings because a body he wasn't using got singed. She just didn't want to be the kind of person who did that.
A man walked up to the Minstral overhearing him. "Perhaps I can be of some help. The Gods have directed me here." The man was Finnigan or as he was known as the Rune Priest. He was dressed in blue jeans, black boots, brown shirt, and a rune stone necklace. He had a trimmed beard and ponytail both of lush blond hair with a hint of red.
"The fates of many people were affected and balance must be restored. My humble skill at Rune working is at your disposal."
Rotten Luck got as far away from the scent of freshly dead. "Fuck, at least I didn't directly kill the bastard. The crash did him in not my hands..." He looked to Old Soldier "Right?"
"Hiya, Hank. I love that idea! I'm always up for a good collaboration!" Gayle replied, perking up even more. She squinted and wrinkled her nose as she wracked her memory to check her schedule. "How about one week from today, early evening, profits to music education and anti-hate programs?"
"My phone thing is off in the ocean, but you can contact me through the League of Titans AI or Sylvia Crestin over at Aitken Interactive Marketing, my agency. I'll start pulling strings! Let's do it!"
She smiled at the Rune Priest, Finnigan, as he offered his assistance. "See? We're already attracting folks who can help!"
A Wing and a Prayer, A Strong, Strong Wind, All Forests are One - Venture City metahuman novels in the spirit of City of Heroes and other comic book superhero fiction. (http://bit.ly/sdpbooks)
"That's great! Both worthy causes." The Minstrel's costume had pockets, so his phone was ready. His thumbs flew as he texted the League of Titan's AI, just his name and plz give the number to Gayle Force if she asks, 10Q. Then he put the phone away. "So, Finnigin, we're thinking of using bardic magic to undo what the Aryans did. Any ideas on how you can help, or even try something else entirely?"
"well, I'm no bard. My singing skills end up with Amerikatt knocking on my door to make sure I wasn't some evil villain harming cats."
He reaches into his bag and pulls out a runestone. The rune itself was Fehu "It seems the Gods approve of such an idea. I see prosperity and the circulation life-force. That said I think I could inscribe runes on some speakers and perhaps a stage with magic circles and other runecraft. It would help if we know fully what that magical device was. Anyone know someone that could look into the past. My Divisions only tell me the essence of what affected a person, not the true event."
"Oh, look into the past?" Gayle almost giggled. "Definitely! I gotcha covered, there. I just have to call... um...." She blinked and then asked. "Can I borrow a phone?"
Taking the borrowed device with a quick word of thanks, the singer entered a number. "Hi, Sheena! ... Yes, I'm at the park. ... Yeah, I got hit with the ARYANs' stuff, whatever it was. ... Weak. Weak and un-powered and I lost my wind. ... No, lost like for real. And wet, too, but I've dried up a lot since getting out of the water."
She smiled at Hank and Finnigan and continued. "We've got an idea here of something that might restore everyone, but we need to see what the thing was. So, some re-winding would be kind. Can you help us see what really happened? ... You can? ... Great! Where do we meet you? ... You'll come here? Good. I can't fly anywhere, at the moment."
Gayle laughed as the person on the other end said something. "Right! This is fully within the FBSA's jurisdiction. And even if it weren't, you'd be here. Got it! See you soon!"
She handed the phone back to the person she'd borrowed it from and announced to the others, "Shanikali will be here soon. She can spin time back a bit to take a look for us. Let's figure out what we want to ask, though. She can look herself, but she can't take anyone with her. Messes up the timeline, or something."
"Then let's see what the runes can tell us. Like I have said my power isn't audio based. The magic is in the runes." He pulled out a matt from his traveling bag and laid it down then sat down crossed legged. "I can see what the runes have to say. The gods can guide us in the direction that is best."
He then starts drawing out nine runestones setting them down. "Odin High father lend us your wisdom, Loki trickster lend us your cunning, We seek to undo a fiendish act guide our path." The runes are in order Gebo, Ingwaz, Wunjo, Tiwaz, Eihwaz, Nauthiz, Uruz, Thurisaz, Dagaz. He makes a bow over the runes "Thank you."
"Seems we are on the right track. If I read the runes right our coming spell will react to the wills of those it affects. Some may recover their powers completely, other... powers may manifest differently. The spell would act as a catalyst to a positive outcome. But I see a warning as well, it might be painful and will take personal strength to keep focus during the spell." He motions to Dagaz "The last rune Dagaz is telling me the Power of change is directed by the will. I believe that only those who really want to be returned to who they once were or even for their powers to manifest differently will be affected."
"Many of the other runes speak of Strength, of will, and of the body." He replaces the runes "None speak of failure. Just warning that it won't be easy."
"That sounds promising," Gayle replied. She shrugged. "The magic stuff is beyond me. I just know that it works for people who know how to make it work. I guess we'll just let people know that some struggle may be involved."
She glanced over to where D-Day seemed to be organizing the clean-up of the wreckage. He was directing, more than doing any of it himself, as far as Gayle could tell, but still providing his strength of character to the effort, if not his direct physical strength.
Hank deleted the record of Gayle's call from his phone - he paid by the month, and he'd likely meet this "Sheena" soon enough anyway. "Hard work - and planning - has always been the best way to avoid failure. Stubbornness helps, too."
Across the park, Tinker Belle took her leave, vaguely mentioning something that had come up. A few minutes later, an electric Mini Countryman pulled up at the site where the fighting had started, and two women got out and began documenting the damage.
Shortly, an eagle-winged woman in a loosely tailored "MIB"-style suit and dark wrap-around glasses swooped in and landed by Gayle. She pushed the mane of sandy blonde hair back over her shoulders and looked around. From a pocket inside her jacket she pulled out a replacement headband and handed it to the singer. "Here you go, Gayle. Looks like you lost your primary, so I grabbed your backup."
"Thanks, Sheena!" Gayle activated the communicator features and put it on her head. Then, she gestured at the collection of metahumans gathered about. "Special Agent Sheena Gardner, FBSA, this is... well, everybody."
Sheena gave them a quick wave and nod. She looked to Gayle again. "No breeze? I see what you mean about the de-powering effect."
"Right." Gayle took a deep breath to calm herself again. Spirit-sensitives paying attention to the scene noticed a pony-sized wolf demon made of iron arrive. It sat down watchfully behind the FBSA agent. Gayle explained what had happened while Sheena nodded. She finished with, "And so we need to see what that device was, so we can re-create it, or see how it works, or something."
"Right. So, I can take a look myself, but I'll need to know what you want me to observe, specifically. I can take good notes, but I might miss important details if I don't know what I should look for." She looked at the others. "Let me know what you want me to investigate."
"Hank Talliaferro, ma'am. Minstrel. Pleased to meetcha. The visible manifestation was a cloud, came from those mechs over there, while they were voltronned. Only affected people, far as I could tell. Tinker Belle, she's a gadgeteer, said she'd lost Improv but was still a genius, and her gear still worked."
The Old Soldier moved among the mechs and added, "There seems to be flywheel in this one, ma'am, with some familiar materials..." He turned his left arm up and pulled the sleeve down to display a patch of his shell that still had a hole in the illusion of his flesh. "I think that's orichalcum."
"Orichalcum? That's, uh... right." Sheena frowned thoughtfully for a moment as she sifted through her memory for just what that was, and what it meant. "They did it magically, then. Let me see what we've got. That might help me narrow the focus."
She came over to take a look at the apparatus and tapped her glasses. "Recording, of course." After studying it for a couple of minutes from different angles, she shook her head. "This matches no specific tradition I'm aware of. That just means that it's a different genius who cobbled it together. Got the cloud description, sir. Thank you. I've pulled that from video captured of the event. Thankfully, it registered to electronics. Anything else people observed?"
"It felt cold," Gayle offered. "Like ice water when it hit me. And you know I'm usually not affected much by temperature."
Rotten Luck came over "The magic affected me, but not in the way it affected others. Hel kind of took offense at such magic. Not sure if she was pissed I was affected or if the spell was just offensive. She kind of took control for a time." He was still in a slightly pissed off mood at the Goddess of Death. "Hate when she does that." So Rotten wasn't as up to snuff as normal perhaps he was a tad weak but the word orichalcum did enter his thoughts "Isn't that the Atlantis alloy stuff? Suppose to be rare as heck isn't it?"
Fin was looking at Sheena then knelt down to one knee "Devine one how can this humble servant assist." The guy does call himself the Rune Priest and he worships all forms of divinity. So, of course, he would be awestruck by Sheena.
D-Day walked over to Sheena "Madam I understand you are taking over investigations. I had made sure people stay away from the main rubble till it was cleared of any possible contamination. Clean up and recovery been focused on the surrounding area." He staggered a bit then takes a deep breath and tugs his uniform shirt. "I haven't felt this weak since the first night of basic training."
"Orichalcum is supposedly Atlantean in origin, but I've seen reports that it has been created more recently, too. I think it just takes a firm will and a whole lot of mojo." Sheena smiled wryly. "I can imagine that Hel taking over is never a pleasant experience."
Sheena paused and looked over the man kneeling before her. She nodded to him. "Time is valuable. So is your service. Use the time and talents you have to make this world one where people can live together in harmony. But, more to today's point, help us find a way to turn this situation to good ends."
She looked up as D-Day approached. "Good work, sir. Thank you. The forensic team will be here very soon. They can take over the detailed collection of evidence. I've already got a transponder log of everyone who was here helping out, and the AI will be taking and triangulating statements. Maybe... give yourself a break? You've all earned it. I'll be busy with the 'lookback' here for a bit, but my partner, Agent Calderon, is on his way to keep everything moving."
The goddess looked around. "I'm ready to take a look. You are okay here?"
"Fraulein Dammerung once told me that it's mostly the enchantments that makes the Mountain Bronze, but she'd gotten good results with eleven percent aluminum bronze," The Old Soldier commented.
The Minstrel asked, "Any preferences for an assistive tune? I was thinking about something based on Cher..."
The Aryan Leader walked into the apartment he was renting for now. It wasn't much a basic building enough to give him a place to sleep. The high rise buildings would be more to his liking, but the landlord here didn't ask questions and accepted cash. Being untraceable was more important than views and comfort. There was no way to find him here... at least he thought he stopped as a light flashed in the living room and a figure appeared sitting in his chair.
The figure was dressed in black one would say it was a generic biker outfit complete with helmet. The lines of light seeming to dance along the seems were not standard however and he could see the eyes looking at him with hate behind the helmet mask.
"Hello Father, I see you got your toy working after all this time. I wonder did you think I would be one of those who comes charging to take your Aryan mechs down? Was it bait for your darling daughter?"
"Don't bother answering this is a recording. No, I wasn't lead into your trap. I remember you testing those toys on me how they burned and froze me at the same time. How you forced me to make the metal for you, I wonder do you have a new supplier?"
"What would your followers say finding out that your own daughter is a Meta? Have you stopped beating on my mother for giving birth to a freak yet?" The hologram stood up "I can find you anywhere at any time. There is no place you can hide. I got free of that Steel Mercy place where you hide me. I only grow in power your toy will never burn me again. Oh and one more thing Father... Ten
Four..." With each number said a beep was heard above the door frame where the Hologram projector was located, with a countdown.
Sheena chuckled and smiled. "Yes, Cher would be good." She nodded to Old Soldier and then waited for the Minstrel to begin playing.
As she caught the tune, Gayle chimed in with accompaniment. Sheena said, "All right. Back in a wink or two." She spread her wings and leaped into the air, beating down with her feathered pinions, and slipped out of existence.
"We don't know how they did the things they did.
We don't know how we will undo it.
Magic like a blade has cut away,
The pow'rs heroes use to save the day.
Our heroes didn't ask for this fight.
But when evil comes they must take a stand.
And they'll take it again, powers or no
And so we'll turn back time,
And we will find our way,
To restore what our heroes have lost
On this day...."
(Adapted from lyrics by Dianne Warren)
The goddess Shanikali appeared in the crisp mountain air of the cedar forest and stretched out her wings to catch the wind. She made a slow circle in the sky over the divine forest like a watchful eagle before gliding down to land at her customary campsite beside the River of Time. The river stretched out before her, cool, crystal clear, and carrying the fates of mortals ever into the future.
As before, her FBSA uniform had changed into a short, feminine toga of smooth black material. Her shoes were black corded sandals. The uniform change was routine, but something seemed off. She called her bow into her hand and turned to study the forest carefully.
“I am present, Mistress,” the iron demon-wolf Sharur growled as he appeared beside her, as big as an ox and ready to protect her. He followed her gaze. “What do you sense?”
She glanced back at the river and shook her head. It wasn’t there, but out among the trees where the winds blew that she felt the oddness. Everything seemed as it should be, but for a faint tickling in the back of her mind. It was faint, but real. Something was out of place. She replied, “Nothing with the waters, but of the forest. I think there is an intruder.”
“Not one of the gods, then?”
“No. It has the feel of a mortal.” She chuckled wryly at her own statement. “Don’t ask me how I can tell that. It just… feels that way.”
The wolf asked, “Should I call the pack?”
Sheena hesitated, then nodded. “Yes. Better to be safe than sorry.”
She stood watching and listening as Sharur leaped away into the trees with barely a sound. There was no rush. She had time. All the time in the world. In all the worlds, in fact. But someone had been here, or was here now. That was significant enough to merit her attention.
The campfire was laid, but the wood remained unlit on its bed of old ashes. She smelled the faint scent of cedar wood smoke on the wind. The tent was as she had left it with the tools she needed to craft arrows that extended her powers in the real world. The arrowheads were ready for mounting on the shafts she had chosen. The sinew was ready for binding. The feathers for fletching were… no. There were three feathers missing from the pottery jar. The feathers given to her by Raven, her celestial colleague, were missing.
Sheena frowned. That just made the mystery even more puzzling. Did someone come here to steal the feathers, or had Raven sent someone to make mischief? Or, was there some other explanation? She couldn’t just rewind her perception of time to view the theft here in the Cedar Forest—all time was now in this place—and the one who had come and gone had left no tracks to follow. That was strange, too.
“Goddess,” Sharur’s voice whispered in her head, “I have found her.”
“She says she is here on your orders. A human girl barely a woman. And covered with ice.”
“Ice? My orders?” Sheena shook her head. “Bring her here. Oh, and does she have three feathers from Raven?”
“All right. That explains one thing. Bring her here and let’s find out what this is about. I don’t remember sending or bringing anyone here.”
“She says her name is ‘Battle-20,’ or Leyla Dodge. And that you ‘damn well better know her, because you stranded her here,’ according to the girl. She seems quite angry.”
Sheena thought briefly and replied, “No clue. Must be from my future. I’m not sure what would ever cause me to bring a mortal here, though.”
“You brought Gayle.”
“Yes, but she’s a special friend.”
“There is something of your scent about this one, too.”
Sharur did not bother to repeat himself. “We come to you, Mistress.”
“All right.” Sheena emerged from the tent and waited. Subjective time considered, it must have been a fair walk back through the forest for the mortal to reach the campsite beside the river. Seeing the teenager, Sheena was just as puzzled as she had been. She did not recognize the girl.
The scowling young woman was lean and built like an athlete. Not particularly tall, just Sheena’s own height, perhaps. Her skin beneath the casing of ice covering her body was warm-toned and her dark eyes and hair suggested a Middle Eastern heritage. The girl’s hair was done up in a tight braid that she pinned behind her head in a military sort of style. Her well-defined eyebrows were cast resentfully toward the bridge of her rather long nose. Under the thick coating of living ice Sharur had mentioned, she wore a set of U.S.-patterned military fatigues and boots. She looked to Sheena like she was just out of high school.
The girl stopped inside the campsite and put her ice-encrusted fists on her hips. She frowned and her icy armor evaporated in the blink of an eye. In taut, Middle Eastern accented English, she demanded, “Well?”
Sheena snorted. ‘Well, what?”
“Am I done, yet, ma’am? I’ve been out here for three nights.”
“Yes. Child’s play.” The girl almost sneered. “I’ve had tougher training exercises dodging back and forth over the ISIL border just to prove I could. And killed seven terrorists there, too. The wolves you’ve got out here don’t scare me, and neither do the spirits.”
Sheena considered that for a long moment. Carefully, she asked, “Which spirits have you seen?”
The girl tossed her head. “Three kinds. Wolf spirits, like you said I would, and the ghost deer, too. Lots of them. And two spirits of the dead. Men I killed.”
“And what did you learn?”
“That the dead are no more sorry for what they’ve done than the living.” The girl’s expression was fierce, resentful, closed. “They would do the same thing again. They’re fanatics, and dying for their cause caused them no regrets.”
“And what about you?”
“I would kill them again! They raped and killed and beat people, imposing their hatred on everyone. They deserved to die!”
Sheena blinked. She wasn’t sure what to say to this, or what it was about. This was nothing she had done. At least, not yet.
The girl continued. “I couldn’t hurt them. I tried, but I couldn’t touch them. And they couldn’t do anything to me except spout their hate. I don’t even need my ice armor to turn aside their feeble words, and my sword won’t touch them. It just goes right through.”
“Your… ice sword?” Sheena guessed.
The girl glowered again. “Of course! What is all this, like you don’t remember bringing me here and trying to make me see whatever it was you wanted me to see, which I don’t even get!”
“What did I tell you that you were supposed to learn?”
“Forgiveness for the ones I’ve killed.”
“And that’s not working, huh?”
“No.” The girl crossed her arms again with a sulky expression.
Sheena tried a different approach. “When did I tell you that you could return?”
“When the feathers turned white.” The young woman pulled three black feathers from the front pocket of her fatigues. They were glossy black with clearly-defined edges and a radiance Sheena could see, though she doubted the girl could. Raven’s feathers. She waved them at the goddess. “Still black!”
“Mm-hmm,” Sheena observed. “As black as your own anger, I get it. What else?”
The girl grumped, “Only what you told me to report—that you are loopy.”
“Looped,” Sheena corrected, beginning to see what was happening.
“Whatever. And the orichalcum came from the Dark Society supplier that manipulated the ARYANs. The mechapulse was from a magical flywheel set up by the ARYAN contractor, some crystal-using guy calling himself Jewels Verne. And the drop box address where the schematics are, JV underscore 2000LUTC.”
Sheena understood now. The girl was from Sheena’s own subjective future, placed here to provide some useful information that she had discovered, in addition to making the girl serve her own sort of ‘detention’ in the spirit world. It seemed like she had set the girl here to learn something about forgiveness. She wondered why.
“Well, it doesn’t seem like you have learned what I had put you here to learn, yet.”
“You think?” the girl shot back sarcastically. “I only put up with this because I’m just as stubborn as you, ma’am. You say this is the only way they’ll let me use my powers without joining up in the army, and I said the army’s just fine with me, as long as I get to kill extremists, and you just sigh and give me that pitying look. ‘They won’t let you kill the people you want to, Leyla,’ you said, ‘Only the ones they want you to kill.’ Fine, I said. At least I’m hurting the ones who deserve to be hurt.”
“And what did I say, then?”
The girl’s face fell. Grudgingly, it seemed, she admitted, “That I would be used just like the jihadists used their believers.”
“Do you think that’s true?”
The girl looked away. Her attention seemed far away. Sheena waited. Eventually the girl replied, still staring at the river, “Maybe.”
“What is it that I’m trying to teach you, Leyla?”
The ice girl took a long breath and released it. “To see other ways to fight the injustice, you said.”
“And to do that, you have to get over your anger and what they did to you, right?”
“Right,” Leyla muttered.
“All right, then.”
“But it’s so hard!” the teenager complained to her. “And it isn’t fair!”
Sheena raised an eyebrow. Before she could say anything, the girl tossed her head and admitted, “I know, I know! ‘Whoever said life was fair?’ But it ought to be.”
“You’re right, but that’s only something we can give to others; not what we can expect to get.”
The girl huffed. Her breath made an icy cloud in the dry air of the spirit forest. She glanced at the river, and then back to Sheena with a resigned look. “I’d better keep trying, then, right?”
“That seems best. Follow the instructions I gave you. I’m sure you can do it. I have confidence in you, Leyla.” Truly, Sheena didn’t know this girl, but she knew herself. If she had given her this task, then the girl would be able to succeed, eventually. She had all the time in the world to get it right, after all.
“More talking to spirits,” the girl grumbled. “You want me to stay here and do it, ma’am, or is anywhere in the forest okay?”
“Have you found a place you like?” Sheena asked with a touch of curiosity.
“Yes, ma’am. The hill where the giant tree fell, and I can climb up it and see out for miles. I like that spot.”
Sheena thought while the girl waited for an answer. “Yes, that should be fine. It’s probably better for you to find your own peaceful spot. It might make it easier on you.”
“All right, ma’am. Then, you’ll come back when I’ve got it, or do you plan on checking up on me again?”
“You aren’t in need of supplies or anything, are you?”
Leyla shook her head. “No, ma’am.”
Sheena settled her feathers. “I will probably come again when you are ready, or when it seems like you need more help.”
“Fair enough,” the girl replied stoically. By the look in her eyes and tightness of her lip, she seemed only marginally less sulky than before her outburst, but she was obviously disciplining herself well. She added politely, “Good luck with whatever you need that information for.”
The young woman coated herself in ice from head to toe again and turned away. Before she had climbed all the way up to the trees, she turned and said, “Sometimes, killing them is the only way to stop them.”
“Yes, I know. But what does it do to us, when we do that?” Sheena replied. “I’m not thinking only about the extremists you’re talking about, but everyone around them, and around you. And the effect that has on you, yourself.”
Leyla grunted and nodded, and then turned and trudged off into the forest.
Sheena released a breath and let the tension flow out of her.
Sharur commented, “Your sidekick.”
“Yes. In your not-too-distant future, you will accept that girl as your sidekick, though neither one of you likes that term.”
Sheena shook her head “Whatever will make me think that’s a good idea?”
The iron wolf grinned. “You will say that you seem to have a knack for turning people around. She needs turning around, or she will die young and bitter, with her talent and powers wasted.”
“I will, huh?” The goddess sighed. “That does sound like something I would say. Do you know if I will remember this little episode, at the time?”
“Yes, Mistress. It is part of what convinces you to accept the suggestion.”
“Hmph. Time twisting again.”
“Well, at least I can console myself in that there are no paradoxes.”
“Not the way your powers work, Mistress, no.” The wolf seemed to be grinning, still.
“But, other time manipulators don’t have that restriction.”
“As you have observed to yourself several times, no, they don’t.”
“And I’m running up on one of those times, aren’t I?”
“It is hard for me to tell, Mistress. All time is now, to me.”
“I think you just answered my question, sly wolf.”
The demon dipped his head in acknowledgement.
“It seems I have what I came for. I don’t need to alter the time stream, based on what this seems to say.”
“No, Mistress,” Sharur confirmed.
“Then let’s get back to the park and finally tell everyone what we’ve got for them.”
“It will seem like they have been waiting a long time.”
“I’ll be back in an instant, from their point of view.”
“Time is an illusion.”
Sheena snorted. “Whoever said that wasn’t paid by the hour!”
She made ready to leave the spirit world and return to the park where the wreckage of the battle with the ARYAN forces still lay fresh on the ground.
Sheena swooped back into reality an objective thirty-five seconds after she had left. It was just enough time for one verse of the Minstrel’s duet with Gayle. She landed lightly on the ground next to D-Day and smiled, waving for the two to continue. Sheena waited for the song to finish and the applause from the crowd to subside before sharing what she had learned.
“The Dark Society put the ARYANs up to it and supplied the orichalcum and the device. A crystal-powered guy—a neutral or a villain, I’m assuming—named Jewels Verne did the work, and the schematics are available at a drop box labelled JV_2000LUTC. I’m assuming that gives us enough to go on to find out the exact details about how this was done and what we can do to reverse or end the effects. What I learned also suggested that it would be more dangerous for me to actually try to turn back time than it would be to grab this information and let things proceed. Hope this helps.”
She was confident that this information would be enough to turn the situation around.
The Minstrel slung his guitar back over his shoulder. "Yeah, if someone can figure out those details, I can help out on the undoing part. But for the figuring out, I'm thinking we need a magical engineer, or mebbe a forensic sorcerer..."
The Rune Priest was busy drawing runes on some speakers and shook his head. "I regret that my skills are more general. Kind of a swiss army knife plenty of tricks but not really good at heavy work. The main reason I'm not in the whole Hero trade."
From behind Sheena came the android ALX-32 "Perhaps I shall provide assistance. I have been studying magic and can grasp the concepts." His form showed little of the cold calculating android he really was. To be able to examine a bit of tech that incorporates magic will further his own research into such magic-tech.
"Excellent," Sheena replied. To the broader group, she said, "I'll coordinate the effort from the FBSA office. We'll vet the volunteers. Those who can help can contact me at the FBSA hotline, with the reference tag 'Deer Park' or 'ARYAN.' Please pass this on to everyone here, and to anyone you know who can possibly help."
Special Agent Calderon arrived in an agency SUV. The government shaman relaxed and smiled broadly as he surveyed the scene. The work Hank and Gayle had done to calm the heroes and bystanders--as well as D-Day's calming presence--had everyone well below the threshold of panic he had apparently expected. He lowered his dark glasses and looked a question at Sheena. She nodded to him as she forwarded the information to the AI on duty. Within moments, the identity of Jewels Verne and the location and contents of the drop box had been secured. The call-in entry for volunteers and an additional FBSA call-out for qualified assistance had been established, as well. Sheena pulled up the file on the 'technomancer,' as the FBSA record described him.
"Interesting. Jewels Verne is a rogue inventor. Neither a hero nor a known villain. Biggest offenses on his record are for property damage, creating a hazard--multiple citations--and disturbing the peace. His identity is protected, for some reason."
She looked to D-Day, Hank, Fin, and Gayle to see if they had other ideas or questions as Calderon began to follow up with those who had been affected or witnessed the event. An official clean-up team pulled up with heavy equipment and lift vehicles secure and remove the evidence and debris from the park.
"Mr. Ayelex! How kind of you to offer to help. Although I didn't know that you were studying magic as well as cybernetics..." Tinker Belle had made no attempt to conceal her approach.
ALX turned to Tinker Belle. "It's not something that I generally make known. As a synthetic intelligence, the idea of an unlimited power source that could be tapped is very intriguing. Like for an organic to learn there is an unlimited supply of food and drink." Both a lie and truth.
Sheena settled her feathers again and stepped aside to confer with Gayle. The singer nodded in response to her questions, replied with explanations, and seemed to be holding together, though she remained shaky about her loss. They hugged and Sheena let Gayle go to the car that her friend's management firm had sent over.
She walked back to the others. "Magic is far from an unlimited power source. There are always prices to be paid. But we will certainly welcome any expert help that we can get." She waved to the Minstrel. "Gayle will help get that concert set up right away. You two will be in touch, I expect. I have some clean up and datawork to finish, but please feel free to contact me as needed."
She went to take care of things in the park before departing.