Act One – Land of the Free
The Storm Knights are stranded on Tz’Ravok, homeworld of the ravagons. Brought to the crumbling temple-home of Kevessk, they speak to the ancient ravagon and learn much of the Possibility Wars. Kevessk tells them of how the Gaunt Man has masqueraded as a ravagon prophet to win the winged hunters to his cause – a cause that Kevessk and his disciples deny. Kevessk also reveals to them that the Gaunt Man has been trapped in a maelstrom for months due to a vulnerability to Eternity Shards. And he further tells them how to bring Final Death to Manwaring – by stuffing his mouth with holy wafers and beheading him.
This is actually good timing, because Manwaring appears out of the darkness and attacks, accompanied by a more ravagons and a tz’rettak – a gargantuan worm-beast of this world. Kevessk immediately begins crafting a portal back to Core Earth, and the Storm Knights hold the line against Manwaring and his allies to give the ancient ravagon time to complete their route home. A massive lightning storm rolls in over the scene to complicate matters, but the Knights are seasoned warriors, and the ravagons soon succumb to sustained fire from Sokanon and Clyssia. Rick brings down the tz’rettak single-handed, and Cleophee at last brings an end to the vampyre Victor Manwaring, with the aid of holy wafers from Kevessk’s temple and the keen edge of the Nile Sunblade. And there was much rejoicing.
Hurling themselves through Kevessk’s portal, our heroes arrive in Hoo-Stun (Kevessk sends them here because he has detected an increase in ravagon activity in the area) and are almost immediately intercepted by Delphi Council operatives. With unearthly storms brewing overhead, the Knights are happy to accompany them (and the operatives are happy to not get murdered) and before long, our heroes are in conference at the Delphi Council safehouse with their old friend Ellen Connors. As you might expect, the meeting gets slightly out of hand. The Storm Knights introduce Speaker Vrakoth. He offers to assist Core Earth. Connors reveals that the Delphi Council has Thratchen in a holding cell after he surrendered himself to them. All the Storm Knights think this is a terrible idea. Someone mentions the comaghaz virus. Connors tries to quarantine everyone at gunpoint. Clyssia fills the entire room with magic glue which Knotty claims comes from his butthole. You know. The usual.
After everyone has finished shouting and waving their guns around, things settle down a bit. Connors says that President Quartermain is en route to meet with Thratchen and the Knights insist on talking to the President first. Connors reluctantly agrees and the group head upstairs to meet the leader of the free world. After initial pleasantries are exchanged, Speaker Vrakoth is overcome by the comaghaz hive mind and immediately tries to kill Quartermain. Sokanon helpfully blows his brains out (Vrakoth’s, not Quartermain’s). At the same time, however, the Yamanashi Lacewing reveals that a stela is coming online somewhere in the building. Also, a maelstrom bridge starts to form in the skies above the city, disgorging several advanced fighter craft – Tharkold is attempting another invasion of Earth. Oh, and the Robosphinx Mk II emerges from the sea, launching several Paket fighters and Super Ra Warrior Rocket Force X. The final battle begins.
As Quartermain bravely runs away, our heroes launch into action. Cleophee summons Kuranath and takes to the skies, dogfighting with the Tharkoldu attack craft. Sokanon races to the shore and faces off against the Robosphinx – which is piloted by none other than the Insidious Wu Han, who fires missiles at the safehouse and cackles wildly over his intercom. Clyssia confronts Super Ra Warrior Rocket Force X when they attack the safehouse directly. And Rick rushes into the basement where he discovers the stela. It’s Thratchen himself – somehow the techno-demon has hardwired a stela into his cybernetic circuitry. After only a few moments of hesitation to gather his courage, Admiral Rogers engages the Regent of Orrorsh in a reality storm!
Cleophee and her dragon are a solid match for the Tharkoldu jets. As the United States Airforce mobilises to lend aid, the elf leads the aerial battle. Seeing her wife standing alone against the Robosphinx with her rifle, Cleophee tricks two fighter craft into pursuing her – then pulls Kuranath up at the last minute. The two fighters plough into the Robosphinx, immobilising it. Sokanon scales its exterior and leaps into the cockpit to engage Wu Han in hand-to-hand combat. Clyssia unleashes all manner of magical whup-ass against the Ra Warriors, and Rick finds himself stretched to his uttermost limits in his reality battle against Thratchen. He begins to realise that he may have met his match.
Then the second maelstrom bridge arrives.
To the north of Houston, a monstrous column of vines and creepers, swarming with reptilian beasts, descends from the stormclouds. Takta Ker has come. An edeinos army swarms down the bridge, with a huge lizard man atop a mighty carnol at its head. Kaah is here.
Cleophee turns Kuranath around and races north to meet the new arrivals. Down below, Core Earth troops struggle to form a defensive line to hold the edeinos at bay while a panicked evacuation of Houston gets underway. But with Living Land axioms washing over the northern half of the city, Houston’s defenders are a disorganised rabble. Alone, Cleophee and her dragon face the might of Baruk Kaah’s army and the rage of the Saar and his Darkness Device.
Clyssia is holding her own against Super Ra Warrior Rocket Force X – for now – but Sokanon is finding Wu Han a trickier opponent than she anticipated. The wily overgovernor uses deceit, feints, and a handful of poisonous powder to incapacitate her. Naturally, he ties her up and begins to gloat. Sokanon, however, is no damsel in distress. She slips her bonds and shoots Wu Han point blank with Bianca. He screams, staggers backwards, falls out of the Robosphinx’s eye-socket, and plummets into the waters of the bay below. Determined not to let him escape, Sokanon races after him and turns his body over… to see that his moustache has come loose from his face. It wasn’t Wu Han at all, but some kind of body double. Curses!
Rick is running out of Possibility Energy and, although Thratchen is similarly depleted, his reserves seem deeper than those of the Rocket Ranger. Growing desperate, Rick empties the Pearl of Atabey – the group’s first Eternity Shard – in his attempt to defeat the techno-demon. But even that is not enough. And so Rick decides that there is only one way to end this struggle. He kicks his suit’s thrusters into overdrive and, grappling Thratchen, sends them both hurtling skyward. Their reality storm collapses around them and Rick climbs as far and as fast as he can. Before Thratchen can recover his senses and retaliate, Rick slams them both into the growing steel superstructure of the Tharkoldu maelstrom bridge high overhead. The impact kills Thratchen in a titanic blast of Possibility energy, shattering the nascent bridge, and the Rocket Ranger, his life spent in one last heroic sacrifice, falls to his end on the good Earth below.
Sowing death and fire among the edeinos ranks from Kuranath’s back, Cleophee spots his body falling. She banks hard and sends Kuranath speeding across the embattled city. Just in time, the dragon snatches the comatose Admiral from the air. Cleophee drags him into her saddle and revives him. Rick Rogers lives to fight another day. Of course, he’s getting used to it by now.
Back on the beach, Sokanon emerges from the water to see a small speedboat reach the shore. It’s manned by her old partner Jake and former president Douglas Kent, who have come to help deal with Kaah’s bridge. Knowing that the Saar was going to attack Houston, Kent has produced a large amount of his badass weedkiller. If they can retrieve the captured Cyberpapacy missile from Episode Three, Kent is sure they can use it to deploy the weedkiller against the Living Land maelstrom bridge. Quin Sebastian is waiting not far away with a plane, ready to go. Sokanon agrees, and together they head back to the safehouse to regroup with the others.
Once there, Sokanon helps Clyssia deal with the last of Super Ra Warrior Rocket Force X. Cleophee realises that she cannot burn all of Kaah’s army alone – Kent’s plan will deal a more lasting blow. Below her, the edeinos are cutting a deadly swathe through Core Earth’s shambolic lines. But they only need to hold out a while longer. She sweeps in on Kuranath to rejoin her wife and daughter. And behind her, Rick descends, retro-thrusters firing.
There they assemble, Avengers-fashion – Earth’s finest Storm Knights. Clyssia, crackling with spell energy. Sokanon, her rifle slung over her shoulder. Cleophee astride her dragon. Rick Rogers in his battle-scarred rocket suit. Knotty, scratching his butt. The time has come to end this.
Retrieving the Cyberpapal warhead, our heroes are soon at a nearby airfield, where Quin Sebastian awaits. Core Earth’s defences are crumbling – Baruk Kaah has now carved a path deep into their ranks, threatening the ragged lines of fleeing evacuees – and so the Knights waste no time in loading Kent’s badass weedkiller into the missile. Then they are aloft, Sokanon and Clyssia in the plane, with Rick and Cleophee providing close air support. As one, they streak towards the towering mass of the Living Land maelstrom bridge.
Kaah sees them and repeatedly hurls a great black spear – his Darkness Device, Rec Pakken, in weapon-form – at the speeding aircraft. The plane is badly damaged but Quin manages to keep it airborne. The Knights fight off swarms of lakten that try to slow their progress and finally come within striking distance of the bridge. It falls to Rick Rogers (under strict orders not to try to sacrifice himself) to deliver the missile. He flies deep into the mass of vines at the heart of the bridge, deposits the warhead, then hurtles to safety. The plane banks away. The missile detonates.
In a combination of nuclear fire and presidential defoliant, the maelstrom bridge is torn apart. And a Core Earth axiom wash thunders into Takta Ker. As the portal to the savage world collapses, our heroes catch a brief glimpse of it wreaking devastation on the primitive reality in a monstrous surge of Possibility Energy, testament to the innate strength of Earth’s reality.
This is not the only consequence, of course. Their axioms restored, Core Earths troops rally and begin a lethal series of counterattacks against the edeinos army. Now modern weapons tear the edeinos lines apart, and heavy artillery pounds the reptilian invaders from all sides. Baruk Kaah roars for his men to stand their ground, but his roars turn to a scream of disbelief. At his side, the black spear vanishes, and Kaah is reminded that Rec Pakken does not serve him. He serves Rec Pakken. And when that service is finally deemed a failure, the Darkness Device discards him, leaving him to his fate.
Which is to receive a high-grade ass-kicking from the Storm Knights. In a flurry of lead, plasma, lightning, steel, and dragonfire, they descend upon the Saar of the edeinos. Kaah is a powerful foe, and gives his best against them, but without his Darkness Device he is no match for Earth’s finest. They subject him to a thorough beat-down, literally driving him to his knees before them. It is there that he begs for mercy, there that he asks them to spare him. And it is there – on his knees – that Baruk Kaah perishes, as Sokanon puts a bullet through his brain for all the horror he has wrought upon her world.
Around them, the sounds of battle echo through the smoke of the burning maelstrom bridge. The edeinos are routing, Core Earth’s troops driving them back from the city. And then, through the murk, a figure appears. A tall, emaciated man in a battered coat and wide-brimmed hat. A dragon-headed cane is in his hand. Bowing formally, the Gaunt Man congratulates the Storm Knights on thinning the ranks of his High Lords, removing the weak so that the strong may prosper. He tells them that that can be proud of their accomplishments. And he looks forward to meeting them formally soon…
Our heroes are politely grateful, but have nothing more to say to the mastermind behind the invasion of Earth. Sometimes it’s better to leave things as they are. And as the Gaunt Man leaves the Storm Knights, so do we – surrounded by smoke and devastation, the body of a High Lord at their feet. Victorious to the last.
In the days that follow, there is a brief respite. Cleophee is knighted by Ardinay and given command of Aysle’s armies under Tolwyn Tancred. Clyssia and Knotty enjoy some simple downtime watching Netflix in their motel (a documentary series on the heroes of the wars begins with a feature-length episode about Jaidyn Scott). Admiral Rogers leads the Rocket Rangers against a weird science facility (a figure who looks an awful lot like Wu Han flees for cover as their assault begins). Skye reads a letter that Sokanon gave to Uncle Joe in the event of her death, but feels only gratitude and pride in the hero she has for a daughter. And in Houston, Tyler addresses the latest Spartan recruits, telling them to never forget who they are, what they stand for. Before all else, they are Storm Knights.
The Possibility Wars continue…