The party has won the battle, can they win the war?
Olivia is quite gleeful at the thought of taking three powerful Exalted and bending them to her will. She and Hunter collect the martial artist and sorceress and drag them into the basement of the Moon-Sheltered Manse, tie them up in separate rooms, and keep them under heavy guard by Olivia’s minions, who are instructed to keep hitting them in the head to keep them unconscious until such time as they are ready to interrogate them. Alex explains that these are the characters who recently broke into Yu-Shan and hacked the Matrix of Reality, and she followed them while staying hidden using Sidereal Astrology. She had been using some special power to keep the masked man from detecting her, as his mask could let him see through all illusions and see into the future.
Kami and Mithril go outside to collect the third Exalt, the jet-pack guy, but they can’t find him, probably because Kami botched his tracking roll and leads them in circles for a while until Mithril figures out they’ve gone in circles. Eventually they find where he crash landed and footsteps leading away towards the edge of the forest, and when they get to the cliff they find none other than Mika, covered in blood and carrying a blood-drenched jetpack. He claims he found the guy trying to make an escape, killed him, and threw his body to the sharks. Mithril tries to retrieve the body but sees only sharks.
Mika asks to come along and see Olivia again, and apparently he had been attempting to track Olivia but had failed until recently due to some mysterious force preventing him. The party explains that the effects concealing the manse are not working anymore and that is probably why. Kami and Mithril return with Mika to the manse and Mika is happy to see Olivia again. Reunion! Mika is introduced to Hunter and to the various minions. He wants to stick around because it looks fun here, and he wanders all around for a while.
Kami and Mithril inspect the strange magical staff that the sorceress was wielding. It is very similar to the AK-47 from before, in that it has a demon soulforged into its core and has technological parts coming out from that core. Kami consults his literature and discovers that the demon is probably a second circle demon named Gnirut, a creature of information and betrayal. Alex identifies this as the device that was used to hack the Matrix of Reality.
The time has come to interrogate the sorceress. They awaken her and ask her about their plans, but the sorceress reveals little until her willpower is spent. Finally, with her will breaking from repeated Presence checks from Olivia and Investigation checks from Hunter, Mithril steps in and uses his Motivational Vocoder to change her motivation to “Worship Autochthon.” As this takes effect on her, she is overwhelmed by her feelings, then slowly manages a strangled warning: one of the hidden changes they made when they hacked the Matrix of Reality was to change the energy requirement for the fusion of nitrogen atoms into silicon, which means that with enough heat, one could ignite the atmosphere, killing Gaia and Autochthon in the process. As everyone absorbs this in blunted horror, her second warning comes out haltingly: the Infernals had in fact tortured Mika to death some months ago for information. This is quite a butt-puckering moment for everyone, then Olivia knocks her out again with another blow, sets guards all around her, and they go running to find “Mika.”
Unfortunately, at that moment, the power starts to flicker and alarms start to sound. Kami and Mithril run into the control room, finding that there is some other entity attempting to take control of the manse computers. Olivia tries to encourage M.I.R.I. to not turn evil but it doesn’t seem very effective. Hunter tries to leave, but finds the door stuck, and even a massive blow with his grand daiklave only dents it. Kami tries unplugging things, but this only starts a countdown of one minute to releasing the neurotoxin, so Mithril does the desperate move and surges his electricity into the system to overload it and shut the manse down completely.
Now the lights are out and the doors don’t really work, and a skittering sound starts to echo through the manse. Olivia registers this right away and screams for everyone to run to the back entrance to the underdark immediately. A crush of minions sprints that way with Hunter running along on the ceiling, and just as Olivia gets there, the two minions guarding the door are opening the door, though they seem to believe they are closing it, and that they had been instructed to open it by Mika. A purple spider drops from the ceiling onto Olivia’s head and so she starts to close the door, but Hunter gets there and sees she is actually opening it. Olivia expends willpower to battle the illusion long enough to pull the spider partway off her head, and Hunter slices it neatly in half, after killing the other spider that was still on the ceiling. The rest of the group and the soldiers arrive and close the door as quickly as possible, while Olivia chucks a pyromantic grenade through the door to keep the surging spiders back until it’s closed.
As the party runs back, expecting this was a diversion, two of the guards report that an armored, blond-curls man tried to push past them onto the teleportal but it failed since the portal was drawing power from the manse and is currently off. The soldier had run away, so the guards are instructed to gather around key areas (Jacob, the portal, the control room, and both of the prisoners) while the party searches for him. Finally, a ruckus comes from downstairs, right by the martial artist, and the party sprints down to find three mercenaries unconscious and iced to the wall, one on fire yelling that they went down the hallway, and no martial artist. At this point everyone is suspicious as hell of everything so Mithril keeps an eye on this soldier and when he starts to run away, Mithril doubles back to question him. Kami and Hunter also double back while Olivia keeps heading down the hall.
The soldier answers questions effectively but the party is still suspicious, so when Olivia opens a door and finds the martial artist and the same soldier everyone is talking to, both unconscious, she knows it’s a trap. Mithril reaches out to shake the soldier’s hand but when he tries to electrocute the soldier, he dodges perfectly, his hand turning to sand as his disguise falls away, and then makes more perfect dodges against Olivia’s attacks. Kami leaps onto him just as he’s about to activate his jetpack and disables the straps using Craftsman Needs Only Caffeine, causing the jetpack to spiral away into the air. Mithril then lassoes the jetpack, and, using exceptional thrown skills and some lucky rolls, manages to arc the lassoed jetpack right onto the top of his head, crunching his skull. He seems to recover from it very quickly, but this leaves him without his perfect dodge and in the brief moment available to him, Hunter cleanly cuts the Infernal in half, and after a moment he slides apart.
The martial artist and sorceress are collected, and the sorceress’s staff is found abandoned in a hallway. While Mithril is in the room with the sorceress he finds a celestial prayer strip, with a hastily scrawled note that Alex left to warn Yu-Shan about the “ignite the atmosphere” change, but she would send backup. Soon, as Mithril reports this to the party, two people seem to have come out of nowhere. One is a tall Northern fellow with golden gauntlets, ready for a fight, while the other is a retiring, sarcastic man dressed in unremarkable black clothes. He writes some notes in a journal as a way to send messages and says that they can all make a report to Yu-Shan, which is where the party is hoping to dump the bell. Hunter and Kami go through the teleportal (Kami has brought the manse back online) and collect the bell, and as Hunter comes back, the quiet man greets him and says he admires his work, and he feels they have things in common. Hunter is slightly perturbed by this.
The backup says they can summon a portal to Yu-Shan when the party is ready, but there are some things they want to take care of first (downtime!).
DM’s Notes: Holy moly that was fun. Yakkity Sax would have been so appropriate. Also don’t think I forgot about the demon wards, the charm that the bad guy was using specifically says it’s a shaping charm that literally fools a Pattern Spider into thinking you’re who you’re pretending to be. Pretty sure that would fool a demon ward. It definitely fooled Olivia’s Measure the Wind and M.I.R.I.’s internal scanners.
Some funny things:
- Olivia: “Hunter, can you search for things?” Hunter: “…inside of people, sometimes.”
- Reference was made to the subtle art of not quite beating someone to death.
- “Don’t botch!” Taylor: “If I do, I’ll screenshot it.”
- Louis: “Don’t worry, Olivia’s used to being covered in goo.”
- Debbie: “I’m going to use my new combo, Craftsman Needs Only Caffeine.” This was after the DM pointed out that disabling a jetpack would normally take 1 minute but with a charm that lets you work at 12 times normal speed it would only take 5 ticks.