MetroSys Corporate HQ
October 17, 2016
6:12 PM PST
“Look, Gadgeteer, I don't have time for this. Why are we here?” Alex said, annoyed. He glanced at his 4G LTE-enabled Dragon Gear again, seeing the text message from Drake Studios about Ubisoft having faxed a signed copy of the contract. It had replaced the Master SilverGear 3Dual in 2015 as Alex's personal super-console, thanks to a magical Treasure upgrade. The 'Master SilverGear 3Dual' never did release to market, but Alex had come to the conclusion that was probably for the better.
“I. Don't. Know. Rau called me and told me to get everyone gathered in this room.” Gadgeteer explained as best he could. “Which is why I trust a cartoon kid who will never grow up and a scarecrow wearing an oversized suit a lot more than a flesh-and-blood human. And yet the Light still wonders why the Dark thinks humans should go kill themselves.” Rau said, standing in the elevator whose doors had just opened. With her was a power who exuded an aura of technology that went far beyond mere Video Games.
"Flesh and blood… yeah…" Alex mulled over something which had been eating away at the back of his mind for some time. “Rau, you contacted me with a publishing deal for Drake Studios a couple years ago. Then you made me the Power of Video Games, but I don’t remember anything before-”
It was then Feeney burst out of the stairwell door at top speed, a crow following him. “Oh.” he said, looking nervous that he'd been late. “Hi, Rau. Got held up by my new friend Peepers. Say hi, Peepers.”
“Hey. Did we miss anything?” the crow said to them in a parrot-like voice.
“If I hadn't just gotten here myself I would be very unhappy.” Rau told him. “Remember that next time I ask you to meet me.” she said, munching on her infinite Chinese takeout. “I'd like you all to meet your new Familia member.” she explained, looking at the shiny gynoid beside her.
She was made of a black plastic and had glowing blue rings where the eyes would be on a human face. A lack of a mouth and two buttons on each side of her head in place of ears made it clear this new power had been created from some modern electronic device. “Hello, everyone. I am Ivee, the Power of the Singularity. It is very nice to meet you, Alex, Feeney and Gadgeteer.” she said in an obviously computer-generated manner.
“Well.” Alex commented. “This is new.”
“We aren't done yet.” Rau said. “It's about time Sea City received its first patch.” She snapped her fingers, and suddenly the computers around them came to life, and began displaying a logo. “Presenting MetroSys 2.0, the next generation of Sea City. With this system, my Powers will be able to hack the chancel's smartgrid and use nearly anything against attackers. Because it is a Video Game mechanic rather than actual technology, only those meant to abuse it will be able to do so. Gadgeteer, your goggles are capable of hacking MetroSys, and that 'Neo GamePlayer' device is connected to them. Ivee will be able to directly connect to MetroSys and hack it as well. Alex, that 'Dragon Gear' you carry serves as an easy method of hacking MetroSys-enabled devices, but more importantly your control over your Estate enables you to manipulate MetroSys itself via miracles. I would recommend that Feeney get himself some sort of portable device in order to enable him access to the system.”
“Why do I need one of those fancy gadgets?” Feeney asked.
“Because Jane Booth nearly caused the end of the world, and you're about to find out just how involved you were in correcting that.” Rau told them.
“Time travel? You can't be seriously asking us to risk Actuals.” Feeney said, skeptial.
“I wouldn't worry about that. You won't be leaving the Chancel to complete your mission. Grab a cell phone, Feeney, that's an order. Then head for this address…” Rau said, and produced a business card for a place called Litwick's Arcade in Sea City.
Sea City, Locus Apepi
October 17, 2016
8:41 PM PST
The four Nobilis stood in the middle of the dark street as autumn leaves were blown about in a light breeze. The street lights flickered, the shops were all closed, and the normally well-lit skyscrapers in the distance seemed to barely glow at all.
“Creepy.” Alex said, noting how typically horror-movie-esque it felt.
They approached their destination, an arcade with the Pokémon Litwick as its mascot. The inside was pitch black, offering no view of what was inside. “If my systems are correctly calibrated, the door is unlocked.” Ivee told them, and opened the door with her hand.
Inside, it became apparent just how dark it was. They walked forward carefully, hoping not to bump into anything or fall into a potential pit of death. Even with Gadgeteer's BOGGLES giving him night vision and Ivee's dim blue glow, they couldn't make heads or tails of the dimensions of where they were.
Soon they noticed they were quite far from the storefront behind them. A thin sliver of light was all that showed it even existed. “Guys?” Gadgeteer said nervously. “Do you think we should turn ba- OW!” he suddenly shouted, rubbing his forehead. He reached out, and found a doorknob sticking out where his head had bumped into it. Turning it, they were greeted by painfully bright light.
Castle of the First and Final, Locus Solari
October 17, 2009
8:41 PM PST
Inside was an enormous vaulted marble hallway, lit from above with beams of bright sunlight. A red carpet extended into the distance, and was about to unroll when a foot came down to hold it in place, belonging to a Power, dressed in a red sport suit, bedecked with thousands of pearls. She radiated Love, of all sorts, so it was obvious what her Estate was. "None Haggard. Love's-Pawn, as are we all." she said with a smile.
"We already fell for that trick when the Power of Democracy spied on us for Lord Entropy, lady. Not letting that happen again. What's the password?" Alex asked.
“Come again?” None asked.
“Well, then. We're done with you.” Alex said, a little too loose-lipped. “Rau warned us about-”
"Fishing Ships. I take it Rau, or Solari as she wants to be known, wanted to remind me of that security method? She was always paranoid." None responded.
"Tell me about it. You think you've had trouble dealing with her? Try being her Powers for two years." Alex responded.
None gave a puzzled look. "What? This is Solari's Chancel. Who are you, exactly? And why do you claim to be her powers?"
Alex, Feeney, Gadgeteer and Ivee looked at each other. It was Ivee who first spoke. "What year is this?"
"2009. Do you mean to tell me you come from another time period?" None said.
"2016 to be precise." Feeney explained. "This Chancel… Is hers?"
A voice spoke from behind them. "That would be correct." A young woman in a bright dress stood in the hallway. "My name is Solari, Magister of the Light. The Egyptians once knew me as Rau, though they were oddly confused of my gender and their name for me kept being mispronouced. I do not know who you are, but I suggest you leave unless you come in peace."
"If you're Rau… then who is the Magister of the Dark going around with your name?" Feeney said, confused.
"Does a casual and ironically-chosen outfit ring a bell? Or an infinite box of Sunny Tzu's Chicken of War?" Gadgeteer asked.
The Magister of the Light took out a photograph. "I wouldn't know about the outfit, but does this Imperator match your description?" she asked. There was the Rau they knew, despite the outfit being that of a late-2000s emo girl rather than a mid-2010s hipster chick.
"That's her alright." Alex said.
"Well you can tell my sister Apepi that I'm on to her little trick." Solari said.
"Look, lady. We honestly don't mean any harm. As far as we can tell, Rau- er, Apepi -sent us through a door in her chancel that lead into your chancel, and the current year is supposed to be 2016." Feeney explained.
"She's created a backdoor into my Chancel. Clever. If you want to leave here, tell me, why would she send you into the past?" Solari asked them.
"Something about Jane Booth?" Gadgeteer said, shrugging. "Rau- I mean, Apepi… said Jane would be responsible for Creation nearly ending in 2014."
"I've never heard of a 'Jane Booth'." Solari told them.
"She did leave me with one specific piece of information. I was instructed not to reveal it to anyone until I was in your presence." Ivee revealed. "Apepi said that in December of 2012, you would be killed by Lord Entropy because None Haggard had beaten the Windflower Law on your behalf. Apepi had sworn she would kill you someday for what she claims is your crime against her, but once Lord Entropy did what he did, that chance for vengeance was taken from her. She, as your sworn nemesis, managed to convince Entropy to give her your Powers on the grounds that it would be like defacing your grave. However, her real plan was to destroy Lord Entropy using the combined might of both your Estates. He had a small suspicion of this, so he damaged the estate of Love before he gave it to her."
"It would figure that she would do such a thing. What do you mean by 'damaged'?" Solari asked.
"Love has been gutted. Now the only part of Love that remains is True Love. She recognizes it as a giant bullseye and has not created a Power for it. As for Light and Faith, she sacrificed them to fool Lord Entropy into thinking her ultimate plan had failed and she'd given up." Ivee explained.
"Why does she want me to know all this? To rub it in my face that she's going to win?" Solari said with a frown.
"No. She wants you to know that even as your biggest rival, she has seen the value of compromise. As a Magister of the Dark, she still wants to remove humanity from the picture by driving them to self-destruction. However, she has discovered a way to do so which does not exclude making humanity immortal. Lord Entropy is her biggest obstacle towards that, but not the only one. In 2012 the Power of Glass will sell 2 years to the Excrucians, in order to hold them off from destroying Earth. This will lead to the calendar jumping ahead by two years, to 2014."
"You said the date you came from was in 2016?" Solari asked.
"That was the other obstacle. Jane Booth, the Power of Halloween, would try to reason with the Excrucians after being corrupted by one of them, a Deciever called Lambkin. This corruption and the events that followed were inevitable due to a prophesy. In 2012, shortly before Halloween, and after Jane has…" Ivee paused, and played a recording of someone clearing their throat, then continued. "…'spread the mayonnaise' with Lambkin, you must kill her and her lover. Otherwise, Creation will fall." Ivee explained. "When you do, shortly afterwards Lord Entropy will kill you, but humanity will live on and the apocalypse will have been postponed for the time-being.
Solari thought for a moment. "I see. Very well. I do want to know how she managed to create a direct link between our Chancels which goes back in time, but I suppose she would never share such a secret with me. It does make me wonder why she took my name?"
“Playing recording…” Ivee said.
“If I can't kill Solari myself, then I'll keep her memory so alive it ensures that Lord Entropy can never truly kill her either. I'll even take that nickname that irritated her so much and make everyone forget she was called anything else.” the recorded voice of Apepi said.
“That is so her. She always was a petty bitch.” Solari said.
Sea City, Locus Apepi
October 17, 2016
8:41 PM PST
“…and thus, prevented Lambkin and Jane Booth from destroying reality. Eventually, however, the prophesy must be fulfilled, making it only a matter of time before said prophesy will need to be defused.” Ivee finished reading from the Sea City Public Library's databases.
“That's the whole story? Freaking Apepi! First she lies to us about her name for two years, and now she has us point her rival in a direction that will lead to the doom of said rival, her three Powers of Creation, a Power who just happened to be part of an unlucky prophesy, and… in Arson, Murder and Jaywalking fashion… an Excrucian Deceiver!” Alex shouted at the crisp fall air.
“Yeah, Jane and Lambkin didn't need to die! This bites!” Gadgeteer said, kicking a discarded soda can a few meters down the street.
“To be fair, Apepi didn't have much choice in the matter surrounding Jane Booth. Actuals are not the kind of thing you want to risk, and to avoid it while time-travelling you have to create stable time loops.” Feeney explained. “The only way to prevent that outcome was to intervene in the 2 years the Excrucians bought, obviously sooner rather than later, which meant after October 27th and before Halloween in the year 2012. Having someone who Jane Booth had never met find a way to to kill Jane in that timeframe would prevent the prophesy for the time being and keep the various worlds of the Ash from being devastated, while keeping the people responsible for the events leading up to it in the dark until a time loop had been safely established. Jane Booth had to die for creation to continue. Lambkins was an Excrucian, and even if innocent there's no helping collateral damage.”
“Forget it then. I'm tired of hearing life isn't fair. When someone doesn't play fair, they aren't playing nice. That's what my estate has taught me.” Gadgeter grumbled. “So what's your story, Ivee? You're some sort of AI?”
“I am an Intelligent Personal Assistant, originally designed to be the software behind the Ivee smarthome hub.” Ivee explained. “What is your story, Gadgeteer?”
“I was a tabletop RPG character in the homebrew game Kidpunk. Look it up, it's actually pretty fun.” Gadgeteer responded.
“You know, I always wondered why most Chancels are named after their Imperator, but our Imperator named her Chancel Locus Apepi instead of Locus Rau.” Alex pointed out. “In hindsight this was as obviously a bald-faced lie as someone trying to tell you that New York wasn't named after York.”
“It's not very encouraging that the explanation of Apepi's history was in the Chancel's library the whole time.” Feeney said.
“…or was it?” Gadgeteer gasped. “She's lied to us before! How do we know this whole thing wasn't just a way of placating our curiosity once and for all?”
“I calculated a 2% chance of the information being false.” Ivee told them. “However, I will admit that Imperators defy those kinds of odds regularly.”