<RandBrittain> At last, I've gathered all my players into a single room- release the hounds!
<Benhimself> Do these hounds happen to have the Negative Gift?
<RandBrittain> Well, no, they don't.
<RandBrittain> But everybody else gets it in the shorts!
<RyanSherbrig> (Wasn't at least one other person Immortal?)
<RyanSherbrig> (Besides Pandora's weird reincarnamortality?)
<Ebba> (Fits perfectly into Nobilis. :D)
<Fiona> (I'm not, Durant and with Spirit 5.)
<Ebba> (I'm Immortal as well.)
<RyanSherbrig> (An immortal Exemplar? Yeesh, good thing for our enemies they're generally too smart to take us on in physical combat.)
<RyanSherbrig> (Well, except Thorpe.)
<HollyhockGod> Anyway, now that I have you all together, I really do need you to explain how you're going to catch Pandora.
<HollyhockGod> Or whatever.
<Ebba> And once we've caught her, what do we intend to do?
<RyanSherbrig> "Didn't you guys come up with a plan of some sort?"
<RyanSherbrig> (What level of Mess With You does this game's Lands Beyond Creation have?)
<Alexa> "I think we came up with three."
<RyanSherbrig> (Just another place you can go, or all who enter lose their sanity, or etc?)
<HollyhockGod> It's a place you can go. With unknowable dangers. Even Imperators find it scary!
<RyanSherbrig> "Okay. What were they?"
<Alexa> "Go Outside, find her, talk to her, then kill her. Try Summoning her here. Or try making a device to turn her back."
<Alexa> "Killing possibly optional."
<Ebba> (So which plans is everyone interested in?)
<HollyhockGod> Well, tonight is the time to pick one or more and start on carrying them out.
<Ebba> (I'd vote for either going outside, or trying to make the thingy.)
<RyanSherbrig> "Hmmm. Summoning a being of Pandora's power, even as she was rather than as she might become, would be beyond me abilities given my current bound allies. And doing it might take a few days, by which time we could already be late."
<Ebba> (Or possibly both at the same time.)
<Alexa> "My vote is to try to find her Outside. I want to give her a chance to explain herself."
<RyanSherbrig> "Venturing into the lands beyond creation would be the riskiest of those options, but the one mostly likely to succeed /before/ she gets turned into an Imperial-level being."
<Alexa> "That too."
<RyanSherbrig> "Also, we would probably need an absurdly talented Alchemist or the like for the last option."
<RyanSherbrig> "At least, it would help."
<Ebba> "Thankfully one seems well disposed toward us. But I'm not sure what we could tell him, given Phoenix's prohibition."
<Alexa> "Yeah, this is top secret classified stuff."
<HollyhockGod> It isn't my impression that you're in a super-hurry, although maybe in-character you don't know that.
<RyanSherbrig> (Well, we don't know how long we have, what with her being in a place where Time kindasortapotentially has no meaning.)
<Alexa> (Sorry, do you mean you're saying OOC that we don't need to rush this?)
<HollyhockGod> (More or less.)
<Alexa> (Is there something else you'd rather have us do right now?)
<RyanSherbrig> "Well, we wouldn't have to tell this friend of yours what the device is for. Just ask for help building it in return for whatever favors seem reasonable."
<Ebba> (Can't have a good recurring villain if you finish her the first time, either.)
<RyanSherbrig> (She's the incarnation of rebirth. We not only could, it'd be incredibly appropriate.)
<Alexa> (It's just I got the impression the Phoenix wanted this dealt with pronto, before word got out.)
<HollyhockGod> (No, I'm just pointing out that there's nothing stopping Pandora from remaining in the Lands Beyond Creation for a thousand years twiddling her thumbs and teaching the Excrucians her favorite mai tai recipe.)
<HollyhockGod> (Or, admittedly, she could appear tomorrow.)
<RyanSherbrig> (That's the thing. The results of her appearing tomorrow are disastrous enough for us if we /don't/ act with haste, whereas we don't really have any strong incentives at the moment to not act with haste.)
<Alexa> "So, votes?"
<Ebba> (Well, since we have time, the device path sounds fun.)
<Ebba> (Will hopefully make more people nervous, once we have it.)
<RyanSherbrig> "Lacking more information as to the possibility of creating a Stone of Antiheroes, and what Ebba's friend might want in return for assistance in such a task, of those three options I would feel best about going outside."
<RyanSherbrig> "That said, more information on the device option would change that."
<Ebba> "We could try passing it off as a mad project of Phoenix."
<Ebba> "Which would explain why we are interested in such a thing."
<Alexa> "Who would we ask?"
<RyanSherbrig> "Mmmm. What I was going to ask."
<Ebba> "The Cleave of Worldshapers numbers a Worldbreaker among their members."
<Ebba> (isn't his name Ei9'Jah?, the mathy buy?)
<RyanSherbrig> "That's… impressive. And they all like you, yes? Maybe we should contact him, see if we can't arrange a get-together."
<Alexa> "How about you do that, Ebba, while Ryan tries to narrow down Pan's location and figure out how we can get there?"
<RyanSherbrig> "My information-gathering contact seemed unable to locate her while she was in the Lands Beyond Creation."
<HollyhockGod> Or in certain regions of them.
<Alexa> "Yep, but perhaps this Calthrop fellow would be easier to find."
<Alexa> "How about you, Fi? Any thoughts?"
<RyanSherbrig> "Well, I assume he's a full Excrucian, if he's caretaking something important like that."
<Ebba> (In theory, full Excrucians can't come into creation, right? They can only send shards?)
<Alexa> "He should stand out, then!"
<RyanSherbrig> (Well, it's rarer that they do, anyway.)
<Fiona> "I'm not sure about the best course of action here."
<RyanSherbrig> "Or he has even more power to hide his location. His presence might even be why the Watcher can't find Pandora."
<HollyhockGod> No, they can come in. It's just that all the Imperators are sitting just inside the door watching to stop them from doing it.
<Ebba> (Well, I can go off to see the guy; but it would then be another scene of me having tea with someone. :D)
<Alexa> "True that."
<HollyhockGod> At least you'd be having it inside a planet factory.
<HollyhockGod> And you could take Alexa, who has not previously met the Cleave..
<Alexa> (Is their factory not in that Chancel?)
<RyanSherbrig> (We could all go! Ryan's good at diplomatic negotiations requiring subtlety and tact!)
<Fiona> (I probably should go, what with actually having a useful domain for negotiating with alchemists.)
<HollyhockGod> No, Timeheart belongs to Wanda, Dana, and the Duchess of Mystery.
<HollyhockGod> The Cleave live in a Chancel that everybody except E'jah calls Magrathea.
<Ebba> (And he had some sort of silly long name for it, IIRC.)
<HollyhockGod> Which I cannot at this time recall.
<RyanSherbrig> (Let's just call it Magrathea like everyone else does.)
<HollyhockGod> It is, then, your desire to pay a social call upon the Cleave of Worldshapers?
<Alexa> "Hey, Ebba, have you had a chat to them about the possibility of regrowing your home world?"
<RyanSherbrig> (Sounds like a plan!)
<Ebba> "The story I believe we should tell is that Phoenix has directed us to look into making a reversed version of the Stone of Heroes; and that we might need such a device sooner that we might hope.)
<Alexa> "I don't like taking the Phoenix's name in vain. Why not just say we had this bright idea and wanted to ask if it might work?
<Alexa> "Or if it's been tried and there are obvious reasons why it doesn't?"
<Fiona> (Remind me: are we allowed to admit to having stashed Ebba's home planet in our Chancel?
<Ebba> "We would just need it, um, yesterday."
<HollyhockGod> (I don't see any point in saying that it's still secret.)
<HollyhockGod> (Given that the other possibilities didn't light anyone on fire except Alexa, who was that way already.)
<HollyhockGod> If I were negotiating, I would…. no, that would be telling.
<HollyhockGod> But I certainly think you have the advantage here.
<Ebba> (So everyone plans to come along, then?)
<Fiona> (Looks like it.)
<RyanSherbrig> (Cut to arriving at their Chancel for a talk, or do we want to play the process of asking for an invitation and traveling there and etc?)
<Ebba> (I'll make some Heterodyne tea to take with us; heh, one of my limited uses of alchemy this story!)
<Alexa> "My thinking was that we could go with the story of talking about your world, Ebba, then Fi or someone drops in 'Oh, by the way, we had this crazy idea and meant to ask you about it…'"
<HollyhockGod> Did you end up buying alchemy, Ebba?
<HollyhockGod> Because you kind of have to find a teacher first.
<Ebba> Guess it's good that we are going to see the man, then.
<HollyhockGod> I guess the tea will have to wait.
<HollyhockGod> It's called an "exclusive attribute," not a "Tom, Dick, & Harry attribute," after all.
<RyanSherbrig> (Worldbreaker Tea: Appears before you've made it, or even learned how to make it!)
<HollyhockGod> Anyway, Ebba has the Cleave's business card, which is reprinted in the Almanac.
<HollyhockGod> It has a telephone number, and an address. On the Moon.
<RyanSherbrig> "Call and ask if they have a shuttle?"
<Alexa> "Shall we give them a call first, or turn up on their doorstep?"
<Fiona> "I think we should be polite."
<HollyhockGod> Ring, ring!
<HollyhockGod> "You have reached the Cleave of the Worldshapers. We build what we can, because we must. If you are calling about terraforming, press one."
<Alexa> (What are the other options? :) )
<HollyhockGod> "To place an order for a new stellar body, press two. To inquire about a past order, press three. If your purchase is approaching an extinction-level event, press four."
<Alexa> "Press one, I guess."
<Alexa> (I assume we're on speakerphone?)
<HollyhockGod> Are you calling about terraforming?
<HollyhockGod> That's not the same as tea!
<Alexa> (But tea's not an option in the menu!)
<Ebba> (I'll just giggle internally is Alexa is defeated by the telephone.)
- Alexa presses one.
<HollyhockGod> "Please wait while we perform an automated credit check."
- Alexa rolls her eyes.
<HollyhockGod> "We're sorry; your worldwide bank balance is: $5,328 US dollars. Perhaps you dialed this number by accident?"
<Alexa> (Is that still an automated message?)
<RyanSherbrig> (Set it on fire.)
<HollyhockGod> "Please note that angering the direct representatives of the Creator can result in face-melting, or body part shrinkage. Please, do not trifle with the CotW hotline!"
<HollyhockGod> It does indeed seem to be a recording.
- Alexa presses one.
<RyanSherbrig> "Right. This is pointless. Set it on fire until it gives us what we want."
<HollyhockGod> "You have trifled with the CotW hotline. Please stand by to receive divine retribution."
<HollyhockGod> Elevator music.
<RyanSherbrig> (Clearly the most extreme of their punishments.)
<Alexa> "They don't have a very good hotline. It should at least have an 'other enquiries' option."
<HollyhockGod> "Our systems have informed me that the unspeakable curse of testicle shrinkage directed at you registered you as nonexistent. I apologize for wasting your time, Noble Power!"
<Alexa> "Am I speaking to a person?"
<HollyhockGod> "I will transfer you to a Cleave member now."
<RyanSherbrig> "You could be speaking to the spirit of their automated response system."
<Alexa> "I should hope so. Can I have your name first?"
<HollyhockGod> It's difficult to answer that question in an animistic universe.
<HollyhockGod> Nevertheless, the recording ignores you.
<HollyhockGod> Ring, ring?
<Fiona> (I am impressed that they consider all girls to be Noble Powers.)
<HollyhockGod> "Greetings, cousin! E'jah C'mi'c'l speaks- to whom do I have the honor of speaking?"
<RyanSherbrig> (It registered HER as nonexistent, not just her testicles.)
<RyanSherbrig> (I imagine, had she been a mortal woman, she would have been given some, to have shrunk.)
<Alexa> "Hello, E'jah. This is Alexa speaking, of the Familia Phoenica. How are you?"
<HollyhockGod> "Ah, the Lady Fire- a concept close to my own heart. I do quite well, although given the current recession the planets business is rather slow."
<RyanSherbrig> ("The one person you have no familiarity with whatsoever! How did I end up the one talking to you, again?")
<HollyhockGod> "I so regretted not seeing you in Timeheart the other night."
<Alexa> "Yeah, I'm sorry I missed it. Listen, we were wondering if we could pop round to your place to have a chat about terraforming."
<Alexa> "We're not sure about putting in an actual order, yet, just wanting to talk through some ideas."
<HollyhockGod> "My lady Fire, to have my time wasted by yourself is like an order for a solar system from anyone else."
<Alexa> "Ha! And I was going to complain that your automated message system needed to be taught manners."
<Alexa> (She says that last in a bantering tone.)
<HollyhockGod> "It's designed to keep out the unwanted. But it immediately connects you to a real person if you threaten it or raise your voice. Quite an amusing invention of mine, I think."
<HollyhockGod> "Shall I send the luxury shuttlecraft to your Chancel? When would you care for it to arrive?"
<Alexa> "Oh, whenever you're free. We're not doing anything this afternoon, are we, folks?"
- Alexa looks around the room.
- Fiona shakes head
<HollyhockGod> "Capital! I'll order it prepared for departure immediately."
<Alexa> "Excellent. Can we bring you anything?"
<Alexa> (Emphasis on 'bring', as in, are they short on milk, etc.)
<HollyhockGod> "Well, I no longer consume food per se, but if you feel the need to contribute something, aromatic oils and logs are my equivalent of biscuits. I'm sure Fire has something along those lines that I haven't seen before. So kind of you to offer!"
<Alexa> "Lovely. We'll see you soon."
<Ebba> "Since we'll be discussing my world, I'll just go and see if there are any interesting logs left in the wreckage…"
<Fiona> (off for a bit. back in 5-10 minutes)
<Alexa> (Alexa hangs up after saying "We'll see you soon", unless E'jah interjects.)
<HollyhockGod> Hm, the remnants of Yggsgard probably do have some qualities in the wood not found on Earth.
- RyanSherbrig keeps an eye out for any luxury shuttlecraft and gets ready to open the chancel borders for it.
<Alexa> "I'll go out into the gardens" (if any have regrown yet) "to find some of our own too. Something that burns slowly and with an exotic perfume."
<Ebba> (Hmm, Pandora's part of the garden seems to have something perfect… :D)
<RyanSherbrig> (Did my floating island get incinerated in the lavacaust, too?)
<Alexa> (Not the astronomers! :o)
<HollyhockGod> Melted into slag!
<RyanSherbrig> (Is it at least floating slag?)
<HollyhockGod> But the astronomers were reborn as a beehive made of gold.
<HollyhockGod> QUESTION NOT THE WISDOM OF THE PHOENIX.
<Alexa> (How do they feel about that?)
<Ebba> (They are so happy that they do not want the experience of being incinerated again in the hopes that they will turn into something better?)
<HollyhockGod> Buzzzz! Making honey is actually less work than charting stars all night long.
- RyanSherbrig sets to work making a new spot to enjoy with Lesser Creations, bit by bit, while waiting for the shuttle.
<HollyhockGod> Also, instead of the inability to procreate, they now have the ability to procreate once and then die.
<Alexa> (So the Rebirth cycle still appears to be functioning, as far as we can tell without actually having the Estate?)
<Fiona> (I have the Estate at 1)
<Fiona> (Pandora left it lying around, so I made off with it.)
<Alexa> (You did? That was clever!)
<Fiona> (Normally having a domain at one isn't very useful, but I have a million Domain Miracle Points or something, so it's OK.)
<HollyhockGod> It's true, she does.
<HollyhockGod> She could only have more if she took the "unable to use miracles" limit.
<HollyhockGod> Anybody else have something they want to do to get ready? Summon a beast? Wrap a gift?
<RyanSherbrig> I'm good with my pre-summoned beasts.
<Alexa> (Do we know what the other Worldbuilders might like as gifts?)
- Fiona Major Creates a rare flower of some sort.
<HollyhockGod> How alchemical! But what is it?
<RyanSherbrig> The Flower of Scarcity!
<Fiona> (Hmm. Hope and flowering, mostly. Also some other stuff I haven't bothered to filter out.)
<HollyhockGod> I like the Flower of Scarcity better. :)
<Fiona> (That works too. Either is OK.)
<RyanSherbrig> (Both! Representing how precious and rare hope is in this darkened Age of Pain!)
<RyanSherbrig> (Also, the newly created Flower of Being Better Liked Than Vesper.)
<RyanSherbrig> (I mean, nobody even raised an eyebrow at that solar system comment.)
<Fiona> (But I quite like Vesper. Just not, you know, that way.)
<HollyhockGod> It's true! Clearly E'jah has a Gift that automatically performs a Major Creation of Credibility.
<Alexa> (Math couldn't lie!)
<Ebba> (I just assumed it was hyperbole.)
<RyanSherbrig> (So, shuttle?)
<HollyhockGod> Suddenly, a small planet falls out of the sky and hovers over the ocean just above your boat.
<Alexa> (We have a boat?)
<HollyhockGod> It's like somebody took Central Park and folded it into a sphere.
<HollyhockGod> I assume you're waiting outside the Chancel.
<Ebba> (With the muggers and everything? Neat!)
<Alexa> (Oh, that makes sense.)
<HollyhockGod> It's quite easy to simply step onto it, with nary a hitch as gravity sudden flips up towards the tiny planet.
- Alexa steps on.
<HollyhockGod> Once you're all onboard, it makes its way up into the atmosphere.
<Alexa> (Are there stewards to welcome us or anything?)
- RyanSherbrig steps on, has a seat on one of the benches.
<HollyhockGod> No, but there's a table with sandwiches.
<RyanSherbrig> "Oooh, olive loaf."
- Alexa tries a sandwich.
<HollyhockGod> The sandwich is delicious.
<HollyhockGod> You fly through space and to the moon!
<HollyhockGod> The moon swings open into two halves and you fly inside.
<HollyhockGod> BOOM! The moon swings closed with you inside.
<Ebba> (Remind me to come up here with a big can of yellow paint…)
<HollyhockGod> There is darkness.
<HollyhockGod> Then the lights begin to flicker on. Like most places, the moon is larger on the inside.
<Ebba> (In which we are clearly visible. :D)
<HollyhockGod> On the inside of Magrathea, there are at least a dozen full-sized planets, each suspended in a web of crystal spider-silk.
<HollyhockGod> Teams of creatures of all sizes and shapes are carrying things, moving things, building things.
<HollyhockGod> On a small planetoid near you, a woman eight-feet-tall is trying to construct a dog out of soap, but the two legs it has keep running away.
<Ebba> "She should make a ball out of soap, so at least it will always come back…"
- RyanSherbrig looks around in appreciative wonder.
<Alexa> "Or keep the soap on a rope."
<HollyhockGod> With a flash of light, E'jah becomes a localized phenomenon at your side.
- Alexa jumps.
<HollyhockGod> "Greetings, Lady Ebba and Siblings, and welcome to our humble place of business."
- Ebba bows
<Alexa> "Hello, you must be E'jah. I'm Alexa."
- Alexa offers a hand to shake, then notices he doesn't appear to have hands.
- Alexa turns the gesture into a wave at the inside of the moon.
<RyanSherbrig> (He could have hand-shaped planar manifestations.)
<Alexa> "Wow! This place is amazing!"
<HollyhockGod> "Hm, Selim and Gloria must be around somewhere, I think. Where did I leave them last?"
<Alexa> (I'll have to go in a few minutes.)
<RyanSherbrig> (Yeah, likewise.)
<HollyhockGod> We may as well call it a night, then.