Sunday, January 24, 2010
Blake returns to his home to get some rest, Adrian stays in a guest room in Favian Manor, and Genevieve catches some sleep with her husband.
Blake Gets a Ticket
Mid-day, Blake wakes and heads to Fortress Square. He talks to Camelbert at Five Stones, because he wants a ticket to the Grand Unveiling of the War Machine that night. Camelbert tells him he can have Bullthwaite’s ticket if he can talk the old man out of it. Blake does, handily meeting the time limit Camelbert set, and he goes to the event.
There is a truly stunning amount of security and fancy speeches, but even that is not as awe-inspiring as the War Machine itself; the size of an aircraft carrier, dotted with mecha, it hangs in the sky then sinks into the river to wait until called upon.
Blake has a charming conversation with Connie Dammers, a crack-pot journalist who is totally against War Machine and believes it is a terrible threat to the city. (Also, it turns out she dated a demon briefly, so she can recognize what he is. She is also poking potential machine people with her hat pin; she has found two at the event so far.)
Blake also gauges the reaction of the people at the event, seeing a range from greed to possess such power to alarm that anyone has it. He heads home.
Genevieve and Adrian Plot
Adrian contacts Adderwin’s mind, finding that he just flew in town by helicopter, ending the trace before he follows her home (he is also a telepath.) Discussing how to handle the darkshells, they send Daniel to talk to his contacts and get a big bomb—just in case.
Meanwhile Genevieve gets an invitation from Artemis Seer to have supper with him at the Arboretum, Downtown, with a great view of the unveiling. She agrees to go, and plans to take Daniel.
Adrian and Emma
Adrian borrows Daniel’s bug sweeper and sneaks up to Emma’s house. They have a playful afternoon and evening. He tells her to seek shelter at Favian Manor if something goes wrong (and he expects it to) and asks her to set up an attic as a “safehouse” for him. He goes over the house sweeping for bugs twice, and does not find any. He overnights there.
Daniel and Genevieve meet Artemis Seer for supper; as a minor demonstration of power he clears the restaurant as soon as they sit down, and they have it to themselves for 90 minutes. He offers Genevieve a job helping with the psychic project, and gives her 24 hours to respond. If she walks away from his business, he’ll let her, but he will scale any retribution to match her efforts.
Genevieve warns him his plan is dangerous to the whole dimension, and she refuses to be intimidated. She realizes that Artemis Seer (the father) is working on building an alien army to subjugate this dimension, then others. Jeremiah Seer (the son) has War Machine. Even within the family, they are competing for power and glory!
On the way home, Genevieve leaves a lengthy voice mail for the Ghost with all she learned from the conversations.
Daniel and Genevieve realize someone broke into the second floor of Favian Manor. They find a calm darkshell, and Genevieve’s limited mental contact reveals that the last order of Alice, the queen / hive mind, before she was sedated, was to seek out Genevieve. She accepts the role of queen, and with much trepidation, decides to lead the darkshells in a rescue to get Alice out of Quantum Labs.
Riding darkshells, she summons all of them she can reach to the salt marsh. There, she solidifies her hold on them, and sends them to the woods outside Quantum Labs. She goes to the nesting site and commandeers four praetorians, then leads them as well. She psychically reaches out to her allies to meet out there.
Blake returns from the party to find Adderwin and some hybrid troops waiting for him at his house. Adderwin bluntly demands he call Genevieve and persuade her to come to his house. He refuses, shifts to demon form, and tussells briefly with the hybrids. Then he snatches Smith, their hostage, and escapes.
Adderwin’s psionic grip on Blake allows them to follow him, and a chase with stolen vehicles ensues. Smith is weirdly dazed, but Blake gets him in with a trucker who takes him to safety, so Blake can deal with the hybrids without impediment.
After some initial wins, he is still pursued when a ghostly plane interferes and pulls him out, aiding the police in bringing the hybrids in.
Alarmed by the attack, Blake calls Favian Manor and gets Daniel, who is rude and distracted. Later, Blake is contacted by Genevieve and the hive mind, and instructed on the location of the meet.
Assault on Quantum Labs
They all meet near Quantum Labs, outside the city. The alien darkshells mesh with Genevieve’s psionics, previous memories of infiltrating the place, and intrusive genius. They come up with a plan. While Adrian, Blake, and Daniel hang back and provide support in case hunter / killers fly out, the darkshells send in a stealth team in the sally port corridor and a massive frontal assault.
Casualties on both sides mount as the darkshells strike impossibly fast with uncanny skill and determination. Finally they get to Alice. She has been lobotomized over and over. Artemis Seer, directer of Quantum Labs, asks over the speaker whether Genevieve is demonstrating that she is on the team, or is defying him. She defies him, and he fills the facility with nerve gas that almost kills her and Alice, and finishes off many of the surviving darkshells.
Genevieve and some darkshells escape, and Genevieve calls for Blake to come help her while Adrian concealed the location from which Daniel sniped hunter-killers, which caused further damage to Quantum Labs with crashing.
They regrouped at the cabin in the clearing at the Chauncy place. Genevieve had to heal her brain or she would die; she could preserve her ability to be hive mind, or seal that capacity out. She sealed it out, and spent Fate to prevent these darkshells from being part of a hive mind ever again. She started work on possibly restoring Alice to sanity and wholeness, of not psychic power.
Blake felt a tremendous relief; the prophecy of doom, the dream of the Pytarian energy engulfing the dimension—finally, averted.