[Dreams of Doom]

Chapters 81 - 90

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Contents:


Chapter 81
Saturday, 04-Nov-00 23:53:58

<INTRO>Nuts. The story wasn't left in exactly the place I thought it was... Oh well. Get ready for some pretty darn trippy stuff... And would you believe I've been planning it all for quite a while?</INTRO>

-- Yes folks, we're still in the tundra --

(*Outside of the shelters, the storm is subsiding a bit. Inside still are Ivy, Cosmo, and Jeff, while Scalene remains outside. The others have taken over an EPI transport and are going to try and stop them from taking over the City of Unity*)

Ivy: (*peering out of the hole*) The storm is about over, and I can't see that EPI army any more. I think it would be safe to head out.
Jeff: (*climbing out from one of the holes*) Sounds good to me. Let's get moving.
Tom: (*also removing himself from the shelter, then looking around at the empty horizon*) Moving to... where?
Ivy: Er... Does anyone know the way back to Emily's house?
Jeff: (*spins compass*) Shoot. Still points south. I guess it doesn't pick up shrine hearts that it considers us as already having...
Cosmo: Well, then we're stuck
Ivy: Could either of you teleport us there?
Tom: I could try it, sure
Jeff: I might be able to, too
Ivy: Well, one of you do it
Jeff: Tom, go ahead
Tom: Alright. TELEPORT

(*phoomph*)

-- Back at Emily's house (would you believe the teleport actually worked?) --

(*phoomph*)

Ivy: (*looking around*) Yay! It worked!
Tom: Of course. You thought it wouldn't?
Jeff: (*looks behind them, sees Scalene and remarks somewhat unhappily*) You brought him too? (*Scalene cringes*)
Ivy: (*surprising herself by sounding more defensive than she had intended to*) Leave him alone. He might be useful yet.
Jeff: (*resigned*) All right. One false move and he's a fireball, tho. (*Turning to the door of the cottage and knocking*) Keeper! We're back!
Keeper: (*cracking the door open*) Who is it?

(*Through the opening they can see that the Keeper's spare hand is charged with a defensive spell*)

Jeff: (*stepping back*) Wo-ha... Calm down. It's us, Ivy and Jeff.
Keeper: (*opening the door the rest of the way, sounding relieved, and allowing the other four to enter*) Good. I heard a bunch of... huge... mechanical... buggies? go past. Thought they might have come back. [AN: The keeper doesn't know what transports are, obviously]

(*Suddenly, The Keeper notices that Scalene is part of the group*)

Keeper: EPI henchman!?! What are you doing here?!? (*He jumps back, again charging a defense spell*)
Ivy: (*hastily jumping between him and Scalene*) He's part of our group, now... Sootdust turned him into an undead creature. But after Lone Wolf killed Sootdust I became his master. I trust him. Please don't hurt him.

[AN: I don't think Ivy is conscious of the fact that she's becoming more and more protective of Scalene]

Keeper: (*reluctantly lowering his hands an allowing the magical energy to dissipate*) Well, if you trust him, Ivy.
Ivy: I do

(*Jeff grunts in the background, then notices something out the front window and goes to look*)

Keeper: Then he can stay. Say... What were those mechanical things that went past?
Ivy: Those things belonged to EPI... Luna and the rest of them went along inside one, to try and stop them from invading the City of Unity
Keeper: I hope they're alright...
Jeff: (*still peering out the window*) Guys? We've got our own problems... There's someone out there. And she's... dancing?!?

-- Trippy stuff will have to wait, 'cause it's back to our crew in the EPI transport we go --

Jon: Exactly what are we gonna do when we get where we're going?
Lone Wolf: Hopefully, we'll be able to stop EPI from taking over Unity
Jon: By ourselves?
Warteen: Yes
Jon: Are you NUTS?
Emily: (*hollers gleefully from the driver's seat of the transport*) Probably!
Warteen: Well, we'll be helping the Unity troops, I'd assume
Jon: (*still looking doubtful*) Oh... Any idea what we'll be facing? I need to be preparing something to fight with.
Lone Wolf: Probably lots and lots of EPI troops...
Luna: Slayer or Copy might be there as well, so we'll have to be ready for some magic too
Jon: Wonderful (*opens his pack*) Alright. Let's see what I've still got...
Gareth: How much farther to the boundary?
Emily: (*looking at the console before her*) Another half-hour or so
Luna: I'm glad you knew how to drive this thing, Emily!
Jon: (*muttering in background*) bombs... sleep gas... ooh, the REALLY nasty poison! I'll have to save that for the CEO or something...
Emily: It's a bit newer than what I used to fly, but I'm (*CRASH*)... (*sheepishly*) managing
Dwarf: What was that?
Emily: (*peering out the window*) I think an old... tree or something. Must've been there for ages. Who knows how old this land is? Anyway, we're ok.

-- Wondering who that dancing girl is? Over to Emily's cabin to find out --

Tom: (*now also peering out the window*) yup. She's dancing. How nutty.
Jeff: That's one big sword strapped to her back.
Ivy: Well, we ought to go out there and see what she wants.
Tom: If you're volunteering, then go ahead
Jeff: I think we should all go out there. She can't possibly take three of us. And if she attacks, Tom, you can just turn her into a snowball or something
Tom: But then we'd never find her...
Ivy: (*chuckling*) Well, think of something better to turn her into, then. Either way, let's get going. Keeper, stay here.
Keeper: No arguments from me

(*Ivy opens the door. Immediately the whole house is flooded with a strange, tribal music full of deep, rhythmic drums and trilling, fast, ethereal flute melodies*)

Tom: (*raising one eyebrow and being a smart-ss*) Sooooo..... That's why she's dancing?
Jeff: But where the heck is it coming from?
Ivy: Let's go ask

(*They all step out of the house, and get a better look at the girl than the thick, frosted-over window had provided. The three gawk in surprise. She is young, perhaps in her late teens or early twenties, and wears a thin, ragged dress that, while resembling those of the forest people in the South, would hardly keep out the cold here. Her hair is long, golden, and wild, made even wilder by her dancing. In her hand is a tambourine, and on her back, along with a backpack, is the rather large sword that Jeff had mentioned. She obviously knows how to dance, and is doing so in a beautiful, rhythmic fashion. Suddenly she speaks, snapping them out of their state.*)

Dancer: Do you think I'm mad? (*looking at them while dancing and grinning, well... madly*)
Ivy: (*very confused*) What?
Dancer: (*laugh*) Those who hear not the music think the dancer's mad
Ivy: (*still confused*) oh...
Dancer: Do you hear the music?
Ivy: Yes, actually...
Dancer: (*looking surprised*) You do? Do all of you?

(*Both Tom and Jeff nod. Suddenly, the music stops, and so does the dancer*)

Dancer: (*disappointed*) Then you are not who I am seeking
Jeff: Wh... Who are you? And who are you seeking?
Dancer: My name is Marena, and I am seeking revenge on those who killed my people, (*her face falls*) my family.
Ivy: How horrible!
Marena: Indeed. Five years ago, my people were slaughtered by the cult of (V). Ever--
The other three: (V)?!?
Marena: (*sounding put-out*) Yes, that's what I said. Ever since then I have been tracking down the members of the cult, seeking vengeance. I have followed you because I believe that one of your party is a member.
Ivy: That's ridiculous!
Jeff: Yeah! We're all trying to save the world!
Tom: Yeah... (*confused*) and how does the dancing thing tie into all this?
Marena: It is a test. Only those who have belonged to the cult of (V) cannot hear the music I dance to.
Tom: That's a pretty goofy spell...
Marena: Well... it's the only thing I could think of at the time. I was a little distraught. And the forest people derived a lot of our magic from music.
Jeff: Derive-ed? Past tense? Was the massacre really that bad?
Marena: It was. I am the last.
Ivy: How absolutely horrible!
Marena: Yes.
Jeff: And so you're gonna try to kill us in vengeance?
Marena: No. I already said that. I trust you three now, because the spell would have also indicated if you were untrustworthy.
Ivy: (*thinking of her too-thin-to-be-out-on-an-arctic-night dress*) If you aren't going to kill us, then perhaps you would like to come inside? You must be freezing!
Tom: How do we know you can trust her?
Marena: I swear upon my quest that I will not harm you.
Tom: Wow. That sounds pretty serious.
Marena: (*to Tom*) I am completely serious. (*to Ivy*) And while I am protected from cold, hunger, and other things, like death, by the vengeance spell I cast, I would not mind a chance to sit down.

(*Jeff is still reluctant, but they allow her entrance. She starts upon seeing the two in the cabin*)

Marena: Companions? I will have to test them also.
Jeff: And if they fail for some reason, other than having been a member of this cult, will you kill them?
Marena: The spell is trustworthy. But is he? (*indicating Scalene*)
Ivy: I am his master, and he will speak the truth.
Tom: You'd have a hard time killing him, anyway... (*shudder*) Necromancy...
Marena: (*raising an eyebrow*) Indeed? Surely none of you created him...?
Tom: (*realizing he's volunteered too much information*) Whoops... No, we didn't. An evil wizard named Sootdust did. Scalene here just tagged along after we killed his old master.
Marena: Alright

(*The music begins, again filling the house with the sounds of lost melodies and rhythms. Marena begins dancing also, almost as if she cannot control herself*)

Marena: (*to the Keeper and Scalene*) Do you hear the music?

(*Both the Keeper and Scalene nod, and the music stops. So does Marena*)

Marena: Good. Everything you have told me has been true. I did not want to give away my last advantage before, but now that everything seems in order, I will tell you that I can discern between truth and lies even without my musical magic. That is a specific test to confirm a feeling I get when around one of those that I seek. And it throws people whom I might want to be killing in a moment off guard as well.
Tom: (*thinking to self*) I still say she's nuts
Keeper: So what do we do now? We still have a world to save, you know. If this young lady (*indicating Marena*) would care to continue with us, I would not mind. (*turning to face her*) For, like you madam, I can sense certain things. And I sense you will be a help to our quest.
Marena: You will be meeting up with the rest of your party sometime, I assume?
Jeff: How did you know there are more of us?
Marena: I have been watching your group for a while. Like I said, I am convinced that one of your party is a member of the cult of (V). I will stay with you until you meet up, when I will test them and continue on my own way.
Jeff: Don't think we'll let you kill any of us, tho, should your test turn out positive.
Marena: If you wish to give your life for scum, then that is your choice.
Ivy: (*interrupting the growing tensions*) How are you so sure that one of us took part in the massacre? I trust every one of them with my, er (*looking at her glowing, angelic form*)... life.
Marena: I am certain. I recognize several of you from my travels, tho I obviously never made myself known to you before. And early in my quest I came across one of you and felt he was a member, but never got the chance to test him. I forget what he looks like exactly, which is why I tested you all. I do remember that it was in an alchemist's store, tho...
Ivy: We will deal with that problem, _should_ it ever arise, which I am confident it won't, when it does happen. Until then, if you say she will be a help to us, Keeper, I am all for her coming with us.
Keeper: Good. Let us set out to find these people who still have the Psi-Eye.

(*While Jeff and Tom protest a bit, they are eventually quieted, and the party, now six in number, consults Jeff's compass and sets off southward, hoping to find gar, ■laceb°, and Marril*)

Ivy: Can anyone do a locating spell?

-- Sick of all the talking (and dancing)? Good, 'cause it's off we go to Unity --

(*The mass of tanks, transports, and troops that stretches over several miles is finally getting close to the Northern Boundary. The flames leap so high into the sky that they fill all of the front viewport that isn't already taken up by the transport in front of them. Emily is now both visibly worried and intensely curious*)

-- Er... Excuse me. Did I say Unity? I meant the Northern Boundary first --

Emily: (*switching between gazing upward and watching the ground in front of her*) There it is... I wonder how they got in here in the first place?
Warteen: (*peering through a periscope-like device that pokes out of the top of the transport*) Well, the front of the column has reached the flamewall. We'll know in a moment.
Jon: (*watching over Emily's shoulder, out the front window*) Wow! That's how they do it!

(*The front of the column begins to lift up into the air, the foot soldiers with jetpacks and the tanks and transports via thrusters. As space is cleared in front of the flamewall, the column moves up, each vehicle or person lifting into the air when they reach it.*)

Emily: (*panicking*) Shoot. Liftoff... fly... Does anyone see a button labeled "fly"?

(*Emily begins searching desperately for the correct controls to send the transport airborne. The other six cluster around the driver's seat, also looking. Luckily, they are near the back of the line*)

Emily: Ah. I think I've got it.

(*They all relax and return to their seats in the rear of the transport*)

Emily: (*thinking*) It's too bad I never thought of going over it... Levitation is easy. (*laughing harshly at herself*) All those years wasted... And they just fly over the stupid thing!
Gareth: Don't blame yourself for it. Heck, you're as good as out, now!

(*Now it is time for their transport to take it's trip over the Boundary. The control Emily found successfully sends it into the air, and they proceed over it without event, landing on the other side. The column of troops continues on toward Unity*)

Gareth: Do we have any sort of plan for what we'll do when we get to the City o Unity?
Warteen: Kick butt?
Gareth: I was hoping for something more concrete
Jon: I agree. I do almost everything with some sort of plan. And bad things have happened when I didn't have one. For instance, I knocked on the door of Lone Wolf's castle without a plan...
Warteen: (*laughing*) And boy they got you for it, didn't they? Alright, so, any ideas?

-- We're actually going to Unity, this time. Inside the president's office, in fact --

(*An aide comes dashing into the president's office, opening the door with enough force to slam it against the wall*)

Aide: Sir! Sir! Our radar has picked up something suspicious!
President: What is it? (*looking at the radar printout the aide has spread before him*) These blips are so tiny, though! What's the concern?
Aide: But notice, sir, how many of them there are? Standard stealth technology can reduce the size of a radar blip to this... Someone may be attacking us!
President: And that's the opinion of my military commander as well?

(*Suddenly, a screen on the president's desk jumps to life, displaying a battle-weathered face*)

President: Yes, General?
General: Sir! Have you seen these radar images?
President: er... yes
General: We need to prepare immediately!
President: (*looking at aide*) That answers my question... (*looking grim, turning back to the general*) Go ahead and ready our defenses...

-- Ok, enough of Unity for now. Back to the transport! --

Gareth: One question to think about... How are we gonna keep the Unity troops from destroying US?
Dwarf: We could surrender...
Gareth: Then EPI would probably destroy us...
Lone Wolf: Emily! You know more about this machine than we do... Any ideas?
Emily: Well there's got to be some kind of weaponry on this thing. Maybe we could just cause some confusion and slip away in the middle of it?
Jon: That's about as good a plan as I've heard yet.

(*Suddenly, a small screen mounted in the wall blinks to life. A similar one lights up on Emily's console. On it appears the face of the CEO of EPI, Bill Grates*)

Bill: This is a secured broadcast to all troops. I am transmitting to you a map with markings of all the places in Unity that are owned by EPI. You are to avoid attacking these places at all costs. That is all.

(*The image of Bill is replaces by a status bar, indicating the progress of the map's transfer. 25%. 50%. 75%. Complete. Now a holographic projector extends from the ceiling, and they find themselves looking at a map of Unity, with all of EPI's bases and the like marked on it. One place in particular stands out. It's a building where one room is marked with the CEO's face*)

Emily: (*examining a similar image projected onto the front window*) This map has everything!
Jon: (*noticing the face on the map*) Anyone up for an assassination? I'll get to use my blowgun again and everything.
Warteen: I'm all for that. We can rid the world of EPI once and for all! (*examining map*) I'll try to memorize the way to the building. (*to Emily*) Once we're inside Unity and someplace safe, just drop us off.
Emily: There are secret tunnels of EPI's we can use to get safely into Unity. I'll just have to radio a nearby tank that we need to go refuel or something.
Lone Wolf: Sounds good
Dwarf: There's lots of interesting targets here. Maybe we could split up and go after some
Gareth: Emily, is there any way we can get this map to the Unity defenders?
Emily: I could probably copy it onto something...

(*Warteen finishes studying the map, and he and Jon retreat to a corner to make their plans*)

Lone Wolf: How long 'till the attack begins?
Emily: Ten minutes. We're already within Unity's radar range. The unfriendly-radar-warning has been blinking for a while
Lone Wolf: Huh?
Emily: Never mind.
Lone Wolf: When can we get into one of those tunnels?
Emily: Another three minutes of driving. I'll take care of getting us in there.
Lone Wolf: Good
Luna: Jon, Warteen, you're going after the CEO, right? (*Jon and Warteen look toward the rest of them and nod*) What are the rest of us going to be doing?
Dwarf: I think we should split up and go after as many targets as we can.
Gareth: We should get this map to the defenders, and then ask where we can help the most
Lone Wolf: We don't know enough about their weapons to be much good on our own. I like Gareth's plan better. Emily, what do you think of that?
Emily: (*again studying the map*) One of the tunnels will get us close to the main Office of Defenders. We can drop off Jon and Warteen on the way, too.
Luna: I'm in
Gareth: Good
Dwarf: (*resigned*) Alright. I'll go along

(*From the front they hear the radio suddenly jump to life*)

Emily: Transport 273, this is Transport 274. I'm breaking off to go refuel.
Radio: Confirmed, Transport 274

(*The others watch out the front window as Emily turns out of the formation and a small section of the ground hinges upward, revealing an opening just large enough for the transport to get through. They go through the opening, down a ramp, and are plunged into darkness. Emily fiddles with a couple buttons and the control panel lights up. Then floodlights flick on, illuminating the tunnel. Finally, dim red internal lights go on in the rear compartment, adding an extra sense of urgency to the atmosphere.*)

Emily: Well, we're in the tunnels. I think I'll go with you guys and turn this transport over to a qualified pilot. My combat skills are 1500 years out of date... And my magic is strong enough that I don't want to just sit behind a steering stick the whole battle.
Lone Wolf: Good. We're decided then

(*They drive along the tunnels for a minute or two. They are completely dark, except for the floodlights on the transport, and completely deserted as well*)

Luna: Why's everything so empty?
Emily: Everyone is probably out, ready to take over Unity.

(*They drive on for a little while longer*)

Emily: Hey, Jon, about half a minute before you guys get let off. Ready?
Jon: (*finishing up loading his blowgun, which he slips into a hidden pocket inside his cloak*) Yup
Warteen: All set.
Emily: Good. We're here.

(*The side door hisses downward, making a ramp*)

Warteen: (*looking at the map one last time*) Alright, we're out of here!
Jon: See'ya!
All others: Good luck!

(*The door closes and the transport continues on, loosing sight of Jon and Warteen*)

Emily: about another half-minute before we're there

(*Those remaining in the crew compartment sit back and wait through the longest 30 seconds of their lives. They arrive, but no one in back can see a way out, no hatch in the ceiling*)

Emily: (*scanning control panel*) Ok. Let's see. Missile. What button would launch a missile? Here we go!

(*Instead of a missile, a powerful laser flies from the turret on top of the transport, blasting a hole in the roof of the tunnel. Light filters down through a thick cloud of smoke from one of the streets of Unity.*)

Emily: Cool! Must've developed some new weapons while I was away.

(*She pulls under the hole, only to find several angry Unity troops aiming large and threatening shoulder-mounted weapons down the hole. So, instead of using the thrusters to get out, she just pops out the top hatch instead*)

Emily: Don't shoot!
Officer 1: Hold it right there!
Officer 2: Don't move!
Emily: We're not with EPI! We have important information for you!
Officer 2: (*amazed at her demand*) You just blew up our street! Why should we believe you?
Emily: We had to get out of this tunnel somehow...
Officer 3: (*looking over at the other two*) Well, she doesn't have an EPI uniform on...
Officer 1: All right. Thruster the transport out of the hole. SLOWLY!

(*Emily ducks back inside the tank and lifts it out of the hole. She opens the side door, and the officers rush in, waving their weapons*)

Officer 3: (*noticing how everyone is dressed*) Boy, aren't these guys from around here!
Emily: (*climbing out of the driver's seat*) Hello, officers. We've got some very important information for you

(*she re-activates the holographic projector, which had shut off when the laser fired so more energy could be directed to the weapon*)

Emily: See?
Officer 1: Jeez! Everything's on this map!
Lone Wolf: (*stepping up to the 3 men*) My name is Lone Wolf, and I need to speak with your president right away. I believe he'll know my name.
Officer 2: (*looking at him like he's crazy*) Sure, buddy.
Lone Wolf: Just ask him, alright. We don't have much time!

(*Officer 2 pulls out a comm device and dials a priority code for the president, who's face quickly appears on the screen*)

President: Yes?
Officer 2: We've got a man named Lone Wolf here, claiming he needs to talk to you
President: What? Bring him here, right away. And his friends too.

(*The comm device clicks off*)

Officer 2: (*amazed, looking up at Lone Wolf*) I guess you're in

(*Emily has been explaining to the other two officers what to do with the transport. She finishes, and all five of them are whisked off to the President's office*)

-- Well, enough with them for a while. Back to our two assassins --

(*The transport has just pulled out of sight*)

Warteen: (*whispering*) Assassins, huh?
Jon: (*chuckling quietly*) Yeah, you could call us "Assassins of the third half of the circle!"
Warteen: (*groan*)

(*Jon reaches inside his pack and pulls out a small torch. He quickly has it lit. It gives off such a dim light that their eyes take a moment to adjust to it*)

Warteen: (*still whispering*) Man, why's that thing so dim?
Jon: (*just consider everything said from now on a whisper*) Stealthier
Warteen: Ah
Jon: Well, let's go
Warteen: This way

(*Both slink off as quietly as possible into the tunnels, turning this way and that. Gradually, Jon gets ahead of Warteen*)

Warteen: Hey, wait up!
Jon: Sorry... Nervous
Warteen: Where the heck did you get so good at moving so fast and quiet?
Jon: ...I... just kinda picked it up a while ago...
Warteen: Okay... Be vague

(*Jon suddenly pulls Warteen back behind a wall and extinguishes the torch*)

Warteen: (*surprised*) whaaaa?
Jon: shhhhh! Someone's coming
Warteen: (*listening hard*) Jeez, how did you just hear offhand something that quiet?

(*Jon doesn't reply. He pulls a powerful sleep-gas bomb out of his pack, along with two wet rags*)

Jon: (*handing a rag to Warteen*) Breathe through this...

(*Warteen does so, gagging slightly at the off smell of the rag. Jon covers his nose, leans out from behind the wall, and flings the glass ball containing the sleep gas down the tunnel where it shatters. There is a pause, then smoke billows out from the tunnel, and then a coughing, gagging person stumbles out as well. Jon runs silently over to him and clocks him one with his walking stick. The figure crumples. Soon, the gas dissipates, Jon packs away his rags, and relights the torch.*)

Warteen: Where'd a "simple traveler" like you learn crap like that?
Jon: You wanna stay alive? Don't question, just let's do this.

(*They walk over to the figure. In the dim torchlight, they make a startling discovery.*)

Warteen: Reod Dai?!?
Reod: (*glaring up at them*) Are you two done whacking people and arguing with each other?
Jon: (*very surprised*) You're still conscious?
Reod: You think something like a little smack would knock me out?
Jon: So why didn't you kill us?
Reod: Lucky for you, I can see in the dark. I recognized you as you rushed me. What are you doing down here?
Warteen: What are you?
Reod: I said I'd meet you in the City of Unity. Other than that, none of your business. I repeat, what are YOU doing down here?
Jon: We know where the CEO of Evil People Inc. is, and we're on our way to assassinate him
Reod: I'll come along so you don't screw up.
Warteen: Oh, no you don't
Reod: Now is not the time to fight about it. Let's get going.
Warteen: (*grumble*)
Jon: Come on...

(*the three head off into the dark tunnels*)

[AN: I'm not just arbitrarily giving Jon extra stealth and sneaking capability to make him more "godlike"... It's another clue to something. And if that doesn't give it away, well...]

To Be Continued...

------------------------------
Ok, for all you writers, here's the status of our team:

Ivy, Cosmo, Jeff, Keeper, Scalene, and now Marena too, are going to find gar, ■laceb°, and Marril and the Psi-eye

Gareth, Lone Wolf, Luna, Dwarf, and Emily are on their way to the President's office with their stolen map, and to find out where they can help in repelling the invasion of Unity

Jon and Warteen have met up with Reod Dai inside some secret tunnels beneath Unity, and all three are now headed off to kill Bill Grates

------------------------------
Oh my. I've gone overboard again. Sheesh

Jon Spike


Chapter 82
Wednesday, 08-Nov-00 16:52:50

[Yes, I've gone and written another chapter. I think I'll wait two or more chapters before writing another because this is quite a long one (I had lots of ideas), about half a typical Spike chapter. So if you don't want me posting so many, write one yourself.]

*We start with Jon, Warteen and Reod who are attempting to assassinate Bill Grates CEO if EPI, but you knew that already. All of a sudden they run into a wall*

Warteen: Ok, I think we have to climb up this venation shaft here, which should be on the wall somewhere here.

*They search for a bit before finding the opening to the shaft.*

Warteen: Just climb until you've seen twenty-two rooms. The twenty-third should lead to the CEO's apartment.

*Without a further word the three of them begin to climb the shaft. Reod first, Warteen second, followed finally by Jon*

-- With the president of Unity --

President: General, if we are under attack, where are they likely to strike first?
General: .........I'd say they can have only 2 prime targets, really. Either the presidential office or the force field generators. If they capture the field generators then we've just about lost. They can set up fields to hamper out troops and block us. Even if they're only destroyed, we cannot hope to win against the odds we're facing. My recommendation is that you get out of there and hide. I can deal with getting the troops and police into position.
President: I will, don't worry, but I have someone to meet first. Don't forget they may have magic users. We can't be sure what tricks they have up their sleeves.
General: (*Nods*) I've already called up records about our fight with Uforious. Christopher out.
President: Now where is Lone Wolf?

*Right on cue, Lone Wolf rushes into the room followed by Emily, Luna, Gareth, Dwarf, with a rather breathless aide.*

Aid: (*Gasp, pant pant pant*) Here... they.. are... sir. (*To self*) Gosh, I've never seen anyone take steps like that before. I must be out of shape.
Emily: (*Who over heard*) Go on an adventure to save the world then, or try living in the arctic. It keeps you in fit and healthy.
President: Where's Lone Wolf?
Lone Wolf: Here.
President: (*Looks at the Middle aged man with long, shoulder length metallic gray hair*) You're not Lone Wolf.
Lone Wolf: (*Mumbles, he's almost forgotten his appearance with all the distractions*) Oh no, how am I going to explain this, especially to someone who doesn't understand magic?
President: (*Taps foot*)
Lone Wolf: Ok, I'm not Lone Wolf I'm er... one of his friend's. I used his name because I have some vital information I need to show you.
Luna: Lone Wolf!
Lone Wolf: (*hisses*) Quiet. We don't have time to tell any long stories
President: OOooooKKkaaayy..... can I just see the info?
Emily: Right here. (*She hands a disk to the aide, who plugs it into a holo-projector*)
President: Very impressive. How do I know I can trust it?

*They think for a minute*

Gareth: Do you remember me from last time?
President: .......Yes, yes you were the one with the bow and arrow, weren't you?
Gareth: Yes
President: But how do I know you're not a spy?
Emily: I think you're being over-speculative there.
President: Yes, quite. Geoffrey.
Aide: Yes?
President: transmit this to General Christopher.
Aide: Yes sir!
Lone Wolf: How can we help you?
President: I think it would be best if you stopped EPI from capturing or destroying the force field generators.
Lone Wolf: What?
Emily: I'll tell you on the way.

*Without warning, the building rocks as if it's been hit by something very big and very hard*

Aide: I regret to inform you, but there's a large riot forming outside. I think it's Evil People Inc. They're armed, some with heavy weapons.
President: So it begins. Evacuate! Everyone out of here!
Aid: I have confirmation that your [air] transport is ready on the roof.
President: You four come with me. We'll drop you off on the way.

-- Now we're back with our assassins of the third half of the circle *groan* --

Reod: This is number twenty three.

*They fall unceremoniously out of the air conditioning into a nondescript room. Standing looking away from them out of the wall sized window is Bill Grates, the man responsible for EPI and most of the hardship they've suffered over the last few months. The man living in this luxury apartment with just a computer terminal for communication, completely separated from the effects of what he's doing, just standing there letting the world go by.*

Reod: (*whispering*) Must be deaf not to hear us.
Warteen: Let's just do this. (*He throws a knife into the back of Bill. It passes through him and smashes into the window, sending shards flying*)
Bill: Well, well, well, my little traitor. Trying to take over EPI so easily? Trying to assassinate you boss isn't a good idea. You might get fired.
Jon: You're not our boss.
Reod: It's a recorded message you twonk!
Bill: Oh, you actually thought I would transmit my real location to my enrollees just like that? Even over a secure encryption. This location is false.
Reod: I've heard enough. Let's get out of here, you screw ups.

*Suddenly, without warning metallic plates slam over the windows and doors*

Bill: Ha ha ha, trying to get out? I don't think so.... (*Reod hits the holographic projector with a lighting bolt*)
Reod: I was getting bored of him gloating like that.
Warteen: Now what? There's probably someone coming to investigate this instant.
Jon: We might learn something from them. Let's not cause any commotion as yet. I can do the invisibility spell on us.
Warteen: No!
Jon: You're never going to let me use any magic again, are you?
Warteen: After last time? No way! I did see what happened you know.
Reod: Let me. (*He concentrates for a few seconds*) There

*Jon, Reod and Warteen now appear semitransparent to each other, and are in fact invisible to the rest of the world.*

Reod: Now hide and keep quiet.

-- On the tundra, Jeff, Ivy, Scalene, the Keeper, Marena and Cosmo find a slight problem --

Cosmo: So how do we get past this?

*He looks up at the flame wall in front of him. From this point it looks like a massively high wall of blue fire. Marena picks up a stone from the melted snow and throws it in. There's a snap-hiss sound and a yellow-hot fireball is thrown into the sky, to land 20 meters away. Steam immediately jets of the snow violently.*

Marena: From the time that took, I reckon the stone got about 100 meters into the air. I don't think that was the whole height.
Ivy: Anyone remember how the others got past this?
Jeff: You know, I don't think they got around to telling us. They just said they worked out a way of getting past.
Cosmo: This thing kept Emily here for 1500 years.
Marena: I followed you through the spirit plane.

*They think for several minutes.......*

Scalene: Over.
Ivy: What?
Scalene: Over. I heard Sootdust talking about "over the barrier." That might be how they got everything here.
Ivy: I told you he might be useful.
Jeff: How do we know we can trust this? And If we can, how can we get over it?
Ivy: I'll fly up and take a look.

*Without another word she flutters up. The barrier seems a lot higher than it is. At about half a kilometer, up the flames dissipate gradually and the ash-filled, ruined world is on the other side. After flying over to check that it's safe Ivy, flies back down.*

Jeff: What took you so long? We were worried.
Ivy: You were? Anyway, it looks safe at about 500 meters.
Keeper: So how do we get over?
Ivy: Looks like you're all going to be getting angel-flights. Sorry be there won't be time for sight-seeing.

*Over the next half of an hour The Keeper, Scalene, Marena, and their baggage are flown over. Scalene is surpassingly light, and so is Marena.*

Ivy: Jeff your turn. Phew... I'm tired. I think I'll take a break.
Jeff: (*Looking at that wall of flames.*) You know, there must have been a way for the others to get through here without magic or flight.
Ivy: You have a idea?
Jeff: They survived the blast because the Shrine hearts protected them. So if they could stand up to a world destroying force, something like this can't be too hard.

*He tentatively puts his little finger into the flames while clutching the Heart of the forest, before quickly pulling it out. Nothing happens. He more casually put his hand into the flames. Again nothing happens*

Jeff: I may be immune to fire magic, but that was so hot it should have fried my hand. See, we would have got through without Scalene eventually, and more safely.

*He tosses Ivy the Earth plate.*

Jeff: (*Before plunging into the flames*) C'mon, no more tiring flying today.

-- A control room filled with computers --

*There's red emergency lighting on. Through a glass window is a row of very old looking machinery (In fact, it's 450 years old, dating back to when war was more common around here). There're a lot of cylinders spinning at very high velocity inside containers. They point inwards towards a skylight. It doesn't look at all safe*

Danny: Dave! I've just received orders directly from the Pres. to activate the force fields.
Ted: Good grief, I hope it's not another (V) attack, we only just survived the last!
Danny: C'mon Dave, it's got to be important if it's.... (*he stops midway though the sentence because "Dave" has a fireball resting on his hand.*)
Ted: Oh my god! How'd you do that Dave?
Dave: Dave is dead, as will you be in a few seconds.

*He throws the fireball at Ted, who drops burning onto the floor. A similar fate befalls Danny.*

Copy: (*To communicator*) This is Copy to Grates. The field generators are under our control. You may send in the reinforcements.

---------------

President: Ok, you lot, it's just through there to the force field generators.

*Lone Wolf, Gareth, Emily, Luna and Dwarf hop of the transport and rush up the steps*

President: It shouldn't be too hard to find your way in. Just head straight down the corridor.
Lone Wolf: Ok. Got it.

*They all rush down into the complex. The place is well organized, with the main control room marked clearly. Unfortunately, in front of it stands two Assassins of the other half of the circle. Unfortunately, these are different from the others they've encountered. Although they have the basic uniforms on, they also have quite a few bits of high technology as well. In the time it takes the group to notice this, two glowing blue shurikens fly toward the out-of-step group and explode on the door. Yes, explode.*

Dwarf: Whoa!
Lone Wolf: Errr, charge!

*Taking his own advise, he leaps forward with sword drawn. The first ninja throws a wild swing at Lone Wolf, which he easily blocks. However, he jerks back as if from an electric shock, dropping his sword.*

Lone Wolf: Yow!
Luna: Hey! Erm I hope this is right.

*She sends a fireball at the ninja attacking Lone Wolf. Emily dispatches the other with a lighting bolt.*

Lone Wolf: Thanks Luna, now I owe you one.
Luna: Aren't you glad you have me around?
Dwarf: Ok, we obviously got here too late. Let's be a little more prepared. (*He pushes the double door open and steps through, almost banging his head.*)
Copy: What? They can't have got through so fast (*He turns to face the newcomers.*) Now here are some faces I haven't seen in a wile... and some I haven't. You do realize, this is the end of the line.
Dwarf: Whoever you are, you're not stopping us.
Copy: Oh really?

*He begins to charge an extra-large fireball. But Emily, who has just come through the door, beats him to it with a smaller fireball. It knocks Copy out through the glass window. He lands, relatively unhurt, in the field generator room itself.*

Dwarf: Come on! We've got him on the run.

*With somewhat false valor he leaps after Copy, not knowing how powerful a wizard he is.*

Lone Wolf: We're going to have to follow him.

*Lone Wolf, Emily and Luna leap down. Gareth loads an arrow into his bow and tries to take a shot at Copy. He flames the arrow though. Copy fires a bolt of lightning at Dwarf. Instead of hitting him, it arcs round and hits one of the spinning cylinders, which immediately begins to spin irregularly and slower than the rest.*

Voice: Warning. Warning. Electro-grava-magnetic distortion in progress.
Gareth: What does that mean?
Emily: To be honest, I have no idea, except it can't be good.
Voice: Field generator 3 has become ionized.
Emily: I think we should be leaving.

*The faulty cylinder is now changing rapidly between a blur and a complete stop*

Voice: Attempting to stabilize.

*All of a sudden, the ground and the ceiling change places, and everyone falls up. As if that wasn't enough, down suddenly is toward the window. Gareth leaps to the side to avoid the mass for "falling" bodes. Copy makes a rush for the door.*

Voice: Field generators out of sync. All fields currently being generated have collapsed.
Luna: Even I can tell that means we're in trouble.
Emily: ..... I know, I'll ask the computer. (*She rushes over to the terminal*) Password? I don't have time for this. (*She waves her hand over it in and intricate way*) Ok password accepted, how did I ever use a computer without magic?
Lone Wolf: And?
Emily: It can automatically re-set everything, but it's going to take time we don't have. I think we should concentrate on preventing this structure from being overrun.
Gareth: don't forget Copy could come back in any form and try to deceive us.

-- And now back to the assassins of the third half of the circle --

Jon: I think I hear someone coming.

*The trio have been waiting for about 5 minutes. Sometime during those minutes, faint explosions and gunfire have begun drifting into the room.*

Warteen: I wont ask you how you heard that again.
Reod: Shut up! Good grief, I was right not to let you have the brain of the ice. I can't believe you're still alive.

*A few more heartbeats pass before two armed people come into the apartment dressed in EPI uniforms.*

Person 1: What's gone on here?
Person 2: I can't see anyone.
Person 1: There's bits of holo-projector all over.
Person 2: I think it must have shorted out and exploded.
Person 1: That would explain the window.
Person 2: It's quite obvious that no-one set it off, or they'd be here.
Person 1: That or the exit would be forced. I should report this. The CEO said he wanted anything out of the ordinary reported to him personally and immediately.
Warteen: (*Very low voice*) You here that? When that person leaves, follow them.
Person 2: You get going.
Jon: (*Very low voice*) Now.

*The team quietly begins to follow person 1*

-- We're now in a bunker somewhere else within Unity --

*The President and the general from earlier are taking refuge. There are very audible explosions outside. An aide rushes into the room and stops. His face turns white. The President, General Christopher, and all their aids are lying on the floor, not breathing. The aide stops and stares at them for a full minute.*

Aide: Sir, I have been informed that Parliament has given you emergency powers..... sir? Sir?

[AN: at this point, The aide can't believe what he's seeing]

Aide: Sir, why are you lying there sleeping? Sir? (*He runs up and tries to wake the President, then General Christopher, then one of the other aides.*) Ben, Ben, stop fooling around! (*He notices a letter on the still working holo-projector, in a sealed envelope*) Oh _my_ God.

*Reading the writing on the envelope, which is written in a joined-up and flowing quill script.*

Aide: To be opened only by Jon Spike. Any other opening this will suffer the same fate as the people in this room. Furthermore, so will their family, their friends, and their loved ones."

*He then notices another envelope. On it is a similar ultimatum, except this one is addressed to Lone Wolf, Mnemosyne, Ivy Lanna Lee, Jeff, The Keeper of the forest shrine, and Marena. The letter makes it quite clear that they must all be there when it is opened.*

Aide: Oh _My_ God!

-- Back to our assassins --

*Person 1 has rushed up twenty more fights of stairs in their hurry, completely unaware of Warteen, Jon and Reod following them. At last they arrive in Bill Grates's real office. It is covered in hurriedly set up technical equipment, with screens on the walls, computers, and to crown it all, a detailed holo-projector in the middle showing the status of the battle over Unity. Grates is sitting in a grand executive chair watching it all.

[AN: My spellchecker suggested this sentence: "Grates is sitting in a grand executive chair wetting it all." :-]

Grates: Yes....?
Warteen: (*Nods*)
Jon and Reod: (*Nod back*)
Warteen: (*Nods again and draws a throwing knife.*)

*Dramatic pause in action*

He pulls it back..........

*Another pause*

brings it forward......

*Another pause*

It leaves his hand and begins it's flight.......

*Yet another pause*

Want to know what happens next? Write a chapter then. Are Warteen, Jon and Reod successful? What about Gareth, Lone Wolf, Emily, Dwarf and Luna? What is the secret of the message? Will Jeff, Ivy, The Keeper, Marena, Scalene and Cosmo get gar, ■laceb° and Marril to join them, or will they have a "Battle Royal"? Even though this is just an overly dramatic plot summary, don't leave us hanging, write a chapter NOW, because this story is:

TO BE CONTINUED.......

UFO


Chapter 83
Friday, 26-Jan-01 17:39:29

After *finally* getting some lousy initiative, something I often lack, I read from where I left off before, which was about at chapter 60, (actually I just read the whole thing) and I'm ready... what can I say? Someone has to step forward. We can't just let it trickle off into oblivion! :-) So, without further ado...

------------------------------

**Warteen throws the knife. It embeds itself in Bill Grates' back.**

Bill Grates: AAAH! Oh, um... ow. *He slumps over. He's dead.*
Officer: Oh no! Sir! Sir! ... I can't believe this! What just happened?! *He sees the knife. He looks around for an explanation, but finds none. He realizes something.* Oh, crap... everyone's going to think I did this! I... I've got to get out of here!! *He bolts.*
Jon: (*still invisible*) That worked pretty well.
Reod Dai: Yes, I guess you guys finally did something right. Anyway, now would be a good time to get out of here...
Warteen: (*a little shaken up*) Yeah, sounds good...

**The three make their way for the door. Suddenly, the officer runs back with Slayer at his side.**

Jon: Uh oh...
Slayer: Sight! *The spell flies around the room and hits the three unfortunate assassins.* You guys again? I should've known. Well... (*glaring at Jon*) without any more tin monkeys to protect you, you're as good as dead.
Officer: Yes, sir, you take care of them, sir!
Slayer: Shut... up. (*He launches a basic-level fire spell at the officer. The man staggers back and hits the opposite wall, where our heroes left the vent they crawled through open. He falls through and it's a long way down.*)
Officer: AAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!
Slayer: Ooops... anyway, your little adventure ends right here.

**Jon and Warteen square off to defend themselves, but they quickly realize it's not necessary. Reod Dai has walked calmly up to Slayer and stands nose to nose with him.**

Reod Dai: And just what is it... that you intend to do with us?
Slayer: I... I'm going to kill you!!! (*He raises his hand to cast a spell, but doesn't get far.*)
Reod Dai: No, I don't think that'll be possible.

*He reaches out and grabs Slayer with tremendous force. He then uses his free hand to unsheath his sword and impale his foe. Slayer's body falls down next to that of the dead CEO.*

Warteen: Man...
Reod Dai: Let's just get out of here. (*He recasts his invisibility spell and they leave the room.*)

-- Meanwhile, nearby... --

Emily: (*working at a computer station*) There, that should do it...
Computer Voice: Situation stabilized. Ionization of field generator 3 halted.
Gareth: Thank goodness.
Lone Wolf: Now we have to get those force field generators working for us, not EPI.
Emily: I'm on it. It shouldn't take more than a few minutes.
Luna: I just hope we live that long...
Dwarf: Interesting.
Lone Wolf: What is it?
Dwarf: That Copy fellow's skills... very impressive shape-shifting, if I do say so myself.
Gareth: This really isn't the time to be marveling at his skills. Let's just make sure we stay alert.

**A few more minutes pass uneventfully.**

Emily: There, I've done it. The force fields are in place. EPI's attacking ships won't be able to touch Unity.
Luna: But they still have operatives inside the city.
Gareth: That's true. Maybe we should head for the EPI HQ, ASAP. Well, you know what I mean.
Lone Wolf: Yeah, I think so... to the headquarters of Evil People, Incorporated!

-- Back with the group headed to find the seventh and final Shrine Heart... --

Tom: Man, I'm gonna rip that filthy ■laceb° limb from limb! I'll murdalize him and his little pokey-man...
Ivy: Calm down, Tom. You won't be able to fully focus your powers if you're not thinking clearly.
Tom: Right, sorry...
Keeper: (*glancing around at the charred earth*) I can't believe what (V) has done here... it's truly sickening. All these people, just gone... and for what?
Jeff: Don't worry, Keeper. We're going to get the Psi-Eye back from those vigilantes, and when we do, we'll be able to fix the world.
Marena: How will that work, anyway? Will everyone just kind of come back to life? Will it be like (V) never hit?
Ivy: I'm not totally sure on that myself. I guess that the world will be restored to the way it was before so much of it was destroyed. I'm confident that it'll all work out okay.
Jeff: And if she believes, I believe.
Keeper: I have faith as well.
Scalene: (*who has remained quiet until now*) Perhaps... I can make up for all my crimes against humanity... by helping you now.
Marena: All I care about is finding the scumbag who killed my tribe... but I'll help you guys in any way I can. It won't bring them back, but I'd hate for anyone else to go what I went through.
Tom: No kidding. But first, we have to find placebo and company. Jeff?
Jeff: Got it. (*He spins the detector arrow to find the Psi-Eye. It points in front of them, south, but then... It spins abruptly and points directly behind them.*) What the...?

**Everyone spins around, and standing there is...**

■laceb°: Ya better believe it, mon.
gar: Anyone surprised?
Marril: Marril!
Tom: YOU!
■laceb°: Huh? Oh yah, da kid.
Tom: Are you ready to die?
gar: Wait, wait, that's really not necessary.
Ivy: What do you mean?
Marena: Yeah, what's up?
gar: Well, we talked it over, and we've decided to give you guys the Psi-Eye. It may be our only hope for the future...
Keeper: Really?
■laceb°: Yah.
Marril: Marr~!
Tom: (*frustrated*) But... but...
Jeff: Why didn't you just give it to us earlier?
gar: It was a really tough decision to make. You see, in case you didn't know it, we're from the future. (*Appropriate looks of shock*) Anyway, when (V) Jr. attacked...
Ivy: (V) Jr.?
gar: Yeah, that thing that attacked, it was an offspring of (V), obviously. Anyway, when it attacked, ■laceb° and I figured that we were probably doomed. Being from the future, that meant there was no place to go back to once (V) Jr. was through with the Earth. Then, we realized that it was the Psi-Eye, which we still had, that was keeping us here. It was basically what was keeping us in existence. But after talking it over, we know that you guys are the world's only hope.
Tom: Wow...
■laceb°: Just shuttup and let da man talk, okay?
Tom: Grrrrr....
Marril: Marril, marr!
gar: Anyway, this should give your little ragtag group all seven Shrine Hearts, right?
Keeper: That's right.
gar: So we expect you to restore the world. We know that you are the only ones who can do it. We might be just killing ourselves, if you don't accomplish this, but it's better than taking away the world's - and our - last hope. Good luck.
Marril: Marril...

**That said, gar hands Jeff the Psi-Eye. After he does this, he, ■laceb°, and Marril disappear.**

Jeff: Wow. I guess they weren't so bad after all.
Marena: No kidding.
Keeper: Well, we have everything now, right?
Ivy: I think so...

**Ivy takes the seven Shrine Hearts - the Wind Base, the Heart of the Forest, the Earth Plate, the Fire Ruby, the Ice Brain, the Psi-Eye, and the Breath of Life - and places them in a pile on the ground.**

Marena: Shouldn't something be happening?
Ivy: I don't know what's wrong... (*reciting the prophecy*) When all the Shrine Hearts have been brought together with the Warrior of Light, the fate of the Earth will rest solely in the hands of the bearer...
Jeff: Warrior of Light...?
All: LONE WOLF!!!

TO BE CONTINUED...

Warteen


Chapter 84
Tuesday, 27-Mar-01 15:34:24

(*Our heroes are now en-route to Unity. Not much has happened for the last half hour, when Tom spots something unusual on the horizon*)

Cosmo: Hey, have you noticed the way the horizon is glowing blue over to the north?
Keeper: Well now that you mention it, it does seem a little odd.
Ivy: What does it mean?
Marena: I think it's getting brighter.

(*They all look at the odd glow for a few minutes. It is indeed getting brighter.*)

Jeff: I don't think this is good. Now where have I seen that shade of blue before? (*Pause*) Oh this definitely is not good.
Scalene: Why?
Jeff: The northern boundary was that shade for blue. But it went over the horizon a while back.
Ivy: Doesn't look like there's much we can do at the moment. Let's continue.

(*They continue for a few minutes. During that time the upper flames of the northern boundary begin to creep eerily over the horizon. Some snow begins to fall very lightly on the ash covering the ground. A few more minutes pass. They climb over the top of a ridge, and standing before them on a rock is... a Shadow. It looks like a figure with all the light removed. And it's deep in thought.*)

Jeff: That's... not who I think it is, is it?
Ivy: No, the features are different. He's shorter, and doesn't have...

(*A deep tribal rhythm fills the air. Marena has started dancing.*)

Marena: He does not hear it. I can tell.

(*All this time the Shadow has stood unmoving, facing north. It's almost spooky. Before anyone can say anything Marena has drawn her sword and rushed up to the figure, cutting it down. The decapitated body drops to the floor and fades into nothingness.*)

Marena: A cut of (V) magic user.
Jeff: What was he doing here?
Marena: Perhaps something to do with that? (*She points north. Half the sky is lit up with the northern boundary. It's nearer and brighter than before.*)
Cosmo: Oh, my.

-- With Warteen, Jon, and Reod --

Warteen: Come on you big baby, jump!

(*Our assassins have found a way out of EPI HQ. Unfortunately, it's a window on the 34th floor.*)

Jon: Urrr
Warteen: Come on (*He pushes Jon out of the window and climbs up himself*) Urrr.

(*Closing his eyes, Warteen jumps. Last of all, Reod jumps without saying anything. But fist he glances north, and the glance turns into wide eyed a stare.*)

-- With Lone Wolf & co --

(*Lone Wolf, Emily, Luna, Dwarf and Gareth sneak toward EPI HQ, trying to stay out of the way of any shooting. Fortunately EPI seems to be concentrating mainly on those who where wearing Unity army or police uniforms. Luna happens to look up.*)

Luna: What the!
Lone Wolf: What?
Luna: Up there, I think it's Jon!

(*Sure enough, it is Jon. He falls the entire 34 floors before slowing uncomfortably close the concrete. The others rush up to him. He's amazingly unhurt.*)

Jon: Before you ask, float spell. Warteen should be... (*Warteen lands next to Jon. He too is unhurt.*)
Gareth: I didn't know you knew how to do a float spell, Warteen.
Warteen: I don't
Gareth: Then surely it isn't...?
Jon: You dissin' my magic again?
Gareth: Then who...?

(*With cat-like grace, Reod Dai lands in the middle of the party.*)

Reod: Reod Dai, at your service.
Gareth: Oh.
Lone Wolf: We meet again. Nice of you to drop in. (*Someone groans. Lone Wolf is just about to give that person a funny look when he realizes that someone was Luna. Lone Wolf decides to give up on staring people out and get on with more serious maters. "Besides," He thinks, "it is an overly used pun anyway."*)

(*Both parties briefly explain what has gone on.*)

Reod: I'm sorry but I must leave. Something vitally significant is about to happen.
Lone Wolf: What, or aren't you going to tell us?
Reod: (*Seems slightly offended*) When I jumped, just then I happened to look north. The Northern boundary is visible.
Emily: What! It should be fifty kilometers north of here. At least!
Reod: It is now just over the horizon. Now please I must go. Teleport! (*Nothing happens*) What?! Teleport! ...... Teleport! .... Teleport, Teleport, Teleport!!! What sorcery is this?

-- With Ivy, Jeff, Cosmo, etc, in the wilderness --

Cosmo: Teleport! (*???*)

(*In the last few minutes the northern boundary has almost doubled in size.*)

Jeff: What's wrong?
Cosmo: We're not going anywhere, that's what's wrong.
Ivy: Try some other magic.
Cosmo: Ok, ok, fire. (*In front of them the ash bursts temporarily into flames.*) Other magic seems fine.
Marena: Is this the work of the cult of (V)?
Keeper: Whomever it's the work of, what do we do about that? (*He points north. The wall of blue fire is speeding toward them faster than they can run. It's about a minute away.*)
Jeff: Quick, everyone take a shrine heart.

(*He tosses one to each member. A minute later the flames have arrived.*)

Jeff: Here we go!
Scalene: I hope this works. I still need time to pay off my debt.

(*The flames consume them. An audible pop can be heard. The world flashes white... 3 times.*)

-- Somewhere.... someplace....sometime --

???: Mynf'sfk. Hiffiph. Fimmosety!!!!

(*The sound of whispering wind*)

???: MYNF'SFK. HIFFIPH. FIMMOSETY!!!!

(*Eerie pinkish light.*)

???: GHhgyyyhj. Jifg.

(*Ivy wakes with a start*)

???: Ify!
Ivy: That voice. (*She turns to face the speaker.*) Mnmeosyne?
Mnemosyne: Shky.
Ivy: Please say something I can understand.
Mnemosyne: Thank you Ivy.

(*The others begin to wake. The place is very weird. The ground underfoot is looks like ivory, only cracked. Pinkish smoke seeps through the cracks. The terrain seems to be made of giant mountains, which are made of some unfathomable material. Where the valleys should be there is nothing but clouds that race across at breakneck speed. There are about fifteen of these mountains.*)

Jeff: Where am I?
Cosmo: This is very strange.
Mnemosyne: Welcome to the land of the undead.

(*Suddenly a door opens out of the cliff to the right. Ivy is sure there wasn't a cliff there a minute ago. A figure with an unnatural shadow steps out.*)

???: Karthiyuas ajksdh sdkijg (These people are not dead. Who are they?)
Mnemosyne: They are friends I knew from the real world. Ivy, this is Drado. He is sort of the Mayor of this place.
Drado: Khgyyyish sbdhjf (You speak with words?)
Mnemosyne: Yes. She was my apprentice when I was still alive. She is my master now.
Drado: Qertrw jhsdfjuyyy (Come with me.)
Cosmo: What did he say?
Mnemosyne: He said "Come with me."

(*Drado leads them through the door. They step out of a tree into a forest.*)

Marena: This place, it feels familiar.
Mnemosyne: It is the final resting place of the forest people.
Marena: But we were just killed, not raised.
Mnemosyne: The cult of (V) wiped out the forest people in order to swell the ranks of their undead army. Most of those undead ended up here.
Marena: (*Voices can be heard.*) Mother! Father!

(*Marena rushes thought the ferns in the direction of the voices. The others follow. A man and a woman are sitting, looking at the sky.*)

Marena: Mother! Father! Can't you hear me? (*Nether of them respond.*) Please speak to me!

(*The figures get up and leave. As they reach the edge of the clearing they fade out of existence.*)

Marena: Why? Why are you doing this to me!?
Mnemosyne: We're not doing anything to you. Through this forest is the only way. We'd better continue.

(*The party moves on. Eventually, they come to a sort of door hanging in the middle of space. Drado leads them through.*)

-- Back in Unity --

(*It took the EPI and Unity troops about 15 minutes to realize that there wasn't much point in fighting any longer. By this time the barrier had almost reached the city, stopping at its edge. Watched by the amazed EPI and Unity troops, their differences temporarily forgotten, the barrier surrounded the city, leaving a feeling of hopelessness in the air and the city in an unnatural darkness, lit only by the eerie glow from the boundary and the many streetlights. Jon, Gareth, Dwarf, Luna, Emily, Warteen and Reod Dai are sitting in the presidential room, staring at the brain of the ice sitting on the central coffee table and wondering what to do when, all of a sudden, an aide rushes in with two letters. Lone Wolf has been sitting, staring transfixed at a computer readout taken from EPI.*)

Aide: Sirs, I have two letters for you.
Warteen: Who from?
Aide: I don't know. But they were found when they found the president.
Warteen: (*reads*). We can't open this one now. But Jon, you can open this one. (*He hands Jon the letter. Jon opens it to reveal another envelope.*)
Jon: It says "Be somewhere private when you open this". Well, I'll try and find somewhere. (*Jon leaves*).

(*..........*)

(*Suddenly Lone Wolf jumps up from the readout and rushes out of the door.*)

Luna: Lone Wolf?

(*She rushes after him. She sees him getting into the lift. Luna takes the stairs, attempting to do as much banister sliding as possible. But Unity lifts are fast, so by the time Luna reaches the bottom Lone Wolf is on the street. He moves purposely for a few minutes before turning into a run down looking building. Luna breaks into a run. On reaching the building she finds only a staircase leading downward. She begins to move carefully down it. At the bottom is a door marked Elizer's Pricing inc.*)

Luna: Hmm.... Elizer's Pricing inc.... E.P.I. Very clever.

(*The door has been forced. Inside is a reception style area, run down much like the building itself. It's deserted. A door marked private has been forced.*)

Luna: No one in their right mind would do business here. The perfect place to put something secret

(*She continues thought the door. Now the decor is very much different. It looks more like a military prison. The doors have numbers on them, such as A-45, and no windows. A steel door at the end of the corridor joins it to another such corridor. To Luna's amazement it looks as if a sword as been driven all the way through the lock. The cells in this corridor are marked with such numbers as B-23. A notice on the wall suggests that these cells go all the way up to N-numbers. Standing at cell number B-38 is Lone Wolf.*)

Luna: Lone Wolf!
Lone Wolf: (*Surprised*) Luna, what are you doing here?
Luna: I could ask the same question. You just took of like that.
Lone Wolf: I believe I've found an old friend of ours.
Luna: Who?
Lone Wolf: .... (*He smiles, then with tremendous force drives his sword through the lock*) Ever since you-know-when I've been able to do things like that. (*Lone Wolf offers as an explanation*)

(*The cell door swings open...*)

Man in rags: Who...?
Lone Wolf: Do you remember me?
Man in rags: That voice. Lone Wolf?
Luna: Who are you?
Man in rags: Oh, and Luna too. You sound so much older. Seven years. They say it was seven. They said you were dead, Lone Wolf, killed in a shipwreck. And they said that you never knew I was gone....

[AN: Lone Wolf was zapped 6 years into the future. Copy makes references to impersonating Talon for six and a half years (Chapter 13 I think). Since then time has passed, so that's where seven years came from.]

Luna: Talon?
Man in rags: Talon? Talon. Yes Talon was my name.
Lone Wolf: Talon I'm still alive, and Evil people inc. is almost gone. But... a lot as changed.
Man in rags: This Evil people inc. who... who are they?
Lone Wolf: You don't know? They're the one's who did this to you.
Man in rags: They never told me who they were... what they wanted. I remember this man who copied what I looked like. How I hated that man.
Lone Wolf: Come, it'll be all right now.

(*Suddenly a familiar figure rushes down the corridor.*)

Gareth: Hey there you guys are! The others have been looking all over for you. And is that Talon?
Lone Wolf: Yes.
Luna: Wait. How did you know this was Talon?
Gareth: Er... lucky guess.
Luna: You seemed sure.
Gareth: ...I ...did?
Luna: You've never met Talon.
Gareth: ....I ...er ...haven't .... I mean I have. Yes I have it was a wile back....
Luna: You're acting strange Gareth... or should I say Copy!
Copy: No I'm not Copy... really.... Ok I am. Now die! (*Copy launches a file ball at Luna, badly scalding her.*)
Luna: Aaarrrrrhhh.
Lone Wolf: Luna!
Man in rags: So you're Copy.
Copy: Ha ha ha ha ha! If it isn't "Talon the red mage". You've sunk so low....
Talon: YOU are the one who has sunk low. Harming a lady like that. How dare you. Prepare yourself Copy!

(*The other three look at the man in rags only to discover he isn't there any more. In his place is Talon the red mage who just happens to be dressed in rags. He seems to have doubled in size.*)

Copy: Oh is that so. Prepare yourself to die!
Lone Wolf: (*Draws sword*)
Talon: Stay out of this, it's my fight. Omisous fellon supptos nox! (*A red glow surrounds Talon. Copy is no longer smiling.*)
Copy: Eat ice. (*Shards of ice fly toward Talon but they just bounce off the red field.*)
Talon: Reeeeeal cheap. Figrous Canos. (*Fire streaks across the floor, burning up into Copy's face.*)
Copy: You've forced my hand. Prepare for black magic. Shadow flare! (*Talon is silhouetted against a white backdrop. Black spots rush into him. He doesn't seem to take this nearly as well as Copy's last attack*)
Lone Wolf: Please let me help.
Talon: NO!
Copy: You should really say yes, you'll need it.
Talon: I can beat you alone. Hmm... in using that Back magic you seem to have left yourself open to Holy spells.
Copy: What! You only know fire... don't you?
Talon: I know many types. Hollos reprimatos. (*A eerie light shines down on Copy. It seems to burn his skin.*)
Copy: No! (*He begins to deform and melt.*) Noooo! Aaarrrhh, AAAAARRRRHHHH. (*He "Melts" further.*) Nooo! I'm too young to die. Nooo!
Talon: Then I spare you. (*The light fades*)
Copy: What?
Talon: If I kill you, I will be no better than you. However never more shall you be able to practice the magical arts. Nevermore will you take the form of another being. I banish thee to the sewer. Go.

(*Copy leaves and is never officially seen again. However, since then there has been an urban legend of a deformed, ugly creature sulking about the sewers. Those that see it's chapped skin and lopsided limbs or half melted face are often sick.*)

-- In the land of the dead --

Mnemosyne: This is the capital of the land. It has no name. As you can see, it looks life half the population has turned out to see you. You are the first living to enter here for thousands of years.

(*Indeed, half the population has come. Across the surreal cityscape are crowds of the undead, all expectantly looking up at the band.*)

Ivy: Why us?
Mnemosyne: Long ago, or so they tell me, someone found a way of helping these people. He was caught and killed. But he promised that someday, someone would find out how he did this and free them.
Ivy: And they think this person is... me?
Mnemosyne: Ether you or one of you companions.
Ivy: Can't you tell them I didn't come here to free them?
Mnemosyne: (*Sigh*) I could... Maybe you don't know it, but your coming here may not have been a coincidence. After all, you should have just ended up on the other side of the barrier. Instead you ended up here. You can just Teleport back to the real world at any time and leave us to out fate.
Ivy: I can't do that... but nether do I have the power to help them.
Mnemosyne: Then you must learn how. The secret is in the real world. I will come with you so that, when you're ready, I can show you the way back here. Now you must address the crowd.
Ivy: Me?
Mnemosyne: Stop asking questions you know the answer to.

(*A few minutes later, Ivy is standing nervously on top of the highest building there is. Mnemosyne has shown her a spell that acts like a PA system, with none of a PA system's disadvantages (ringing, echoes, bad acoustics.).*)

Ivy: I know some of you must think I came here to free you. But the truth is I didn't. (*there is a hush in the crowd*). In fact, I didn't fully realize your plight until today. Please do not be disheartened. I have learned of you plight and I am going to do something about it. No, I am going to do all I can about it. I am going to find the secret, and when I do I will come back here. Thank you for listening and being so understanding.

-- Later.... --

Jeff: Ivy, that was great!
Cosmo: I never realized you had such a flare for public speaking
Ivy: Nether did I.
Marena: Amazing how talents go unused for so long.
Keeper: Any idea on how you're going to fulfill those promises?
Ivy: Mnemosyne has been talking to those who remember. They say that the people who did it were wearing highly ornamental robes with faces hidden. She said that that reminded her of the cult of (V). It makes sense, since the cult of (V) seem to deal a lot in necromancy. Besides, she seemed to think I will stumble on it by the same fate that lead me here.
Marena: The cult of (V) generally deals with anything that cases some form of suffering.
Scalene: I will help.
Mnemosyne: (*Walks in*) I think we should be going now.
Jeff: I agree. Tom?
Cosmo: Yes?
Jeff: Do the honors, please.
Cosmo: All-right-e-then! Seven teleports coming up. Err, where to?
Jeff: Our friends should be in Unity by now. Let's help them. And be accurate. If what ever stopped us from teleporting is still there then we won't be able to correct our mistake.
Cosmo: Makes sense, Teleport!

(*Flash!*)

-- And now for the first of the letters --

Jon: This room looks private enough. (*Fearfully, he begins to peel back the cover.*)
Dear disciple Jon,
Jon: Disciple? No, it couldn't be!
You are a traitor. Surely you know what happens to traitors to the cult. It is worse than
death. However, in your case we may decide to make a exception. Bring to us all the shrine
hearts and you may rejoin our great and glorious ranks, perchance even be someone powerful.
Jon: Yeah right, I know how they work. It has to be a trick
Do not think of defying us twice. If you think your "friends" will help you, think again.
That other letter, it is now being read. It revels everything about your past.

PS: Duck!
Jon: Huh? (*He ducks. A huge sword swoops over his head. Jon spins around.*)
Marena: You are Jon Spike are you not?
Jon: Yes. Who are you?
Marena: You are one of the ones I have been chasing for months. You are a member of the cult of (V). We just got back. Apparently, there was a letter. We opened it. It explained all your sins... in graphic detail.
Jon: Has it occurred to you that the letter might be a lie or exaggeration? I was in the cult of (V) but not anymore. I'm never going back!

(*Flash*)

???: Is that so? Then you, traitor, face the punishment!
Jon: (*Spinning round*) Oh this is not my day. A priest.
???: (*The priest opens a portal.*) To the cave of (V)! (*The priest drags Jon through.*)
Marena: The cave of (V), what I have been searching for for years!

(*She jumps thought too. The portal closes. Marena looks around. In the distance can be heard Jon's cry echoing down the passage.*)

Jon: Just a typical perfect day, captured by the most deadly people under the sun, my friends probably think I'm a monster, and the only one who knows where I am wants to kill me. Lovely.

(*Marena glides down the passage to the end, only to come face to face with a man dressed as a monk.*)

Monk: Marena I presume?
Marena: Die scum.
Monk: Well I'm offended. After coming all this way to help you.
Marena: Help me? Why?
Monk: Because something significant is about to happen. History could go one of two ways, and I want it to go my way.
Marena: How do you know all this?
Monk: Because the Cult of (V) has been trying so hard to keep strangers away. Firstly the trapped everyone inside Unity with the northern boundary. That alone must have been a tremendous effort, even with every magic user they have. Secondly, they've been blocking all teleportation spells. Fortunately, I worked out a loophole in that one, or I'd have never got here.
Marena: Who are you?
Monk: (*Smiles and pulls down his hood. He has raven black hair.*)

-- Gareth is doing his party trick: writing notes on the move --

What a day. What. a. day. We just managed to kill the CEO and then that northern
boundary starts to move. Stopped the battle all right. Left a feeling of hopelessness. We
heard about the letters and Jon went to open his. He hasn't been seen since. Lone Wolf
managed to find out where EPI had hidden Talon, so he rushed off. Luna followed him.
They found Talon and copy fond them. Apparently he impersonated me! But thankfully,
my style is just too cool and suave for him to emulate. So he's gone (Talon dulled him
with SPLAT).

On the other hand Ivy, Jeff, Cosmo, Keeper (never did find out what his real name was)
and Scalene got all the hearts, but they were transported into the undead world when the
barrier hit them. There they found Mnemosyne. Ivy promised to help (I wish I could have
seen that speech.). They left, appeared in the middle of us (Gave Keeper a fright). We
opened the second letter. According to it, Jon is a member of the cult of vee (I think the
rune is "(V)") and has sold us out. I don't believe a word of it. The Jon "tin monkey"
Spike I met in Gronvich is just not the person that letter describes. Marena rushed off
somewhere and never come back. Also, Reod disappeared somewhere. He was gracious
enough to give us the Brain of Ice at last.

This leads me on the next point: we're on our way to the ceremony that we all hope will
restore the world! Lone Wolf says he's nervous (Who wouldn't be?). On reflection, this
won't be the end of our troubles, we still have Uforious, and the Cult of (V). But I for one
am feeling hopeful at last. I'd best stop writing now, as it's about to begin....

TO BE CONTINUED....

[AN2: Phew]

UFO


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