Chapter Five: City of Shadows (Part 2 of 2)   Leave a comment

(Part 1)

Captain Manx tracked down Utashki within the Arena fighting pits. The taciturn Ukari was cool to Manx’s entreaties, but eventually agreed to answer his questions. That civility vanished, however, when Manx mentioned his son. Utashki’s sister had been kidnapped off of Ukar by Chainers and sold into prostitution. Utashki had recently acquired the money to buy out her contract, only to learn that a young man matching Hal Jr’s description had absconded with her. Realizing that Utashki might be more of an obstacle than an ally, Manx left quickly.

Fannagus, Ferizio and the few surviving Engineers returned to the pilgrims’ suites via flitcar. The others straggled in soon after, having seen the city of Achaeon going dark around them. Fannagus explained the source of the disturbance: the power plant meltdown in the undercity, caused by the lion-masked partisans. The pilgrims quickly agreed that getting out of Achaeon was now a priority. It was then that Sir Victor noted Deacon Nedeau’s absence. Brother Sand told him that she had mentioned paying a call on an Eskatonic priest who was visiting the city: Father Flavian, Victor’s old friend from the university!

Fannagus pulled Ferizio aside and grilled him on his disappearance. Ferizio explained that Master Long had sent him a note, asking him to come in secret to the power plant. He had debriefed Long on the last few weeks, from Sutek to Kish to Criticorum. He had tried to stick to the arranged lie about the quantum core being lost, but Long hadn’t believed him. The Master Engineer was about to return to the suites and seize the core when the partisans had arrived, locking down the facility. Fannagus shook his head, frustrated at the loss of life and materiel. “No more secrets,” he said, pointing an accusing finger at his friend.

Sir Victor, Countess Adorna and Acolyte Gwinn plunged back into the chaos of Achaeon, looking for Father Flavian. Rioting crowds all around them smashed windows and looted, panicking with the loss of power. Desperate, Victor called on Ibrahim Amarjah, the headstrong young bravo who he had nearly dueled at Lady Corezza’s funeral. He found Amarjah conferring with other nobles. Amarjah embraced Victor as a brother, since the two of them had shared Corezza’s trust, and explained what was going on. “Today is a great day, my friend,” Amarjah said. “We have struck our first blow for home rule!”

(Back in the suites, Brother Sand was explaining some of the revolutionary chaos that was afflicting Criticorum. Old al-Malik families were feuding with the Istakhr al-Malik, fighting to dislodge the “usurpers” and restore home rule. The fighting had never reached Achaeon before that afternoon, however, and had never been so direct)

Victor redirected Amarjah’s revolutionary zeal into something more useful, convincing him to help in the search for Flavian. Amarjah agreed, bringing a retinue of nobles and leading Victor to the local Avestite temple: a fortified outpost near an incinerator shaft. The revolutionaries caused a distraction with a frontal assault, while Victor, Adorna and Gwinn sneaked in a side entrance. They found Nedeau and Flavian in an interrogation room. Nedeau taunted Gwinn, telling her that Victor and Adorna, two unsanctioned psychics, had manipulated her. “The acolyte is here of her own free will,” Victor insisted aloud. At the same time, he sent a telepathic message to Adorna, asking if she could erase Gwinn’s memory later. Outnumbered and outgunned, Nedeau let the pilgrims leave with Flavian.

Victor had one last favor to ask of Amarjah before departing. “I could find allies for the cause on Shaprut,” he suggested. “If only we had a way to get there …” Amarjah gave Victor his signet ring, telling him to make use of the family Charioteer.

Finally, back in the pilgrims’ suites, Fannagus was awoken by a brilliant glowing from within his robes: the quantum core, active without his doing. Fannagus plugged it into his think machine to run diagnostics, but the core overpowered his boot sequence and began running its own program. The Engineer stared in awe as his computer compiled an intricate 3D rendering: a schematic for how to repair the ruined power plant …

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Posted November 28, 2011 by John Perich in Uncategorized

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