Saturday, February 05, 2011

We, The People [Session 3]

Morale was already scattered for the group. After a few good mercenary missions for the town of Viradenne Drop, things seemed to be going great; they had liberated a holy statue of Sammael from a gang of goblins intent on causing trouble, rescued an altruistic mercenary trapped by TOWER grunts, and liberated a well-stocked store-keeper from TOWER oppression, gaining a healthy new ally in the process. But the smoke rising from Viradenne Drop as they returned home was ominous, and their day had taken a turn for the worst.

Three days had passed. The smoke still clung to Clay Coté's chest, his mind contemplating burning memories as he ran through the blazing building. Darius Gould had mourned through typical Onatan-artwork, painting a picture of the young girls life he had failed to safe, an abstract image of powerful colours coupled with mournful shades. And the ghoul, Zackery, had done what any true follower of Anubis would have done; revelled in the destruction, accepted that this girls time had come to an end, and moved on.

Mr Dorsey, the Inn-keeper, had provided them with enough free drinks to keep them on a lofty haze, as thanks for helping him build his temporary tavern on the outskirts of town. The place was somber. Until Mayor K. Peterson had burst through the door; the overweight man was barely fit, and he was gasping for air while the three adventurers accosted him for the information he obviously knew; "Guard outpost. Outside town. Scouts.. watching. Cans of.. petrol.."

And they were gone. Vengence and bloodshed strong in their mind.

But things has only continued to take a turn for the worst. Where Darius' weak mental state and powerful new hatred for TOWER managed to stay in check, it was Zackery whose conscience let slip, as he simply strolled through the drizzle and approaching-darkness, through the front door of the outpost, and began firing off shots into the crowd of guards and TOWER employees. Bloodlust had overtaken him, and Anubis smiled in secret.

Clay and Darius used this to their advantage; they ran upstairs, where they found a youth, a new employee for TOWER, oblivious to the scene downstairs. They tore the headphones from him, weapons at the ready, and the boy simply panicked. Answers came out of him like the puddle of urine around his ankles, and it wasn't long until they had the information they needed, and the print-outs to prove it. Clay found solace in Sammael's guidance, and convinced  Darius to let the boy go unharmed, simply filling him with the fear of God, ensuring he never came back to work for TOWER; they didn't want to have to kill him in some future life.

They returned to the firefight downstairs. The TOWER grunts were no match for a trained Knight, a Schoolman of the Gnostic sorceries, and a fully-trained and well-equipped Soldier. The place was a graveyard when they left; burning desks, beheaded foes, and broken limbs all round. Again, Anubis found a reason to smile in his new-found follower. Even AORTA approved somewhat of the justice bestowed by Darius.

They had the information they required, but had gained a new morsel of information; the TOWER Administrator for the area, a young man called Albert Simms, was in the area at the local dam, a facility which powered the entire area, and a place TOWER had taken early in it's campaign in the region of Cain; they had shut it down completely, hoarding the water for themselves, trying to starve the people of the area out, so they could move in and expand their already-powerful corporate empire. So far, it was working. The profits they were making from the water alone reached into the billions.

They gave a copy of the information to the scouts they encountered earlier, and sent them back to inform Mayor Peterson; they were going ahead. The documents they had detailed a campaign of arson and bullying across the region; the people here were hardy, finding water from different sources, so TOWER threw brutality and murder into the mix in an attempt to win them out. This had to end.

The approach to the hydroelectric plant was less than easy. The rain had picked up into a mighty storm, the winds racking the side of their buggy. It was dark, and the lights from the facility were visible from miles away.  They approached in silence, parking their buggy a small distance back, and formed a plan. Letting arcane energies seep into his sage stone, Clay replicated the lone stone into a handful of almost a dozen, and forced them to shine brightly in the darkness. Darius and Zackery readied their weapons.

It happened fast, although maybe not fast enough. The sage stones brought the guards out of their station long enough for the adventurers to strike. Clay snuck in through the side exit, and used his dagger to end the life of one of the guards, despite taking a few hefty blows in the process. Zackery fired his rifle, and with a few pinpoint shots, managed to take down another of the guards. Darius, meanwhile, let his rage guide him onwards; his axe, Head Cleaver, heaved through the air and struck his one foe clean in the chest, taking him down. He ran in, grabbing the axe and using his momentum to cleave the last guards head from his shoulders, and finished off the guard still bleeding from the axe-wound.

They approached the main facility. As they descended the stairs into the heart of the dam, they found no one else, the place was deathly quiet. Until they stepped into the main room. Applause echoed through the hollow facility, as a man dressed in a smart suit observed their entry. He was honestly impressed they had gotten this far. He was also surrounded by dozens of guards.

"Now.. I can throw these guards at you. I can order them to open fire. But I'm afraid you'd tear through them like butter, albeit with some difficulty due to the sheer numbers. It'd only be a roadblock. So.. with corporate backing, I thought I'd provide something more to your liking." As Simms stepped aside, they saw a familiar site; a Knight, a Schoolman, and a Soldier, armed and armoured, ready to take down their new prey. "Oh.." added Simms, grinning, "You have about 9 minutes until the dam opens up it's sluice gates and drowns every little town built in the hollow basin of Cain. Back-up plans are just darling, aren't they.. Toodles.."

The fight began; they knew it had to end fast, that they didn't have time to take out Simms and his guards, who were beating a hasty retreat out of the dam. The Schoolman was the first to fall; with charm in hand, he approached the three heroes, as a sorcerous dragonhead began to rear up behind him, a searing-mass of flame beginning to form in the creatures maw. Through combined effort, the caster was put down long before the dragon had chance to unleash a torrent of flame, and the creature simply phased back out into the Unreal.

But the Knight had already begun a prayer to his Lord; both he and the Soldier were engulfed in a holy light, their actions blurred as they moved. The Soldier was unleashing shot after shot on the group from his rifle, and the Knight stood before him as protector and guardian. It was only a matter of minutes for the combined power of the three heroes to take down their two adversaries, but those minutes were precious things.

Clay returned up the stairs, to prep the buggy, as Darius and Zackery tried to find the dam controls. They managed to track down the office; the alarms began to ring loud in their ears. Zackery immediately found the control terminal; password protected. He had to draw on his entire technological knowledge to get round this.

Meanwhile, Darius found a chart of the surrounding area. As the dam was opening completely now, almost every major settlement in Cain would be washed away; the sluice gates weren't opening, they were withdrawing completely. But they had three options. Opening the dams sluice gates to their full extent, encouraging a heavy flow, would wash away many of the towns of Cain, but Viradenne Drop would have all the water it needs, as well as a river as a protective barrier. A medium flow would provide some water to Viradenne Drop, saving some towns but dooming others. A light flow would barely help Viradenne Drop, but no other towns would suffer.

Darius argued his point with Zackery before, lacking faith in his colleague, he went to find an alternate option. Zackery had already decided his plan, however, regardless of the options at hand. It was as if his God had spoken to him directly. He was still struggling with the Human computer systems, a language he didn't speak.

Darius went to the maintenance area, attempting to find anything that would help. Alarms roared in his head, warning him that only One minute remained until the sluice gates opened. That's when he found the large-grey box, a lightning bolt on the front in bold yellow. An emergency power shut off.

Clay, meanwhile, had his own problems. He watched the cutter steam off into the sky with Administrator Simms on board, waving nonchalantly, always expecting that the group would win against TOWERs mercenaries. But not all the troops had left with their Administrator; a few stray shots were expertly avoided by Clay. His patience had begun to wear thin; he had had enough. He clenched his sorcerous charm tightly in his grasp, whispered a prayer to Sammael, and strode into the rain with the fury of an Exohuman sorcerer. His body began to burn red-hot, raindrops flaking out of existence as they came within inches of his body. He became a conduit to the Unreal, and flames roared from his hands, washing over the jeep. Under such sustained pressure, the jeeps fuel-tank ruptured, and flashed white-hot into a glorious explosion.

Zackery had managed to fight his way through the firewalls and cryptic defences, and finally found the dam controls. He had three options infront of him. His hand reached for the screen.

Darius tore the front off the emergency shut-down panel. This dam powered the entire Cain region; could he risk shutting it down? He let his faith in AORTA guide him, as he reached for the switch.

The alarms wailed, counting down the seconds until the dam opened completely.

The screams of those TOWER employees caught in the blast were cut short by Clay's pistol shots, an act of mercy, not hatred. He ran to the buggy, knowing the hadn't got time. He could no longer hear the alarms, the storm was raging around him. He knew there couldnt be long. He stepped into the light cast from the security office... the whole dam shook and rumbled. The light flickered out. The sluice gates remained closed. The region of Cain went dark.

It was a melancholic journey back to Viradenne Drop. No one but themselves knew of their individual actions in the last few minutes on the dam, how close Zackery had come to drowning many innocent lives.

They returned to Viradenne Drop in the early hours of the morning. Only the drunks were still awake, and they paid no heed to the well-armed strangers. Each wordlessly went their own way. Revelling in his Onatan heritage, Darius picked up a brush, and tried to paint away the anguish and confusion in his mind. Clay, considering himself a failure for not staying, had began to lose faith in Sammael; where was his God when he needed him? More a show of faith to himself than his God, he struggled alone with the statue of Sammael in the buggy, lifting it onto the pedastal of the dry fountain in the centre of town, and wondering; What if? Zackery, meanwhile, had simply slinked off into the darkness, to surround himself with depravity and filth in the local exotic merchant.

And morning slowly came to the region who didn't know how close they had came to death.

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