Reign of Fire

Reign of Fire, Part one.

Dreams of Magma

Sometime tonight, sometime last night. During a nap. Fit this is in where it seems thematically appropriate.

You find yourself climbing a mountain. It's not unpleasant, it's not one of those Sisyphusian dreams of impossible tasks. It's more like… a picnic. In the distance, a line of cars drives in to the massive bowl shaped valley that spreads out before you. A nice summer/spring day in the heart of the Rocky Mountains.

It's an odd bit of dream, but only in that it seems that the whole family is there; and not just in dream-form. While most dreams are of the sort that are solipsistic in outlook, everything exists to entertain you, as figments of imagination… in this dream, there's the sense that the other two are 'here'… Maya is in one of those carriers that has her slung across the back, looking out over one of the women's shoulders.'.

Ally whoos as she lugs Maya around. Oh Maya's not that heavy, and she's not that tired, but she's not above trying to gain some sympathy from Kassie. "Good grief. Flying would've been easier, mm?" Ally asks as she looks around. Hrm.

"It might have been, yes, but we needed the exercise. Or else we'll get all out of shape and won't be able to even walk across the house." Kassie looks around as well, shrugging, "Plus, the view is nice."

The day is exceedingly pleasant, almost elysian in its simple joy. Warm sun, the smell of poppies and the gentle breeze. It's easy to see why this is often calls gods country. At least, in the summer. In the winter, there are other, less polite names for it.

The blanket is spread out, the backpack with the food and drinks are lain out. There are other people here, at this popular picnicking site, but they have the smooth features that mark them as scenery and not as important parts of the dream. There's a dog that rushes past, leaping in to the air, twisting its body in half to snatch a frisbee out of the air.

"I suppose so," Ally agrees a bit glumly, looking out over the landscape with a small smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. "This is almost too pretty. Like…you'd see it in a movie but never actually see it yourself."

Finishing setting out all the little picnic items, Kass agrees, "It is. I am glad we live around here, because I've lived in some really .. unpleasant places. It's nice to be reminded on a daily basis how beautiful things are." Her attention is momentarily caught by the dog running by, the frisbee, the unimportant people around them.

The dog, a golden retriever, pads past the women, full of energy and joy. It caught the disk! The master likes the disk. The master keeps throwing the disk away, but dog will keep getting disk. Master is silly.

Ally's eyes follow the dog for a moment, unable to resist smiling at the animal, it's contentness with its play very obvious. "Well we're going to do our utmost to make sure that those bad places stay in your memory and never become part of the present again. ANd hopefully all of the good stuff will help eventually forget the bad?

Smiling warmly at Aladriel, Kass nods, "I think so, and we've come a long way on that, love." Content, Kass starts plating the food as she watches the dog play, the other patrons mill around at the picnic area.

Whiiizzzz.. The disk is thrown again and the dog happily chases after it. It comes roaring past, a body designed for running as back paws trade places with forepaws… The disk keeps flying as the dog comes to a stop on the grass in front of Kassandra and ally. It's not looking at them though, instead looking in to the valley, its head cocked to the side.

Ally sniffs the air expectantly as lunch is prepared. "Oooh we're going to have good foods Maya, yes we are," she giggles to the baby. She barely notices the disk flyby, but Maya is the first to notice that the dog is standing still. "Hmmmm. You let that one get away from you, fluffers. I hope you don't have a mind to eat our foods!"

Chuckling, Kassie looks up from setting out food and cutting things up towards the dog and then to the valley that has its attention. "What is it?" She peers that way as well, curious as to what has the dog's attention.

Fluffers, as he is now named, tilts his head to the other side, then barks. He lets the bark trail off in to a sort of growly thing then barks again… and then again.

Ally's eyebrow raises a little bit as the dog starts barking. And she realizes after not too long that he doesn't seem the least bit interested in their food, or even them. She furrows her brows slightly and looks out where the dog is looking, sweeping her eyes around quickly.

Frowning, Kassandra rises to her feet still holding the little knife she was using to cut up their food. She looks from the dog and then to the valley again. "Ally? You see anything?"

The wind picks up, turning cold in an instant. The dog's fur ripples on the wind, continuing to bark.. The center of the valley seems to… rise up, visibly. Like a bubble rising to the top of the water, from underneath. Some unimaginable pressure exerted from below. A black plume of smoke rises from the far side of the circular, oblong valley (Your mind vaguely registers now… crater?), shooting high in to the air…

Ally was just about to turn her vision towards the astral plane when it proves unnecessary. She gasps not just from the sudden chill to the air, but from the valley rising up, pushing outwards. Volcano? Eruption? "Kassie?" Ally asks concernedly, arms wrapping around herself.

"Go. Now!" Kassie doesn't wait to see if there is an *if* in this equation. Problem needs solution needs movement. The elf blurs into motion, collection Maya and Aladriel and starting to hustle them away, "Shield us we have to move now!"

There won't be any running. Not fast, not far enough. THe ground bucks, throwing you to the ground. In the distance, more plumes open up. The massive lake to the south east side of the crater starts to steam and then boil explosively as a magma hole opens at one side of it. The wave of Mana hits then, slamming outward from the center of the Caldera, knocking Ally off her feet at its intensity… Maya starts crying, the sudden sensations and the fall scaring her, hurting her.

In short order, the massive, peaceful valley collapses in on itself, several dozen vents opening, then expanding to form one massive, rising column of heat, ash and fire. It's larger than any eruption ever seen, ever imagined. A volcano 200 miles across, arterial spurt of the earths heart.

Yeah. And then it erupts.

You snap awake in your bed, lying next to the other; Maya in her crib is wailing and the dogs are barking furiously…

Ally doesn't need to be told twice! Maya is already on her back so there's no effort to be done there. But then, even as Ally's trying to get up, the destruction hits them furiously. In her fear Ally does everything she can think of to protect Kassandra and Maya, her best shielding, her best spells, when eventhenshe watches the valley errupt in flames and madness. Just when Ally closes her eyes….

She wakes up in a cold sweat, real eyes opening as she sits bolt up right looking around the room wildly, her Light Blade appearing in her hand as she looks about wildly as though expecting an attack.

Eruption! Kassie closes her eyes as the eruption hits, Maya screams, Ally falls. No way to get away, no way to get out!

And then they are back.

Kass awakens with a start, rolling out of the bed on pure reflex, eyes wide as she looks around. The blast of light flaring from Aladriel's lightblade blinds her a moment, and she crawls on all fours towards the baby's crib, "Maya!!"

Ally sees Kassandra going to check on Maya and so she does the next best thing, she looks around the room again, quickly assenses, and then goes right to the door of the bedroom, stalking out with sword held before her to check quickly to make sure nothing is inside of their home. Only when she's certain that there is no immediate danger will she turn around, go back into the bedroom and lock the door behind her. "Is she okay?"

There is no immediate danger. The dogs are barking, but they quickly settle down. The house security records no security breaches.

Rising to her feet, Kassie grabs Maya and shushes the barking dogs. "Lucky! Down!" Kass sinks down onto the bed rocking Maya and singing softly in Elvish, shaking her head, "I .. there was .. a really bad dream. What woke you up, was it Maya crying?"

The sword disappears from Ally's hand and she climbs onto the bed behind Kassandra, one arm wrapping around the elf the other going to touch Maya gently. She assenses the baby and then to be absolutely certain casts 'Diagnose' on her to make sure Maya is completely healthy.

"No….nonono, I had a nightmare and everyone was crying and then I woke up and the dogs were barking and she was crying and I got scared!"

Maya is completely healthy, in so as much as she was last night. Startled, upset, and wet, but healthy.

Nodding, Kassandra sits there a moment and considers. "I was dreaming we were out eating a picnic and then suddenly .. this huge volcano exploded and we all died." The elf glances to Maya and leaves her in Ally's lap, moving to get changing supplies and to console the dogs. "What did YOU guys hear, eh? You are good guys, warning us."

The dogs are happy for the consolation. And then they nuzzle hands, looking for treats. Gluttonious dogs!

Ally stares at Kassandra for a few moments after the woman shares with her the dream she just experienced. Oh, that's not good. Well, it's different.. at the very least. "Kassie, that is *exactly* what I dreamed," she says very quietly. "Like….the very same."

Returning with a diaper and wipes, Kass considers quietly, bouncing the diaper on her knee. "You .. hmmm. Spontaneous telepathic link when you were upset? Maybe that drew me into your dream and I experienced it? I mean, you've linked us before during, um, intense things." Shaking her head, Kass frowns, "If not that, then .. I mean, we can't dream the same dream, that just isn't done."


Days Later

Kass is sitting there talking to Ally and tying the gold and silver laces on her crosstrainers, "I know, love, but in the end I'll probably have to slap someone down hard. I may have to leave a better calling card than just .. hey Johny, Marcus." The elven girl waves to the men, finishing that foot and working on the other.

Ally is sprawled on the couch with Maya and Kass nearby. The dogs are in a nice, relaxed state, and no one seems particularly alarmed when the two men join them. "Hi you two!" she greets!
Johny steps on in, marcus behind him. "Hey girls. So. Yellowstone?" he asks, raising an eyebrow."

Marcus slides in, offering a grin to the women. "I'd be happy to watch Maya and not go on the fun adventures. Let me just get my nanny's card."

Chuckling, Kassandra remarks, "Well, I *did* just get the entire set of those shows you watch on disk, and a few of the movies we were talking about. A friend of a friend had this shipment coming in and wanted some favors, so we traded. Won't be on the shelves for a month here in Denver."

"Come in, come in, sit down," Ally urges them, smiling warmly at Marcus and offering him a little wink. "I don't know that we're going to be having any fun adventures, but we may as well talk here, first, since it is private. And you might have some valuable insight too, Marcus."

The men move forward, taking seats almost in mirror images of each other. Not so much, Marcus has just picked up JOhny's traits of movement.

Kass finishes with the second shoe, snatching up her secretary as it rings. She checks the trix message and shakes her head, sending a counter with a spoken apology, "Sorry bout that, I'll be getting calls on and off. I am having to work through shells to get some things accomplished and that adds an extra layer of harrassment. Never commit crimes via proxy if you don't have to."

Johny chuckles quietly, sitting in his chair and putting pieces together in his head. As of yet, theres simply not enough pieces to make a coherent picture… "So whats the story here, ladies."

Ally smiles warmly at Kassandra as she gets hassled on the pocsec, which has been a very frequent thing as of late. But, alas, to business. Ally sits up a little bit straighter, but carefully so as not to wake up Maya prematurely. "Well, why don't we start off with the dream. Kassie?"
"Alright. So. Myself, Aladriel, Maya, and presumably all four dogs had the same dream." She holds up a hand, "I know, I know. Save the speculation on our sanity for a moment. We had a dream about having a picnic in a nice scenic area, everything is wonderful and grand, right?"

"Then, unexpectedly, the entire area erupts into a volcano some hundreds of miles across."

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Geology:
4 5
Johny nods then… "Yellowstone -is- a massive Caldera. The entire park is a single volcano that erupts every.. 650 hundred thousand years or so."

"Well that's good to know. Except that….we're not geologists. And I didn't know that," Ally murmurs, nibbling her lower lip thoughtfully. "And then the earthquakes that were in the news? We didn't hear about that until after we had the dream. Dream sharing is *not* a common thing. I don't have the ability to predict the future…and neither do Kass or Maya, much less the dogs. There are spells to share thoughts…. but the one I know is only with one other person. Could I have conceivably cast it in my sleep to Kass or Maya? Maybe. To both? Nope, I don't think so. It was a frightening dream and… more real, I'd say, than some others."

"Which leads us to believe that it was perhaps a warning, or a dream casting. There is no data to support one way or another if it was sent to other people, but .. there seems to be something going on at Yellowstone. So, maybe a little looksee and we might determine what is up?" Kass shrugs and looks to the others.

Johny nods to the other women, not at all seeming like he thinks them crazy… "May I use the terminal for a moment?" He asks, of Kassandra… "And I don't think thats a bad idea at all."

Kass nods and waves a hand, answering a call verbally this time. "No. Burn it to the ground, that means all the way to the ground, not halfway, or else we'll pay them for only half a job. Right. Right. No. All the way. Right. Thanks!"

Johny moves around the desk, tapping on the keyboard to bring up a few trix sites. Then he routes those to the trid, for display. "This here is the Caldera… it moves, obviously, like all things. THe hawaiann islands were all formed by a single volcano, you know. Just that the plate above the vent kept moving, so the new islands formed when it errupted again after the old island moved along. Same thing here. THese numbers are in millions of years, so you can see the time between eruptions.."

Yellowstone_Caldera_map.gif

"Of course you can," Ally says, motioning towards it without even needing to think twice about it. "It was really strange. We all woke up at the same time, Maya was crying, the dogs were barking…I didn't know what was going on. Thought someone was in the house or something….but there wasn't a thing. And nothing since, except for the earthquakes," she murmurs.

She goes quiet then, sparing a glance to Kass as she handles some business, then looks to what Johny pulls up. She hrms a little bit at what she's seeing. "It's not scheduled to go anytime soon, though, right? I mean we'd have heard of that. There'd be warning signs too…"
"According to this, when *should* the next eruption take place? It seems at first blush the timetable is off." Kassandra mutes her phone and glares at a trix message, rolling her eyes. She grins at Ally as she asks almost the same question, "Then again, we may be telepathically linked after all."

Johny glances at Ally. "On a geological scale? It's about due. On our scale? Maybe another 30-40 thousand years. The last time this thing errupted was, as you can see… .6 million years ago. About 600 thousand years ago. There was a minor eruption about 70,000 years ago, though, so that may extend our time, as pressure was vented."

Johny then pauses a moment. "Of course, there's no -telling- what using mana to force the eruption of the entire pacific northwest by the ghost dance may have caused… or the ring of fire 7 years ago…"

Ally winks at Kass and tsks. "I'd distract you more if we were really linked," she points out before she turns back to Johny. "Those are good points…and unfortunately, that doesn't help us in the slightest bit. It could be that actions of people have sped up a natural process quite a bit…but we won't know that for sure. It could have been a fluke that…I dunno, I caused. Or it could be something…. I don't even know. The earth being angry? I don't know."

Blushing, Kass considers. "I would tend towards a more organic reason for the warning being issued rather than Mother Earth is angry. If Ally was a shaman, I could see a totem contacting her .. but a hermetic, and out of the region? That points to either someone broadcasting on a broadwave and Ally was powerful enough to pick it up, or it was specifically sent.

Looking to Ally, Kass adds, "It may be that Divination is in your future after all, love."

«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls 10 for "magic theory, Chipped.":
1 1 2 3 3 3 4 5 8 9
«Auto-Judge[]» Kassandra (#9777) rolls Magical Theory + Task Pool: 1 for "Not Chipped!":
2 3 4 5 9
«Auto-Judge[]» Johny (#799) rolls Magical Background + Task Pool: 3 for "Not chipped":
1 3 3 4 4 5 5 10
«OOC» Aladriel says, "Wow"
«OOC» Johny says, "I am no mage. But I play one on TV"
«Auto-Judge[]» Kassandra (#9777) rolls Magical Background + Task Pool: 1 for "Not Chipped!":
1 2 3 5 5 17
«OOC» Johny says, "… And Kassie may well just actually be a mage."
«OOC» Johny says, "We willnever know."
«OOC» Kassandra grins

Johny strokes a hand down his chin, looking to Marcus.

Marcus holds up his hands. "This is above my pay grade, Sam."

Johny looks back to the map, then to the window, looking out over the side yard….

Ally considers Kassandra for a moment and then gives a little shrug. "The actual Earth is very alive on the astral plane. It's a 'living' thing in some ways. Thats why astral travelers can't just pass through it at will. It's hard. If something large was disturbing it…. I don't think it's a terrible stretch that it could send off some sort of sign that could be interpreted by those Awakened. But we had those who were NOT awakened experience it. Which means it's either something else completely, or the energy being given off was so strong that maybe everyone in a certain area picked it up?"

Kassandra: Some of the files you have access too, from the Draco Foundation, reference a type of magic native to Draconics, and perhaps to lower beings, but not rediscovered yet. A form of anchoring and interlaced spells that detect a specific condition, then trigger other spell matrixes. Imagine a sort of sensor and then decision making tree. A magical computer, if you will. It's possible to rig it to send magical messages as such.

Kassie considers and hops off the couch, starting to float up towards the virtual mountain of books lining the walls here. In case Samuel hasn't been around in a while, there are more books on magic here than in most libraries on Earth. The floating elf hmms, turning her head as she considers the various works there, "Not Hireguard, his work was pretty banal."

She steps along in the air, nodding to Ally, "True, but .. but .. aha!" She drops down a level and pulls off a set of handwritten notes along with a carefully attached computer chip, "Margaret Stillwater left some files at the Foundation, I remember looking over these when I was trying to puzzle out a spell on .. well, never you mind."

"Anyway, Dr. Stillwater postulated that some of the Greater Dragons, and maybe someone they taught the spell to or developed it on their own .. that's a story for another day as well .. they could set up a form of triggered lattice spell that exists in its own matrix, not unlike what we call 'anchoring' today.

"That spell, while active, could detect a certain event and then follow its instructions .. something like a really complicated elemental I imagine, or a basic computer. Perhaps if an event triggered it, it followed its instructions and sent out magical postcards?"

Johny glances to Ally, then back to Kassandra. "It would fit his MO." Says Johny then, after some thought. "Ally, could I have some water?" He asks quietly… "It's not incomprehensible that some one or thing would contact you in this fashion. But, it does require a set of preconditions. They either don't want to be seen, can't trust others to judge the event, or.. are no longer around to direct others to deliver the message."

Ally's eyebrows ratchet up ever higher at several things Kassandra says. Oh there is going to be tickling and torture to get some answers out of Kassandra later, that much is for certain. But now…Ally finds herself absorbing this new information and having new theories pop up all over the face.

"Who's MO!?" Ally asks Sam abruptly, hopping up when he asks for water. She almost goes right out of the room before she stops and looks back towards the two. "If all of that is true, and I'm not doubting it is…. I would kind of wager sending out a message with mass destruction attached to it would be a warning…." she furrows her brows and rushes off for water.

Once Ally is out of earshot, Kassandra eyes Sam, "You think Mountainshadow left a post-hypnotic type suggestion in her?" The elf floats down holding the notes carefully, looking speculatively at Sam.

Johny exhales, then looks to Kassandra… "I think it was meant for this location. He's not usually… so blunt. But you say that you, she, the baby and the dogs? Sounds like it was more… meant for whomever was here. I know divination gets worse the farther out that you get from an event, so perhaps his divination only knew that whoever needed the message would be here? Not who?"

"True. Precognition and divination are notoriously cranky, and the further away the event the harder it is for many to read. There are those who could read far but up close they were useless, and I read about a few that couldn't read about themselves, but for other people they were the bee's knees." Kass hms and sinks back on the couch after setting the notes and computer file where Sam can access it.

"Given who he is, he likely set up a number of contingency plans just in case, and didn't get a good enough read to fine tune them. That sounds like something that would fit with him."

Johny nods slowly. "And the version we have access too wouldn't know a damn thing about this. Not even in theory." He says, looking over the notes now, pulling out a pair of glasses from a pocket. More an affectation, an old habit, than a need. His eyes are just fine. "If it was him, and for the moment, I'm not making an assumption that it was, in the next few days you should probably get instructions or a letter or something. The magical trigger would be immediate.. the meat-side things would take longer. Especially if he didn't have specifics."

"That makes sense. My query would be why He wouldn't have sent it to the Orange Queen, for instance, since she is in Shasta. I would think he'd be able to track her better than one of us, even after meeting in the Memory thingy." Kass frowns and shakes her head, "There is more to all of this than we are seeing, I am sure."

Aladriel comes back into the study with a glass of water and a glass of refridgerated smoothie. Johny gets the glass of water, of course, and Kassie gets the smoothie. "So…do you think we should go there then? Figure all this out? I don't know what's best to do. I could astral recon it very quickly, but due to the nature of it…was thinking a regular inspection might be best first…"

"Never trust a dragon. Even if you are one." he says, taking the glass of water. "THanks Ally." He says, continuing to read, to think. Marcus shifts uncomfortably. "Remember that Dragons are like Megacorps unto themselves. It may be that an event, such as Yellowstone erupting isn't necessarily -against- her plans or desires. He was different, from what I can see in that he was actually interested in humanity beyond our servile abilities."

Accepting her smoothie, Kassie drinks and considers, offering a brief understanding smile to Marcus, adding in a cheerful tone, "Isn't this fun!?" She nods to Sam and toys with a piece of hair as she drinks, adding, "That makes sense, although having a giant volcano is a mess even if you are the archetypical Evil Overlord. But yes, I think a hands-on look might be more appropriate. I am not comfortable with you zipping over there on the off chance that it wasn't a nice person who sent this and instead it is a trap or something."

"So…I'm missing something," Ally realizes as she listens to you two for a moment. "You think a dragon's making a message that's going to make the valley erupt? Or…..darnit you're getting me all confused now," she mumbles.

"Actually." Says Johny, plotting out the fallout path and such… "It would be pretty clear from past eruptions that the Cascades would be… almost untouched." He says, showing that the research shows the great planes would blanketed in Ash, while that corner of Wyoming would be come a high…er plains of basalt. I'm not saying she wouldn't stop it if she knew, I'm just saying, it's not necessarily bad for her."

Kass says to Ally, "We think that someone may have put in a .. for lack of a better word .. monitoring spell that goes off if certain conditions are reached and sends out a message to some set up accounts. The person who made the thing may not have known who would be answering when they made the spell, so they just have it go to X place, for instance."

Kass looks to the projections and nods, "Well, that's good on her, not so good for all the people in line for new lava-front property."

"Who!" Ally bursts out, about to stomp her feet in frustration! "You're talking she's and its and dragons! Who wouldn't stop it, who!" Her outburst wakes up Maya, who, awoken a bit roughly, threatens tears.

Marcus raises an eyebrow. "Your fucking boss, Ally. I mean, hello… draco foundation!"

Kass scoops up Maya and rocks her, telling Ally quietly, "A first approximation on the data suggests that it would be Dunkelzahn or his agents that set up the spell. The 'she' in the equation is Hestaby, also known as the Orange Queen, the Lady of Shasta."

Johny nods. "Hestaby is a dragon thats picked up the banner of Dunk's metahuman rights and so forth. She's a member of the Tir Council of Princes. I hear good things about her, but with your own personal tribe of otaku, you can have good PR too."

Ally glares at Marcus for a moment and almost says something rather unpleasant! But she wraps herself up in the kinder words of Kassandra instead. "Hestaby…" Ally 'oooohs', getting it now. "Yikes. I'm not good with all this political intrigue. I'm going to have to pay more attention. So….if I'm following correctly now, you're thinking there's a possibility that someone like Hestaby knows about this, but it's up in the air if she'd try to affect it, or if it would even benefit her to do so."

Nodding, Kassie reminds, "This is what you keep me around for, dear, to keep up with this stuff and give you updates. I've been falling down on that, haven't I Maya?" She rocks the baby and remarks, "Yes, that's about it. Everyone, be they dragon, elf, human, or otherwise inclined has their own goals and dreams. A giant volcano is a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things, if you look at life on a century or longer scale. Short term it might be problematic, but …"

"I think there's a question we're missing here." Says Johny.

"Just one?" Ally asks, furrowing her brows a little bit. "I can think of tons of them, and none really that we can answer. What's the one we're missing?" she asks Johny.

Kass nods in agreement with Aladriel. "There is a complete lack of information, assuming any of this was more than a cheese omelet induced nightmare."

Johny settles back in his chair, the one behind the desk now, seeming comfortable in it as he was using the terminal there… "Why. Dunk was not one to… alter, the natural flow of things. For example, he left -no- warning about the coming of the comet and the year of surge. Why -this-?"

Ally's mouth opens and closes as she thinks about that. "Well…" she starts, and that is about as far as she gets. "You've got me there, honestly. That assumes it really is him. If it is…..well, that's a doozie, isn't it?"

Considering, Kassandra says, "The Comet may have been outside of his oracular ability, although that is unlikely. Perhaps he viewed the alteration of magic and the Surge as a necessity for the growth of humanity in the eye of magic. And moreover, this could also speculate that the events happening at Yellowstone are not a natural event, that they are being guided or provoked by an outside power."

Maya raspberry's Kassie's speculations.

Ally adds to that quietly, "There wasn't anything inherently damaging to the Comet, either," she murmurs. "A lot of people acted poorly to it, but the Comet in and of itself wasn't particularly destructive. Unlike a huge freaking volcanic eruption…"

He nods to Ally, then listens to Kassandra speak. Sitting in the high backed leather chair, he steeples his fingers under his chin. "It's impossible not to know the orbital path of a universal constant; that being Halley's comet. Now. There was a massive geological upheaval during the Comet. It broke japan if you remember. They are still rebuilding. But. Actually." A pause as he glances to Kassandra. "There is someone who knows more about that than me. You may want to talk to him about it. He may have some ideas."

Kass looks mock astonished. "There are people who know more about something than you? Perish the thought!" She bounces Maya on her knee and nods, "There are any number of ideas that we can throw around about this .. the bottom line is something happened and we got tapped on the shoulder, so I assume there must be more than a 'there is a giant volcano coming, move to the coast. kthxbye'. Otherwise I am going to be very disappointed."

"Who knows even more than you?" Ally asks, looking just as astonished as Kassandra. Ohh they do have a good time, don't they.

Johny rolls his eyes. "On this matter, actually. Kavian Ngorithan. You know him as Slinger. He had something to do with those events, from what I understand. He may not know much of anything, he may know something. But it's possible."

"Ahh, yes, I remember him well." Kass's voice slips into the neutral, a faint smile playing about her lips, "If it was Slinger, he either had sex and set it off or got mad because he ran out of cigarettes and did something drastic. Still, can't hurt to talk to him I suppose, as long as the wind is blowing away from me."

Johny chuckles quietly. "Despite his exterior, there is more to the man than sex and cigarettes, though it can be hard to see through the smoke."

Ally has to think on that name…she thinks, thinks….forces her thinker into more thinking, then sighs and shakes her head."Don't think I know the fellow. But if you two do…and you think he may know something, I don't see any reason not to talk to him. Not as though we're harboring some big secret….we're searching for some answers. SO I'm all for it."

"What do you think, Maya?" The baby looks at Ally and then back to Kassie and then to Ally. She blinks. "Right. We should to that, and get you the bouncing ball with the little lights. I understand." Kass nods, "Alright, we can chat him up."

Johny stands up then, rubbing his eyes after removing his glasses. "I can set it up if you want, or you can approach him directly."

"Might be best if you approach him. I've only met him a few times and we sort of clashed, so don't want there to be any sort of fireworks." Kass glances to Ally.

"Maybe set it up, just so we can dispense with the…y'know, suspicious stuff of saying hello and all that," Ally murmurs.

Johny chuckles quietly. "You and he have… very opposite attitudes for personal habits. I understand. I'll set something up in the next few days." he looks over to Kassandra. "In the mean time… let me know if anything else happens."

"Personal habits, is that what it is?" Kass laughs a little and nods, "We'll see if we have any dreams about anything else, although I suppose it'd be overly optimistic that the Dragon would have left us a nice little dream message about that giant box of buried treasure." She sighs and shakes her head.

Meeting with Slinger

Slinger nods quietly. "Yeah. I don't, either. But the Mancinis need to go down." He glances up as Aladriel arrives, and blows his smoke away from her, at least with some degree of politeness. Of course, the ventilation in this room was great. "Congrats on the marriage," he says with a grin. The shadow rumor mill is in perfect working order, it would seem.

Johny is seated at the conference table, a stack of chips in front of himself and a cup of coffee in his hands. He's got Slinger, and they seem to be chatting quietly. Marcus is out in the hallway, lounging on a plush sofa.

Johny holds up his hands like he didn't say NUTTEN!

Trailing in after Aladriel, Kass shucks her leather outer jacket and drapes it casually on a nearby coat rack. She raises an eyebrow at Johny and then looks to Ally questioningly at the news of their wedding being out.

From the hallway: "Johny said he'd beat me if I told! I said nada!"

Aladriel and Kassandra come in together, of course, and she's all smiles and stuff until Slinger makes with the wedding news. She shoots Johny an evil look, rolls her eyes at his innoncent-pleading and shrugs. "Whatever. As long as EVERYone on the street doesn't know…" she sighs and then plops herself in a chair. "So. Hi!"

Snagging the chair next to Ally, Kassandra nods. "Lilith, perhaps. Her mouth is seldom closed .. occupational hazard, I assume." The fixer snickers at that, leaning back in her seat and considering Johny for a moment.

Johny is silent. Oh so skillfully silent. He leans back, reaching for his coffee. He looks to Silk, an eyebrow raising, then to Slinger. "Slinger. I was wondering if you might do me a favor; sort of why I called us together here today. I've read the files, but I was wondering if you might tell Kassandra and Ally what you remember from the events of 2064, and how you got that -wonderful- nickname?"

The events of 2064. Aladriel looks curiously towards the guy called Slinger to hear what promises to be an interesting story. "Ahhh. I was 19 back then, and probably did a few memorable things…..but I don't think I got a nickname," she muses.

Snickering at Ally, Kass leans on the table and remarks, "I think I want to hear more about those stories, myself. Maybe I'll find a good nickname for you." She leans back and grins, looking to Johny and then Slinger.

Johny comments idly. "Sure you did, I'd just be rude to repeat it."

"Hmmm," Ally murmurs, looking over towards Johny. "I need to learn a spell to slap you from a distance," she decides as she gives him a very unfriendly look. "Actually, now that I think about it…."

Johny smiles slightly to Ally. "I'd comment further, but you are a married woman, and I am a man of high moral fiber." Its true, he eats a bowl of 'Superi-Oh's every morning

Kassandra glances to Ally's look, sliding her chair a little closer and putting her hand over where it can be easily taken, if desired. She doesn't admonish the mage or get involved, but stays close for support.

Slinger glances back toward Johny, and winces. And lets out a slow breath. "It was quite a while ago. And I'll admit, some of the details escape me. I've… tried to forget a few of them." He reaches for his pack of smokes, lights up another one with an apologetic glance toward the two women. "Sorry. But I gotta smoke for this."

Johny taps a button on the table top, kicking the ventilation in to overdrive.

"Oh dear," Ally notes, taking Kassandra's available hand, "It's the kind of story where the dear man's lifespan must be shortened just to recall it," she murmurs, giggling a little bit. Johny, meanwhile, gets a look that promises later retribution.

Kassandra listens, toying with the silver chain around her neck, the sapphire heart bauble catching the light as she moves the jewelry around. She nods simply at the cigarettes, leaning back in her seat.

Slinger takes a slow breath of smoke, and smirks. "I'm an elf. Plus, it ain't gonna kill me, most likely. I hope it does — 'cause that means I survived a career running the Shadows." He knocks his ash off, gathering his thoughts. "It was… my first real project for Draco. Got a set of instructions… and as things progressed, we ended up having to move around to the places of power. Places around the continent where the ley lines came together. Places where geology and geomancy came together."

"Hmmmmmm," Ally goes, a thoughtful look coming about her. The joking and the teasing disappears as she begins to focus on something that really promises to be more serious.

Kass listens, moving into a more analytical mode as she sorts the data Slinger distributes and compares it against other things she has heard and knows.

Slinger thinks for a moment. "The places were… well, some of them were rather remote. I have notes somewhere; I could dig them up, I think. But I remember getting shot at in a canyon. I remember going like forty-eight hours without sleep. There was another team, from Japan, one step ahead of us the whole way. It was like a game of fraggin' tic-tac-toe," he admits, with a soft chuckle.

Johny is silent, sipping his coffee.

"Anyway… all this ties into the ring of fire," Slinger says quietly. "I still don't fully understand it. But the magical energies were channelled into the earth. Into the geology itself. And finally, it ended up with us at the nexus. A place of great power. It's… beneath Denver, though the entrance itself is guarded and hidden. I've… I've been back there since, for a while. When I dropped off the grid for a while. But memory doesn't work right there." He looks up, with a hint of pleading in his eyes — pleading for understanding. He's not used to failure."

"We were there… and I had to make the choice. Energy was shooting toward us from Ryumyo's spells. The magics he was using to attack us. I could let it go through, and let 10-15 million die in North America… or I could shut it off, letting the magics backlash against Japan. I made the choice," he says, his voice a little bit cold. "I reflected it. The Japanese people are the ones who follow Ryumyo. They're innocent… but less innocent than the people here. I still wonder if it was the right choice, some nights, but… inaction was a choice, too."

Johny offers the following… "You may recall the eruptions in the RIng of Fire in 2064 that brought the Japanese Empire crashing down."

Kassandra listens, raising a slender eyebrow at the story and choices made. She spares a glance towards Aladriel and then turns her attention back to Slinger. Staying quiet for the moment, she lets the man tell the story his way, nodding to Johny.

Kassandra listens, raising a slender eyebrow at the story and choices made. She spares a glance towards Aladriel and then turns her attention back to Slinger. Staying quiet for the moment, she lets the man tell the story his way, nodding to Johny.

Aladriel's expression is hard to read. Very hard to read. She doesn't look judgemental, horrified, or even upset. Just absorbing it until there is a break in the man's story. When Slinger stops talking she looks between the man and Johny. "And it's beneath Denver, you said. With a backlash powerful enough that it caused the eruptions in the Ring of Fire."

She focuses her gaze on Johny. "You think thats what we saw. What would happen if he hadn't done that?"

Slinger takes a drag from his cigarette and glances down at his credstick as it chirps. He checks his credit balance. And grins at Kassandra. "You rock," he says, with a warm smile. Then, back to the story. "The place is called Shere'Sal'ita in the legends. Nexus of Places. I remember an immense Earth spirit, blue lines of force. And runes upon the walls. And I understood it. I /did/. But I can't remember. You know when you wake up from a dream, and you /had/ the answer… but you can't remember what it was?"

Johny shrugs. "It's beyond my ken, honestly, Ally. I don't know. I'm not a mage and there are things I just don't know. I know there is a place of power under denver, at least one, if not more dragon lairs. Are they the same? I don't know. I do know in any system of energy transmission, if you create blockages, you can increase amperage elsewhere, until the system stresses to a point it fails."

Ignoring a similiar chirp from her secretary, Kassandra smiles and bobs her head, "The least I can do." She hmms about the Nexus of Places and the story of the runes beneath Denver. With a glance at Johny she asks, "I wonder .. are the runes the same as at other places? I mean, that might be a clue, neh?"

Kass specifies, "The place down south that you sent me."

Johny ahhs quietly. "Kaltenstine." He says. "Well, it's worth a trip to check out. I don't know. Research shows that Kaltenstine dates to the early Theran era…. but I get the impression from Slinger that this place-of-places may be some kind of older work, perhaps draconic. The Therans never were powerful in the new world. Magic being what it is, they still didn't have trans-continental communication."

Slinger glances back and forth between the others, and shakes his head. "Therans?" he asks, hoping for a bit of explanation. This is bringing back strong, powerful memories for the young mage. But at the same time, he's leaning forward, curious, interested.

"It may not be the same runes, but it may be close enough or have clues. I am not sure, either, nor do I relish a trip down there frankly. The Foundation has flunkies for that sort of thing, and the cold makes my skin chafe!" Kass grins and shrugs before becoming serious. "So .. if someone wanted to, perhaps they could check out this Nexus?"

Slinger shrugs. "I've found it twice, now," the youth says quietly. "I don't remember how. But there are good odds I could find it again." He considers, then manages a grin. "I think the earth spirit likes me. I don't know why. I just sort of got that impression.

"Well, I think that's what we need to do," Ally decides. She looks to Kass. "Like you said, send someone else to the place that we really do not want to travel to." Then she looks at everyone together. "And for the place thats actually close to us, under Denver, we need to go there. And if you've found it before, Slinger…lets hope you can do it again. It's all we've got to go on…and since you've been there more than once and not gotten killed…and only almost gotten killed when a dragon was mad at you….it seems to be a good place to start."

"Well, there is always asking another Dragon, although I never know if that is a good idea." Kassandra nods to Aladriel, echoing most of her sentiment. "It'd be interesting to see how all of this is connected."

Johny sips his coffee, listening to the mana-heads talk about mana-heady things. He thinks this over. "Ryumyo… is not the sort of being to take a massive humiliation well." He opines after a moment. "Dunkelzhan was something of a draconic elder, while the Great Red of Japan was something of an upstart; a rival. I remember hearing about a rivalry with an eastern dragon as well. Lung, another great but from china. I wonder how hard it is to get an audience with a great dragon. ANyone have any contacts in Wuxing?"

Slinger purses his lips. "So… you think you could fill me in, perhaps? If you want my help, then the more I know, the more I can actually help. But… yeah, I'm willing to go back." He pauses. "You found another power site?" he asks, suddenly realizing what was meant. "Really? Where?" Now, he's interested.

Johny looks to Kassandra. "It was your find. Your story."

Contacts in Wuxing? Audience with a Great Dragon? She shrugs. Nope. Not her. "I'll let Kass tell her story…and then I'll tell you about what we're all worried about."

"I imagine I could get ahold of someone over there if needs be." Kassandra remarks, "Or we could talk to the Orange Queen .. though you've said she might not care she IS closer than China, so we can stay in actual hotels, you know?" She snickers at that, mentioning to Ally offhand, "Johny hates the states, I know it. Always wants us on a plane to some hut in the middle of a field in Central Nowhereland."

Power Site? "Ah. Well, I was on a little mission and we found a place in Antarctica that seemed to be quite powerful, glowing runes, that sort of thing. It was part of a Nazi base." She shrugs and looks around for a moment, "Of course, I didn't know as much about magic then as I do now, or else I'd have stayed and studied it." A glance is spared to Aladriel, "And that would have been a bad thing."

"Kaltenstine Base is now being used by the Foundation for mana research in Antarctica. Currently there is a staff of 10 people there at any time." Says Johny, bringing up a map of antarctica…

Slinger winces as Antarctica is mentioned. "And I thought Russia was too damned cold," the kid mutters. He glances over at the map, but it means literally nothing to him. "I would go there in a heartbeat, though," he says, leaning forward. "I'm serious. The chance to compare another site…"

"I fought a snow drift there that tried to eat me and the other operative. It was .. entertaining. And from what I understand there were other people interested in the site as well, although I assume that our employeer has stepped on that." Kass shrugs, "It was an interesting site, I must say, and not just the mana area .. the whole base was a throwback to an earlier age, with all sorts of historical importance. I know archeologists that would give several body parts to be there."

Johny exhales. "If you want to go back, I will arrange an insertion. Perhaps however, you could share your side of why this meeting was called, Kassandra?" he asks, rising up to get some more coffee. "Coffee anyone?"

Slinger shakes his head. "Would take a fizzycoke, though," the youth suggests, knowing the fridge here is well-stocked.

Looking to Aladriel, Kassandra shakes her head to the offer of coffee, "Thank you, but no. I am trying to cut down to six pots a day."

Slinger snickers. "Addict," Slinger accuses, as he lights another cigarette. Leaving himself wide open.

Though she really doesn't seem thrilled at going way the hell out of Denver, there is some effort on Aladriel's part that she does indeed have a curiosity about the place that Kassandra was talking about. But…she doesn't share that right now. Instead she shares her story.

"We shared a dream. Kassandra, myself…I think our daughter, and even our dogs. Of basically….Denver erupting from the ground up. Starting in…..Yellowstone, I think it was? We all woke up upset. Kassandra and I shared the same dream. From their aggitation……I don't know if the dogs did too….but our little one was definitely upset. It was an incredibly realistic dream. Put that together with what you said about this power site and what happened to Japan…

Slinger glances around the table, a slight frown on his teenaged face. "Yellowstone," he says, and winces. "Is this natural, or is Ryumyo back to playing with the magma again?"

"That is what we are trying to determine. That area shouldn't be scheduled for an eruption for a very long time .. there might be problems from the Ring of Fire, from the Ghost Dance, from someone else magically interacting with the fault lines." Kassandra shrugs, "It is hard to say at this point."

Slinger nods slowly. "So what do we have to go on, other than the dream? Dreams can be portents, but they also are subject to interpretation. They tend to be annoyingly vague."

Johny speaks up then. "This one was specifically realistic and direct." Says Johny. "And it matches some of the methods that Dunklezhan has set up to relay messages from beyond the coil, if you will. A sort of draconic 'if/then' switch."

"A dream that culminates across seven sentients exactly at the same time as a flurry of earthquakes shake the exact region? A big coincidence." Kass shrugs, "We need more data, that much is certain."

Slinger nods. "Not saying that it's not real. I'm sure it was. Just that a lot of times, you see a /what/, but not a when, a how, a why, or any idea of what events led to it. I guess what I'm asking is, /other than the dream/, what hard data do we have? Not that I'm discounting the dream — and I agree, we need to investigate." He considers that, then says, "If we can get to the Antarctica site, maybe gather some information. Then return to the site here. Or maybe the site here, first." He is excited, yes. Turning over possibilities in his mind.

"There's no hard data," Ally says simply. "We've got nothing to go on except that that we had a dream that featured Denver's destruction. It could be absolutely nothing. We may never know. But now that we *know* that there's something beneath Denver that could trigger something just like what we dreamed…..it seems worth checking out that site, and sending some feelers to other similar type places."

Kassandra's pocket secretary beeps.

Chuckling, Kassandra spreads her hands, "I think that is what we are in the process of gathering. Personally, I'm in no hurry to travel to the South Pole or China or whereever on a lark, …" She trails off as Ally speaks and nods. "We can look into it, or we can see if it is a one time event. If it were The Big D sending us a message from afar, I am told we'll get a physical message as well, some sort of note."

Psychic? Kass eyes her secretary and checks the message.

Slinger nods thoughtfully. "So we're at the 'something may be up soon' phase, not the 'oh gods we're going to die' phase. That's reassuring," Slinger remarks.

The Package

Slinger chuckles. "Dunkelzahn doesn't talk to me," the youth points out. "So I don't exactly expect a fax from him. He talks to special people." A broad, lazy grin. "Not some kid from the Denver slums."
Text Alert (Sender: 209 Thistlewood House Server. Re: Package Delivery)

Confederal Express has delivered package #3032-B to 209 Thistelwood Canyon. No signature required.

Eyeing the message, Kassandra turns the device towards Aladriel and then remarks aloud, "Wow, a package delivery to my private residence." She glances to Slinger and shrugs, "I didn't expect him to want to talk to me, especially after the last time. Maybe he likes Ally."

Slinger glances over at Johny. "By the way… you were gonna set me up an appointment with that doc so I could get him working on that plan-thingy, right?" he asks, cautiously. On the other hand, he is among allies, so he can speak freely. "You said we needed that so I could get those sound filters installed without it nixing my mojo as much."

Johny nods to the Elven magi who is not actually the youngest in the room; he runs a close second to Aladriel. "Yeah. I'll pull the name out of the Rolodex here in a bit… "

While those two have gone, Slinger will ask Johny for access to any information he's cleared to see on the Antarctica expedition. And sits back to study, staring at the screen of his pocket secretary while he tries to get a handle on where it is — and trigger some old memories.

Johny will tell Slinger he'll get it for him, but it will take a few days at the least.

In the car, Aladriel is pretty much bouncing off the seat as Kassandra drives. "What do you think is in the package!? We didn't even order anything, did we? It could be cats! Probably not a horse though…"

The Package will be found to be a simple Federal-Express document pouch containing a single page.

Kass zooms along in the BMW they have chosen for tonight's adventure, the white of her top showing off her skin to great effect. "No, no horse yet m'love, we have to wait for a barn for the horses .. although I guess they could sleep outside, but that seems unfair. And I wouldn't order cats without you seeing them."

Kass considers and shrugs. "I ordered Maya some clothes and toys, but they would have gone to one of the drop offs and not directly to the house. I don't like strange things just getting dropped off, it makes me crazy."

Once at the house she'll pull to the front and get out with Ally to go retrieve said package.

Slinger grimaces, but will instead re-read what he can on the mission he was on before, hoping, perhaps, to find something that will trigger a memory, a reminder. He needs to quest for it, most likely, to go on a spiritual journey to discover the place again. To see if he might be permitted entrance once again…

But that, Slinger knows, will come later.

Aladriel hurries out of the car the moment it skids to a stop. She all but flies as she runs up towards the door and then she reaches out with a spell to snag the envelope and drag it even faster towards them. "Who gets to open it?"

"Beauty before lesser beauty, so you do Ally." Kassandra produces a needle-thin stiletto from the back of her top, presenting the mage with the blade to open the letter. "I think he liked you better anyway."

Ally rolls her eyes at Kassandra, "You're lucky I don't force you to open it!" the mage threatens with a little chuckle. But alas, she's too curious. She starts to open it…gets it all the way open, carefully, and then shows it to Kassandra. "Take it out!"

Laughing, Kass pulls the note out and reads it aloud to the both of them.

The Letter

A hand written letter, blue ink, white paper on the stationary of The Office Of The President Of the United Canadian and American States

Dear Resident of the home that will eventually be built in the Ute Nation's sector of the FRFZ, the area called Thistlewood Canyon, in a site just north of the bend in the river;

This letter may seem, to use your vernacular, 'flipso-weirdzoid', and I do apologize for the uncomfortableness that may ensue from this rather spamlike letter, but also for the discomfort of the precursor to its arrival. It was never my intention to startle or alarm you.

Please present this letter to agents of my executory staff in Denver, for access to a datachip that will perhaps offer a greater understanding of why this letter has come. I however, am somewhat pressed for time and while I feel that you deserve my personal word, I also must bow to the superior technology of this time and utilize its time saving methods. Please inform my executor that you are inquiring after Datachip 'PuffnStuff'.

-(signed) Dunklezhan
President of the United Canadian And American States

PS: Allow me to convey my congratulations on your recent joy.

Aladriel moves around behind Kassandra to see the note. She sees the seal first and gasps, LOUDLY. She then gasps…again and gets wobbly-knees. "Holy CRAP!"

Kass reads carefully, raising an eyebrow. "Well. Well well well. This is .. unprecedented. Remember when we were talking about what magic for you to learn? I think divination may not be a bad idea after all!"

"I want to be able to do that! Oh my god we have to tell them, we have to…" Ally looks about, then remembers she has a cellphone. She practically drops it as she hurriedly dials Johny's number.

Johny is currently in the conference room with Slinger, probably some idle chit chat as he has people elsewhere gathering the data Slinger wants, maybe playing tetris, but no matter what; swilling coffee.

Letting Ally call the boss while she snags her own secretary and starts looking up where Dunkie's executory staff in Denver is .. this isn't the sort of thing you call them on the phone about. She scrolls through icons and listens to Ally chat.

That would be the Draco Foundation. The Executors of the great dragons will.

"Pick up, pick up," Ally urges Johny through the phone as she looks about and then nudges Kass. "C'mon we gotta drive back there and show them! C'mon c'mon! Wish we had a helicopter!"

Johny picks up the phone, tapping it on to the speaker in front of him. "Wulfson."

"We could drive to the nearest air taxi station in Boulder? That would cut some time outta the trip." Kass nods as the Draco Building comes up on her secretary. She clears the screen and spends the rest of the time watching her wife with a little grin.

Ally's excited voice takes a fair portion of Johny's cybergizmos and gadgets to slow down, translate and parse out into intelligent English. "OhmygodJyou wouldn't believe who we got a letter from we're coming to show you!"

Rolling her eyes to Kass, Ally nods her head. "Suresuresure thats fine!"

Johny looks over at Slinger, as he can hear the women talk as well. "I wonder."

With a little laugh, Kass reaches to snag Ally by the wrist and tug her to the car, "Well as soon as you wiggle into a seat we can go, girl!" She runs around to her side of the car and piles in, listening to hear what the other says.

Slinger laughs softly, overhearing at least part of the conversation. "They're insane. Of course, I would be, too, if I got a letter from the big D himself." He figures that's what's happened, at least. Reclining in the chair, he puts his feet up on the conference table. "At least we know it wasn't anybody's imagination."

Johny nods slowly to Slinger, reaching for and lighting a cigarette while Kassandra is not here.. "Come on back to the tower. We'll look it over."

Ally slides into the car and slams the door behind her. "Even knew about the wedding! We'll be there soon but just wanted to tell you! Going to frame it when we're done! Bye!" With that Ally hangs up and smiles hugely at Kass. "This is *so* cool!"

Kassandra grins at Aladriel and nods, hurrying to Boulder. She makes a call along the way, setting up an executive air taxi from there to the Draco Foundation. She drives carefully .. no sense dying horribly after getting this sort of news.

Watching Kassandra drive, Aladriel giggles a little bit about her wife's carefulness. "It's good you're being careful. It'd be our luck that there'd be something at the very bottom of the note, like a P.S. Watch out for that turn or something." She smirks a bit at that…then on second thought, re-reads the document to make sure there's no such thing. Phew.

Slinger has himself a cancer stick as well. Best to smoke when the girls aren't there to wrinkle their noses and complain. "I admit, mano, I'm kinda off-balance. I wish I remembered more," he admits. "But… something about the crazy nature of that place. All I got is flashes, images. The earth spirit. Those blue arcs of power, lines of force. I know… if I could understand those, if I could grasp those, then I would understand /everything/." He was staring down at the conference-room table, as if hidden within the grain of the wood might be a hint of those secrets.

Johny nods to Slinger then. "Heh. That sounds like trying to remember my fifth birthday, Kaivan. Let it go. It will come when you need it if at all, and what you have already related has helped put perspective on what we have."

The Executive Air Taxi cuts through the Denver air with ease, landing with care atop the Draco Foundation Building. Kassandra steps out with the letter in hand, extending a hand to Aladriel, her eyes scanning the rooftop out of practice and paranoia. The pair have been all over the letter, excitedly discussing what it could mean, what is waiting for them.

Aladriel takes Kassandra's offered hand and practically bounces across the roof, the package containing the letter in a death-clutch under her arm. "I'd say race, but you always win, so we're just walking quickly," she tells Kass as she hurries them inside.

Slinger mutters in response to that. "Your fifth birthday isn't going to make a difference in the survival of the continent," he points out. "The last time I set foot in this place, I had thirty-odd million deaths on my conscience. Took me four years to come to grips with that." Even though that long didn't elapse in /his/ mind, but it's hardly surprising that time does odd things in a place of power like that. He drags hard on his cigarette, finishes it just before the couple returns. "I /will/ remember it," he adds, with determination. Some would call it adorable, the way his young brow furrows.

"I don't ALWAYS win, love." Kass keeps her pace slow for Ally's sake, her enhanced muscles and reflexes as well as elven grace giving her a slight edge in speed and agility. She stabs the elevator button with a finger, mentioning, "We should go get the chip before or after showing off the letter?"

Johny nods slowly to the other man. "I didn't mean to belittle, Kaivan. Just… to empathize. I'm sorry." he offers, glancing at his watch. "They should be arriving soon."

"Yeah, yeah," Ally grumbles goodnaturedly. "I'm lucky I can even keep up with you *flying*. Lets go see them first, maybe someone can come to us with the chip." she notes with a wink. Into the elevator they go, which rushes them down to the floor the Conference Room is on. That's when Ally will bolt for the doors, to see if she can sneak in front of the quick elf.

Johny snuffs out the cigarette, then pops a breath mint as the elevator dings open. He stands up then, to get some of the stiffness in his knees out… Waiting for the bundles of energy…

"Sure, *you* get to be smarter, prettier, calmer, greater than me, but give me *one* little edge .." Kass laughs as Ally bolts for the door, letting her hit the door first before following at a slightly slower pace, beaming at the other, "See! You beat me in this too! I never get to win!" Kass mock pouts, shaking her head.

"I know you let me win!" Ally calls back towards Kassandra without even bothering to look at the elf. Bursting into the conference room, Ally runs up to the big table and handsprings nimbly onto it, before she slides across it and lands cross-legged in front of Johny, about whacking him in the face with the package. "Look!"

With a laugh of pure mirth Kassandra wanders into the room, closing the doors behind her. She doesn't answer the accusation, but rather watches Ally's handspring with interest and finds a seat to watch the men's reaction to this.

Johny takes it in stride when his coffee skitters off the table to crash on to the floor, spilling. He doesn't, for example, turn in to a fire breathing monstrosity and eat Ally's head. "That." He mutters, one hand coming up to take the package… "Was my breakfast."

Slinger quickly tries to reach out with a spell to save the coffee — but he's not quite that fast. He can't help but grin, though, as the pair of women charges into the room. "Yup. Silk's gone crazy," the elf remarks, as he gets to his feet and retrieves a few paper towels to clean up the spill. "And you know what that means! Low low prices!"

"We'll get you more coffee!" Ally tells Sam as she lets him take the package and unveil the note. "Don't get any smudges on it, want to get it framed in perfect condition!"

Johny laughs then, letting his mock feirce demenour fall away. "Let it go Slinger, there's a cleaning drone that will be through soon enough. DOn't worry about it." He puts one hand to each side of Ally's hips, then without much effort slides her back, to the middle of the table. "Used to be I'd have to pay to get a beautiful girl to table dance for me." He says, settling in to the chair.

Snickering, Kass rises to get Johny another cup of coffee. "Lower prices! Crazy Silk's house of bargains!" She laughs and calls from the coffee station, "SEE! Beautiful!!!" Crowing, Kass starts pouring a new cup of coffee and fixing it if needs be for Johny.

Slinger isn't used to cleaning drones. He shrugs, at least picking up the bigger pieces of coffee mug, then grabs another cup for Johny. After all, he's not all that useful right now. But that will change. The brief respite is actually somewhat nice. The youth resumes his seat, and smirks at the comment about framing it. "Why would you frame it? Geez, it's only a letter from a long-dead President who happens to be a dragon, addressed personally to you. I've gotten three of them this week. We've got a pen-pal thing going," he quips. Grinning — he's actually impressed, and it shows. But Slinger doesn't act serious when he's happy for someone.

Johny snorks amusedly as he sets the letter down… "Flipso-Weirdzoid…" he intones curiously… "Was that even a popular word?"

Ally whees as she's slid back across the table, and she slaps down her hands to send herself into a spin. She blows a raspberry at Slinger. "If that's true, I'm finding where you live and stealing some of them. BUT! Johny whatcha think? We need to get this chip!"

Kassandra watches Ally spin around in a circle and laughs. "The chip would seem to be the big part of this. And I want that letter, they are NOT taking it."

Johny slides the letter to Kassandra. "Nor should they. It's very clearly yours." He says quietly. "Also, written before we built Thistlewood. Heh. That explains why you all had the dream. He was shooting for an area, not a known location."

Johny taps a button on the table. "Get me Ms. Brooks. Verify Handprint." He places his hand to the table and it chirps.

The line opens then, with a -mean- looking Grace Jones Butch Dyke Fade-haircut black elf womans face hanging in the air. "What do you want, Wulfson?"

"I have a confirmed letter from the Chief and a data request percent."

"Well, let me see it." Says the woman then, turning in the air to 'look' to Kassandra and Ally. "Face down on the table."

Kass flips the letter over on the table, smiling politely to Ms. Brooks. She doesn't speak but does draw Aladriel back over to her and away from the hologram.

The woman frowns then, looking down at a screen, then back to Kassandra. Then back to the screen. Then to Wulfson. "This is probably your fault. I'll have the datachips contents sent to that room."

"What me?" Asks Johny. "I'm innocent as driven snow."

Ally stops spinning just as Ms. Jones swivels to look at her. The mage smiles sheepishly at the woman. "You can see whats on the table?" She asks curiously. Then she looks at Kassandra and giggles. She speaks quickly in Sperethiel.

Aladriel says in Sperethiel, "Good thing I'm not *** a skirt!"

Kassandra laughs and says archly, "Well, I am not sure about that!" (Sperethiel)

Brooks looks decidedly unamused, shaking her head. "Good day." She says, then disappears from view.

Datatransfer in progress

TRANSFER COMPLETE: PLAY?

The Presentation

Slinger leans back in his chair, smirking in amusement at the comments the two women are sharing. But he doesn't let on that he knows at least some Sperethiel; after all, he's a gutter punk, at the core, not a high-elven noble. He puts his feet up and prepares to watch. "Who brought popcorn?"

Johny takes his coffee from Kassandra (She started making him a cup first)… "Not I. Though this should be interesting."

Ally grins at Kassandra and gives her a look. A /look/. Then she hops off of the table and sprawls in a chair to watch. "Play play play!"

Slinger smirks. "Wish I had somebody to play with," the elf drawls, but then falls silent, leaning forward to watch, eager, intent. Maybe for the answers to some of the questions that have lurked in his young mind.

Kass quickly sinks down next to Ally, both blushing and laughing at the look she is given. She is quiet as the trideo comes on, reaching over to snag the other's hand.

The room lights dim, the Trideo coming on.
The Trid crackles to life.
The Trid crackles to life.

The recording clearly shows the difference in recording quality in just 17 years, having a sort of home-movie feel to it. Very candid. The screen pans in and out, the camera establishing itself. It shows a restroom, probably in the White House. A man with shoulder length black hair and features as though god himself sculpted them in fine detail is trying to tie a Bow-Tie. "Nadja, I cannot… twenty seven thousand years of existence, President of the Country and I cannot tie a bowtie. This, this is deviltry!"

"Yes, Mr. President." Says Nadja Daviar, sliding forward after passing the Camera off to someone else. She starts to fiddle with the President's tie.

He looks to the Camera then. "Ah. Good. I hope you got my letter. I do apologize. Well, this is the big day. I have been President of this nation for 12 hours now. I think it's going to be a good presidency." He says, lifting his chin to allow the woman to finish tying the bow. He then turns to the Mirror, examining it. "Very good. Thank you, Nadja."

Slinger's eyes come to rest upon that face, a face he has seen before, and he lets out a low whistle. "I keep forgetting how fraggin' /hot/ he was," Slinger murmurs, with a strong hint of regret in his voice.

"I don't know your name. Or names. I know you are female. I know a few of your qualities. But the art of foreseeing is an imprecise one and I do not know how far in the future this message may find you. Only that it will be delivered when the required preconditions are right." He pauses to examine himself in the mirror again, preening for a moment…

He continues to talk while examining himself. "I will assume, for the sake of argument, though I do love to argue, that since you are viewing this, that the events have unfolded. The return of the Comet in 2064, two years delayed, should have confused your scientists, but that's alright. Sometimes, confusion is required to expand after growing complacent with such fallacies as 'universal constants'."

He turns back to the Camera, offering a smile. "Nothing in this world is as it seems. But that's a lesson you will learn for yourself. You have been selected by fate, as it were, to be my agents in this endeavor. I apologize that the interview and the proverbial meet-and-greet have been so brief, but I am sure I would have enjoyed it."

"Now. There is a proverb among your people; That you should not meddle in the affairs of Dragons because you are crunchy and taste good with… with…" He glances past the Camera… "Agent Jackson, what is the condiment, again?"
"Catsup, Mr. President."

"Ah, yes. Catsup. Really? Are you sure, Agent Jackson? I find that rather abominable. Human tastes horrible with Tomato. It's far too gamy. Better a tart such as mint or perhaps chutney."

"I… er… Yes, Mr. President."

"Well." Says the President then, looking back to the Camera… "Catsup it is. The moral of this rather cullinarally inconsistent proverb is that you should not stand between a dragon and his desires. I am asking, no.." He pauses a moment, looking for the right word. "Imploring you." He nods then, a bit of sadness coming to his features. "To do exactly that."

"The return of the comet should have, for lack of a better metaphor, charged the flow of power across what you call the Gaiasphere. If I am not mistaken, the Manastorms of the 'Outback' of Australia have intensified, Thera has been positively located at Santorini and the takers-of-what-are-not-theirs have returned. It will be a time of GRAND new discoveries." Another thoughtful pause. "Well, for you. It's something of a familiarity to me, but I will truly miss not being there to see how your modern world accepts it. I have such hope for you this time. Such great hopes."

He smiles then, sitting down behind the Oval Office's desk, looking in that moment so very presidential with the flags behind him, the view of the west garden behind him… "The world, life, is made up of choices. Hard choices. We all must make them and we all must live with the ramifications of our choices. I must ask you to make a choice now."

Aladriel is staring at the trid screen like she's completely enthralled. Like… check the astral plane and make sure she didn't get spell-zapped enthralled. Mouth practically hanging open. Dunkelzahn is a hero to her, so she is just… utterly absorbed with what she is seeing.

He leans forward on his elbows then, looking to the camera. "To do as this document will ask, to risk yourself, your life, the lives of all you love and care about. Or do nothing. To act on what you learn, to flee, and be safe for yourself and your loved ones. I pray you make the right choice, Tenant of Thistlewood Canyon, recently of joy. I cannot tell very much about you at all, but I know that you -know joy- and what that most precious thing is worth."

Slinger can't help but giggle at that. "Chutney," he laughs, unable to restrain himself. It's adorable. He shifts his feet on the conference-room table. Liking the Big D more and more. But he falls silent again to listen, leaning forward at the mention of those things. Maybe even making some notes on his pocket secretary.

"Mr. President." Says Daviar from off screen. "It's time to go. The car is waiting."

The President looks back to the camera. "It's time to make a choice."

And then the screen cuts out.

Kassandra frowns darkly at the words, her attention on the scene. She stares at the trideo as the screen cuts out, letting out a little sigh.

Slinger watches the trid fade out, and shrugs one shoulder. "Since when has anybody in this room ever /not/ put it all on the line to do the right thing?" he asks casually, glancing around the table. "Anyone? I'm in. I know that without even finding out the details. Just the chance to find out more of this stuff is… worth the risk." He shifts in his chair. "Of course, I may regret saying that when there are bullets flying or evil spirits trying to gank my immortal soul, but I'll still mean it," he smirks.

As the video wraps up, Aladriel swallows and wows. She looks at those assembled around the table and shakes her head a bit. "Was cool to get that…but that's pretty heavy stuff. Of course we have to…" she blinks once and then looks at Kassandra to see what her mate thinks.

Johny sips his coffee. "I'm in for a penny, in for a pound, with everyone in this room. You are all my family. The letter wasn't addressed to me however. If it was, I'm sure he knows I would have moved."

Looking very unhappy, Kassandra shrugs at Aladriel. "That depends on the data on the disk. It appears we are left with no choice in the matter, not really." She drums her nails on her thigh, eyes narrowed with concentration.

The disk data brings up a three dimensional rotating globe of the earth. Tectonic plates light up, showing the way the plates slide across each other. Mana from deep under the crust wells up in those locations, glowing brightly on the map. Volcano's dot the surface, with lines of mana flowing between them, along geographic disturbances such as river beds, ridge lines and valleys.

Slinger leans forward, eying that map, that diagram. It looks familiar to him, eerily so. Enough to send a shudder through him. But so many of those mana lines have been burned into his mind at an intuitive level. The pattern of them as familiar as a geographical map might be to a cartographer, the map of his home Nation. He leans forward, looking for anything new and unique.

Dunkelzhan's voice comes on over the speakers. "Beginning logic-question-feedback program."

"Assuming this letter reaches you past 2064, we can assume the following." Says the dead dragons voice as the western hemesphere lights up, showing the pacific rim and the Rocky's.

"North America is unchanged, save perhaps for a few violent upheavals on the coast. This requires unfortunately, a great loss of life and property in the far east. Beware when you seek to tamper with the natural flow of mana. The results of failure can be horrific."

The map shifts to show a series of lines lighting up, coming out of Japan and touching all across the ring. Flow on those lines reverses in places, and other lines are redirected… the influence of the Empire of Japan expands as the manalines do.

9 locations in North America light up.

"I anticipated Ryumyo's action before my death. I left in place a plan such as you are involved in now, to blunt his efforts to expand his control of the Ring of Fire."

The lines collapse, the ring of fire erupts, and Japan's infuence dims significantly.

"This will have made Ryumyo angry."

Ally watches the map come up on display and her eyes widen a little bit. "It's incredible he figured all of this out…guessed, acted," she murmurs, entranced once more with what she's seeing.

Kassandra watches and listens, saying nothing for the moment. She has managed to school her expression into the neutral mask of Silk once more. What she thinks or feels about all this is as hidden as anything else about her.

Slinger winces, watching the graphic. He could /feel/ that happening when it did, could see its effects in the lines of force in that Shere'Sal'ita, the Nexus of Power. But seeing it in this fashion before him brings back some of those memories. Seeing it illustrated in this fashion, the energy something visible rather than tangible, felt at a distance, a profound vision. "No shit, sherlock," the elfin boy whispers. "I'm really glad he doesn't know it was me."

Suddenly detecting a chill in the air, Ally looks over at Kassandra and furrows her brows. There is some powerful armor at work over there. She only has a few weapons she knows of that might be able to penetrate it. She starts with a light attack, first. She slides over, wraps one arm around Kassandra's near one, and lays her head on the elf's shoulder.

Looking to Ally, Kass's expression softens somewhat although she still looks troubled. She holds on tight to the mage on her arm and watches the presentation, letting out another small sigh.

"I can only do so much. But what I have done is place in to existence a capable foundation that can support you as you, if it is your choice, move to prevent the Rising Sun's attempt to bring revenge. This message was activated because a key leyline has been shifted, channeling power away from the pacific coast and the Ring of fire, in to the Yellowstone Caldera. In a normal Thaumo-geologic cycle, this area will not be due for an eruption for another 958 years. However, as more Mana is channeled in to it, it will erupt sooner."

"The line that triggered this alert alone will speed it up by half. At current projections, Yellowstone will erupt in 454 years. Should another major line be connected, it will advance the time table further. Each addition of power is exponential upon the last. Should this go unchecked, it is conceivable that Yellowstone could erupt within your near future. The damage would be catastrophic to the North American continent, and the the eruption would trigger what your people call an Ice Age.

"The sky would darken, Sea levels would drop, temperatures would free fall. The only true survivors would be Draconic, as your cultures would simply crumple before such a catastrophic change."

Slinger stares at the screen, horrified. It is something that he knew was possible, but he had never quite considered. Had never considered that /anyone/ could be that mad — to wish to be Lord and Master of a wasteland. "Why," the boy murmurs. "Why does Dunk only call when he needs us to save the world?" he wonders. "Why's it never — hey, congrats on your marriage, hope you're having a good time, just checkin' in?" The boy knows the answer to that, but the question is rhetorical. "Okay," he asks the screen a more serious question. "How do we stop leylines from being moved?"

Never to be known for her dark skin, Aladriel loses even more color as Dunkelzahn's voice spells out possible doom for her current home, and really most of the other places that she'd be likely to choose to live. She doesn't audibly gasp, but it is close. "Only good thing about this is that maybe we'll get more support in…stopping it?"

Kass's expression doesn't change one way or the other. She simply watches the display, taking it all in, trying very hard to sit still and be quiet. She watches, waits for the other shoe, waits for the rest of the information.

"To stop a line of power from being moved; stop those who would move it. You cannot do such things from afar."

Slinger scowls at that. "So we gotta fight a damned dragon. Directly," he states flatly. And then looks at the trid with a slightly defiant look on his face. "Do we have to go fight Ryumyo? Himself?" he wants to know, glancing at the others. "If we thought he was gonna be pissed before, that was nothing. But I don't look very Japanese," he adds, with a mutter. "And I have an accent."

"Dragons do not do anything directly unless forced." Says the voice of the recorded President. Digitized, perhaps.

"There's nothing we can do here in Denver? To like, Force the power back to where it's coming from? Or direct it somewhere else?" Ally asks, brow furrowed. She straightens a little but does not release Kassandra. "I don't even know how we'd fight a dragon. How *do* you? Missiles?"

"Of course not. We never get to actually stay where we live." Kassandra's voice is very bitter as she stares at the display, eyes dark. "I assume this is why it was dumped in our lap and not one of the other Greats. If the world is left where they survive, then why should they get involved."

Slinger nods slowly. "Yeah. Missiles. Or explosives. Or something like that. The question is… is he doing this directly? Is it just /him/ doing it? Or does he have something that /enables/ it? Last time, he sent a team around to do his dirty work." He looks at the AI for a moment, contemplating. Maybe it'll answer his questions; it depends how smart it is.

"Your question is not within the bounds of this program. Please restate your question."

"/How/ is Ryumyo doing this?" Slinger asks the program. "By what mechanism would he do it?" he wants to know.

"Your question is not within the bounds of this program. Please restate your question."

Slinger scowls and resists the urge to punt the thing. "Given Ryumyo's power level, how /could/ he move mana lines?" he asks. "What are the options?"

"We're going to need like a lot of help. We'd be better off just waiting for the eruption than marching into Ryumyo's home turf to…get him to cut it out," Ally mumbles glumly.

Kassandra gives the display an unfriendly look. She looks as if she were about to rise but is stopped by Aladriel wrapped around her arm. She sits quietly and says to Ally's comment. "There is insufficient data for any sort of assessment. I assume this means that the Dragon didn't have specifics." Her voice is quiet, tightly controlled.

"Manalines. Imagine the flow of energy to be a pipe. To redirect requires masterful understanding of the flow of mana. A new channel is carved, then anchored at both ends, and then mana will flow through it. At both ends."

Slinger nods quietly, while the machine appears to process for a moment. But then, as the machine comes back, he leans forward. "Now we're getting somewhere. How is a channel carved? And where are the ends? Does one of them have to be at Yellowstone itself, or nearby?" He grins at the others, and snaps his fingers. "Once moved, can a mana line be moved again?" He's asking the program for a lot of information, but he's ready for the data dump.

Perking at Slinger's line of questioning, Ally says to Kass: "That could be something, sweetie! If we can re-direct the flow from here….distribute it somewhere harmlessly….."

Nodding, Kassandra waits to see if the program has any sort of useful data on what Slinger asked. Her expression doesn't change a bit, eyes on the display.

"To channel mana to Yellowstone, one must either feed mana to Yellowstone directly, or channel it in to a line leading directly to Yellowstone."

Slinger nods, getting into this. And he glances over at Johny. "Any way to pull up other data and leave this program running?" he asks. "If so… I'm hoping somebody has a current map of manalines. We need a simulator, something that'll let us play with them, find the points of least resistance. Once we know /how/ it works, maybe we can predict /where/.

Johny has been listening quietly, Looking over the rim of his glass. "I don't have anything like that. Maybe the DIMR, but you'd have to go ask them."

"And I don't suggest interrupting this program."

"Do y'think if we go to Yellowstone, we might be able to discover where the extra power is coming from?" Ally asks curiously, nibbling her bottom lip. "Maybe you, since you've been there," she starts to Slinger, "Might notice whats different. What's stronger or whats new. From there we may be able to..do whatever they are doing, only on *our* end."

Slinger nods. Glances at the display. "Can you show current mana lines?" he asks the program. It just did a few moments ago, he seems to remember. "Pull database information in and display?" He glances to Ally, and considers, then shakes his head. "Maybe if we knew just where to look. But we'd have to trace to the junction point, and for all we know it's deep underground in the middle of magma. My bathing suit isn't back from the cleaners yet."

Kass looks between the mages and then the display, soaking up the conversation and data and letting it flow around her. She waits to see what else will be uncovered.

"Yes." Says the computerized voice then.

"Do so," Slinger suggests to the program. And then remembers manners. "Please." He leans forward, hoping to see that information displayed. "What factors affect where a channel can be placed?" he asks, next. "What determines where it is easiest to create new channels or link old ones?"

"Your request is not within the bounds of this program. Please restate your request."

Kassandra stares at the display. "That is getting tiresome. Is there not a 'play all' function?"

Slinger considers. "Program: assume I wanted to make a channel from…" He reaches out to touch two points. "Here and here. How would I do it? Are there specific spells, rituals, or foci that would be used?"

Ally considers the talking program and then the others and nibbles her lip some more. "I can't just sit here, though. This is…..c'mon. We've got an edict from the big guy himself, and we're in *his* house. We should bring in some more people for this. Someone get some more information out of this amazing program, and we could like… get some bodies and start investigating Yellowstone," she says more to Kassandra and Johny, while Slinger keeps interrogating the program. "I mean, there have got to be people here who are experienced at researching manalines. Let's stretch some resources and, I dunno, grab some shovels?" she suggests with a sheepish grin.

Slinger glances to Aladriel, finally having had a moment to think about her question. He had gotten intent on the objective enough that he hardly even heard her, and his cheeks flush apologetically. "Sorry about that," he admits. "I… /might/ be able to sense something like that. But it's sorta like saying, let's go to the beach and see if you can detect global warming by how the water feels. I mean, it might work, but… it's kind of imprecise. I don't mind going, but I'd rather have a better idea what to look for, y'know?"

The trid lights up, the two touched points linking together, then disappears. "Links between those locations does not appear to be possible given gaia-spheric requirements."

Johny leans forward, holding up his hands then. "Program… If all manalines must flow in to Yellowstone or connect to Yellowstone directly, please show me the most efficient place to link manalines in the Yellowstone Crater?"

Nodding quietly to Aladriel, "By all means. There ought to be …." She trails off as Johny speaks and holds up her hands, sinking back quietly into her seat.

Nods abound as Ally absorbs info from everyone. She already is guessing her beautiful wife is agreeing with her, so that earns Kass a big smile. Then she looks to the program to see how it responds to Johny's question.

The map shifts then, to show yellowstone park. "The most efficent point in the park in which to route a manaline that could both hold and harness the mana, would be Upper Falls."

http://i75.photobucket.com/albums/i309/Custodius/Yellowstonecopy.jpg

Johny looks to Kassandra, curious what she was going to say.

"Upper Falls," Ally repeats, peering curiously at the map. She looks to Kassandra, then. "Definitely going to need to see if we can get some people. That's not a small area. What were you sayin earlier, pointyears?" she teases, attempting to coax a smile out of her dear, dear elf.

Kass smiles briefly at Aladriel, speaking quietly. "I know someone at the Astral Space Preservation Society that might be able to help us with some research, asssuming the Foundation doesn't have a few dozen that are just begging to look into this." She shrugs and looks at the map, considering.

"What she didn't say," Ally whispers to the others, "Is that the person she knows is probably the head of the society," she winks.

Slinger glances over to Johny as he speaks to the computer, and smirks. "That's what I've said, five different ways. It'll tell you it can't," he says. And then, when the program complies, he mutters. "Have I mentioned I /hate/ computers?" the youth asks. "Spirits don't backtalk you. At least, not when they're supposed to be on /your/ side." The youth fingers his pack of smokes, but he can wait, at least for the moment. Even though this is getting intense to him. As the machine displays the information, the youth leans forward, his bright eyes tracing over the lines on the map, analyzing, fitting them in with his memory.


INSERT LOG HERE

The map shifts then, to show yellowstone park. "The most efficent point in the park in which to route a manaline that could both hold and harness the mana, would be Upper Falls."

http://i75.photobucket.com/albums/i309/Custodius/Yellowstonecopy.jpg

Johny looks to Kassandra, curious what she was going to say.

"Upper Falls," Ally repeats, peering curiously at the map. She looks to Kassandra, then. "Definitely going to need to see if we can get some people. That's not a small area. What were you sayin earlier, pointyears?" she teases, attempting to coax a smile out of her dear, dear elf.

Kass smiles briefly at Aladriel, speaking quietly. "I know someone at the Astral Space Preservation Society that might be able to help us with some research, asssuming the Foundation doesn't have a few dozen that are just begging to look into this." She shrugs and looks at the map, considering.

"What she didn't say," Ally whispers to the others, "Is that the person she knows is probably the head of the society," she winks.

Slinger glances over to Johny as he speaks to the computer, and smirks. "That's what I've said, five different ways. It'll tell you it can't," he says. And then, when the program complies, he mutters. "Have I mentioned I /hate/ computers?" the youth asks. "Spirits don't backtalk you. At least, not when they're supposed to be on /your/ side." The youth fingers his pack of smokes, but he can wait, at least for the moment. Even though this is getting intense to him. As the machine displays the information, the youth leans forward, his bright eyes tracing over the lines on the map, analyzing, fitting them in with his memory.

Slinger smirks. "Fine. Yours are the blackest," the youth remarks, and this time he does pull out his pack of smokes. "But we can basically conclude several things. First, Ryumyo knows what this thing knows. And second, he has no reason to suspect that anybody else knows what he's doing. Therefore, he's going to take the path of greatest effect and least resistance." He lights up the cigarette, leans back in his chair, feet up on the desk. "That means they're gonna be there. Today, tomorrow, next week, but eventually."

"Hmmm. So we are looking at multiple iterations of 'time is of the essence' then." Kassandra eyes the information that they have, where they need to go.

"I'm not the world's biggest fan of computers, but they have their uses, especially in the medical field," Ally admits. "For some of the other stuff, I rely on other people," she adds, giving an affectionate look to the beautiful elf who is probably the one the mage relies on the most.

Johny reaches in to his pocket, looking at the map. A pack of cigarettes is produced, then tapped on the table. The top, then the side, then the bottom, then the side. Then the top again. Rapid, quick, nervous succession as he eyes the map. "Upper Falls. If this is the fuse on the bomb, its also where you disarm it."

Slinger nods. "So the only question left is when. Well, and how. And who. Okay, most of the questions are still there. We know where and why." He takes a drag from his smoke, at least blows it toward the ventilation return. Strong ventilators in this place, considering the mix of smokers and nonsmokers. The youth eyes the place. "I mean, if they ain't gonna be there for a month, I don't wanna go camping and just hang out there for a month," the elf drawls.

"The problem with defusing a bomb is often knowing *how*." Kassandra paces a little, shaking her head. "As far as going to the place, I think it is less worrying about when the others will be there and more a consideration of when we can get in. Does this place only allow someone in on a specific date, time, or geological event? There is a signifigant lack of data here, and the only thing that MIGHT be able to tell us wants to play twenty questions."

"I'm kindof agreeing with what Silk is saying," Aladriel adds. "We've got some information to go on, but it's not a lot. We need more, and were also possibly facing a clock. Thats why….we're in the *Draco* Foundation. Let's get some help here. Someone can look at this here computer, can't they? We can get some scouts out on location and we can go check things out ourself and see what we can gather onsite."

"Information on Caverns of Narithogorian." Says the computer representation then. "I have not been there myself since the awakening. However, Grash… I call him Grash because your tongue cannot actually pronounce his true name, which is.." There comes a long keening groaning sound like a landslide.. A pause… "You see why I have elected to call him Grash. Grash indicates that the site is much as I recall, and he has cleared the path to the surface, which comes from behind the water falls."

Slinger chuckles. "Sounds almost like my last name," Slinger remarks. "I'm assuming Grash is an earth elemental, probably great form. Or something even cooler than that." He nods slowly. "So there's access from the surface. So we have to get there… and hope that the bad guys haven't found the entrance already." He looks to the others, and lets out a slow breath. "We could research for quite a while, but I have a feeling we're going to have to go there, and the sooner the better.

As more useful information comes forth, Kass nods to Slinger's surmise. "Pretty much. In the end, there is little better than first hand data. Who knows, we might even get lucky and be first on the scene."

"Then what are we waiting for?" Aladriel asks anxiously, a big dose of excitement in her. Of course the possibility of perhaps preventing the destruction of her home is a GREAT motivation to get the wheels spinning. She looks pointedly at Johny, then. "You think we can get any support?"

Johny nods then. "I'll have Mustang Alpha fueled, and I'll put my boots on." he says, standing up. "I don't suppose there's anything else we should know about the Caverns of Narithogorian?" He asks the computer, but manages to slaughter its pronunciation.

"To Gain access, call upon Grash and bring him a gift. He prefers stones from the homes of others."

"I don't got a home with rocks in it. If we live here, we could grab a rock from here. Or, you two have a place, right?" the youth asks. He crushes out his cigarette, nodding once. "I'll bring my gear. Any reason I can't bring the cool stuff?" the youth asks. "I mean, are we gonna have to hide our picnic basket from the park rangers?"

Grinning at Aladriel's excitement, Kass glances to Johny and nods at the mention of Mustang Alpha, stretching as she gets ready to stand. She'll look to the computer, the expression on her face perhaps that she expects another block. She nods quietly at the tip they are given, mulling that over. "We can get some rocks out from the house, unless it means gemstones. That might be something a little harder to get." She considers the last and nods, "I think we can get away with some gear, as long as it isn't too big to hide."

Ally's lips purse into a perfect O at realizing they don't have any rocks with them. But ah-ah! Kass is right! "Yep, rocks at home," she giggles. "I'll have Sally start gathering a bunch up so that we don't have to worry about it. That way we can just get our gear and be set?"

Johny stands up then, one hand removing his jacket as he does so. "Alright. Meet back here in 30 minutes. Marcus is en route with Mustang Alpha. We take off from the roof pad when you're ready. Do you need more time than that?"

"Got all my stuff out in the Suburban. What's Mustang Alpha again?" he asks. Slinger has never been good with codenames. "And… you got any contacts among the park rangers? Or are we gonna have to hide from them?"

"Gonna take a bit longer to get home, get gear, and get back than 30 minutes. You can pick us up en route, I think, that would be more time effective." Kass glances to Ally to confirm, shrugging, "I mean, we didn't pack anything since this was just a confab."

"Yeah, what she said. Meet us along the way. We can get ready pretty fast, it's just travel time that's the issue," Ally confirms what Kass just said, chuckling a little bit. Her sunddress is not good gear for averting disaster.

"I don't generally have friends in out of the way park's staff, though it may be good to start collecting them. As to the rangers, I don't know. I imagine we should avoid them, as well as any Sioux Military in the area. The Yellowstone complex is concidered holy."

Slinger winces. "Holy sites. And we're not cool enough to be holy, even though we're going in and chatting with spirits they didn't even know were there. That'll really piss 'em off," the youth comments.

"All right. I've got most of my stuff. Everything I really need, anyway. Including the new armor. Thanks again on that, Silk," he says, with a warm smile. "I feel all invulnerable in it. Almost makes me /want/ to get shot at."

Chuckling, Silk nods. "Not a problem, glad you enjoy it .. you're going to go in in that?" She looks curious, then rises from her seat and glances to Slinger, to Johny. "Alright, we'll take the helitaxi back home and start getting ready and give you a call where to pick us up at."

Johny nods to the others as he moves out the door. This is… going to be interesting. In the 'wouldn't put it in my mouth' sense of the word.

Ally groans at Slinger, "He prolly just jinxed himself I'll have to get a good look at whatcha got him," she tells the elf. Hopping to her feet, she makes for the door. "We'll see you two soon."

Slinger grins. "You'll see it. Or mebbe not. I tend to stay all invisible. And it's fuzzy on the astral, like all armor." He lights up another smoke, gets to his feet. "I am, however, gonna go find the head while everybody else gets ready. I don't need Johny telling me I shoulda gone before we left."

Nodding, Kass motions towards the door and moves to gather Aladriel. "We'll head out then and see you all soon."

Ally is already heading out the door so she just waves back to the two men, already beginning to compile a mental inventory of what to bring. How to arm yourself for possibly encountering Goddess only knows? Hmm.

60 minutes pass, allowing the runners to do what they need to do, gathering gear and otherwise making things happen in their own domains. Sally gathers rocks, Marcus flies the helicopter, Johny is pouring over a topographic map of the region. The chopper is making its way north by north west, angling for the Sioux Nations' territory. The passage is allowed, but on civilian protocols; please god don't let us get pulled over.

Slinger is spending more and more of his time in the air, doing various forms of travel. He's not military, and so he never got trained, never really adjusted to the notion of long periods of inactivity before the cool stuff begins. He's having to learn, now. And he fidgets. Smoking too damned much, and reading through things on his pocket secretary. Every so often he glances over to what Johny is working on. Showing curiosity, but not interrupting. He'll be happy to listen and learn when the time comes.

Engage Travel Dot.

Gear gathered, Kass has tucked away the gear they've taken for this little trip into the storage compartment and is strapped in. She flips through files and chats up Ally, showing her maps and pictures of the area and keeping up a little patter of conversation to distract from the flight.

Aladriel is sitting trying to figure out if she should be nervous that they are flying in a helicopter. Which is both good and bad. Good that she's not nervous, bad that she's trying to justify whether she should be or not. Distracting herself by paying attention to what Kass is looking at, she's just really glancing at the maps without paying too much attention. "It's weird not knowing…much."

Flight is however, something Johny is versed in. He's a man who is quite capable of lapsing in to silence for days at a time and not being bothered by it. He internalizes so very much of what he experiences in the first place, that its not odd. "We're going to set down here, about a half mile away on the top of this ridge. It's the only open land where we can put this chopper, unless you…" A pause as he realizes who he's talking to.. "Right. So, the chopper will -hover- here…"

Slinger chuckles. "We can levitate anybody who can't do it on their own. Which I think is just Silk," Slinger says, with an apologetic glance. "And one of us can do it. Either way." He peers at the ridge, nods once. "Think the ranger-types will pick up the chopper? Or figure we're just doing some aerial photography or something like that?" he inquires.

With a faint smile, Silk says, "I'll be alright, I think." She glances to Ally and giggles, starting to close down the flies and put up the gear. "So we get to hike and see the sights. From there we head to the location and hopefully get done quick; there is a baking show I want to see later."

Not responding to Slinger's question, Ally just shares a mischievous look with her wife and nods her head. "Plan sounds good. I've really got to figure out a way for us to hide this thing," she murmurs, in response to Slinger's musing about the rangers. "A silly shaman could hide it. Hmph."

"These sorts of things are never quick," Slinger predicts. "I'm guessing we're just getting started. We're gonna get down there and" — he ticks them off on his fingers. "A, we're gonna find out the bad guys were already there, but there's a clue where they're going next that we have to follow; B, we're gonna get there before they do, and then they'll show up just as we're about to learn the Great Secrets, or C, they'll already be there when we get there, we'll have to fight them, but they'll escape with something we have to chase them down to retrieve."

Slinger sighs. "I know how these things go."

Johny fixes Slinger with a stare. "You bite your mother fucking tongue, keeb, cause thats the kind of talk that sinks ships, curves the spine and let the commies win the war!"

Slinger grins. "What? We're gonna succeed in the end, because we're the good guys. Just saying it won't be easy. Because it never is!"

Snickering at Johny, Kass shakes her head and says, "I'll write you a spell that makes it work, Ally." The elven girl shrugs about the possible outcomes, "Well, that doesn't preclude us being home in time for the Pampered Chef. I get fiesty if I miss my trid."

"Tonight, he's doing a spot on how to make a butter garlic sauce for sauteed mushrooms." Informs Johny helpfully. "And with my cyberware, I won't ever miss an episode." A pause. "AHAHAHAHAHAH!" He laughs then. "Sorry. Joseph just locked Chancy out of his apartment on BUDDIES and they are naked for some reason. It's quite hilarious."

Ally stares for a moment between Slinger and Johny, not sure whether or not they are joking or…if the young elf actually managed to get Johny's goat. She quickly sees that it was humor and she lets out a breath. "Strange, all of you!" She looks over to Kass, smiling appreciatingly at her. "Thanks, sweetie. I wish I cooud find out if he's right," she motions towards Slinger. "But a fire in a helicopter isn't the best idea."

"Maybe we can get a little traveling fire pit? A lighter? A torch? We really need to see what the limits are of size for this thing, it might make it easier to deal with." Kass chuckles and looks to Johny, "And this is why you are all distracted! You are watching cartoons and porn in your head!"

"I hate cartoons." Admits Johny.

Slinger snerks. "Notice he didn't mention porn. Everybody loves porn. Well, if they're male."

"Heathen. Cartoons are some of the best things on." Kass frowns and shakes her head.

Ally's mouth falls open at the blasphemy that has just come from Johny's mouth. "You. Hate. Cartoons!? They are wonderful! The best! We love them! Maya most of all and me a close second! Tho Kass is coming right along…"

"Of course I love porn." Says johny. "Of course, I also like Cartoons. I have the full collection of Hasbro cartoons from the 2010's. The GIJOE and Transformers revivals. Back when they made GIJOE and anti-indian force and Transformers were pretty much who they always were."

Slinger can't help but chuckle. "My Master never liked me watching cartoons like that," he confides. "So I always did. And here we are heading into Sioux territory. We gonna kick us some Injun ass, Sarge?" he asks, lapsing into the accent of one of the characters from the show, as he lights up a smoke. Said character always smoked.

Slinger leans in a little. "Really? He locked him out?" the elfin youth asks. "Jeez," he says — and laughs softly, shaking his head. "Only problem with that show is you don't get to see /either/ of them naked nearly enough," he mutters, as he drops into a seat.

"So anyway… we got a rock from somebody's home. The rangers would have a fit, of course — introducing foreign geological matter to the ecosystem. Who knows /what/ might be disturbed! The horror!"
(repose — this one didn't go through for some reason)

"With luck we aren't going to kick any ass at all. I'd love to actually go in and out like, say, shadows?" Kass starts pulling her mane of hair into quick braids. She looks to Aladriel and shrugs a little, "That'd make me really happy."

Reaching over to Kass as she starts braiding her hair, Aladriel gently takes the elf's hands, moves them away. A moment later said elf's hair braids itself. "Shadows is good. I'd *prefer* not being shot, stabbed, spellbolted or anything else that could happen in a fight. Makes me sad."

Johny does the quick math. Yeah; he's almost as old as the others combined. "Shadows is good. We'll see what we can manage. If they are already routing mana in however, that tells us they already established a connection; or are supercharging the ones already there."

"As long as they don't got astral patrols, I see no reason we couldn't do that," Slinger remarks quietly. He slouches back in the seat, realizes he has two smokes burning, and crushes one out. Good thing the ventilaton on the chopper works well. He puts his feet up on the seat in front of him, and eyes the map. "Big problem is if they got spirits up or something. They spot invisible flashymages, and boom."

Slinger frowns. "You think they are? If they're already doing that… there's probably not much we can do," he admits. "At least there. We'll have to track them across the damned continent, with them one step ahead…" He sighs. "Why does this sound familiar?" the youth adds, with a sheepish grin.

Johny eyes Slinger like he's about to shoot the kid. "You are really about to get on my onry side, Sligner, talken like that. Soon, we're gonna have to go to Australia just to get the mail."

"One step at a time. Let's do a prelim sweep on the area before we start worrying about having to do some long quest to deliver a ring to a volcano." Kass eyes the vents, the two cigarettes. She considers quietly and grabs out a datapad, making a quick note. She murmurs as she writes and then shows it to Ally, "Thank you for doing my hair, baby. What do you think about … this!" She shows the writing to Ally.

Aladriel senses "Kassandra shows you the writing: "Remove smell" as a spell?"

Johny senses "Kassandra shows you the writing: "Remove smell" as a spell?"

Johny raises an eyebrow… A thoughtful, interested eyebrow. "Now that would be an interesting application."

Ally laughs at what Kass says about a ring and a volcano. Looking at the datapad, she chuckles a little bit. "I think that's a good idea. Though it might just be a more generic cleaning spell that would do the trick too." She mmms and looks up at Johny.

The Helicopter speeds through the air, cresting the rim of the Yellowstone basin. Sunlight colors the land, dappling it golden in the long rays of western-leaning sun. Steam rises through the geothermal openings, but not the normal sort of spurts and drabs. Enough steam to create an almost fog-like effect through the early afternoon light.

"Sensors are indicating the grounds raised by 2 degrees over SNGS norms." Says Marcus as he brings the craft lower. Below, the bison herd of the south park is moving with a determained pace to the south… out of the park.

"SNGS?" Ally inquires.

"Snugs!" Kass laughs a little and then looks over the bison herd, "Well, that's not a good sign."

Johny explains… "Sioux Nation Geological Service."

"Sioux Nation Geological Survey, is my guess," the youth says, and gives Johny a grin. "Look, if I /say/ the worst that'll happen, then maybe it won't. If I say everything'll go great, then /that/ is when I jinx myself. Yeah, it's superstition, but it works."

He looks over the flight outside, though, and… yeah. "The bison," Slinger comments, "know somethin's goin' down. And two degrees — you mean temperature, or elevation?"

Looking to Aladriel, Kass asks aloud. "So should we hover somewhere for a few tics and let these two look around sans body?" She indicates Slinger and Ally, "That way we can get a grip on the mana of the area and know what we are diving into."

Ally laughs a little at Kass, but she seems a bit worried by the behavior of the animals down below, and the troubling elevated degrees. "If its elevation…that's…really foreboding," she murmurs, shooting a worried look to Silk.

Slinger nods slowly. "Yeah. Astral investigation… I'm down for that. But we run the risk of alerting whatever's there," he warns the others. "I'm stealthy, sorta… but even with Masking, if somethin's out there watching for us… we might well tip it off. So I'm gonna defer to you, Mr. Mission Leader," Slinger says, with that cocky grin returning. "Or Ms. Mission Leader," he adds, nodding to Silk.

Johny checks the data. "Two degrees temperature, and a 2 meter raise of overall elevation."

"My thought is if there is someone out there, they aren't watching for us they are watching the lightshow, if there is one. I'd even speculate that it'd cause a lot of background noise that might actually hide you." Kass shrugs.

Johny then gestures to Kassandra. "She's team lead on this one."

"We can go have a look, might be worth it. I imagine we're both good enough to knock out a few spirit guards if they are there," Ally muses, confidence seeping into her voice.

"Right. Then let's hover and send you two out to see what can be seen. We'll have a better idea of what we are getting ourselves into or if we should run with the bison. They might be smarter than all of us." Kass contends.

Slinger glances at the others, then, and his lips crease into a worried frown. "I got a feeling they're already here," he says quietly. "And that's not good. That means they already been here and gone. But we still have to go in, find what clues they left behind."
The youth inclines his head to Silk, waiting for her decision. And standing ready to implement. To Aladriel's comment, Slinger nods. "Yeah. Probably. I can take up to a Force nine pretty easily. Anything beyond that… and I start to look for reinforcements."

In to the Mana Vortex

"Well, we're all the reinforcements we have," Ally tells Slinger with a little chuckle, "So lets hope that's good enough." Situating herself so she doesn't fall awkwardly when she leaves her body, Aladriel puts her hand on the hilt of her katana and slips right out of her body into the astral.

Slinger sucks down a cancer stick, stubs it out, glances at the map to check the chopper's direction — he /hates/ having to look around for his body like misplaced keys — and then he leans back in the seat and closes his eyes. And detaches from his body. The effect is always disconcerting, as his whole form suddenly goes slack, and were it not for the fact he is still breathing, slowly, one would expect to hear a long, drawn out 'Beeeeeee' from an attached monitor.

Slinger appears beside Aladriel in the astral side of things, and his first step is to search for cover, while he in turn checks out his surroundings.

«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Intelligence vs TN 5 for "Astral Quickness. We be QUICK.":
1 1 2 3 4 5 9 11 14 16 17 = 6 Successes

«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls Intelligence vs TN 5:
3 4 4 4 4 5 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls Astral Pool: 5 vs TN 5 for "If it counts.":
2 2 2 4 5 = 1 Success

«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls 8 vs TN 5 for "2 succs already. Quickness plus astral pool, KP 1/24.":
1 1 3 3 3 3 4 4 = 0 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls 8 vs TN 5 for "2 succs already. Quickness plus astral pool, KP 3/24.":
1 2 4 4 5 5 7 9 = 4 Successes

Watching the pair step past the Veil, Kass pushes a hair comb into her hair and settles back, fidgetting and watching Ally's quiet form as she sleeps/goes astral.

It's like being in a wind tunnel, an astral wind tunnel. Only the wind is coming up from below. It sweeps both Ally and Slinger up and away from the chopper and the dim aura's of the people aboard. It's loud, but… by god.. it feels -good-. Imagine being bathed in pure, unadulterated, straight from the tap mana. Like a crack addict in a bath of molten crack. Both astral forms will intially be blown upwards, but swiftly gain their footing as it were in astral space.

Slinger fights against the current for a moment, finally adapts to it, and ceases fluttering like a leaf. "Whoa," he says, with a grin on his face — one that soon fades. "I ain't been here before, but this can't be normal," the youth says quietly, and stares down at the ground, willing his vision to penetrate through the soil and rock. Which it can't do — at least, not normally. "You see anything, though? Anything hostile?" He's looking for cover, though he hopes the mana may shield them from prying eyes."

Aladriel lets out a loud YIPE of surprise as she immediately gets buffetted around upon the astral plane, an experience that she's never had before. Arms pinwheeling to settle herself and get steadied, she pants for breath a little and gazes wide-eyed around her. "That….*this* is the strangest thing I've ever felt. I've never had anything even close to this before!" she tells Slinger with a shake of her head.

Alas, the ground is not visible; the helicopter only barely so as it moves further in to what can only be called a column of mana laden air rushing upwards; a current of magical overflow.

«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Intelligence + Astral Pool: 4 vs TN 5 for "Second Quickness":
1 1 1 1 1 2 2 3 3 4 4 4 5 5 10 = 3 Successes
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls Intelligence + Astral Pool: 5 vs TN 5:
1 1 1 1 1 2 3 3 4 4 5 = 1 Success

«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls 9 vs TN 5 for "KP 4/24.":
1 1 2 2 4 4 4 4 9 = 1 Success
«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls 8 vs TN 5 for "KP 6/24.":
1 1 2 2 2 5 8 10 = 3 Successes

Slinger is visibly having trouble staying in place, fighting against the currents. "This can't be normal," the youth says firmly. "They've already been here. Now we just have to assess the damage." He glances at Aladriel. "Move in closer? I'll follow you," the youth decides. Right now, he's being buffeted sharply by the flow of mana. And his ability to navigate in this realm is sharply impacted.

"Do you think that's a good idea?" Ally finds herself yelling, like she was yelling over the roar of the onrushing mana that is buffeting them around. Her hair is whipping every which way, even though she manages to maintain roughly the same position. "If we get too far and this keeps up, it might be hellish getting back!"

"It's gonna be hellish getting back anyway," Slinger points out. "And no, I don't think it's a good idea. That doesn't mean we shouldn't do it. The safe way usually isn't the way to do anything useful. If this was easy," he calls back, "anybody could do it!"

«OOC» Johny says, "Okay! One more quickness test."
«Auto-Judge[]» Aladriel (#604) rolls Intelligence + Astral Pool: 4 vs TN 5 for "Third Quickness Test":
1 1 1 1 1 2 2 3 3 3 3 4 4 5 14 = 2 Successes

«Auto-Judge[]» Slinger (#69) rolls Intelligence + Astral Pool: 5 vs TN 5:
1 1 4 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 10 = 8 Successes

Moooooooooooo! Says the White Buffalo as it's dual natured bulk flys past Ally and Slinger. It comes about in the air, almost looking Ally in the eye as it flys upward, before arcing out of the column to land somewhere south, and somewhere about to have a really bad day.

"Holy…" And indeed, it /is/ holy. "What in the nine Hells was that?" Slinger cries, as he narrowly ducks out of the way. He watches the creature depart, and shakes his head swifty. "That is… that is not normal. All right. Let's head back, then have the chopper head on to our destination. But we're too damned late. Drek!"

Aladriel yelps and dives to the side out of reflex sos he doesn't collide with the buffalo. Her gaze follows it with huge eyes. "Goddess…." she whispers, shaking her head. She looks after it one more moment before her eyes lock on Slinger. "RIght. BACK to the chopper!" Without another word, she throws on a burst of power to get back to the chopper where she can rejoin her body.

Slinger scoots along after the chopper as well, chasing his body. He does that a lot, it would seem. His body going one way, while he goes the other. It would be a good basis for a sitcom. "Dude — Where's My Body?"

Getting back to the Helo isn't so much of a problem. Johny looks over to Kassandra, raising an eyebrow… "Did… You…" he asks, looking back out the window. "Nawww…."

Slinger pops back into his body, and shakes his head to clear it. Always disorienting to have a body again. He sits up, coughs once, and shakes his head. "We're too late, I think. This place is… well, the mana stream here is the most intense thing I've seen. It's like… waves of energy coming from the ground. Hell, screw that. You know…" He pauses. "I'm trying to think of anything like it. It's like this wind rushing up from the ground, like a warm summer's breeze turned up to, you know, gale. Except still warm and summery."

Aladriel slides back into her body and gasps as consciousness reutnrs. She looks about wildly for a moment and then calms, looking first to Kassandra, then to Johny. "Okay, okay, WHOA!" Her voice is very excited, jittery, like she's just seen something very very exciting. "It's like what he said! Whatever someone is trying to do, at the very least it would seem like it's *started*, because I've never experienced anything like it."

Looking confused at Johny, Kass is taken aback as the mages return. She leans into Ally and listens intently and nods. "So. Something may have started. The question is can we do anything at this location or do we need to investigate elsewhere? If the event has already started but isn't controlled from here, we're not going to be much good wandering around. Plus, the locals are GOING to notice."

"I think." Says Johny… "We need to land and see if that Spirit is about; he may know more about this issue…" He says simply, looking out the window. "Marcus! Bring us lower to the Upper Falls."

"Yeah, that was my fault," Slinger agrees. "Whatever happened, we're gonna find our clues down there. Maybe where we need to go next. One clue leading to the next, and to the next."

Grabbing hold of Kassie's hand to give it a quick squeeze, "We should at least take a look down there," she tells the elf, nodding in agreement to the command that Johny just gave Marcus. She eyes Slinger for a moment. "Hmmm. This guy must go on a lot of treasure hunts."

Slinger laughs. "It's just the way the last one went. And in a sense… it's a good thing. I mean, if we didn't… then it was going to be something where we never did figure it out, and boom. At least the scavenger-hunt gives us a /chance/."

"I *hate* scavenger hunts." Kass smiles and visually checks to see that Ally is alright, shaking her head. "I despises being a step behind and playing catch-up. It is a poor way to do things and never ends up well.

"I think." Says Johny… "We need to land and see if that Spirit is about; he may know more about this issue…" He says simply, looking out the window. "Marcus! Bring us lower to the Upper Falls."

"Yeah, that was my fault," Slinger agrees. "Whatever happened, we're gonna find our clues down there. Maybe where we need to go next. One clue leading to the next, and to the next."

Grabbing hold of Kassie's hand to give it a quick squeeze, "We should at least take a look down there," she tells the elf, nodding in agreement to the command that Johny just gave Marcus. She eyes Slinger for a moment. "Hmmm. This guy must go on a lot of treasure hunts."

Slinger laughs. "It's just the way the last one went. And in a sense… it's a good thing. I mean, if we didn't… then it was going to be something where we never did figure it out, and boom. At least the scavenger-hunt gives us a /chance/."

"I *hate* scavenger hunts." Kass smiles and visually checks to see that Ally is alright, shaking her head. "I despises being a step behind and playing catch-up. It is a poor way to do things and never ends up well."

Johny stands up as the helicopter is buffeted by strong winds. The lower you go, the stronger they seem to get. Marcus is wrestling with the stick, assisting the on board pilot and the advanced avionics. "If you're getting off the chopper, it's time to go!" he calls back when you are fighting for station at 100 feet in the air, over a rise. "Cause I can't hold her here for long!"

Slinger grunts and puts out his cigarette, then grabs his equipment — and proceeds to power up — stealthing, levitating, and improving his reflexes, as well as adding some armor. He snaps down the visor on his military armor, makes sure to grab everything — and heads for the hatch, and the open air beyond. Once the door is open, he shoots outward and slightly downward. The last thing he wants is for the updraft to blow him back up into the rotors.

Part Two

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