Torg

Episode Twelve: Home Ground
Stela hunt!

Act One – Storm Chasers

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With Marshall Rogers spending quality time with Katrina Babbidge, sorceress, and Rosa seeing her family on the reservation, Cleophee, Emily, and Jaidyn return to Mount Sterling for a rendezvous with McKinley Forrest and Cody. McKinley claims that the southernmost stela of the Eastern Land is ripe for removal – and their old friend Tal Tu has tracked a band of edeinos who might be able to help locate it. The Knights head out immediately, pausing only to rescue McKinley from some Delphi Council operatives who are rather annoyed at his unpatriotic YouTube activities. Despite the obvious mortal peril, McKinley doesn’t seem to be taking it very seriously, instead concentrating on filming the battle while narrating events to camera on his phone. Our heroes dutifully save him (again), leaving the Delphi goons and their Spartan guards dead, dying, or fleeing by helicopter, their black SUVs burning freely in the streets, and hightail it out of town.

Reunited with Tal Tu (and Oscar!), the Storm Knights learn that a restan is in the area – a band of edeinos planning on planting a fresh stela in Core Earth. If our heroes can capture the restan, they might be able to learn where other stelae are located with more precision. Tal Tu insists on getting slushies first, though. With this vital detour taken care of, the Knights locate the restan hiding in woodland near Richmond Road Quarry, and gently persuade them with missiles and grenades to reveal all they know. Which turns out to be nothing at all. The sole surviving member of the restan – now our heroes’ prisoner – explains that planting a stela kills those who plant it. So although the restan was carrying a stela to bury in Core Earth, they have no idea how to pinpoint stelae that are already in place. Baruk Kaah’s servants preserve their secrets with their lives.

Whether this is true or not, the Knights are at a dead end. Horrified at the blasphemy of his fellow edeinos, Tal Tu kills the prisoner and then weeps in sorrow at what his people have become. While the group is pondering how to proceed, a pair of sleek vans appears out of the darkness, disgorging a young woman in an expensive coat (and her bodyguards). Identifying herself as Jennifer Matsumoto, she says she brings an offer from the Epimetheus Foundation. Emily recalls the organisation as the same one that found a stela in a Siberian mine at the start of the war – and was instrumental in ripping it up and thwarting the Tharkoldu invasion of Russia. This fact is enough for our heroes to hear Jennifer’s offer.

Jennifer says that Epimetheus contacts in Japan have solid intelligence on an Eternity Shard with the power to locate stelae. Currently in the hands of the Yamaguchi-gumi yakuza crime family, it would be exactly what the Knights need in their battle against the High Lords. Convinced (for now) that the Epimetheus Foundation wants the same thing as they do – to oust Earth’s invaders – the Knights accept her offer. With Cody and McKinley spirited away to safety, Jaidyn, Cleophee, and Emily are driven to Coal Field Airport, where a very high-end jet waits for them on the runway. Next stop – Japan.

Act Two – The Enemy of My Enemy

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Emily is abruptly stricken by a bout of explosive diarrhoea and remains in the USA, but Rosa and Rick rejoin the group for their journey to Japan. Aboard the Epimetheus jet, Jennifer briefs the Knights on the location of the Yamaguchi-gumi safehouse – a colonial-era mansion known as Berrick Hall, situated atop Yokohama’s bluff. Sensitive to the fact that guns and swords are highly illegal in Japan, our heroes come up with a far subtler plan to abduct a security guard and obtain his access papers, using them to infiltrate the yakuza’s secure basement situated beneath Berrick Hall. The plan goes off without a hitch. Apart from the zombies.

After identifying their hapless target via drone surveillance, the Knights abduct the poor fellow from the street near Berrick Hall. At the same time, however, protests are breaking out over an industrial spill by Toranaga Chemicals earlier that day that resulted in several casualties. Our heroes are caught in the furore as the protest gets completely out of hand and escalates into the firebombing of a Toranaga building nearby. The resulting explosions spread toxic fumes across the neighbourhood, and several protestors succumb, becoming filled with murderous rage. They fall on one another with mindless savagery. And worse, Rosa seems to be affected by the toxins as well, black tears seeping from her eyes.

Meanwhile, a Kanawa security patrol sweeps into the area and starts gunning down the protestors. Cleophee improvises a spell to clear the air of the toxic fumes, then disarms the patrol, but the Knights are soon attacked by several slavering protestors. Cleophee is injured before Rick carves the infected mob to pieces with his Godbeam, and she feels a strange dizziness sweep through her. Wasting no more time, the group slips over the rear wall of Berrick Hall and soon locates the secure basement housing the Yakuza stronghold. With the aid of their captive security guard, they’re granted access. Jaidyn also steals a helicopter, but we shall not dwell on that.

Once in the safehouse, our heroes are soon granted an audience with local Yakuza boss, Yageshita. In a tense discussion, he strips away the Knights’ subterfuge and reveals that he already knows a great deal about them. Cleophee’s condition worsens and she collapses, resuscitated through swift action by Rick. The unexpected appearance of Shunsuke – the former Kanawa technician liberated from the oil rig in Thailand – only makes matters worse. Shunsuke, who has taken sanctuary with the Yakuza to escape Kanawa vengeance, accuses the Knights of dishonesty and a propensity for needless violence, and urges Yageshita not to trust them. The group is nevertheless able to forge a deal with Yageshita, who accepts their assurances of good intentions and offers to sell them the Yamate Lacewing… for a quarter of a million dollars.

When the Knights are escorted to the safe to retrieve it, however, matters grow even more complicated. They discover a Yakuza serving girl trying to crack the safe, who turns out to be an undercover Yokohama cop who has infiltrated the gang to learn its true allegiance. In the ensuing confrontation, one of Jaidyn’s stray bullets accidentally shatters a medical containment unit holding one of the victims of the chemical spill, releasing the mutated gangster within. Yageshita accuses the Knights of working for Kanawa, revealing that the Epimetheus Foundation is an arm of the shadowy megacorporation. Their cover blown, the Foundation sends a truckload of samurai gospog to attack the safehouse, and our heroes are soon fighting alongside the Yakuza and the undercover cop against these shared foes.

Through spells, grenades, and a slightly excessive drone-strike, the Storm Knights are victorious. Yageshita grants them the Yamate Lacewing, grants the undercover cop her freedom (for another quarter of a million), and promises the group that, as long as they fight the High Lords, they may call on the Yamaguchi-gumi for aid. Although Rick is slightly bemused by the shifting allegiances and shades of grey, the Knights know a victory when they see one, and begin their journey back to the USA, for their date with one of Baruk Kaah’s stelae…

Act Three – Calling the Thunder

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After spending time with friends and loved ones (or just wantonly using Kane for personal gratification), the Storm Knights reconvene for their assault on the southernmost stela of the Eastern Land. Accepting an offer of help from the Delphi Council to stage a distraction in the Lexington area, the Knights use the Yamate Lacewing to zero in on the stela’s location in the hills surrounding King’s Creek, North Carolina. Tal Tu confirms Delphi reconnaissance data, stating that Baruk Kaah has moved a considerable force into the area to defend the stela, alerted to the Knights’ intentions by any number of avenues (though most likely some combination of treachery by the Epimetheus Foundation, and McKinley Forrest’s giant flappy mouth.) Leaving Kuranath close by, the group breach the reality storms on the border of the Living Land and make for the stela.

Adopting a stealthy approach, they proceed through flooded and storm-wracked terrain, drawing ever closer to their goal – until Emily stumbles across concealed edeinos sentries (quite literally). A frantic combat erupts as the Knights attempt to silence the edeinos before they can raise the alarm. They’re successful, but airborne stalenger scouts spot them and begin unleashing miracles on our heroes. Rosa is able to down one with an incredible shot and unexpected help comes from Kane, who has followed the group to lend aid against the Saar. The stalengers are slain, but now the edeinos know the Knights are coming. The Storm Knights abandon stealth and race for the stela.

From his perch atop a borr aka – one of the Living Land’s mightiest of beasts – the edeinos shaman Yessek Kaal summons magma from within the earth to cut the Knights off. Emily and Rosa manage to outrun the molten rock and are soon in close combat with edeinos warriors, while Rick deposits Cleophee and Jaidyn atop the hill containing the stela. As Cleophee unearths it with her stone tunnel spell, Jaidyn and Rick defend her from elite edeinos troops and a carnol. With a combination of swordplay and grenade work, Emily and Rosa carve a path through their foes to join the other Knights – just as even more aid arrives on the scene. Not to be left out of the most furious battle the group has seen so far, Picnic and a dozen Hells Angels come riding through the storm to lend their strength to our heroes. The battle is truly on.

Emily, Rosa, Kane, and Picnic and the Angels hurl themselves against further waves of edeinos troops and two more carnols. Jaidyn sends his drone to destroy the straps holding Yessek Kaal’s howdah in place atop the borr aka, toppling it into the jungle. And Cleophee scrambles up the borr aka’s neck, rips the benthe out of its ear, and proceeds to calm the beast before it can lumber up the hillside and squish everyone to a pulp. It is left to Marshall Rogers to deal with the stela. With another superhero landing, he drops from the sky and engages in a reality struggle with the artifact. His first attempt severs two of the stela’s three connections to its brethren, and his next severs the third. The stela’s link to Baruk Kaah’s Darkness Device dies, Living Land reality collapses, and Core Earth axioms sweep in, a monstrous reality storm following in their wake.

The edeinos and the carnols scatter, are disconnected, or killed outright by the storm. The lava flow subsides. The borr aka is felled, barely able to breathe in Core Earth reality. And our heroes have only moments to savour their victory before the Yamate Lacewing signals that another stela is within range. At first they think it’s a backup Living Land stela, but the Lacewing soon reveals that it’s actually a Pan-Pacifica stela in the process of being activated. Realising that Pan-Pacifica are planning their own invasion of the USA on the back of the Saar’s defeat, the Knights send Kuranath to slow them down and while they race to prevent the stela from coming online.

Jennifer Matsumoto and her team are waiting for them. Even as the Knights attack the Pan-Pacifica stela, Jennifer threatens to have snipers shoot their loved ones unless they back down. Rosa, however, calls her bluff, causing Jennifer to disconnect. It’s all the distraction the Storm Knights need. Rick blasts Jennifer, severing her communication with her snipers – and Jaidyn sacrifices himself by detonating his entire stash of C-4 explosive, destroying the stela completely. When the dust settles, the Knights have been victorious against two invading realms, but at a terrible cost. As refugees from the collapsed Living Land zone stumble back into Core Earth reality, and the Delphi Council clean-up begins, they can only look to the future. Jaidyn’s memory will stay with them – as will his legacy, in the form of his newly-Transcended daughter…

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Episode Eleven: The Possibility Chalice
"X" never marks the spot...

Act One – The Forbidden Sea

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Following the Destiny Map, the Storm Knights arrive on the shores of the Gulf of Thailand, seeking the Possibility Chalice – and discover that the Kanawa Corporation is already there, in the form of a large oil-rig. And they’re not drilling for oil. After sampling banana pancakes and five-star hospitality at the Ban Chiang Happy House, our heroes decide some investigation is in order. From the locals, they learn that the oil rig appeared about a month ago, and sees only intermittent activity. The one fact that everyone in the village knows is that it’s dangerous to approach closer than half a mile because of some kind of automated defence system. Do the Storm Knights ignore these warnings? Does the Cyberpope have a shiny chin?

They convince one of the monks at a local temple to ferry them out to the rig after nightfall (seeing murals that couldn’t be more stuffed with clues for Act Two if they tried) and score some completely safe sets of scuba gear from the local shop. There, they also have a close encounter with the village bigwig, an oily character by the name of Lajang, who seems completely trustworthy and wholly unlikely to be in the pay of a large Japanese conglomerate of some type. After some final preparations, Jaidyn uses Emily’s satellite phone to hack and disable the oil rig’s comm’s system, and the Knights are soon heading out to sea.

With the help of airborne reconnaissance from Rick and Jaidyn, they’re able to spot and evade waterborne sentry robots, and board the oil rig (or land majestically on its helipad, in Kuranath’s case. The rig seems deserted at first glance, but closer inspection of its command centre confirms that there is a skeleton crew of two technicians aboard. It also appears that the rig is stationed above a legendary temple on the sea bed, and is in the process of pumping it dry. Leaving Kuranath to stand guard on the upper deck, the Knights head below in search of the oil rig’s crew.

They find one technician in an observation centre on the second deck, and another sleeping in his quarters. Although the latter is a company man through and through, seemingly willing to face death with stoic courage, the former is far more pliable. Under subtle psychological pressure, he reveals a considerable amount about the oil rig and its true purpose and, when our heroes offer him a chance to slip the grasp of the Kanawa Corporation, he agrees. Over the strident protests of his colleague, he leads the Storm Knights to the rig’s submarine dock. There, our heroes kit themselves out with an array of stolen Kanawa gear and prepare to descend into the depths of the sea, to investigate the sunken temple below.

Act Two – Temple of the Storm

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The submarine reaches the pressurised dome, some twenty metres below the surface – a hardpoint under the axioms of Pan-Pacifica The Storm Knights dock and are exploring the dome when they discover that the aquatic sentry robots have been reactivated during a cut-scene in the oilrig. The robots start shooting phased laser blasts at the Knights through the high-tech plas-steel viewports, so the Knights hurry into the sunken temple that lies partially exposed on the sea-bed.

Most of the temple is underwater, so our heroes make good use of their captured scuba gear and explore its murky confines. The first thing they encounter is the legendary Beast of Kra – a huge squid-like monstrosity that proceeds to pummel them mercilessly. After several rounds of painful and largely fruitless combat against the Beast (Jaidyn’s idea to fire grenades into the monster’s mouth using his speargun would totally have worked, though), Rick supercharges his rocket boosters and smashes the creature through the temple wall, dealing it a mortal injury. Exploration of the rest of the temple proceeds forthwith.

The ruin contains many strange relics of Kra Buddhism, including a gauzy mask that renders the wearer completely blind, which Cleophee is able to retrieve by recalling the steps of the Dance of Kra from Act One. Passing through a small reality storm back into Core Earth axioms, our heroes find ancient statues that cast Kra purification rituals on them, and a well filled with magical fire that imbue those who gaze into the flames with serene perception and a sense of oneness with all existence. Which is nice.

The Storm Knights eventually locate a secret door leading into the heart of the temple and Cleophee uses the mask to find a path through a darkened chamber (”only when you are blind can you truly see,” as Rick helpfully points out) and find the Possibility Chalice! Or, rather, the chamber where it used to be before an Ayslish sorceress called Katrina Babbidge removed it and took it back to Aysle, leaving a magical holographic invitation to visit her there in its place.

Emily, who has been keeping watch on the dome outside the temple, is the first to notice the new arrivals – several squads of Kanawa troops who enter through the airlocks. They have captured our heroes’ monk ally and hold him at gunpoint, demanding that the Knights surrender. As if. Instead, Rick destroys the hardpoint, causing the dome’s portholes to collapse under Core Earth axioms, and the waters of the Gulf of Thailand rapidly flood the dome. A heroic escape ensues, with the Knights rescuing the monk, as well as the less-treacherous of the Kanawa technicians, and fleeing to the surface in the submarine while the dome collapses behind them. A last-minute appearance by Pierre deVris probably helps too, although it’s hard to tell exactly how.

Returning the monk to the mainland (he departs to seek his fortunes in Bangkok) and offering the technician redemption and employment, the Storm Knights reunite with Kuranath. The dragon apologises for not raising the alarm, but insists that keeping himself safe from a Kanawa attack helicopter was in everyone’s best interests. There’s no arguing with that, so our heroes prepare for the next leg of their quest – a return to Aysle and a rendezvous with Katrina Babbidge, sorceress.

Act Three – The Missing Mage

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Arriving in Aysle – specifically, Aylesbury – the Storm Knights discover that Katrina Babbidge, sorceress, is missing from her narrowboat (The Puddleduck) and Ayslish Home Guard are in the process of investigating her apparent abduction, under the supervision of a mildly irritated Tolwyn. Although several goblin bodies litter the boat, Tolwyn is unconvinced that the goblins would have been capable of kidnapping a mage of Ardinay’s court. She asks the Knights to look into the matter, dismayed by the local Home Guard contingent’s lack of basic investigative competence. The Knights agree and are soon aboard Kuranath and heading for the hamlet of Piss Hill, where goblins are known to frequent the local pub.

A picturesque town in the Chiltern Hills, Piss Hill (or Pishil, as it used to be known) has accepted Ayslish axioms with few protestations. The villagers are thrilled, awed, and terrified in varying combinations by Kuranath alighting in the field opposite The Crown pub, but our heroes mollify their apprehension (helped by buying some cows for the dragon to devour at his leisure). In the pub they find a band of goblins who turn out to be the survivors of the raid on The Puddleduck. Gentle intimidation (and a handy supply of napkins) confirms that the goblins were only sent in to trigger The Puddleduck’s magical wards. Someone else went in after them to actually abduct the sorceress, and one of the goblins is fairly certain who it was – agents from House Gallios. Emily contacts her superiors and learns that House Gallios was a Core Earth crime family that took up banditry and extortion in the wake of the Possibility Wars. With a Queenswrath issued for their capture or downfall, House Gallios is known to make its home in one of the darkest corners of Aysle – the storm-blasted wasteland of Slough.

It transpires that the Knights aren’t the only ones interested in House Gallios. Once in Slough, they encounter elves of the Lekmenarion – mercenaries loyal to the famous elven warrior Lekmon. Once a servant of Uthorion, Lekmon now fights for Ardinay (until a better offer comes along). After a meeting with the beguiling Cleophee, he agrees to join forces with our heroes in a raid on House Gallios. Which actually means that the Storm Knights do all the hard work and the Lekmenarion get to saunter off with the prisoners and claim the Queenswrath reward. So that’s pretty much what happens.

Rick kicks off the proceedings by freeing House Gallios’ captive gryphons, which immediately turn on their former captors (helped by Emily, who helpfully ushers Gallios guards into harm’s way). Cleophee wreaks acrobatic havoc throughout Gallios ranks, Jaidyn rearranges the local architecture with his gauss gun, and Rosa lays down devastating fire with Bianca. Oh, and the elves shoot a few guards from the back. The Storm Knights move like lightning through the Gallios forces, unstoppable, accurate, and blindingly fast. It’s all over in less than a minute, Francis Gallios pinned to a wall by Marshall Rogers, his gryphons and men dead or surrendering about him. Before Lekmon drags him away in chains, Gallios confirms that he did indeed abduct Katrina Babbidge, sorceress. But he handed her immediately over to another spellcaster – a dark wizard in the service of Uthorion known only as Amethyst. Along with the Possibility Chalice, Amethyst has taken the missing sorceress into the north, into the lands of darkness. Into Yorkshire.

Act Four – Dark Rescue

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Rosa, Jaidyn, and Rick head north on horseback while Emily undergoes an overdue debrief with her superiors and Cleophee busies herself with “elf stuff” (insinuations that’s she’s off cavorting with Lekmon are vicious rumours of the worst kind). The terrain grows darker and more ominous as they pass into lands firmly under the control of forces loyal to Uthorion. Aysle is truly a land divided. They finally reach their destination – a former UK military base on the North Yorkshire moors, now home to the dark wizard Amethyst. Aerial investigation by drone and rocket ranger reveals that it is home to a force of considerable size, so our heroes elect to infiltrate the base using stealth. In a shocking turn of events, they’re really rather successful.

Jaidyn uses his drone to remove the alarm bell in a glorious display of flying skill, and the Knights sneak into an underground complex beneath the base’s main buildings. They avoid open conflict through a combination of appalling cruelty to animals and hilarious booby traps and manage to locate Katrina Babbidge, sorceress, who is in the process of being tortured by one of Amethyst’s apprentices – a pouty little fellow by the name of Polyphebo. After intimidating him into releasing the sorceress and revealing that Amethyst fears a prophecy that a “child of the storm” will be his undoing (he’s a dark wizard – of course there’s a prophecy), Rick kindly electrocutes Polyphebo into unconsciousness. With Babbidge sorely wounded, the group are deciding how to proceed when the survivors of their booby traps find the dog parts and raise the alarm.

Rick, who has taken quite a shine to the sorceress, risks life and limb to fly her through the massing defenders and out of the base to safety, while Jaidyn gloriously tricks the troops into trying to rescue Polyphebo from entirely fictional assailants. He and Rosa use this brief diversion to hunt for Amethyst – they find him escaping up a secret tunnel to the surface, but pursuit is prevented by a squad of enchanted Viking warriors. And two angry trolls. And a Lance tactical ballistic nuclear missile that has been transformed into a golem. The ensuing battle in the tunnels beneath the base is a bloody affair – sorely outnumbered, our heroes realise that flying rapidly away while clinging to Rick’s armour is the better part of valour. So they do.

Act Five – Children of the Storm

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Rosa recalls mention of Robin Hood’s Bay, a few miles to the east, and correctly guesses that Amethyst will be making for there, intent on delivering the Possibility Chalice to his lord Uthorion in Norway. The Storm Knights arrive at the village just in time to see a Viking longship speeding away from the shore under the power of a magical wind. Rosa suggests that the group look for help among the locals and Jaidyn discovers that an old Royal Navy buddy of his called Drexel is in the area – and has the only working powerboat on the bay. Before long, the group is aboard Drexel’s boat and speeding across the dark waters in pursuit of the longship.

Amethyst is not one to allow such threats to go unanswered, however. He unleashes fell magic and summons a beast of the deeps – a Draconis Aquatica – to slay the Knights. The sea dragon vomits a blast of scalding steam against our heroes’ boat, dealing them painful wounds, then moves in for the kill. But the group is not without a defender. It transpires that Cleophee has sent Kuranath north to watch over her companions, and now the Draconis Aysle sweeps down from the clouds to do battle with the Aquatica. Jaidyn takes the helm from Drexel and, in a truly incredible display of naval prowess, pilots the boat away from the battle, closing the distance to Amethyst’s ship, and leaving the dragons to battle in the darkness behind them.

Before long, they catch up with the longship. Rick streaks past its crow’s nest, drawing the attention of the crew. Jaidyn and Rosa take advantage of this distraction to get the powerboat as close as they can – then they kill the engine, leap into the sea, and swim the rest of the distance. They’re able to grab ropes and start climbing aboard just as Amethyst shrieks at the oarsmen to carry on rowing or die. His shrieking reaches a whole new level when Rick drops out of the sky and does a superhero landing on the deck of the ship right in front of the dark wizard… and then unleashes a reality storm against him.

The tempest engulfs them both, but Rick has been preparing for this moment for months. His command of the storm is absolute. Within seconds, he strips Amethyst of his Possibilities and then his reality, transforming the dark wizard to the axioms of the Nile Empire. Amethyst’s spells crumble about him, and he collapses on the deck in a quivering heap. At this point Jaidyn and Rosa appear – at a snarled command from Jaidyn, Amethyst’s Viking warriors throw themselves into the sea rather than face the Storm Knights. Rosa promptly locates Amethyst’s cabin, where she finds the object of this long and meandering quest – the Possibility Chalice. With the eternity shard in their possession and Amethyst their prisoner, the Knights head for shore. The Signal Fire awaits…

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Episode Ten: The Destiny Map (Part II)
Welcome to the jungle!

Act One – Raising Indiana

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Our heroes reconvene at Rocky Boy’s Reservation in northern Montana, Rosa’s home patch, to plan their next moves. It’s an uncomfortable reunion – Kuranath’s presence in the area has riled the local law enforcement and some of Rosa’s people are alarmed at the increased attention. Jaidyn goading Cleophee into using her superior elven senses to fleece the casino out of five thousand dollars probably doesn’t help much either. Before relations deteriorate any further, the Knights agree to depart forthwith. With their sights set on Wu Han’s dig near Muncie, Indiana, they bid farewell to the reservation, determined to locate the tiles that apparently point the way to the Possibility Chalice.

Muncie is well within the Living Land and they manage to get a couple of hours into the realm before Uncle Joe’s pickup truck finally succumbs to the Deep Mist. Proceeding on foot, our heroes have a hard time of it. They lose their way several times and it’s nightfall before they are back on track again. With their equipment literally falling to pieces in the Living Land’s primitive reality, they also make the acquaintance of a torada when fording a torrential river. The beast soon succumbs to blades and gunfire, however, and Jaidyn is able to scout out the precise location of Wu Han’s excavation before he disconnects and crashes his drone into a tree.

The archaeological dig is an artificial Nile hardpoint, created by Wu Han’s Axiom Transmogrification Inducer (which basically looks like a giant steampunk generator), manned by dozens of shocktroopers, with edeinos and savage humans slaving away in search of the tiles. Wu Han himself is present and struggling to keep the shocktroopers in line. He has recovered three of the tiles and thinks there is only one more to find, apparently unaware of the journal that reveals that five were buried here. Our heroes settle on something resembling a plan and – for once – everything goes off without a hitch. Mostly.

Cleophee uses the Gloves of The Vanisher! to teleport into the truck holding the three recovered tiles and stows them in her backpack. A human slave discovers the fourth and Wu Han orders it loaded onto the truck – but, at the same time, Emily (who has disguised herself as a slave and infiltrated the dig) is on hand when an edeinos uncovers the fifth tile. Emily intimidates the edeinos into handing it over before anyone else notices and Rosa provides a distraction by shooting the shocktrooper taking the fourth tile to the truck. When Cleophee is discovered, she immediately teleports away, and Jaidyn throws the dig into chaos by destroying the Axiom Transmogrification Inducer with a LAW rocket. The Deep Mist rolls in over the site and our heroes flee.

The Nile troops don’t immediately pursue – with the reality of the Living Land restored, the edeinos and savage human slaves stage an immediate uprising and fall upon their former captors with primal savagery. But racing through the jungle, the Storm Knights realise they have other problems. The Kanawa Corporation has dispatched power-armoured samurai mercenaries on three hover sleds to retrieve the tiles, and the Knights are soon locked in a pitched battle with them over the waters of the torada-infested river. While Cleophee and Emily leap from nearby trees to board and commandeer two of the hover sleds, Rosa deploys brutally precise sniper fire and Jaidyn hacks the control systems to send the third plunging into the roiling waters. Before long, the samurai mercenaries are bested, and the Knights are in possession of two hover sleds and a handful of very interesting advanced weaponry.

They also have all five tiles of the Destiny Map. Poring over the tiles at a motel back in Core Earth while awaiting extraction back to the UK, they manage to decipher the clues contained in the map. Rosa realises that the map gives directions to a location in northern India, somewhere in the region of Tezpur. Emily’s dismay is plain. Despite the area not being under the control of any invaders, she describes it as “just like the Living Land before adding all the scaly beasties” – jungle-swathed terrain overshadowed by the vastness of the Himalayas. The Storm Knights prepare for a passage to India.

Act Two – Temple of the Destiny Map

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After a stopover in the UK, where Emily is given access to MI6’s global network of operatives, and someone thinks it’s a sensible idea to make Jaidyn the CEO of a multi-million dollar corporation, the Storm Knights head to Tezpur. There, they receive directions to a temple in the foothills of the Himalayas that corresponds to the location on their map. Agents of the Nile Empire are also in town, and Jaidyn catches one eavesdropping on the group. Naturally, he pursues the spy into an alleyway and shoots the man in the back as he tries to flee. Because he’s heroic like that.

Trekking north into the jungle, the Knights make their way towards the temple. Suspicions about Nile forces are confirmed when they spot an airship high overhead, and a hieroglyph-adorned fighter plane attempts to ambush them en route. It ends badly for the attacker, whose plane is riddled with bullet holes from pretty much every weapon the Storm Knights are carrying, sending him crashing into a ravine. The group presses onwards and, before long, arrives at the fabled temple.

An ancient ruin at the centre of a flooded clearing, it seems unoccupied – although Rosa soon detects signs that someone else has beaten them here. While she, Cleophee, and Emily investigate the entrance to the temple, Jaidyn sets a variety of unpleasant traps around the clearing, certain that the group will soon have company. He isn’t wrong – before long, the airship drifts into view and disgorges dozens of shocktroopers by parachute. Our heroes race for the cover of the temple as the Nile troops reach the ground and open fire. Although the temple door – an aged construction on time-worn rollers – is jammed in place, the Storm Knights put their collective skills to work to move it. In a Glorious demonstration of skill, coordination, and Ayslish magic, our heroes help Cleophee heave the temple door shut – just as a hail of bullets slams into the temple exterior.

Once inside, the Storm Knights soon find who got here first – their old enemy and ally Pierre DeVris. Who is totally not a hologram. Well, OK, maybe he is. DeVris maintains his holographic cover until the Knights restore the map tiles to the temple wall. This reveals the location of the Possibility Chalice through some awesome 90s sfx, and translates the writing on the four remaining tiles, describing the location of something called the Signal Fire, plus a bunch of other clues for the next adventure. At this point, DeVris cancels his hologram, breaks cover and tries to run away – only to be stopped by the immense stone temple door. Our heroes catch him and somewhat forcefully persuade him to cooperate with them against the Nile forces. Left with little choice, the cyberknight agrees.

Wu Han has arrived while the group has been inside the temple and he now attempts to persuade them to surrender, insisting that they are surrounded. Our heroes make some similar suggestions, and each side trades offers, counter-offers, insults, bullets, nail-bombs, some grenades, a claymore, Kuranath, and a thoroughly terrifying Cree war-chant, while Cleophee casts a stone tunnel spell to create a subterranean escape route. Once it’s complete, Jaidyn put a gauss slug into Wu Han, leaving him for dead, and the group hightails it down the tunnel and away from the temple. They emerge in the jungle near the ravine, Jaidyn collapsing the tunnel behind them with more grenades.

The Knights are busy crossing the ravine when more Nile fighter planes show up. Hurrying across the rickety rope bridge, Rosa slips and finds herself dangling over the gorge. Emily drags her to safety and the group hunker down in the trees and return fire against the planes. While Rosa’s armour malfunctions, she and Cleophee engage in a tag-team bout of saving each other, and Emily and Jaidyn give the planes something to think about. Like bullets. Kuranath finally catches up with the group and the tide turns. Under relentless gun and dragonfire, the Nile planes go down in flames. Emily cuts the rope bridge, leaving Nile troops to glare impotently at them from the far side of the ravine as our heroes make their escape. The Possibility Chalice beckons…

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Episode Nine: The Death Chambers of Wu Han!
ROBOSPHINX!!!

Act One – To Save a Hero

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Rosa and Jaidyn head over to the Empire of the Nile to help Marshall Rick Rogers locate his missing father, veteran rocket ranger Admiral James Rogers. Rick has already made contact with Professor Marlen and his helpful daughter Hildy and discovered that the Admiral is being held in the Death Chambers of Wu Han – a prison deep beneath the Overgovernor’s palace in Cairo. As the only way into the prison is to be captured, Rick and the Professor have devised a plan to do exactly that. The Professor shrinks our heroes’ gear and stores it in his Incredible Miniaturisation Capsule (which Rosa tucks into a hair-braid) and Hildy takes them down to the Narsuq street market, where they hope they will soon be taken prisoner.

Although the Knights successfully start a fight with a local rug merchant and attract the attention of a Shocktrooper patrol, actually getting captured proves harder than it sounds. Not only are the Shocktroopers keen to avoid any real conflict, as soon as matters turn serious, unexpected help arrives on the scene – in the form of the Dark Shadow and his Shadeling minions. No longer a servant of Pharaoh Mobius, the Dark Shadow does his best to save our heroes from being arrested, much to their annoyance. The situation soon gets out of control, and the Dark Shadow ends up heavily wounding Rosa with his Umbra Gun. Jaidyn manages to convince him to leave them alone by claiming the group is trying to get captured on purpose in order to rescue Cleophee from the Death Chambers. The Dark Shadow departs, allowing our heroes to surrender to Mobius’ Shocktroopers. Hildy is helpfully taken into custody with them.

Inside the prison, the Knights discover that they are not alone. Commander Calibri (formerly The Vanisher!) and Captain Lucian are here as well, imprisoned by Wu Han for their failures in New York. While our heroes are deciding how to proceed, guards take Hildy deeper into the prison – her screams soon galvanise the Knights to action. They slip their bonds and Jaidyn sneaks after Hildy to discover her hooked up to some machine in a weird science lab. Freeing her, he meets Wu Han’s vizier, who is running the prison in his master’s absence – the undead Rama-Hotep. Battle is soon joined, with Rama-Hotep summoning a tide of sand to bury our heroes alive before fleeing deeper into the Death Chambers. Our heroes slay the Shocktrooper guards, blast their way to safety using Jaidyn’s explosives, kill the treacherous Commander Calibri (although Captain Lucian escapes), and pursue Rama-Hotep.

They find themselves in a temple (laden with various traps, of course) and discover Admiral Rogers here as well, also hooked up to a strange weird science device. Rick frees his father, only to discover that the Admiral has been brainwashed and now serves the Pharaoh – and also has a fancy new black rocket ranger suit. Rama-Hotep unleashes a swarm of scorpions into the temple and retreats even deeper into the prison. Rosa and Jaidyn deal with the scorpions while Rick neutralises his father’s suit with an EMP burst, then our heroes decide the time has come to depart. They leave Rama-Hotep to whatever nefarious deeds he is engaged in and race back to the exit. Rosa commandeers a truck and the group is about to make a dash for safety when they discover where Rama-Hotep went… when the ancient vizier reappears, along with Captain Lucian, at the controls of the Robosphinx!

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Avoiding the Robosphinx’s electro-beams and reality missiles, Jaidyn kills Lucian with his gauss gun and Rosa discovers a hatchway into the belly of the steel beast. Rick, meanwhile, finds himself locked in an airborne battle with his father when the Admiral’s suit comes back online. Rosa works her way up into the Robosphinx’s head and hurls grenades into the cockpit, harrying Rama-Hotep. The undead vizier responds by detaching the sphinx’s head from its body – it races skyward with Rosa trapped inside! Down below, Jaidyn disables the sphinx’s body (and kills its Shocktrooper crew) with more grenades, then kills Rama-Hotep with some truly inspired sniper fire. Rick rescues Rosa from the plummeting head and they chase after Admiral Rogers, who has wisely chosen to flee. Catching up with his father, Rick manages to break through Wu Han’s brainwashing and restore James to his senses. Admiral Rogers surrenders, dishonoured and broken, but filled with pride at the man his son has become. As a Halloween moon rises over Cairo, father and son are reconciled, and together swear to take vengeance on the Pharaoh and his servant, the Insidious Wu Han…

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Episode Eight: The Destiny Map (Part I)
The search for the Possibility Chalice begins!

Act One – Dead Man’s History

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While Jaidyn cuts deals to get a bigger gun, Rick tracks down leads on his father, and Ragnar pursues potentially mythical barmaids, Emily, Rosa, and Cleophee take a dragonride across the Atlantic to chase a hot tip on a cyberknight. They locate their target – Pierre DeVris – in Atlanta, thanks to information leaked to Emily from a mole within the Delphi Council. In a tense standoff (tense for DeVris, that is), they learn that the cyberknight is in town to track down Al-Mu’in – a Nile agent rumoured to be seeking a mysterious artifact for the Insidious Wu Han known as the Possibility Chalice. DeVris also claims that he killed Loretta Lamar on the orders of Samantha Tansen (Delphi’s internal security director) to prevent Loretta from revealing who was truly behind Wells’ assassination, and that our heroes were meant to kill him in order to keep this a secret. Realising that each holds part of a larger puzzle, our heroes agree to team up with DeVris to locate Al-Mu’in and learn what is so special about the Chalice. Rumours that some kind of weird love triangle develops between DeVris, Rosa, and Cleophee are wholly unfounded, not to mention inappropriate, and have no place in a serious account such as this.

Al-Mu’in was in Atlanta to meet a local genealogist and historian called Barker, but the local news is full of accounts that Barker and his family have all been murdered, and that the body of a Nile citizen was also found at the scene. While DeVris and Cleophee have a deeply awkward conversation in the car outside, Rosa and Emily head to the home of Detective Carlson, senior officer in the case, and pretty much threaten him into sharing all he knows. Carlson confirms that the dead Nile citizen was Al-Mu’in, but has no idea who the murderers were because local Delphi agent Florio has forced Carlson to shut down any further investigation until the Delphi Council sends its own team to look into matters. Carlson does reveal that the murders were carried out with some ultra-precise laser weapon – not a Cyberpapacy blaster, and not one of those kooky Nile ray guns either. The Knights leave the deeply shaken detective and head over to the murder site – the Barker family home – to investigate further.

Avoiding the police stationed outside (for now), they find Barker’s office in serious disarray. His computer hard drive has been ripped out, his CD-ROMs are missing, and someone has taken all the physical files from the “P” section of his filing cabinet. Guessing that the murderers were looking for information on the Possibility Chalice as well, Rosa also finds a shuriken embedded in the wall behind the cabinet. Examination shows that it’s one of the taser-shuriken used by the ninjas who attacked The Worst Conference Ever, confirming the involvement of agents from the Pan-Pacific Alliance. During the investigation, one of the cops stationed outside comes into the house to carry out a routine check. Naturally, things rapidly get out of hand, and end up with Cleophee acrobatically fleeing into the night, the cops in pursuit, while the others use this distraction to hotwire the police car and drive away at an unseemly velocity. They wisely abandon the car a few blocks away – but not before thoroughly looting it for useful gear and stealing serious firepower from the weapons cache in the trunk.

With the Atlanta PD now properly on high alert, our heroes decide it’s time to pay a visit to agent Florio at the local Delphi Council offices in town. DeVris uses a cool radio-triangulation trick to locate the offices and, before long, the group is back to business as usual, hurling grenades about the place, decapitating Delphi security guards, blowing holes in computer technicians, and reducing most of the survivors to gibbering, terrified wrecks. Florio, by some miracle, is not among the dead. He confirms the involvement of Pan-Pacifica agents – they found a slain one earlier that evening, surmised to be the fool who left his taser-shuriken at the murder scene – but has no idea what they are doing in town. Florio has been ordered to keep the local cops from digging too deeply, before the Delphi Council can send its special investigation team from Houston. With sirens sounding in the distance, the Knights beat a hasty retreat to consider their next moves.

They’re outside DeVris’ apartment when the ninjas attack. Keen to recover the missing taser-shuriken, the assassins take the best possible approach – engage in a senseless fight to the death with a group of heavily armed and trigger-happy Storm Knights. Needless to say, the ninjas do not fare particularly well. Not only do they lose the battle, they also lose more of the taser-shuriken, and their leader loses his fancy taser-ninjato. And his head. And also a security keycard. And a piece of paper inscribed with a mysterious series of numbers. It’s a veritable clue bonanza, I swear. Our heroes are unable to figure out what the numbers mean, but they do deduce that the security card is linked to the nearby Magnolia Station Research Park, recently bought out by an unknown company that uses a large letter “K” as its symbol. Whoever could that be? The Knights hole up in a run-down motel overnight to lick their wounds and prepare to find out…

Act Two – Kanawa Calling

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Jaidyn rejoins his companions, carrying a ridiculously large gun, and DeVris is recalled by the Council of Bishops who are somewhat irritated at his cooperation with the same individuals who caused such a ruckus in Calais. After some preliminary research, the group proceeds to Magnolia Station under cover of darkness. They infiltrate the research park’s main building and hack the computers to learn that is currently under the control of the Kanawa Corporation, a shadowy conglomerate that has its fingers in numerous pies all across the Far East. They’re discovered by Frank, a lone security guard, and subject him to a number of personal outrages, including clubbing him in the head with a night-stick and making it look like he fell over a rubbish bin and shot himself in the foot with his own taser. Leaving Frank unconscious, and with severely hampered career prospects, our heroes proceed towards the park’s Anderson building, where every indication suggests it is the centre of Kanawa operations here.

These suspicions are confirmed when they spot a pair of ninjas on the roof of the Anderson building, scoping the park for intruders. Cleophee uses the Gloves of The Vanisher! to teleport to the rooftop and engages the ninjas in personal combat. She successfully fells one, but the other escapes and races indoors to alert his companions. All hopes of a stealthy infiltration are now abandoned. Jaidyn and Rosa proceed to shatter the building’s windows with long-range sniper fire – they’re aided by the fact that the windows are booby-trapped with explosives – and Emily races around to the back of the building to fight ninjas single-handed. Cleophee, meanwhile, swings in through one of the shattered windows and discovers a nerve centre with a ninja fiddling with a large computer. “What does System Deletion at two per cent mean?” she asks, and the Knights realise that they now have a race against time on their hands.

Emily manages to evade certain death at the hands of ninjas on the ground floor, and she, Jaidyn, and Rosa hurry to join Cleophee. Scrambling up into the nerve centre, they deal with even more ninjas defending the room, and Jaidyn manages to hack into the advanced computer and shut down the system deletion program so he can retrieve whatever data the ninjas were trying to hide. Unfortunately, this also triggers the giant security robots hidden in the walls, which burst forth and unleash absurd amounts of firepower on our heroes. As if that weren’t bad enough, it also transpires that the entire building is rigged to explode in less than three minutes. Cleophee erects an earth shield around Jaidyn and assists Emily and Rosa in a battle for their lives against the robots. Only with luck, determination, skill (and some nifty card-play) do they succeed. Jaidyn manages to retrieve the data and the Knights flee the building, just as local police arrive on the scene to investigate all the gunfire and explosions.

Realising that the police are about to enter a building rigged to blow, Jaidyn taps into their radios and warns them off – making sure that they know who their saviour was. Returning to their car, our heroes discover the hapless Frank has been left to guard it. Utterly dejected, he offers no resistance at all and the Knights suggest that he might be able to find fresh employment at the local Delphi Council offices – it would seem that they lost a few security guards in a recent grenade-related work accident. Leaving Frank to consider his career options, they depart and analyse the captured data. It points to fragments of a map that may well lead to the location of the Possibility Chalice. All they need to do is recover the map pieces from an archaeological dig in Indiana, overseen by none other than the Insidious Wu Han!

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Episode Seven: Wizard's Shame
Don't kill the pets!

Act One – Fathers and Daughters

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Enjoying a peaceful picnic in Hyde Park, the Storm Knights are approached by Tolwyn of House Tancred, who is need of some assistance. Aysle’s Home Guard has intercepted an assassin from the Cyberpapacy who was sent to slay a wizard loyal to Pella Ardinay by the name of Duncan. Tolwyn asks the group to look in on Duncan to make sure that no ill has befallen him (and definitely not to kill his pets if things unexpectedly get out of hand). The group agrees and prepares for the journey by going shopping and having tea at the Ritz. Or just waiting for hours and hours in the truck, in Marshall Roger’s case.

Arriving at Duncan’s cottage near Dover, our heroes find it deserted and, in the course of their investigations, accidentally trigger a magical defence system that shrinks them all to only a few inches in height. Duncan’s pets – a snake, three clever rats, and a parrot transformed into a dragonet – are now something of a problem. Things unexpectedly get out of hand, and so the Storm Knights kill the snake and the dragonet. Although they feel bad about doing so. Maybe. After the fires have gone out, further investigation reveals that Duncan’s daughter Victoria appears to have been kidnapped by a certain Dr. Randall of the Orrorsh School of Medicine in Calais. Randall is very politely coercing Duncan into murdering Bishop Bernard of Calais in return for Victoria’s freedom.

Our heroes guess that shenanigans are afoot – Randall was also responsible for alerting the Cyberpapacy to Duncan’s intentions to murder the bishop, which is why the Cyberpapacy sent an assassin to stop him. Guessing that Orrorsh might be trying to force Aysle into open conflict with the Cyberpapacy, the group decides to follow Duncan to France. They learn that Duncan has used the Channel Tunnel to avoid the reality storms that wrack the border between the two realms, and follow suit. With Kuranath’s aid, they pass through the Ayslish end of the tunnel and brave the subterranean reality storm that bars their way. Crossing into the French half of the tunnel, the Knights discover that it has been fortified by Cyberpapal forces, including gospog of multiple plantings, a cygoyle, and a transformed cybertroll. Naturally, they fight.

Act Two – Victoriana

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Battle rages beneath the Channel! Rosa pins Gralor the cybertroll under the bumper of the truck while Ragnar pummels him into unconsciousness and tries to pull his head off. Emily dispatches gospogs with precision grenade fire (a term you don’t hear that often, actually) while Rick engages the cygoyle in airborne combat. Jaidyn, meanwhile, hacks a pair of Cyberpapacy gun turrets, turning them against their foes. The battle draws the attention of both the Resistance and the Cyberpapal authorities – the former provide handy escape transport when the latter bring down the tunnel roof with unwise shellfire from a hover tank. As the North Sea floods in through the breach, Rosa drives the group to safety through a heaving tide of freezing water and masonry.

Emerging in Cyberpapal France, our heroes hole up with their new Resistance friends, Rico, Lisette, and Christophe. While Christophe deals with spyware in the group’s captured Cyberpapacy gear, Lisette discovers that Duncan has been captured and is set to be burned alive at a special midnight mass at the local cathedral. The Knights decide to rescue Victoria from Dr. Randall before saving her father, so Rico arranges for disguises and transport to allow them to infiltrate the Orrorsh School of Medicine. While Rick and Jaidyn take up position on the school’s roof, the others work their way to its secure wing in search of Victoria. They manage to get as far as Randall’s lab before their ruse is finally discovered – by none other than the good doctor himself.

Randall is every bit the Victorian gentleman doctor – meaning that he is secretly a werewolf, unleashes a Frankenstein-like monster against our heroes, grabs the hapless Victoria, and drags her to the school’s rooftops to do battle in the pouring rain. The Storm Knights slay his monster, pursue him, and proceed to pound him mercilessly. Even when a ravagon comes to Randall’s aid, the doctor is unable to resist their furious onslaught and naturally falls from the rooftop to lie battered and broken on the rain-soaked earth below. Ragnar helpfully breaks both of his arms. With the ravagon likewise dispatched and Victorian soldiers closing in, our heroes flee as rapidly as they can – taking both the liberated Victoria and the captured Randall with them. They head directly to the cathedral for a reckoning with Bishop Bernard and the wizard Duncan…

Act Three – Midnight Murder

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Approaching the cathedral, the Storm Knights see several Church Police checkpoints set up around the square. Some quick talking by Rosa gets them through without further scrutiny, and they convince a deeply unnerved Randall to admit that he has manipulated the bishop and the wizard. If Randall admits this to the bishop, perhaps Duncan will be spared. Emily slips into the cathedral for a meeting with Bernard and arranges a handover. Even as the Knights enter the cathedral under Church Police escort, Marshall Rogers – circling high above – notices APCs establishing a perimeter around the building. He alerts the others. It is clear that Bishop Bernard cannot be trusted.

Within the cathedral, as hundreds gather to see Duncan burned alive, the group begins tense negotiations with the bishop. Initially, Bernard is unwilling to surrender Duncan – as a heretic, the wizard must burn. But our heroes convince him that Randall is the true prize. Not only is the good doctor a monster in human form, but he has been experimenting on the citizens of Calais and is breeding gospog in the School of Medicine for some unknown purpose. Randall tries to lie his way out of the predicament but, under extreme duress, confesses. He admits that he was ordered to foment conflict between the Cyberpapacy and Aysle on the orders of the current regent of Orrorsh – a techno-demon from Tharkold known as Thratchen.

Bishop Bernard briefly considers betraying the Storm Knights and burning both Duncan and Randall, but his loyal underling François reminds him of the importance of keeping his word, and the bishop relents, ordering the Church Police to free the wizard. Unfortunately, this proves to be an unwise move. The GodNet is watching the proceedings and manifests a Host – a vengeful holographic angel – which excommunicates Bernard on the spot for cutting a deal with heretics and attacks the Storm Knights. Only the arrival of Kuranath gives our heroes an avenue of escape and they are soon clambering atop the dragon for a frantic race back to Ayslish reality.

The Storm Knights hurtle through the streets of Calais on dragonback, with the Host, Church Police APCs, and a quartet of cygoyles in pursuit. The battle wreaks havoc throughout old Calais, but our heroes manage to evade or destroy their pursuers and, thanks to Cleophee’s superior riding skills, are soon streaking out over the Channel towards Aysle. But even the journey home is not without mishap. Their loyal ally Rico disconnects in the reality storm, perishing as his cyberheart fatally malfunctions. Back in Aysle, Tolwyn thanks the Knights for their aid, but brings sore news of defeat at the hands of Uthorion’s forces. Despite honour, sacrifice, and heroism, still the forces of the Dark grow ever more powerful. Earth’s battle is far from over…

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Episode Six: The Big Apple
Smoke on the water, fire in the sky.

Act One – Back to the Beginning

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News of Spartan atrocities spreads and the Delphi Council sends Spartan Team #1, under the command of the biggest moustache in the Near Now, to hunt our heroes. Emily arranges for extraction from the Living Land via the SAS, and the group is soon aboard the HMS Vanguard and bound for New York. While there, they agree to locate missing UK diplomat Crispin Maitland. The UK is concerned Maitland may have fallen into enemy hands and be leaking intelligence to the Possibility Raiders. The group also discover that you actually can fit a moderately sized lakten into a submarine’s ballast tank. Which is nice.

Approaching New York by sea, and avoiding a protracted encounter with a fucking huge mosasaur, our heroes make landfall on Manhattan and find a sizeable settlement of humans living in a hardpoint at the 9/11 memorial site. Calling itself the New York Metropolitan Protectorate, the settlement is home to none other than missing former President Douglas Kent, now content to be the Protectorate’s gardener. While the group is getting to know the locals, Malcolm Kane and his moustache arrive, along with the rest of Spartan Team 1. They demand that the Protectorate hand over our heroes as war criminals, but the group manages to convince their hosts of the danger the Spartans pose. The Storm Knights depart, using intercepted Spartan communications to draw Kane and his men away from the Protectorate and deeper into the jungles of Manhattan.

They decide to see if they can locate the missing diplomat, last known to be at UNHQ, and use Manhattan’s ruined subways to avoid tangling with edeinos in the streets above. Instead, they run into one of the city’s gangs, who foolishly demand tribute from the Knights. Ragnar quite literally beats one of the gang members to death and the others decide that perhaps tribute isn’t such a big deal after all. Emerging from the sewers, the group see a weird crystal tower and deduce that it must be another fragment of a conquered cosm embedded in the Living Land. Rick Rogers heads up to investigate, while the rest of the team pass into pure Living Land territory in search of Maitland.

They do find him, although it’s a little complicated. Maitland has transcended and become a Stormer, but the experience has sent him slightly mad. He now rules over a gang of transformed humans who worship him as a god due to his reality-bending abilities. Maitland has embraced his new position with gusto and dubbed himself the Thunderlord. Naturally, the Thunderlord demands that our heroes serve him – and give him Cleophee as a gift while they’re at it. Unsure of quite how to handle this development, the Storm Knights don’t have to decide just yet, because Kane and his Spartans arrive. And an enormous edeinos war party. And Marshall Rogers, who helpfully crashes in the street outside. Brandishing his M16s, the Thunderlord leads his allies forth to confront the new arrivals…

Act Two – Rolling Thunder

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Battle commences – a chaotic and brutal affair. The Thunderlord sacrifices his tribe, sending them to their deaths against edeinos warriors. The Storm Knights throw themselves into the fray, battling elite edeinos who fight with supernatural skill, thanks to blessings from their goddess Lanala. Cleophee commandeers a carnol, Jaidyn finds a semi-functioning tank, Emily provides cover and supporting fire, Rick wreaks havoc among the Spartans, and Rosa turns up with Picnic and Protectorate troops. As the battle wears on, the tide slowly turns in favour of our heroes. The Thunderlord is also eaten by a carnol, thereby preventing him from leaking any intelligence to the enemy (although he leaks pretty much everything else).

With the combat nearly over, a strange dimthread descends from the skies, depositing the same winged reptilian creature that hurled lightning at Rosa, Jaidyn, Emily and the others, way back at the start of the invasion. Known as a ravagon, this creature is a powerful foe, able to steal Possibility Energy from those who confront it. The Storm Knights bring all their not-inconsiderable firepower to bear on the ravagon, dealing it a mortal wound, before a second dimthread plucks it from the battlefield. In the aftermath of the combat, it transpires that Kane – heavily wounded and abandoned by the Delphi Council – has crawled away, his fate unknown. His two surviving Spartans agree to join the Protectorate as a way to make amends for their misdeeds.

While the group treks back to the Protectorate, the ravagon enjoys the safety of a cut-scene. It confronts none other than the Saar of the edeinos, Baruk Kaah, in a strange forest of black stone trees. Criticising the Saar for the weakness of his warband, the ravagon insists that Sallsboratza will not be pleased at his lack of progress. The Saar proclaims his disdain for the Gaunt Man and his opinions, but takes the ravagon’s words seriously enough to order a pale edeinos priest to unleash the Great Gospog and send it against the New York Metropolitan Protectorate. “Release Er Crakken!” the Saar orders. And even the ravagon rolls its eyes.

Back at the Protectorate, our heroes find themselves with decisions to make. Marshall Rogers reveals what he has learned in the crystal tower – Central Park is being used to grow thousands of the plant zombies known as gospog. Becoming increasingly powerful with each successive harvest, these gospog are creatures of multiple realities and none at the same time, immune to creating contradictions. After a heated debate (which reveals Jake’s keen tactical mind, Mayor Bradshaw’s desire to avoid open conflict, Kent’s quiet air of command, and Quin Sebastian’s dickery), they settle on a plan to brew a potent chemical that should destroy the gospog fields. Now all that remains is a scavenging mission in the ruins of New York to acquire the necessary supplies, and the rapid fortification of the Protectorate in the face of an inevitable assault from the Saar’s forces – including the monstrous Er Crakken.

Act Three – Salted Earth

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The Storm Knights gather huge amounts of salt from the Spring Street Salt Store and send it back to the NYMP so that Kent can mix it with atrazine and various other chemicals to make a truly badass weedkiller. Picnic leads Jake and his men to the former Hells Angels HQ in the East Village to retrieve some detonators that the Angels totally just found this one time, while our heroes head north to retrieve some shells to combine with the detonators and spread weedkiller all over Central Park. Their destination? The Air and Sea Museum aboard the USS Intrepid.

The Intrepid is in a pretty bad way and home to a large flock of lakten, but the Knights manage to sneak aboard, hoping to scour the museum’s exhibits for missiles that they can rig to carry their gospog-slaying payload. They discover that the prow of the ship is a small hardpoint emanating from nothing less than the Space Shuttle Enterprise. They also run across a band of Nile shocktroopers who are here to scavenge gear for their Pharaoh. Making the mistake of letting Rick do the talking, negotiations soon go awry and combat breaks out. While they trounce the Nile intruders, Rick discovers that their commander – The Vanisher! – knows his father and learns that Admiral James Rogers is currently a prisoner of the Insidious Wu Han. Unfortunately, the mosasaur from Act One turns up and sinks the Intrepid and the Enterprise, so our heroes are forced to flee, snagging a pair of Sidewinder missiles at the last possible moment.

Allowing The Vanisher! and his surviving troops to depart in peace, the group turns its attention to rearming the Sidewinders with Kent’s weedkiller and prepping Quin’s plane The Blue Meanie for the assault on Central Park. Thus prepared, they fly north and actually make it all the way to the Park before the ravagon turns up again and invokes a reality storm, causing the Blue Meanie to crash. Although Rick, Emily, and Cleophee are able to deploy their weedkiller barrel-bombs, they realise that Er Crakken has chosen this moment to attack the NYMP, aided by a horde of gospog swarming out of the subway tunnels. Emily and Cleophee race back to the Protectorate on Oscar, leaving Rick, Jaidyn, Quin, and Rosa to finish the job at Central Park.

Jaidyn holds his own against the ravagon until Rosa fells it with deadeye sniper fire. He is unable, however, to free the Sidewinders from below the crashed Blue Meanie. Rick puts his armour’s strength to good use, flips the plane, and detonates the Sidewinders with his boot-jets, even as he carries Jaidyn and Quin to safety. Below them, the Central Park gospog field burns from end to end. Back at the NYMP, Cleophee decimates the gospog horde with well-placed fireballs, and Emily single-handedly slays Er Crakken with her trademark grenade-in-the-gullet manoeuvre. While Protectorate troops mop up the remaining attackers, Picnic rides out to rescue Rosa from her sniper’s perch near the Park. The Storm Knights are victorious, the Saar of the edeinos has suffered a great loss, and a final cut-scene reveals that the biggest moustache in the Near Now has survived. What more could a bunch of reality-hopping heroes ask for?

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Episode Five: The Savage Garden
That's showbiz, baby!

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Act One – Movie Magic

It’s the Delphi Council’s first Annual 4th of July Family Cookout and the Storm Knights are invited! Also in attendance is famous movie director Alexander Becker, who wants to take a documentary film crew into the Living Land. The Delphi Council thinks this is a great idea and knows just who to bully into providing security for Becker. Also, protestors from the Common Ground Association storm the cookout, disrupt the BBQ, set fire to the Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band, take Becker hostage, try to shoot Picnic, and threaten to blow up the entire proceedings with a malfunctioning suicide vest. Good times.

Our heroes arrive at Mount Sterling, a lawless borderlands town on the edge of the Living Land, to meet Becker’s film crew. They’re a really dodgy bunch, testament to the Delphi Council’s usual sound judgement in choosing its associates. Becker also reveals that they’ll be sharing transport with the surviving cast and crew of the Rex Able – Freedom Fighter TV show, to some consternation. Narrowly avoiding an unpleasant encounter with some local mercenaries, the group boards its new Humvees – Rose, Buttercup, and Daisy – and heads into the Living Land.

The weather in the Living Land is atrocious and a massive mudslide and accompanying swarm of crosktreckts briefly derails the expedition. Later, a lakten tries to carry Rex away while he’s filming a scene for his show. Matters deteriorate when the mercenaries from Mount Sterling, who have followed the group, choose this moment to mount their inevitable ambush. Losing Rex’s PA to enemy gunfire, our heroes rally and sow death and discord among their foes before hightailing it to nearby Constitution. There they discover the truth of ugly rumours doing the rounds: the majority of the town’s population lie dead in the streets – apparently massacred by none other than Spartans.

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Act Two – Constitution

After Marshall Rick Rogers and Ragnar Ragnarson rejoin the group (Ragnar doesn’t even get a saddle this time), our heroes are forced to contend with the remaining mercenaries. And a swarm of lakten. And three carnol – including the one Jaidyn gave a rocket enema to on their previous trip into the Living Land. They handle the challenge with grace and dignity, apart from Emily, who ends up covered head-to-toe in an impressive variety of dinosaur gore. Constitution’s hardpoint – the church bell – is destroyed in the battle, and the Deep Mist sweeps in over the ruins.

It transpires that Trask survived the Spartan attack on Constitution when she emerges from the jungle, accompanied by Tal Tu. From her and Billy-Ray, another survivor, the group piece together the picture. Spartan Team 15, under command of Captain Volker, ordered the people of Constitution to depart, killing them when they refused. Our heroes realise that this is the Delphi Council’s response to the discovery that untransformed Core Earth natives in occupied territory are providing Possibility Energy to the High Lords. They contact Delphi HQ, only to be rebuffed, their loyalty now openly in doubt.

Suspicious of how much Becker and his film crew are concealing from them regarding the true nature of the mission, the group try to question them. Ragnar suggests an alternate method of discovering the truth and, when the slaughter is over, they learn that their expedition is actually a death squad with orders to wipe out a community of humans who have transformed to the Living Land and are now apparently able to communicate with its dinosaur denizens. The group also capture three scouts from Spartan Team 15, who confirm the news and confess to their attack on Constitution. Becker finally proves his worth by filming it all.

With the day lengthening, the group split up. Trask and the non-combatants take one of the Humvees and head out to spread the word of Spartan atrocities to other nearby resistance communities. Tal Tu offers to lead our heroes – and their prisoners – through the jungles to Carter Caves. Hopefully, they can reach the settlement before the Spartans do…

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Act Three – Salvation Run

As sun sets across the Living Land, our heroes forge a path through its perils. They persuade one of the Spartan prisoners – Estevez – to change sides. Estevez cements his new allegiance by helping his former captors kill the other two Spartans. Leaving the bodies to decay, our heroes climb (or are carried up) an immense waterfall. Before long, an edeinos hunting party has their trail, and harries the group as they press onwards towards Carter Caves. The edeinos adopt guerrilla tactics, striking fast and fleeing into the forest before their targets can retaliate. The group fights on the move, killing any edeinos that dares expose itself, and finally reach the entrance to the caves. The edeinos refuse to follow.

At the entrance to the caves our heroes discover what appears to be a downed spacecraft, half-buried under decades of mulch and creepers. Investigation reveals a genuine alien corpse inside. Within the caves, matters only grow stranger, as a curiously intelligent theropod leads the group into a grand cavern. Here, a ruin from a conquered cosm remains intact, inhabited by a tribe of Jakatt Teks who have gained psychic powers from the ruins and can now communicate with dinosaurs. From them our heroes hear ancient legends of the cosmverse and of Apeiros, the Nameless One, the Darkness Devices, and the Torg. In turn, they relate the tale of their own endeavours and see that the stories of their glorious exploits seem to refill the people here with hope. With Possibilities.

Further discussions are interrupted by the arrival of Spartan Team 15, who demand the surrender of the group. Emily unsuccessfully tries to convince the Delphi Council to call off the assault in return for vital intelligence on how to safely uproot stelae, and battle is soon joined. Combatting twin Apache helicopters and Spartan fire teams, our heroes staunchly defend the tribe. Although they are unable to save everyone, they eradicate the attackers, with Captain Volker meeting his fate surrounded by the bodies of his men.

Our heroes know that they have almost certainly burned their bridges with the Delphi Council and upload Becker’s film of the Spartan atrocities to YouTube, then prepare to forge a new future for themselves. Armed with the knowledge of how to deal with stelae zones, they decide to learn more about the larger situation in the Living Land. And where else to find such knowledge than in one of the largest hardpoints in the realm? Next stop, New York City…

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Episode Four: Drawing the Lines
Worst. Conference. Ever.

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Act One – Back to the Beach

The Storm Knights attend a conference of war on Walker Cay, organised by the Delphi Council. They are joined by two new Ayslish emissaries, Cleophee and Ragnar, who arrive atop Cleophee’s rambunctious dragon Kuranath. At a high-level briefing, our heroes learn of how the invaders use stelae to impose their reality on Earth and drain Possibilities from the untransformed dwelling in conquered territory. Removing stelae would restore Earth’s reality but would erase from existence those who have already been drained of their Possibilities and transformed.

Hoping that the conference can find some way to restore drained Possibilities to people in the invading realms, our heroes soon have other matters on their hands, when one of the conference attendees turns up dead in the swimming pool. Clues implicate another of the delegates, but Rosa’s keen investigative powers reveal that the clues have been faked. Someone is trying to turn the conference attendees against each other.

Matters don’t improve much. Another attendee is found strangled, Jaidyn misses an opportunity to have a very adventurous threesome, and Ragnar discovers a masked vigilante from the Nile Empire trying to steal secret conference documents. The Dark Shadow (seriously, that’s his name) attempts to escape but is subjected to a truly horrifying barrage of abuse before our heroes capture him. Ragnar interrogates him to little effect, but Cleophee is able to learn something of the Dark Shadow’s purpose here. Of course, the Dark Shadow uses some weird Nile gadget to escape, laughing melodramatically.

Rosa, meanwhile, discovers hidden cameras and further investigation reveals that they are Cyberpapacy technology. It transpires that “Sparky” Pete from the Delphi tech team is actually Brother Pierre of the Church Police and has been spying on the conference for his masters in Avignon. Our heroes pursue him through the labyrinthine maintenance level, dodging steam jets, booby traps, and swarms of cybernetic drones, before finally confronting and overcoming Pierre.

Act Two – Daggers in the Dark

The Dark Shadow interrupts proceedings by trying to blow everyone up and seduce Cleophee. He fails spectacularly at both, but kills one of Jaidyn’s Spartans during a standoff. Our heroes react predictably and the Dark Shadow receives another hail of abuse (including a well-timed tail-slap from Kuranath) and is captured once more.

The surviving delegates regroup to assess the situation. Several suspect Cleophee of aiding the Dark Shadow, so Rosa and Bianca stand guard over the elf. It becomes clear that, while Brother Pierre was here to spy on the conference and the Dark Shadow here to steal documents (and blow things up and get his ass repeatedly kicked), neither were the murderer. Also, another delegate – Yuka – is almost slain by a sudden ninja attack. Which is totally legit and not some attempt to divert suspicion.

While the group try to make sense of events, it also transpires that Orrorshan delegate Sir Maximillian is actually a vampyre (that’s how you spell it in Torg, OK?) and, now that night has fallen, he completely loses his shit and flips out and starts trying to murder everyone. He manages to kill the Russian delegate Piotr and another of Jaidyn’s Spartans, as well as bring half the ceiling down in the hotel lobby before Jaidyn beheads him with the Nile Sunblade.

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It’s all getting a bit much for the surviving delegates, and Jaidyn calls for extraction. Yuka argues that they should take a boat from the fishing village in order to escape sooner. The other delegates want to use the remaining hours to reach some kind of consensus, at which point Yuka decides that enough is enough and unmasks herself as the assassin. And also a ninja. She manages to kill another two delegates (including Delphi Council regional director Kastella) before Ragnar cleaves her well and truly in twain. Examination of captured ninja gear suggests that it comes from an as-yet unidentified cosm – Earth has six invading realms, not five.

Our heroes end their stay on the cay back at the fishing village, sharing tales of their exploits with their old friends. At these tales of glory – How Rick Destroyed the Drones and How Ragnar Killed the Ninja – hope fills the villagers’ faces. Hope, and the realisation that there are always possibilities. Even though the conference has been a failure, it has revealed the existence of a sixth, hidden realm And it has revealed a possible solution to the problem of restoring lost Possibilities to the transformed – through deeds of glory and the tales that they inspire…

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Episode Three: State of the Union
Another dead president!

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Act One – Rocket Science

The Delphi Council sends Jaidyn, Rosa, and Emily into the Living Land to rescue the survivors of a crashed Nile plane who have come to Core Earth to help fight the High Lords. The only survivor is Marshall Rick Rogers of the Rocket Rangers. With the help of edeinos hunter Tal Tu, our heroes head to Rick’s crashed plane to recover vital gear. Crossing a dam, they tangle with a torada and a carnol, two of the Living Land’s monstrous denizens. Jaidyn gives the carnol a rocket enema, Emily and Rosa send the torada over the dam, and the group retrieve the gear from the plane.

That night sees riotous celebrations at the resistance community of Constitution. Rosa gets Tal Tu very drunk. The edeinos enjoys the experience immensely and dances the dance of his people. The group departs Constitution and heads back to Core Earth. Passing out of the Living Land, they are intercepted by a band of Spartans under the command of Jaidyn’s old colleague, Kane. Kane is determined to kill Tal Tu, but the group convince him that the edeinos is from a faction that opposes the invaders and has agreed to return to Houston and share what he knows. Kane grudgingly agrees, and orders his men to stand down.

Back in Houston, our heroes attend a high-level Delphi Council briefing and learn that President Wells will be flying into Houston the next day in preparation for a conference of Core Earth’s defenders and allies. The group is invited to attend in recognition for past achievements and potential assistance. But the meeting turns into a total clusterfuck. Marine One is shot down by a drone and a combat assault team from the Cyberpapacy attacks in full force, dropping from VTOL aircraft onto the roof of Delphi HQ.

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Wielding energy weapons and almost impenetrable armour, the Cyberpapal troops steal the nuclear football from Marine One and make for the coast. Our heroes give chase, assisted by Picnic and the displaced New York chapter of the Hell’s Angels. They manage to deal with the assassins in a battle that ranges from downtown Houston to the sea, including defusing a wayward Cyberpapal nuclear missile launched from a hidden sub. When the battle is over, Jaidyn reveals that President Wells warned him against some agenda of Vice-President Quartermain with his dying words.

Act Two – Friends in High Places

Marshall Rogers immediately takes to the skies and hurtles back to Delphi HQ, smashing through the windows, and carries Quartermain into the sky, where he proceeds to demand that the vice-president confess his crimes. The others catch up (bringing the defused missile and captured Cyberpapal warrior) and they decide to head back to Delphi HQ to reveal what they know. There, Dellphi Council Director Ellen Connors defuses the situation, promising a full investigation. Quartermain promises dire consequences for those who have crossed him.

Back at the safehouse, Ellen further debriefs the group. Examining the Cyberpapal gear, they realise that the Cyberpapacy could possess technology capable of controlling minds. They identify the six people who knew Marine One’s flight plans, and Ellen promises to scan them all for invasive hardware. Our heroes head into town with Tyler and get him very, very drunk with Picnic and the gang. Tyler ends up with an ornately descriptive tramp-stamp.

Tyler contacts the group the next day and says that Loretta wants to meet them in secret. He claims she has discovered who leaked Marine One’s flight plans to the Cyberpapacy. But when the group arrive at the meeting place (a creepy abandoned fairground), Loretta is dead and her assassin apparently a cyberknight backed up by off-duty Delphi Council guards. The group kill one of the guards, capture another, and disable the cyberknight. He claims that Loretta was the traitor, which is why he killed her, and that he has arrived here to lend aid to the Delphi Council.

Unsure of who to believe, our heroes take their captives back to the safehouse, and face a tense confrontation with Ellen Connors on the helipad. She backs up the cyberknight’s story, saying that she has proof of Loretta’s treachery. Suspicion also falls on Tyler, and Ellen orders his capture. But when our heroes demand further explanation from Connors, she pulls rank on them, reminding them that they serve the Delphi Council – not the other way around. The group protest, arguing that they have more than earned her trust. Connors eventually concurs and offers to bring them into the inner circle. With this offer hanging before them, she leaves the group to ponder their allegiances and the choices they have made…

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