Author Topic: The Immortal Game: The Last City of Heroes story  (Read 26584 times)

Arcana

  • Sultaness of Stats
  • Elite Boss
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,665
The Immortal Game: The Last City of Heroes story
« on: November 30, 2012, 06:15:43 PM »
For those that did not follow the thread on the official forums or the thread here regarding the end-of-game player-run shutdown event, I'm reposting all eight parts of the story here.  In just a few hours the official forums will wink out and this will be the only place people will be able to see it.

Edit: and for historical context, the in-game event we staged on the Beta server on November 28th takes place during Part Seven of the story; that part incorporates what happened during that event.

Link to the behind the scenes thread: http://www.cohtitan.com/forum/index.php/topic,6709.0.html

Arcana

  • Sultaness of Stats
  • Elite Boss
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,665
Re: The Immortal Game: The Last City of Heroes story
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2012, 06:17:56 PM »
The Immortal Game

Part One: The Immortal Game



"You're insane.  And coming from me, that's saying something."

The shadowy landscape, if you could call it that, made The Dream Doctor look even more mysterious, but Mender Silos had seen too much to be moved by such trivialities.  But he made a mental note of it anyway, as he always did.  Such theatricality could always be useful one day.  Assuming there would be more days.

"I Must Concur With The Mender, As Much As It Pains Me To Do So.  What You Propose Is Madness."

The voice of Prometheus sounded even more imposing than it normally was - no, not sounded.  It *felt* more imposing.  It didn't so much sound like it was coming from all directions, it sounded like it was always coming from the direction one focused on.  It was always coming *directly at you*.  Whether Prometheus intended to intimidate, this was one audience that would not be cowed.

"It is the only way."

The Dream Doctor had proposed this meeting, and its location.  They were in Ouroboros, or at least a version of it.  This was actually the piece of Ouroboros that lay within Dreamspace, a place where few could navigate and even fewer could locate this nexus of time, space, and consciousness.  Prometheus would be able to meet here and Silos, The Doctor grudgingly conceded, would also have the means to find this place with only minor assistance.  If his plan were to have any chance to succeed, The Dream Doctor would need help, and unfortunately these two were the best suited.

That did not mean they would be the most cooperative.

"My Guidance Has Led The Incarnates To Defeat Cole, It Will Lead Them To Defeat The Coming Storm."

"Your 'guidance' has brought humanity to the brink of defeat.  I have seen this."

"How?"  Mender Silos, the man once known as Lord Nemesis, the Great Manipulator and Schemer, spoke a little too soon.  In the company of ordinary men, this would have gone unnoticed.

"So you know."  The Dream Doctor was no ordinary man.

"What Do You Believe You Know" Prometheus said, although it did not sound like a question.  It sounded like Prometheus almost challenged them to say something he could not dismiss as trivial.

The Dream Doctor ignored the implication.  "The Battalion has begun preparing for their arrival.  They have set the noose."

Prometheus glared, but did not speak.  Mender Silos sensed Prometheus did not understand, and could not resist lording knowledge over the ordinarily inscrutable being.  "I have tried to see what effect Cole's defeat has had upon the Coming Storm.  However, not even my abilities allow me to see more than a few months ahead in time."

The Dream Doctor continued "They are aware of you, Prometheus.  They are aware of your machinations.  They are not concerned about your attempts to put up any resistance.  They care only your interference could cost them their prize.  They have surrounded Primal Earth in all directions with a barrier."

"Not just in space, but in time as well," Silos added.

"In space, in time, across dimensions.  We are in the center of a bubble that traps us here.  And the bubble is shrinking.  The Battalion are herding us, ensuring we do not escape their grasp, so that all of the potential of the Wellspring is theirs to consume."

"It Matters Not.  The Incarnates Will Prevail, The Battalion Will Be Defeated, And All Will Return To The Path I Have Laid Out."

"No, it won't.  The defeat of Cole has weakened the Wellspring.  The energy he once commanded has been dissipated."

"It Will Be Returned To The Well."

"Eventually, but not soon enough.  When the Battalion arrives, the Incarnates will not have the strength to repel them."

"How do you know this?" Silos had already guessed, but he had to be sure.

"As I said, I have seen it."

"If We Are Corralled As You Claim, How Can You Have Seen Our Fate."

"The Battalion are conquerors, they are seekers and wielders of power, they are ravagers and consumers and destroyers" the Dream Doctor explained.  But they are not dreamers.  They have no power here.  At least not yet.  Dreamspace is still open to me, and through it I have seen the dreams of what is to come.  The Battalion come, and the Incarnates fight, but in the end they are swept away.  They fall heroically, but they fall nonetheless.  In every version of every possible timeline, they fall."

"You're still crazy."  Silos said, although it sounded less like he meant it, and more like he was trying to convince himself.

"We can still save our reality."

"By destroying it?"

"Again, I Must Concur With The Mender.  You Propose Destroying Us To Save Us."

The plan the Dream Doctor had proposed to them was so shocking that at first neither Prometheus nor Silos could comment, probably the first and last time such an event would ever occur in all the multiverse.  After Emperor Cole was defeated, The Dream Doctor set his mind upon a quandary.  Cole was no longer a champion of the Well.  His energy had been released back to the Well, where it could be tapped by the Incarnates who would attempt to defend his world.  But it nagged upon him: what if instead of standing and fighting Cole had tried to escape?  What if he had fled?  Could he have stolen that energy and taken it with him?  Perhaps the Wellspring would not allow him to do that.  But still it puzzled him.  The Wellspring did not control all incarnate power: it wasn't sentient in that respect.  It was a concentration of potential and consciousness, but it wasn't an individual entity in that sense.  It did not Dream.  What if all the Incarnates fled Primal Earth?  Would that deny their power to the Battalion?  Could that be a way to at least slow them down?  And why had none before our world tried that before?

And that's when he discovered it.  Only one such as he could truly find it, although a Mender such as Silos would eventually detect it indirectly.  The Barrier.  The Battalion ensured no amount of potential escaped their rampage by surrounding it, encasing it in an ever contracting container.  The human mind struggled to conceptualize what was happening.  There would be no escape.  Every trajectory would be blocked.  Except one.

Dreamspace was still free of the Battalion's touch.  Wells do not dream.  The Battalion, beings empowered by countless Wellsprings of potential, use their power to make thought into reality.  They hunger, they aspire, but they do not dream.  They were so far removed from what they once were they could not even conceive of dreaming.  And because of that, their power did not extend to Dreamspace.

And that's when The Dream Doctor conceived of The Plan.  The Battalion had done most of the work.  They had created a barrier from which all Incarnate potential could not escape out.  The Dream Doctor would take that, and convert it into a barrier of Dreaming.  It would be an impassable moat of Dreamspace through which nothing from the outside could enter without first entering Dreamspace.  And that was anathema to the Battalion.  His world would be saved.

The problem, of course, was the cost.

"Destroying is a strong word.  I propose ... transformation."

"As grass is transformed within a cow."

"Don't be crude Silos.  We will take the *potential* of the Well and use it to *actualize* our world within a protective shield."

"We'll be destroying reality and spitting it back out again."

"Do you have a better idea, Last Deceiver?"

Silos almost winced.  The Dream Doctor knew more of Lord Nemesis' future and Mender Silos' past than he let on, if he knew of that epithet and the circumstances surrounding it.  And in truth, Silos did not have a better plan.

"And how about you, 'Keeper' of the Flame?"  The Dream Doctor was playing all his cards now, for there would not be another hand to play.  He stressed the first word of that title, to prove he knew that which Prometheus had kept secret for so long.  The Dream Doctor spent months learning all he could about these two "men" and the task ahead.  He knew he could not really threaten either of them, but among such beings as they, knowledge was power.  He needed to prove he was willing to play this out to the end.

"Suppose we agree to this.  I assume you have a way to make it actually happen."

"I have the basics.  But I need two things, which is why you are here.  I will need someone with the ability to control Incarnate power.  That is why you are here, Prometheus."

"And as for me?"

"You, Silos, I wish I could do without.  But I need something only you can provide."

"And that is?"

The Dream Doctor smirked, and for the first time since the meeting began he looked right into the eyes of Silos.  "I need a Nemesis plot."


...

Arcana

  • Sultaness of Stats
  • Elite Boss
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,665
Re: The Immortal Game: The Last City of Heroes story
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2012, 06:18:52 PM »
The Immortal Game

Part Two: The King's Gambit



Marcus Cole looked out upon the vast sea, upon which the structure he stood upon rested.  It was beautiful, in an antiseptic way.  Not like his beloved Praetoria.  The city he protected and the people he nurtured.  The city he destroyed, and the souls he consumed.  He took a powerful breath and sighed.

"I will be missed.  They will believe I have escaped."

"You will not be missed.  When you return, you will return to the moment you left.  No one will notice your absence."

Cole continued to look out towards the setting sun, if it was indeed a sun.  "I know of you, Eisenstadt.  Or should I say 'Lord Nemesis.'  I have read of your exploits on Primal Earth."

"Lord Nemesis is dead.  I am Mender Silos."

"Quibbling over names is silly."

"If you insist, 'Tyrant'" Silos replied.

"Touché"

"You are here because I have a proposal for you."

Cole paused, and then his gaze narrowed.  "Nemesis or not, I do not trust you."

"I am not asking for your trust.  There is a great threat approaching."

"I know of it" Cole replied testily.  "Your precious 'Incarnates' have brought down all I struggled to create.  I am now powerless against the Coming Storm.  What could you possibly want from me?"

"I want to give that power back to you."

"Indeed?"  Cole raised his brow.  "Are you insane?"

"It appears to be communicable."

"I see.  And how do you intend to do this?  And to what end?"

"The Incarnates will not have the strength to repel the Coming Storm."

Cole snorted.  "Only now do you realize this?"

"Don't be smug.  You would not have been able to do so either.  No: the problem is that the Battalion have grown too strong to defeat by purely defensive measures.  Perhaps in time we can come up with a way to defeat them permanently, but in the meantime our priority must be to protect humanity from the Battalion, and deny them the Well of the Furies."

"And how do you propose to do this?  Or rather how do you propose I do this?"

"The power of the Well will not be enough.  We will seek to merge it with an even greater power." Cole started to speak, but decided against it, preferring to listen.  "Have you heard of the being known as Rularuu?"

"I have heard of it.  It is an almost omnipotent being, but it is flawed: its power trapped in a kaleidoscope of fractured shards.  It cannot help us."

"On our Earth, there was a man named Darrin Wade.  He sought to use the power of the Well of the Furies to merge with and control the essence of Rularuu.  He killed our Marcus Cole and absorbed his potential to do it.  He almost succeeded."

"You seek to have me succeed where he failed.  And why would you trust me to do as you require once I gain omnipotence?"

"Two reasons.  One: the merging is unstable.  You will not be able to maintain it indefinitely, and if you try to do so the power will splinter you as it did Rularuu.  You will be as Rularuu is now.  For you, I think that is a fate worse than death."

"And the second reason?"

"I know of you as well, Cole.  I knew your counterpart on my Earth, but I also know of you.  I understand, as most will never understand, why you did what you did.  You are an insane man, as I was once insane."  Silos raised his hand as Cole started to speak "I won't argue the point, except to say I know your actions on Praetoria haunt you.  I know the souls you tried to use haunt you.  I know *she* haunts you.  In time, you would realize the folly of your actions.  Time we don't have."

Silos now turned to Cole.  "You want to know it was all worth it.  You want a legacy.  You're willing to kill for it.  I know you're willing to die for it.  I know if I give you a chance to be the savior of humanity, you will take it."

Silos turned back to look out across the landscape.  "You really have no choice."  Silos did not need to see the look on Cole's face to know he had hit home. 

"Tell me your plan."

Silos described his plan, or at least Cole's part in it.  "This will not work" Cole said when he was finished.

"Of course it will work.  If you do what is required."

Cole stared at Mender Silos and seemed to study his face for a long time.  "On my world, Gerhardt Eisenstadt died an unknown maker of clocks and toys.  It seems I was fortunate in that regard."

"I will take that as a compliment, Cole."

"You realize that even if your plan works, there's a problem.  I will be busy using the power of the Well of the Furies and Rularuu to effect your plan.  I will not be able to assist you in your battle with the Battalion.  You may yet fail before I can bring this to a close.  And even beyond that, you are beset with an enormous problem.  The Battalion may yet come for you."

"Oh, I have an idea there."


...

Arcana

  • Sultaness of Stats
  • Elite Boss
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,665
Re: The Immortal Game: The Last City of Heroes story
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2012, 06:20:24 PM »
The Immortal Game

Part Three: Removing the Pin



The sun was slowly setting, its auburn disk seeming to merge with the horizon and then slowly descend below it.  Mender Silos had lived through a billion sunrises and sunsets, and yet had actually seen so few of them.  He could not remember the last time he had stopped to experience one.  He could not remember the first time he had stopped to experience one.  And though time grew short, he decided that for the last time, perhaps, he would pause to take one in. 

The Earth rotated about its axis, and as it did his position upon the Earth's surface changed the radial orientation of his sightline relative to the Sun.  The atmosphere altered the Sun's radiation in complex ways, scattering, diffracting, and absorbing photons in a calculable way.  There were only a few islands here, north of Peregrine Island, and the Sun slowly dipped below the flat, calm ocean.  As the Sun disappeared below the horizon, the man once known as the Prussian Prince of Automatons reflected upon the clockwork mechanics of the world he was about to destroy.  To save the world, he would have to destroy it, although that task ultimately was in the hands of another.  But there was still a problem in his hands.  At best, the plan conjured by the Dream Doctor was flawed.  There were many ways it could fail.  Which is why the Dream Doctor entrusted it to him.  He did not want the Mender, he wanted the Schemer.  And Silos would deliver him.

The sky had turned black, and the stars were now visible.  They moved slowly in arcs reflecting the rotation of the Earth; too slowly for most people to notice, but not too slowly for Silos who followed their motion for many minutes.  As the moon illuminated the landscape, Silos realized that it was only at this moment that he decided to take this final step; the one that would forever seal his fate.  The Dream Doctor would never approve, of course, but that was always a problem with those like him: they were rarely willing to do all that was necessary.  He was, and one look into Cole's eyes was all it took for him to know it of Cole, and Cole to know it of him.  It was something only those of their ilk could truly understand, and truly recognize in others.

It was time.  He took one final look at the world he would probably never see in the same way again, and then he was gone.

...

He appeared in a flash within a dark space.  It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the very dim light that was shimmering around him.  Phosphorescent moss glowed with a soft, muted aura.  Silos found himself in a large underground cave.  Strange plants covered the stone walls and boggy ground.  His own armor's various sensors and indicators were harsh spikes of light that interfered with his vision and he commanded them to darken.  It would not do to be seen as he was, a small speck upon the bottom of the cavern, and he directed his armor to hover himself a full ten meters in altitude.  He slowly drifted forward, towards an unusual rockface that appeared to be less overrun by vegetation.  He stopped about thirty meters from it and waited.  He had replayed this encounter a thousand times in his head and concluded it was important to concede the first move to his adversary.

Although he was certain he was detected the instant he arrived, it was a full ten minutes before anything happened.  Slowly, at first, he noticed the rockface shifting.  The vegetation seemed different somehow, although he couldn't quite tell in what way.  The changes accelerated, and soon the rock face began to morph into a separate structure from the cavern wall.  It detached itself, and then began to form a semblance of limbs.  It turned to Silos - no, it didn't turn; its features seemed to slowly flow from the side opposite Silos to the side facing Silos, and he was soon gazing upon what appeared to be a giant homonculous of stone and overgrowth.  It began to rustle, and then with a sound like rushing air through trees it spoke to Silos.

"Ra..pa..cious... De..spoil..er... You ... Have... Come... To... Seek... Your... Doom..."

The monstrous voice of the Avatar of Hamidon echoed throughout the cave.  Silos moved slowly closer to the Avatar as he spoke.  "Not exactly.  Actually, on behalf of the human race, I've come to surrender.  I am here seeking your terms."

"You... Will... Be... Scour..ered... From... The... Face... Of... Cre..a..tion.  There... Will... Be... No... O..ther... Terms..."

Silos smiled.  "Your terms are acceptable."  Silos wondered if the sudden creaking of stone upon stone was the closest thing to surprise the Hamidon was capable of expressing.

"And now here are my terms."

...

Arcana

  • Sultaness of Stats
  • Elite Boss
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,665
Re: The Immortal Game: The Last City of Heroes story
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2012, 06:21:17 PM »
The Immortal Game

Part Four: The Sacrificial Castle



Everyone who traveled to this place was struck immediately by its nagging duality.  It was a place of immense power: you could literally feel the energy all around you, like a pressure with nowhere to go.  And yet it was also a place of almost endless entropy: the very ground crumbled and scattered in all directions.  It was known by the humans as the Shadow Shard, named after the strange denizens that appeared to echo those from Primal Earth.  At one time it had a different name, a name Prometheus still thought off when he arrived.  But like the place it referred to, that name was lost to the power of the One who had forever shattered it and its namesake.

Most of the Shadow Shard was filled with islands of localized order within the maelstrom of chaos: tiny worldlets upon which the Shadows and Echos of reality intermingled with the Soldiers of Rularuu.  But here was the one true place of order: the Chantry.  Redoubt of the one known as Faathim the Kind.  Faathim, an aspect of the entity known as Rularuu, was the conscience of Rularuu; the one aspect of Rularuu that had not surrendered to the infinite depths of hunger for power that was Rularuu.  It was Faathim that embodied that which was needed for the plan devised by the Dreamer and the Mender, and though Prometheus considered it an offense to be performing the errands of others, he consoled himself with the knowledge that only he could perform this task.  Neither the Dreamer nor the Mender were welcome guests of Rularuu, even in the house of Faathim.

As he approached the entrace to the inner chamber of the Chantry, Prometheus felt something almost like a chill.  Mere weather could not affect one such as he, but this was no drop in temperature.  It was as if the very air sought to drain the life from him as he entered the dwelling of Faathim.

"I know of your dealings with the Dreamer, godling.  Rularuu will play no part in your play."

Prometheus approached the towering form of Faathim the Kind, aspect of Rularuu.  "You would consign the innocent to be consumed by the Coming Storm?"

"I protect the innocent, but my realm is the realm of Rularuu.  My domain does not encompass the realm of the humans.  You know this godling."

Prometheus chaffed at the epithet, but tried to brush it off.  He would suffer no such insult from his lessers, but the being before him was not one he could triffle with.  Rularuu was not omnipotent - the very concept of omnipotence was nonsensical to beings such as Prometheus - but he was among the few that could rightly take their place as gods.  Even those that Prometheus once served would not dare to anger one such as Rularuu in his own domain.

"The Mender seeks to enlist the aid of another.  One that he intends on giving the secret of Ascension." 

Faathim's voice noticably tensed.  "The fool would risk setting another on that path of power?"

"He would.  If you help me, we can ... limit the damage he can cause."

"Rularuu will not allow his power to be used in this way."

"Will not Faathim seek to protect the Rularuu?  Will not Ruladak unleash his fury to punish the Thieves of Destiny?"  Prometheus paused.  "Will not Aloore the Watcher... His will be done upon the Coming Storm?  Will not Rularuu do as we need, even if he refused to do as we will?"

Faathim seemed to think upon this, and Prometheus knew that he was simultaneously dealing with an immensely powerful entity in his own right, but also an aspect of an even greater entity in Rularuu.  To what degree Faathim really was a separate entity, and not merely one voice of the whole even Prometheus did not know.  As Faathim comtemplated, was Rularuu also contemplating?  After a time, Faathim spoke:

"Rularuu will not allow the Coming Storm to interfere with his realm.  Rularuu will not allow the Will to transcend upon any world adjoining his.  Rularuu will do as you need, but only because it is his will not yours.  Rularuu will pay the price for Destiny."

"Then my presence is no longer necessary, Faathim the Kind" Prometheus said politely.  Prometheus turned to leave the inner chamber when Faathim gestured for him to stop.

"Godling, you choose to join the humans in this endeavor?"

"I do."

"It will mean forever your separation from your others.  It will mean isolation.  It will mean an infinity of solitude.  And those whom you claim to protect will one day rebel, one day know the truth, one day abandon you.  You will be a childless father, a lost guide.  You will be truly alone."

"Yes" Prometheus replied.  He turned, and walked back to the portal.  As he stepped within and exited the Chantry, Faathim the Kind's last words seemed to echo all around him:

"I envy you"


...


Arcana

  • Sultaness of Stats
  • Elite Boss
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,665
Re: The Immortal Game: The Last City of Heroes story
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2012, 06:22:15 PM »
The Immortal Game

Part five: Endgame



A thousand years before the founding of Paragon City this place was known as The Palace of the Stars in the language of its natives.  It was a relatively flat plateau with few trees that made it seem like one was surrounded by the stars at night.  For hundreds of years it was a place of serenity and meditation, where The People went to seek counsel with the spirits of the Earth.

Four hundred years ago the first war came to the Palace as The People clashed with settlers from another world.  This world was an ocean away and the warriors from that world wielded advanced, almost inconceivable technology, but The People united against them and defeated them.  It would be their last victory.

Two hundred years ago The People were swept away, first by Others of their kind, and then by invaders from across the sea.  The Palace of the Stars became known as Witfield by its new inhabitants, and it held a small trading village.  The people who now resided there marveled at the good soil for crops, the relatively mild winters, the gentle landscape.  Some even noted that, far and above the larger settlements near the coast, this place seemed to have the deepest, star-filled sky at night.

A hundred years ago Witfield was now know as White Plains, an outlying region of the burgeoning metropolis known as Paragon City.  Another war had come and the people of this land united against those across the sea and eventually defeated them.  The people of Paragon City were a new people born of the old.  The farms and villages were gone, supplanted by roads and buildings.  This was a relatively affluent part of Paragon: far enough from the center of the city but still connected to all of its networks and resources.  And then came the Crash.  The crash was the first strike in a war that would rage for over a decade.  It was no mere object that crashed to Earth but rather something far more critical to the city.  The capital engine of the economy that fueled its expansion and development vaporized in a few days in 1929, and with that engine crippled Paragon City descended into chaos.  Government and social structures lost control and new powers rose to fill the vacuum as criminal gangs fought for control of the streets. Until he came. 

A lost child of the New World returned from the Old World across the sea. And once again, the world across the sea brought change to this world, in the form of a hero that would unite the forces of justice and wage a war to bring order to Paragon City.  A war that was won just in time for the next war to arrive.  Once again, it was the world across the sea that brought war to this world.  And once again, it was invaders wielding advanced technology that threatened the people of this land.  Once again, the people united against them and eventually, at great cost, defeated them.  But there would be no lasting peace this time.

Although a semblance of normalcy eventually returned to Paragon City, the place once known as the Palace of the Stars would never again see peace.  It would see the rise of the drug-fueled criminal gangs known as the trolls and the mysterious armies of the man known as Nemesis.  It would see a world war replaced with a Cold War, and the Cold War nearly become an apocalyptic hot war.  But it was once again an invasion by another world that would finally seal the fate of White Plains.

Ten years ago the invaders came, not from an ocean away, but a cosmos away.  Born on another Earth, in another dimensional reality, the beings known as the Rikti launched a massive invasion of the entire planet.  Using dimensional portal technology they came in huge numbers and overwhelmed the planet's militaries almost immediately.  Paragon City became one of the centers of the conflict.  Once again, at great cost, the people of this world united and defeated the invaders, driving them away, the portal to their homeworld severed.  One casualty was White Plains itself.  A massive Rikti mothership crashed into the ground, destroying a huge swath of White Plains before finally coming to rest.  The crash obliterated over half of White Plains; the need to quarantine the crash site caused the rest to be abandoned.  White Plains was now the Rikti Crash Site, a place where the city kept watch upon the damaged but still functioning warship, its impregnable deflector shield preventing all attempts to gain entrance.  Observers could only wonder what was happening within.

Five years ago they learned.  The Rikti that had been left behind after the war ended hadn't simply given up.  They had spent years attempting to repair their ability to connect this world with their world, and they finally succeeded, albeit in a limited fashion.  Their technology repaired, the Rikti once again had the means to travel from this world to another world, from this world to another dimension.  With this, they could attempt to resume their conquest of Earth.  This made the Rikti mothership, and the place once known as the Palace of the Stars, critically important to the Rikti.

It was for the same reason it was critically important to the Dream Doctor and his allies.  Because here was the last escape route from the Battalion.  And ironically, their task would be to destroy it.

On their world, the Rikti had systematically destroyed magic and the worship of gods, and with that they had also inadvertently extinguished much of their future potential.  The Rikti did not have Incarnate potential; they had no Well of the Furies.  Because of this, they were beyond the attention of the Battalion: they were insignificant to the Battalion.  Even their portal escaped attention, as the Rikti homeworld was not considered worthy of attention by the Battalion and no Incarnate potential flowed through it.  It was currently invisible to the Battalion.  But they would not be using it to escape the Battalion, they would be severing this last anchor to the multiverse.  Until it was destroyed, their plan could not succeed.

Ten years ago - many, many more years ago from the perspective of Mender Silos - a man had opened a portal to the Rikti homeworld and through his clumsy machinations had triggered a war between mankind and the Rikti.  From that moment the fate of humans and Rikti were intertwined in an ever tightening tangle of strife, politics, hubris, bloodshed, and revenge.  And the man responsible would now sever that connection, once and for all time.  Mender Silos pursed his lips.  "All clocks return to the beginning" he thought to himself.

"How did your meeting with Emperor Cole fare, Mender?"

The Dream Doctor's question shook Silos out of his reverie.  "As I expected, Doctor.  And you, Prometheus?  How was your audience with 'god?'"

"Your Humor Is Unnecessary Mender."  Prometheus once again addressed Mender Silos with the forceful voice he had recently adopted in speaking to humans.  "All Is As Planned."

"Did you tell him exactly what I said to tell him?"

"I Said What Was Necessary."  Prometheus paused.  "Faathim Reacted As You Expected.  Perhaps A Million Years Is Just Enough Time For Humans To Gain Wisdom" he added.

"Before my death I managed to give Prometheus the Fire Bearer a sense of humor.  I should get some sort of recognition for that, a badge I could pin right here perhaps."

The Dream Doctor ignored their banter, although he sensed a shift in respect between them that he couldn't place.  "All are ready then.  I will go to Cole and prepare him."

"Bring Him To Me And I Will Grant What He Requires."

"All we need now is an army" Mender Silos added "and that's your department Prometheus."

"I Will Call Upon All Who Would Face The Coming Storm.  I Will Embue Them With Their Full Incarnate Potential.  They Will Have To Do The Rest."

"They always do, Prometheus" Mender Silos and Lord Nemesis said as one.  "They *always* do."

...


Editor's note: Paragraph six: the criminal gang known as the t-r-o-l-l-s is being auto-replaced with the word "unicorns" by the forum software.  I will eventually find a way around that (as in, right now).

Arcana

  • Sultaness of Stats
  • Elite Boss
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,665
Re: The Immortal Game: The Last City of Heroes story
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2012, 06:23:02 PM »
The Immortal Game

Part Six: Destiny



With the assistance of the Dream Doctor's magic and the power of Prometheus, the process was remarkably quick.  As Prometheus opened Cole to the power of the Well of the Furies, that power was focused on a complex nexus of being that was Rularuu.  Ruladek, Uuralur, Kuularth, Chularn, Aloore, Lanaru, and Faathim, all shards of the Ascended being known as Rularuu were drawn into the maelstrom of power that was Marcus Cole.  The incarnate potential of all humanity reached out and embraced the fractured god, melding the power of Rularuu and temporarily making the many into One.  And within that One, Marcus Cole fought to maintain his being, his identity, his soul.  A lesser man would have been consumed utterly, but Cole was no lesser man.  He had survived much, witnessed much, set his mind on the greatest and most terrible acts any man had conceived.  No one could dominate Rularuu, but Cole was able to become the voice of Rularuu, its focus.  He became RulaCole, an infinte power guided by unlimited potential.

Cole thought he knew power.  He had gained the power of Tartarus through the Well of the Furies, and eventually surpassed that by becoming a champion of the Well.  He even managed to transcend that by becoming the Devourer of Souls.  All that paled in comparison to the power he now wielded as RulaCole.  With a thought he could lay waste to all of Paragon City; he could destroy his enemies in mere moments.  What need did Rularuu have for the schemes of man?  Rularuu would confront the Coming Storm and defeat them.  Rularuu would...

Cole.  He was Marcus Cole.  Not Ruladek the Strong, pulverizer of his enemies.  Ruladek would lay waste to the entire planet just to see the Battalion crushed beneath his boot.  Cole would not destroy humanity, he would save it.  He was their protector, their savior.  He would bring them into the fold of Rularuu, extend the domain of the Shadow Shard to encompass the Earth, and spread its protective umbrella across the innocent of this world.

That was Faathim the Kind speaking, not Marcus Cole.  Marcus Cole.  This was the fate of Rularuu: in Ascending beyond mortal limits and gaining vast cosmic energies, his every thought teemed with power.  His every inner voice became a juggernaut of force.  Rularuu would not be denied.  That which was Rularuu and sought to destroy his enemies would not be denied, not even by Rularuu himself.  That which was Rularuu and sought to protect his people would not be denied, not even by Rularuu himself.  With ultimate power came the ultimate sundering.  With no voice preeminent, all voices had power.  All voices became imbued with the power of Rularuu.  Thus was born Ruladek, and Lanaru, and Faathim.

But though they all writhed in a titanic struggle for dominance that threatened to extinguish him, Marcus Cole discovered one small advantage.  Though they were all separate, they were all also one.  They were all Rularuu, their separate identities masking their common being.  Marcus Cole was a part of Rularuu, but he was not Rularuu.  He was separate.  He had a unique identity the others lacked.  And while they struggled against themselves they did so with the same will and the same reservoir of power.  Cole had his own will.  Cole had his own power: the power of potential tapped from the Well.  It bound Rularuu together, but it was of Cole alone.  Rularuu contained a power he could not possibly hope to match, but that power was set against itself.  Cole commanded a power above the struggle, and with it he began to assert his own will upon Rularuu.

The Mender had called him insane, and perhaps it was true.  Cole focused his will as no other human could, becoming a single dagger of purpose at the heart of Rularuu.  As he did, all else fell away.  Humanity, the Mender, the plan, even her.  There was nothing but singular purpose.  Eventually, he felt a shift as the other voices that were Rularuu were quelled.  He was RulaCole, and Cole was the master.

Cole realized the Mender spoke the truth when he said this was not a permanent path to power.  Cole could not long last against the almost infinite strength of the Voices of Rularuu.  He could not long control the uncontrollable.  As Rularuu himself lost to his powerful voices, so too would Cole eventually sucumb.  The power necessary to control Rularuu would eventually fracture him as it did Rularuu.  Singularity of purpose defined Marcus Cole, it was at the core of who he was.  He would not allow himself to be fractured as Rularuu was.  He had no choice but to continue with the Mender's plan.  Exactly as he said he would be.

For the first time since the transformation, Cole extended his senses outward to perceive the world beyond the mind of Rularuu.  The Dream Doctor was gone, as was Prometheus.  They had left to fulfill their other tasks.  Of course, RulaCole needed no assistance from them any longer.  For a moment, Cole felt all the voices agree with him.  His part in the plan was clear, as was all others.  As RulaCole, he now saw the full tapestry of the scheme of the Mender, and even as RulaCole he acknowledged a hint of admiration.  Soon, he would travel to the place known on Primal Earth as the Rikti War Zone.  There RulaCole would begin the process of sealing this world from all others.  This would bring the Battalion and their forces.  Prometheus and the humans would have to engage them, draw them in.  Timing would be critical.  If the full might of the Battalion reached Earth, even the might of RulaCole might not turn them back, at least not without turning the Earth into ash.  But they would have to allow the Battalion to get close enough for their advanced guard to reach the battle site, and the humans would have to hold them off until the end.  One task remained.  Someone would have to destroy the last tether this world had to all others: the Rikti portal.  How ironic that for all its danger as a portal for an invading force, its threat now was as a mere piece of twine snagged onto the corner of reality that must be severed.

The effects of the task given to RulaCole would not be felt instantly.  Rather than simply shattering this reality as Rularuu had done once before, RulaCole would now empower the Battalion's own emcompassing bubble to pinch Primal Earth from the rest of the multiverse.  As that bubble collapsed around Primal Earth it would reach a critical point where the power RulaCole invested into it would trigger a potential detonation in reality, and if all went as planned Primal Earth would be cast off into Dreamspace.  Once initiated, the process could not be stopped.  But the Mender hoped that the Battalion would try anyway, expend their last days struggling against the very barrier they sought to wrangle humanity within while they drained it of incarnate potential.  Earth would have a few days peace before the end.

And then, of course, there was the question of what the Battalion would face after the end.  The barrier enclosed them all, but in its final moments it would transform only the reality of those attuned to the Well of the Furies and its potential.  The Battalion would be left behind in a parallel bubble of reality, still trapped, but no longer a part of the reality of the new Primal Earth.  That which was Cole would be absorbed by the transformation.  What happened to Cole after that moment even RulaCole did not know for certain.  Rularuu himself, freed from the influence of Marcus Cole and the Well of the Furies, would quickly return to his place of power, the Shadow Shard, the voices of the one becoming separate again.

There was, of course, one other entity not of Rularuu and not of the Well of the Furies which would be left behind.  Deep within Rularuu, Cole heard the voice of Lanaruu the Mad laughing.  And for the first time in decades Marcus Cole, emperor of Earth, found himself laughing as well.

...

Arcana

  • Sultaness of Stats
  • Elite Boss
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,665
Re: The Immortal Game: The Last City of Heroes story
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2012, 06:24:32 PM »
The Immortal Game

Part Seven: Time's End



At first, it was just a few. It was difficult to know if they were here to witness, or to fight, but as they continued to arrive it was obvious Primal Earth would not go quietly. Honored heroes with legions of cheering fans and ruthless villains only spoken of in whispers. They loved each other, and they hated each other, but they shared a single purpose, a single burning thought. This was our world, and it would not be taken from us.

Cole, Voice of Rularuu, paid them no attention. His work was subtle, sublime, invisible, undetectable, but all important. He was pulling at the fabric of reality with immeasurable power and respinning it into a new form. The Barrier of the Battalion was close now, in just a few short months it would arrive and with it a scourge of the cosmos unmatched and undeterred in a millennia. RulaCole would not give it that luxury. Under his influence the barrier accelerated, racing towards Primal Earth; it would now take mere days to encompass what had been planned to take months. This did not go unnoticed.

The lead element of the Battalion was its advance forces - the implacable Shivan Destroyers and the Kheldian slaves that formed the spearpoint of the Coming Storm, and their commanders the Vanguard of the Battalion. They were ruthless and unyielding and had devastated dozens of worlds. It was they who rode the wavefront of the Barrier, and they who first detected its alteration. At their command, the first wave of Battalion forces willed themselves to Primal Earth. Someone had interfered with the Battalion. They would have to be dealt with.

...

The early arrivals to the Rikti War Zone were soon a flood. So much power was concentrated in one area it almost seemed like the War Walls bowed from the pressure. As they gathered at the place where all instinctively knew the fight would begin, the voice of Prometheus spoke:

"Defenders Of Primal Earth. Behold The Power Of Rularuu."

For a minute, it seemed as if nothing happened. And then, off in the distance, there was a bright flash from the Rikti Mothership. The powerful war machine, symbol of invasion and destruction for so long, was consumed by an immense fireball. The destructive wave blasted outward in all directions, nearly blowing down the gathered defenders. As the dust cleared, for the first time in a decade, White Plains was free. The great mothership was simply gone, vaporized in the massive conflagration. For such large destruction, the blast wave seemed oddly mild, as if the destructive energies were turned inward, imploding the craft to its core. This wasn't a simple explosion. This was an extinguishing. The last connection between Primal Earth and the greater multiverse was severed, the Rikti destroyed as a mere afterthought. Some paused, briefly mourning the Rikti, enemies though they may be. Some cheered, for a variety of reasons. But that was all short-lived. The Battalion had arrived.

They seemed to come out of nowhere, appeared around them and throughout their ranks. The Shivan army engaged the Primal defenders as they had so many before them. But this time it was different. On a dozen, dozen worlds there were those who fought back, those who tried to defend their world and their own future potential from consumption and annihilation. They were always spirited, determined, and ultimately futile efforts. This would not be the case here. This time, Prometheus the Fire bearer brought the full, raw, untempered potential of humanity to itself. Once before, giving humanity the merest glimpse of their destiny was a crime punishable by the harshest sentence by those Prometheus called his masters. This time, the punishment would be self-inflicted. But Prometheus knew the full measure of the destiny of humanity, and he would not allow an outside force to end that journey.

The defenders of Primal Earth were raised to their full potential. Some to the peak of their abilities, many others beyond that to rise to wield the power of the Incarnate. Such power had been working its way into humanity for some time: it was this very fact that attracted the Battalion. But they would not be facing children, working their way to becoming Incarnates. They would be facing the full power they had hoped to tap.

The defenders quickly made short work of the Shivan army. As fast as they could arrive, by the hundreds they came and fell. Never before had a Shivan army been reaped like so much stalks of wheat. But then the Vanguard arrived. Four of them descended upon the Primal defenders and the real battle began. The Vanguard was protected by powerful incarnate strength and wielded as much Incarnate ability as a hundred incarnate warriors. The tide began to turn, and it was now the defenders that were on the defensive. And yet slowly, gradually at first and then with more conviction the Primal defenders began to bring down the Vanguard. It seemed the longer the fight went on the weaker the Vanguard seemed to become. In fact, it was the reverse: humanity, now in full possession of its incarnate potential, and wielding it with a singular purpose, revealed the Well of the Furies for what it really was. It was not a powerful entity with control over humanity's destiny. In fact it was humanity's destiny itself: it was the embodiment of the potential and the consciousness of humanity. It had no voice save what humanity impressed upon it. It had no power save what humanity itself opened the door to reaching. This was the great secret of incarnate potential, which Prometheus had once tried to protect. The denizens of Primal Earth were always limited by only one thing: their belief in themselves and their ability to control their destiny. No man or woman could control the Well of the Furies. But humanity could. And here, at the place once known as the place where The People could look out beyond the horizon and speak to their inner voices about their place in the cosmos, humanity spoke with one voice, and acted with one hand. And the Well of the Furies responded, by releasing its potential to its protectors. Humanity was no longer on the slow path to Incarnate or the fast path. They were on the path Prometheus opened to them: the path of Destiny.

For what seemed a long time the battle raged, but then RulaCole, who had been indifferent to the battle that raged just below him, spoke:

"It is done."

The Primal defenders detected no sign of anything changing, but the Vanguard did. The barrier which once confined humanity now trapped them. And their brethren, on their way to join the battle, felt it also. The barrier now enclosed all of the Battalion, and it no longer allowed them beyond it. In their shock the Vanguard were finally cut down by the Primal defenders. Far beyond the remaining Battalion turned to the Barrier, hurling themselves towards it in a vain attempt to escape. But escape was now not possible.

Cole knew what would happen next: the power of Rularuu told him as much. For an instant, he reflected on his fate. His energy, including much of the power of the Well of the Furies, would be quickly siphoned by the Barrier. He would become a part of the Barrier, trapping the Battalion within it. And in a few days when the Barrier reached its nadir, his power would join with the rest of the Incarnate power within Primal Earth and germinate a new world within a new Primal dimension, a world that was a reflection of this world in Dreamspace. Their world would survive, within the land of Dreams. For Cole, this instant was as a day. He saw a young man going off to war, and coming back changed forever. A girl who would become a woman. A woman who would become his wife. A wife he would ultimately betray. He saw the unforgivable destruction of nuclear fire, and he saw the threat of it end under his slammed fist. He saw the gleaming citadel of Praetoria rise under his rule. He saw all the good he accomplished brought down from without and within. He saw the future of humanity, and the ugliness it held. And he saw the ugliness he created in an attempt to shepherd it. And he saw all of it threatened by these cosmic criminals, these assassins of destiny. He would stop them. And in the end he would help give birth to a new world. The new world would be just as messy, just as ugly as the one he once tried to reshape. But it would forever be protected from those who would steal its potential. Humanity would always have a chance to flourish. Whether it did or not was up to them, and them alone.

This was a good fate, Cole decided. As his essence began to dissolve, his last thought was of her. "Forgive me, M-" And then he was gone.

...

We Have Saved The Innocent: Faathim the Kind expressed.
The Enemy Has Escaped Our Grasp We Must Pursue: Ruladek demanded.
We Must Not Allow These Incarnates To Escape Servitude To Rularuu: Chularn stressed.
Let Us Unravel This World And Entwine It With The Realm Of Rularuu: Lanaruu opined.
Should We Not Take What We Will From This World And Leave: Kuularth inquired.
It Has Happened Again: Uuralur observed.

The many voices of Rularuu, now freed from the Incarnate power of Marcus Cole, now rose up as one and returned to their eternal war. Rularuu was pulled apart, and as he became the individual voices of Rularuu again each returned to their places of power within the Shadow Shard. All but one. The last Voice sought out a human, standing far off from the battle.

"I Would Speak With You, Human."

Mender Silos turned to face Aloore the Watcher. Aloore towered above him, but Silos chose to remain standing on the ground. He looked up upon the expressionless face of the aspect of Rularuu. "I would listen to Aloore the Watcher."

"It Was The Godling That Came To Us, But It Was You Who Was The Chessmaster, You Who Commanded The Pieces, You Who Made All This Occur." It was not a question.

"I would say I was the primary architect of this day."

"And You Know The Price." This was also not a question.

"I know the price." Silos repeated.

"You Are A Planner, A Schemer, A Manipulator. You Did Not Need To Sacrifice. There Is Always Another Way."

"None that wouldn't cost someone else more." Silos stared into the face of Aloore. "I was a schemer, a manipulator, and the truth is I will always be. But today I was not a plotter, I was a general. I was fighting a war. A war that required tactics. A war that required a strategy. And I would not sacrifice my army just to save one man." Mender Silos paused. "Even if it was me."

Aloore seemed to think upon this, and then with no further acknowledgement he turned to go. But then he stopped, and turned to face the Mender again.

"Farewell, General." Silos nodded. And then Aloore was gone.

...

The Primal defenders began to catch their breath. They had won. The Vanguard was defeated. And then it happened. From under the ground emerged a giant orb of power, surrounded by a swirling mist. Hamidon. And it wasn't alone. Rising from the Earth with the being known as the Primal Hamidon was another creature, the Avatar of the Hamidon: voice of the being known as the Praetorian Hamidon. The Hamidon of two worlds were here on a single world. The Avatar spoke, but its words were almost impossible to hear above the din. The Primal defenders elected not to wait for Hamidon to make the first move. As one they attacked. The Avatar of the Hamidon was an incredible force on its own world, but here it seemed slightly weakened, and posed less threat to the commensurately more powerful Incarnate forces of Primal Earth. Strangely, as they defeated the Avatar and turned to the nucleus of the Primal Hamidon, it seemed more powerful. Surrounded by its phalanx of mitochondrian firepower it was more difficult to destroy than it had been in the past. Unbeknownst to the Primal forces, the same reason for the rising power of Primal Hamidon was also the reason for the weakened condition of the Avatar. The Avatar had brought its core essence, the Will of the Earth, from Praetorian Earth and allowed it to germinate on Primal Earth. There, the Primal Will and the Praetorian Will combined, fusing into The Will, and The Hamidon.

On Praetorian Earth, Hamidon Pasalima became one with the Will of the Earth on a world devastated by two nuclear wars. In response, the Praetorian Hamidon never reverted to the primitive raw state it had on Primal Earth. It retained much more of Pasalima to use as a weapon against humanity. The Hamidon on Praetorian Earth had will, it had awareness, it understood the threat of humanity and sought to destroy it. But with that strength came a weakness. The Primal Hamidon became much closer to the Earth, much more of a raw force of nature. It became a much more pure entity. It wasn't burdened with the yearning, the pain, the fear, the anger of the Praetorian Hamidon. And in return, it became far more powerful.

Mender Silos had gone to Praetoria to address the Praetorian Hamidon. He knew that the Praetorian Hamidon yearned for the destruction of humanity but lacked the sheer power necessary to accomplish that feat outright. But for a being such as Hamidon, there was a path to power. It had no connection to the Well of the Furies; Incarnate power was outside its grasp. But there was another way. Ascension. Few beings attempted Ascension, and fewer succeeded on any level. Those who tried typically destroyed themselves. Occasionally they became destroyers: Rularuu was such an Ascended being. And it was a path to the power Hamidon sought: a way to gain the power to completely obliterate humanity for all time, to return the Earth to its natural, undespoiled state, and to guard it against all future threats for all time. And Mender Silos was willing to give this secret to Hamidon.

But there was a catch. To Ascend, one needed a purity even Praetorian Hamidon lacked. On Praetoria, Hamidon fought a constant war against humanity, made deals with its representatives, plotted attacks against its weak spots. Ironically, Hamidon was too human to Ascend. On Praetoria. On Primal Earth, it was different. The Will of the Earth on Primal Earth had reverted to a much more primitive state. Hamidon himself reverted to a highly primitive, *pure* state. Hamidon was the Will and nothing else. On Primal Earth, Hamidon could Ascend. It just didn't want to, or have any awareness of the possibility at all.

Silos opened the door to a possibility for Praetorian Hamidon. This Hamidon could come to Primal Earth and join with the Will of the Earth of Primal Earth. There, it could be the guiding voice of Ascension, and use the pure raw power of the Primal Will of the Earth to do it. The Avatar was not there to defeat the humans, it was actually there to be killed by them. As it was destroyed and the Primal Hamidon was destroyed, their essence would combine in the very ground, and soon a new Hamidon would emerge. An Ascended Hamidon. A Rularuu with one Voice. The process would not take long. Silos asked for only one thing from Hamidon. A cease fire for two days. After that, Hamidon could destroy all of humanity if it so desired, if Silos did not keep his word to remove humanity from the Earth. In the meantime, Silos told Hamidon, it was free to destroy anything else that it perceived to be a threat.

The Will of the Earth was now The Will, the Ascended guardian of Earth. Its power built with each passing moment. Its power was not of the Well of the Furies, but rather it tapped the raw elemental power of the Earth itself. Its power was the power of life, and death. As Rularuu was the keeper of the Shadow Shard, so was The Will now the keeper of Earth. Here, in its place of power, The Will was the ultimate authority, the ultimate power. It would become the transcendent force of Earth, which would bear no unwanted intrusion from the outside.

The Battalion had ultimately lost its war with humanity, but it would ironically gain the Earth. An Earth isolated from the rest of the cosmos. An Earth from which there would be no escape, no new worlds to conquer, no more Incarnate power to feed upon. A world humanity would abandon to them as they left to seek their own fate.

A world ruled by an Ascended Hamidon.

There was a Storm coming.  And this time, it was the Battalion that would be feeling its maelstrom.

...

Arcana

  • Sultaness of Stats
  • Elite Boss
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,665
Re: The Immortal Game: The Last City of Heroes story
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2012, 06:25:28 PM »
The Immortal Game

Part Eight: Epilogue



Of course, the Battalion would not go quietly either.  When it became clear the Barrier no longer responded to them, they attempted to do the only thing they knew how to do: conquer Earth and force the secret from its people.  Their first mistake was landing an assault force in a deserted stretch of forest, where no one lived.  Admirably, with only minimal casualties, they managed to overpower the enormous Thorn monsters, a full fifty feet tall and twice as powerful as their pre-Ascendant forms, that seemed to spring out from nowhere.  They had significantly less success at traversing the field of defensive mitochondria that sprouted up for a mile all around them.  The Will of the Earth was the immune system of the planet, and it had been supercharged by the merging with the Praetorian Will and the process of Ascension.  It responded like Hamidon had never before to an unwanted infection.  It set upon the Battalion with a vicious strength and unrelenting fervor not seen even at the height of the Hamidon Wars on Praetorian Earth.

The second mistake of the Battalion was thinking that Hamidon cared at all about civilian casualties.  Their next assault was in the heart of a major metropolis, far from the concentration of Incarnate powers in Paragon City.  Hamidon took care to single out the Battalion and avoid directly attacking the humans of the city, but it did not shy for an instant to bring the full force of the Will upon the Battalion.  Civilian casualties were significant, but the toll upon the Battalion was even more severe.  They were wiped out in less than an hour.

Eventually, they found a place that offered refuge.  A barren stretch of desert wasteland the humans called the Sahara.  Within this expanse of sand and dust, the Hamidon appeared to have no strength.  What life clinged to existence here was too weak to be empowered by the Will of the Earth.  The Battalion set up their camps and bases and barracks and began to strategize.  This world was protected by a powerful defender, but the Battalion had waged war for uncounted centuries.  There was no foe they could not eventually defeat.  The humans had set them back, and this new threat was powerful, but the Battalion would be supreme.  From this place, they would go forth and conquer the planet.  And once the planet was under their control, they would resume their quest to escape this temporary prison.  No jail lacked an exit.  The Battalion would find it, and when they did the humans would suffer as no other suffered.  They would pay as the Kheldian race had paid - no, they would pay a steeper price for their treachery.  Mere consumption was not enough.  They would be made to suffer for all eternity.  And the Battalion would resume its conquest of all Incarnate power across the cosmos.

The Battalion commander was one among many within the Battalion army.  He had personally led his forces to the destruction of a dozen worlds like this one.  He had seen much, and would not be deterred in his duty to serve the Battalion no matter the situation.  As he stepped out of his compound he gave orders to several Battalion soldiers and then gazed out upon the land they now called home.  The sun was hot here, and the air dry.  It had not rained in this spot in over a decade, and it had been a lifeless stretch of sand for over a millenia.  Their foe was powerful, where the land hosted organic life it could bend to its will.  But here, with nothing to command, the Battalion were supreme.  It would take years, the Battalion commander thought to himself, but from this stronghold they would be able to reclaim the planet for the Battalion, meter by meter if necessary.  They would blast the land to dust if need be, to push back their implacable foe.

There was a deep rumble off in the distance, and at first the Battalion commander thought it was the sound of artillery fire.  But as he looked out to the west, he saw it was not weapons fire but thunder.  Near the horizon, he could see giant thunderclouds forming, and occasional flashes of lightning brighter than the sun struck the ground off in the distance.  The sound rumbled past them again, louder than before.  As he stared in disbelief, the clouds appeared to roil, faster than seemed natural, and raced towards their position.  As they approached, he could see the clouds tinged in eerie shades of green and blue, and surrounded by a silvery glow.

The Battalion commander reached up instinctively, touching his forehead.  His hand came away wet.  As he stared at it another large splash of water struck his hand, then another.  Soon he could hear the patter of water striking the rooftops of their structures.  Here, where less than a sprinkling of water fell in a century, it began to rain.  The rain grew stronger by the minute, and the wind began to pick up.

A storm was coming.  In this place, the first in a millenia.  It would not be the last.  It would take years, but this place, which was once a tropical rainforest a hundred centuries before, would become again a place where life would blossom.  The Hamidon would see to that. 

And the Battalion commander, realizing the true nature of the foe they faced for the first time, felt a shiver of fear.

...

This time, they met not in the ethereal landscape of the Dreamspace, but on a rooftop in White Plains.  The Rikti were gone, driven away from this place when their mothership was destroyed.  This place was now the domain of the Hamidon, the merged entity of Praetorian and Primal Earth. Soon, humanity would be gone from this place, ensconced in their new reality within Dreamspace.  It would take centuries, but eventually this place would revert to its former appearance as the Palace of the Stars.  But there would be no one to come and commune here.  It would no longer be the Rikti War Zone, or the Crash Site, or White Plains, or Witfield, or the Palace of the Stars.  It would just be another place on Earth.  The Hamidon saw no need to name places, and no need to treat this place any differently than any other place.  Once it was the only being left on this world, there would be no more names.

In the meantime, the Hamidon appeared to be taking no chances.  It quickly gained control of White Plains, and spread its power throughout the War Wall enclosed zone.  The Will of the Earth spawned Hamidon nuclei and monstrous Avatars and giant monstrous defenders throughout the zone.  It wanted White Plains.  And it seemed most were willing to let it have it.

"You didn't tell me you were going to bring Hamidon into this, Mender."

"If I did, would you have let me?" Silos asked.

"Do you realize the danger?  You're helping a creature that hates all of humanity to Ascend" the Dream Doctor said incredulously.

"Indeed.  And where will humanity be that this is a problem?  Where will Hamidon be?"

"Its still insane.  Rularuu escaped his dimensional prison once before, Hamidon could do likewise."

"Because Rularuu is a being that hungers for conquest and power, and seeks things beyond its current reach.  Hamidon seeks only to control the Earth.  It cares not for any world beyond its own, or any beings beyond its reach.  It cares only to protect the home of the Will."

The Dream Doctor considered Mender Silos' words.  "You still should have told me, Silos.  Once again, you have done..."

"I have done what was needed." Silos interrupted.  "I did what you would not do.  Was this not why you came to me in the first place?"

"The Battalion Would Now Be Battling For Control Of This World" Prometheus stated.  "They May Have Yet Achieved This If Not For The Mender And His Deal With The Hamidon."

The Dream Doctor wanted to continue to argue, but Silos was right: they were both right.  It only made it more infuriating.  This was his plan, and the first thing Prometheus and Mender Silos did apparently was deal behind his back.  Exactly as he needed them to.

"Wait.  How exactly did you assist the Hamidon with Ascension?  A being like Hamidon should not be able to Ascend.  Hamidon lacks the singular focus needed for Ascension."

"Primal Hamidon has the purity of purpose necessary to Ascend." Silos replied.

"But Primal Hamidon lacks the will, the drive to Ascend."

"Praetorian Hamidon doesn't lack the will."

"But even if they were combined - there is still something missing Mender.  Tell me."

"The Dream Walker Should Know, Mender" Prometheus announced.

"He does" Silos agreed.  "It would ordinarily take Hamidon years to evolve to a state where it could Ascend.  Millions of years in fact."

"But isn't Hamidon Ascending now?"

"Yes, he is."

"But you said it would take millions of years."

"I have given Hamidon millions of years."

Mender Silos explained.  When he went before the Praetorian Hamidon, he explained the process of Ascension.  For Hamidon to Ascend, the Praetorian Hamidon would have to merge with the Primal Hamidon: the best parts of each contributing to the new whole.  But this would put the Praetorian Hamidon into a similar state as the Primal Hamidon.  The merged Hamidon would have to evolve to a new state in which it could use the power of the Primal Hamidon and the will of the Praetorian Hamidon simultaneously.  Then, Hamidon could begin the process of Ascension.  But this would take an immense amount of time.

Which was the one currency Silos had to bargain with.  Silos was the leader of the Menders for one reason only.  He had mastered time travel as no other, and had broken the very limits the Menders thought inviolate.  He had traveled vast stretches of time thought impossible.  He was not only the greatest of the Menders, he was also the only one to have knowledge of timelines beyond anything any other Mender knew.  He, and he alone could break the carbon tether and travel millions of years forward and backward in time.  When the two Hamidons merged at the Battle of the Coming Storm, he took a sample of the merged Will of the Earth into the vast future.  With RulaCole's help, he crossed the barrier into deep time, into the far future of the Hamidon.  There, he merged his sample with the evolved Will of the Earth he collected there.  He then returned to the present, and returned the Will to the Earth.

The Will that was exposed to the evolved future Will quickly assimilated with the Will of the Earth in this time.  It combined with the Will of the present day and accelerated the evolution of Hamidon, allowing the Hamidon to achieve Ascension.  But there was a price.

"You are no longer attuned to this time, Silos" the Dream Doctor deduced immediately.

"No, I am not."

"The Mender Will Not Pass On" Prometheus added.

"But that means - you'll be trapped with Hamidon?"

"I'm not that crazy" Silos replied.  "No, its been arranged.  When the Barrier implodes Primal Earth will not split in two.  It will split in three.  The Incarnate power will flow into the Incarnate Earth.  Hamidon and the Battalion will remain here on Primal Earth, trapped in the Battalion bubble.  I will be propelled into another Earth, one without humanity and without Hamidon."

"You'll be alone?"  Silos only smiled at the Dream Doctor.

"And what of you, Prometheus?  Are you prepared for your fate?" Silos asked.

"Your Concern Is Unnecessary.  I Will Do What Is Necessary As I Have Always Done."

While Silos was barred from the Incarnate Earth, for Prometheus it was the opposite.  He was locked into being thrust into Incarnate Earth with humanity.  But while that would mean living in a world much the same as the current one, it would mean being permanently exiled from the others of his kind.  His people, his elders, lived in a dimensional plane now forever severed from Primal Earth.  Incarnate Earth would have no means of reaching the former home of Prometheus.  He would be with humanity, but he would also be alone.  Centuries ago, Prometheus cast his lot with humanity over the objection of his masters.  He would now be bound to humanity and its fate for all time.

"Don't look so glum, Doctor" Silos said.  "This is how it had to be.  Prometheus will be there, to guide humanity to its Destiny.  And you'll be there, to ensure no threat reaches them through Dreamspace and one day, when they are ready, to emerge from it into the greater cosmos.  The rest is up to them."

"And you?  What of you Silos?"

"Me?  I'm going to the top of that hill.  I'm going to watch the sunset.  And then, who knows?  After all, I will have lots of time to plan my future."

Mender Silos smiled at them for the last time, and then began to walk towards the hilltop to the west. 

"All the time in the world."

johnrobey

  • Elite Boss
  • *****
  • Posts: 991
  • CoH global: @Kristoff von Gelmini
Re: The Immortal Game: The Last City of Heroes story
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2012, 03:02:30 AM »
Thank you, Arcanaville!  This is excellent!  I really enjoyed your engaging story.   8)
"We must be the change we wish to see in the world." -- Mahatma Gandhi         "In every generation there has to be some fool who will speak the truth as he sees it." -- Boris Pasternak
"Where They Have Burned Books They Will End In Burning Human Beings" -- Heinrich Heine

Victoria Victrix

  • Team Wildcard
  • Elite Boss
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,868
  • If you don't try, you have failed.
    • Mercedes Lackey
Re: The Immortal Game: The Last City of Heroes story
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2012, 03:04:59 AM »
Just saved the whole thing.
I will go down with this ship.  I won't put my hands up in surrender.  There will be no white flag above my door.  I'm in love, and always will be.  Dido

Arcana

  • Sultaness of Stats
  • Elite Boss
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,665
Re: The Immortal Game: The Last City of Heroes story
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2012, 08:14:34 AM »
Thank you, Arcanaville!  This is excellent!  I really enjoyed your engaging story.   8)

Thanks.  Sometime next week, when I figure out where its supposed to go, I will try to start writing up that dev diary I promised I would do on the official forums.  I have lots of notes regarding both this story, and the November 28th event, that people might be interested reading.  I don't know precisely when I will do that, but when I do I will post a notice here.

Arcana

  • Sultaness of Stats
  • Elite Boss
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,665
Re: The Immortal Game: The Last City of Heroes story
« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2012, 08:17:36 AM »
Just saved the whole thing.

So what did you think?  Got a professional grade of the story for me?  I can take it.

johnrobey

  • Elite Boss
  • *****
  • Posts: 991
  • CoH global: @Kristoff von Gelmini
Re: The Immortal Game: The Last City of Heroes story
« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2012, 08:42:52 AM »
So what did you think?  Got a professional grade of the story for me?  I can take it.

V.V.'s opinion will be more important, Arcanaville, but I wondered if you might be a professional writer outside of CoH when I read "The Immortal Game."  I think you might seriously consider the profession if it has appeal.  There's a long list of SF&F authors who started as fans.  Who knows?   8)
"We must be the change we wish to see in the world." -- Mahatma Gandhi         "In every generation there has to be some fool who will speak the truth as he sees it." -- Boris Pasternak
"Where They Have Burned Books They Will End In Burning Human Beings" -- Heinrich Heine

faith.grins

  • Boss
  • ****
  • Posts: 124
  • Split your lungs with blood and thunder.
Re: The Immortal Game: The Last City of Heroes story
« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2012, 08:58:08 AM »
V.V.'s opinion will be more important, Arcanaville, but I wondered if you might be a professional writer outside of CoH when I read "The Immortal Game."  I think you might seriously consider the profession if it has appeal.  There's a long list of SF&F authors who started as fans.  Who knows?   8)
Arcanaville once said that the devs couldn't afford to hire her, and she didn't say it entirely in jest.  I think that puts her squarely in the realm of getting paid better than fantasy authors who aren't named J.K. Rowling.

But, hey, if she ever gets tired of that gig, I'm sure there are lots of folks who'd gladly pay to read her work.
Aram:  "Man, just look at all this.  Sometimes it's hard to believe that we get to live surrounded by such wonder."
Gamal:  "We don't live over there." Aram:  "We don't?"
Gamal:  "No.  We live over there." Aram:  "... But it's all on fire."
Gamal:  "Yes it is, Aram.  Yes it is."

johnrobey

  • Elite Boss
  • *****
  • Posts: 991
  • CoH global: @Kristoff von Gelmini
Re: The Immortal Game: The Last City of Heroes story
« Reply #15 on: December 03, 2012, 09:04:32 AM »
Arcanaville once said that the devs couldn't afford to hire her, and she didn't say it entirely in jest.  I think that puts her squarely in the realm of getting paid better than fantasy authors who aren't named J.K. Rowling.

But, hey, if she ever gets tired of that gig, I'm sure there are lots of folks who'd gladly pay to read her work.

Heh, even if Arcanaville happened to be independently wealthy, she still might want to consider professional novel writing, if not for the money, then simply if it brought her enjoyment.  Many pro's either started part-time, or had other interests including careers that precluding full-time writing.  I think the novelist is a special breed.  Even if I had the talent for it (I dont'), I know I lack the temperament.
"We must be the change we wish to see in the world." -- Mahatma Gandhi         "In every generation there has to be some fool who will speak the truth as he sees it." -- Boris Pasternak
"Where They Have Burned Books They Will End In Burning Human Beings" -- Heinrich Heine

Victoria Victrix

  • Team Wildcard
  • Elite Boss
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,868
  • If you don't try, you have failed.
    • Mercedes Lackey
Re: The Immortal Game: The Last City of Heroes story
« Reply #16 on: December 03, 2012, 10:42:03 AM »
So what did you think?  Got a professional grade of the story for me?  I can take it.

Later, my love, when I can read it without crying.
I will go down with this ship.  I won't put my hands up in surrender.  There will be no white flag above my door.  I'm in love, and always will be.  Dido

Arcana

  • Sultaness of Stats
  • Elite Boss
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,665
Re: The Immortal Game: The Last City of Heroes story
« Reply #17 on: December 03, 2012, 06:27:25 PM »
V.V.'s opinion will be more important, Arcanaville, but I wondered if you might be a professional writer outside of CoH when I read "The Immortal Game."  I think you might seriously consider the profession if it has appeal.  There's a long list of SF&F authors who started as fans.  Who knows?   8)

I'm not a professional writer.  At least not in the sense you're thinking.  I write: reports, essays, white papers, documentation, training guides, instructional material, presentations.  I would say I'm more of a student of writing.  I have, off and on, done some creative writing, mostly for myself and friends.  I'm not a published fiction writer.

I'm also not "independently wealthy."    More independently better off than average.

As to giving professional fiction writing a go, I've often thought about it, but for me at least it is very difficult to write when constantly distracted by things like work, which sometimes lock up weeks of my time at a time.  And I have a way of writing that is I think unusual.  I think my strengths are conceptualizing a story, and editing a story.  My weakness is, perhaps amusingly, actually writing one.  The way I write, which is the way this story was written, was that I have to get something on paper, no matter how stupid and clumsy.  And then I criticize it into a story.  In other words, I almost deliberately write a bad story that at least has most of the ideas I want, and then I proceed to replace almost every single word of it until I have a better one.  Because its hard to write a good story.  But its easy to critique a bad one.  So I've found I can get decent material out of writing bad, then sitting back and saying "that sucks, it should be this" and "that's dumb, they should do this instead."

Its a strange process, made stranger by the fact that I often have conversations with the characters of the story in my head, and they are some of the harshest critics.   I'm not sure that's a very common writing practice.  Part three, for example, was originally totally different, and then Silos said "that's stupid" and I reworked it completely, because I felt Silos would never do that.

I think you also have to have some passion for what you're writing, and this was something I did not need to summon any passion for deliberately.  When you believe in it, that's half the hurdle, and getting this down and finished was something I believed in.

For me at least, without that the writing doesn't go anywhere.

Lily Barclay

  • Elite Boss
  • *****
  • Posts: 407
Re: The Immortal Game: The Last City of Heroes story
« Reply #18 on: December 03, 2012, 06:55:04 PM »



Its a strange process, made stranger by the fact that I often have conversations with the characters of the story in my head, and they are some of the harshest critics.   I'm not sure that's a very common writing practice.  Part three, for example, was originally totally different, and then Silos said "that's stupid" and I reworked it completely, because I felt Silos would never do that.



That's not strange, lots of writers do that. I do that. R.A. Salvatore just posted about doing that on his Facebook last week. Talking to your characters is good. It makes the story genuine.

Arcana

  • Sultaness of Stats
  • Elite Boss
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,665
Re: The Immortal Game: The Last City of Heroes story
« Reply #19 on: December 03, 2012, 07:59:25 PM »
That's not strange, lots of writers do that. I do that. R.A. Salvatore just posted about doing that on his Facebook last week. Talking to your characters is good. It makes the story genuine.

I've heard that talking to characters, as a way to make them real, is not uncommon.  I'm not sure its common when they stop suddenly and say "you want me to say what?  I don't think so.  Come back when that head injury heals."