The Last Remaining Light

Antarctica

...and beyond...or beneath

With the fate of the Red Star more or less in the hands of the Order of Hermes and what support they can put together, the question of the earthquakes and vulcanism is one that Marius is unwilling to let alone. Certainly not something to leave in the hands of some Etherites (much to Scientist Apollo Carlisle’s chagrin). So, it would appear that the Pillars of Heaven cabal — otherwise known as the crew of the Defiant — is going to Antarctica.

The story begins with a satellite, one of those that Terpsichore meddled with a while back. After the naval battle off the coast of Boston, the Defiant sought to evade further warring with the mundane armies of the world. And so, one of those retasked satellites was searching the waters off of the South African coast on behalf of some conspiracy nut living in his parents’ basement, as Terp put it.

Acting on information from satellite surveillance (to hear Apollo pick up the tale), a certain Professor Inherent and his assistant Scientist Peebles followed the trail of a lost ship, last seen off the coast of South Africa, to the ice of Antarctica and beneath it. At the time, Morgaine and Marius may have heard of the ship in passing, but that was all.

When the intrepid Scientist and assistant went missing, a mixed cabal of Etherites and Virtual Adepts, the Quantum Saints, went after them and were also lost. The last transmissions and data sent by the cabals were in the hands of an overwrought Etherboy by the name of Doctor Almanac, who stormed the Tradition Council in the middle of a somewhat less hysterical report on the recent seismic activity by one Professor Equator…but then, they were also distracted by the usual semantic arguments. Sons of Ether, or Children of Ether? Society of Ether?

Sure, let’s argue naming conventions while the world burns. It’s politics.

The Earth seems to contain any number of subterranean worlds; the path to the Shard Realm of Matter supposedly goes through that rocky underworld, and Etherite tales of Doc Eon and the Hollow World fill the pages of classic issues of Paradigma. Not to mention the mundane (or are they?) stories Morgaine knows, like the realm of Pellucidar, or Lovecraft’s Mountains of Madness. Etherite raving about yet another thus far unknown realm seems like a thin line of reasoning to explore.

But with Traditionalist efforts wandering all over the place (subterranean exploration, earthquake monitoring, lubricating major fault lines, etc.), and the Hermetics seemingly in place to attempt something constructive about the Red Star threat, it would seem Marius wants to tackle this earthquake/volcano problem. It may have something to do with Mt. Rainier going up, just outside of Seattle; although Morgan likes to call Glastonbury home if any place is, Marius still has some fondness for the city where his second cabal lived, and died. There’s no telling if their new, third cabal will suffer the same fate.

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CSI Barstow: So far, their investigation has been limited. Apollo has wandered through the Traditionalist camp in and around Barstow searching for Doctor Almanac, who supposedly has the firsthand knowledge of the ship off South Africa, and the cabals lost under the Antarctic ice.

Apollo’s queries amongst fellow Scientists who witnessed Almanac’s party-crashing provided him what information he’s been able to report so far. Supposedly, the realm the two lost cabals uncovered an entirely different realm (dimension?) underground. Still, one of many projects Marius is juggling includes an All-Space Filter set up to find the impassioned Doctor; he may yet be found.

Although Morgaine and Taran suggested that Siobhan investigate mundane earthquake monitoring for any evident pattern, the problem (as Professor Equinox pointed out, in his presentation before the Council) is that most if not all of the monitoring equipment is shut down, either turned off or idle as the needs of humanity turned from everyday science and civilization to a desperate struggle for survival.

Although the Etherites are looking for resources and personnel to reactivate enough monitoring equipment to be useful, and inspired Science might be able to search back in time and find a pattern after the fact, it seems unlikely that they will be able to accomplish that very soon.

Antarctica
 

Crew rotation: Although most of the Daybreakers pack have left the ship, to pursue their original mission of investigating possible Bane-possession amongst the Awakened, the ship is still pretty crowded. They still carry the Garou Alicia and Mari; the two fae, Drust and Simon; and the mundane/Sleeper/‘mortal’ reporter Siobhan.

Also still with them, Dr. Olaafson of Iteration X, and her CESTF-16 squad of hypertech-enhanced soldiers, along with a second squad of more mundane soldiers as backup. The Traditionalists aren’t the only ones benefiting from a weakened Consensus, although it remains to be seen how well these otherwise crippled and wounded veteran soldiers are taking to their cybernetic upgrades.

This leaves the small crew of Tradition mages — Morgaine, Marius, Apollo, Taran, and the failed assassin Sebastian — tending to quite the gaggle of odd supernatural beings.

Adding to this, after one last resupply trip north to Vancouver and Spuzzum in northwest Canada, are Morgaine and Marius’ old Cainite friends, Nadia and Dieter. Changing, certainly; suffering, perhaps, from the changes. The shifting Consensus has already claimed their last ghouls, and they could be next. So, the elder vampires are committed to joining them, if only to spend their remaining nights doing something of import rather than in a safe haven, waiting for the curse to shift, or perhaps to kill them.

Antarctica
 

We’re not in Kansas anymore: The trip down to Antarctica itself, and even the initial foray underground, were as uneventful as any trip to the bottom of the world could possibly be. With signs of bloodshed and death on the surface to guide them, however, the cabal descended carefully beneath the ice, and soon enough were able to set aside their cold-weather gear.

It became clear soon enough that whoever was responsible for the initial subterranean exploration struck something far older, and more sinister; the cabal had traded the ice and bitter cold for pitch darkness, cramped passageways, steep drops and pitfalls. With the aid of supernatural strength and magick, the mixed group spent days, perhaps a week or more before the Awakened had the distinct impression of having crossed a threshold of some sort.

Marius wasted no time in building a formidable mental shield to protect the extended cabal, expecting the worst now that their hunches had borne some fruit.

The underground passage grew wider and straighter, taking on the look of something less naturally formed, and more something roughly carved, unnatural…and with it came the noisome stench of mold. Before much longer, the cabal came under attack by creatures seemingly made from the stuff.

The vampiric Disciplines, lupine talons, and battle magick the cabal brought to bear, however, were much more formidable than anything previous explorers might have had. Even Apollo stepped up to defend the cabal with his array of unique devices, transforming into an idealized, adult version of himself.

By the time they drove the creatures back into a larger subterranean chamber, they found waves of the monsters attacking something else — a small, determined phalanx of what looked like dwarves, seemingly led by a woman…

That was enough to get Apollo to force his way over to them, and the rest of the cabal joined the melee, soldiers with their rifles, the fae with Simon’s fire-axe and Drust’s fae magic; even their captive assassin Sebastian was obliged to use what Hermetic arts he had to defend himself.

Morgaine and Marius let fly with enough lightning and fire to clear most of the surrounding area, however, their rotes unleashing such power that it disturbed even them. Although they had no ready explanation for the unexpected power, the people they’d saved did.

Or rather, person…or if not a human being, a ‘Jadeborn’ who addressed them as if she understood Morgaine and Marius’ nature, even if they didn’t. The cabal had saved the lady and her clockwork soldier ‘dwarves’, and while Apollo seemed immediately taken by her stunning good looks, the others were more interested in her story…

So far, it appears the lead the cabal followed from Barstow may be taking them down the rabbit-hole after the Maeljin/Antediluvian they suspect to be Malkav.

And while Marius may prefer to dismiss the interpretations of the young Jadeborn, Beryl, they may also have found an explanation for the unusual powers and subtle (and not-so-subtle) changes manifesting along with the magick. If they have been chosen for some ancient power out of legend, is this to be the fate of all Awakened? And what strings come with such power?

Antarctica
 

Chosen of the Maidens: The Jadeborn scholar who became their guide, Scarlet Beryl Dreamer, interpreted the various members of the cabal through the lens of her people’s history. To her, the vampires, Dieter and Nadia, were some sort of ‘abyssal’ servants; the Garou, Mari and Alicia, were lesser beastmen or perhaps spouses or mates to the ‘exalted masters’ (much to Marius’ chagrin). And poor, smitten Apollo was a ‘scavenger’ or worse, a ‘hatchling’ — after his warped Etherite childhood was explained.

Morgaine and Marius, to Beryl, were the Sidereal, Exalted masters, there either to save or destroy her people. Their enemy, the hybrid creature that was both Malkav and Doge Klypse, seemed to also recognize what they had become. His power to unleash insanity was still incredibly strong, but it was apparent that the power of the Antediluvians was weakening, and Morgaine finished him off — with a little help from some unexpected sources.

Still, the strange new power seems to have lingered after their return to the surface world, manifesting in bizarre and unexpected changes. Morgaine and Marius’ Patterns seem to be nearly ageless and regenerate without flaw. Their eyes have changed in color; hers are now a livid red instead of emerald green. And, it would seem, people are beginning to forget all about them…even some Awakened who knew them well.

Antarctica
 

End of an Age: The factory-cathedral responsible for tearing apart the planet was equally destructive to the forgotten realm of the Jadeborn. Amidst this destruction, however, the ancient artifact Malkav brought to power the machine had its own secrets inside. What at first appeared to be the Scythe of Winter, a famed weapon of apocalypse among the fae, proved to be something even greater.

Morgaine and Marius left this ancient power in the hands of their nephew, Apollo. The young Etherite had tried to impress their charming guide, Beryl, and gotten mauled by the denizens of the underworld for his trouble. With a little help from Beryl, however, Apollo found his courage, took up his fallen father’s name, and stood up to Malkav — until the monster knocked him aside, anyway.

The new Professor Carlisle has stayed behind with the Jadeborn, to help them. They must rebuild; they seek to understand and harness the power of the artifact they believe to be the Eye of Autochthon; and they have promised their aid to their saviors. Perhaps these past masters of magitech manufacture will come through for Marius and Morgaine, and deliver to them weapons suited to their newly awakened power.

Antarctica
tytalus

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