The Last Remaining Light

Arrival

This is the end, my only friend, the end

Raising the ‘Sky Island’ proved to be just the turning point Marius and Morgaine wanted; but not in the manner they might have expected.

Even after all they’ve been through — because of all they’ve been through — Marius was on the fence about using their newfound power to save the world. The cabal, the ship’s crew, all who have survived their travels with them, have seen humanity at its worst. Society crumbling, malice borne out of supernatural corruption and out of the strictly mundane, friends turning on them or being turned upon by what’s left of the species. Was it really worth saving?

This is what the Black Man and the Green Lady, apparently, were counting on with Marius. They had already taken Morgaine’s measure, and while she is compassionate to a fault, she wasn’t turning for them. Ever since she liberated him from Marauder madness, Marius’ weakness has been exposed, and exploited by enemies and sometime-friends.

The change to becoming Chosen has only exacerbated his sense of alienation, his gut instinct to fight fate. Through a choice act of possession, the Black Man reminded — or assured — Marius that, while they may have been empowered to enact some grand destiny, they could still choose. To save the world, or to put it out of its misery.

So, it was something simple enough to make him feel foolish for stalling so long — just the act of saving his ‘niece,’ Artemis, from the Nephandi — for Marius to snap out of it and genuinely choose a side. Not even Morgaine could convince him, but just a moment with the bitter, resentful daughter of the Carlisles did remind him of what matters. That something matters, at all.

Now, things are moving fast for the cabal. Morgaine and Marius have hatched a bold plan to finally put a stop to the Red Star itself, to defeat the Nephandi and cancel the apocalypse. It seems fitting that the two of them were chosen for this, for the battle — and for the ending. Far from fighting destiny, they have embraced it; they are its instruments, pitting the will to exist against the will to embrace oblivion.

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The return of Professor Carlisle: Apollo was gone just a few weeks, but what he managed in that short span! He returned to Glastonbury, looking for his eccentric aunt and uncle, and he brought friends — and weapons.

The Jadeborn, that they had found and rescued from Malkav in their long forgotten subterranean realm, were free — and mostly, gone. Apollo may have been out of his league, but evidently he was at least up to the task of reaching the maker of the Jadeborn, Autochthon; perhaps the same entity that is…acquainted with the Technocrats of Iteration X.

Now, freed from their Great Geas, the Jadeborn have a new task, to assist their maker directly. Some remnants are left behind in Creation, in their own realm, to find and hatch the last of their kind waiting, trapped in deposits of jade.

And a few, like Scarlet Beryl Dreamer, have decided to stay behind out of loyalty to the Chosen who freed their people. Just a few.

But the great majority who departed for Autochthonia did not leave immediately. Instead, they fired up the factory-cathedrals still left to them after the devastating earthquakes and crafted armor and weapons, gifts in gratitude for their saviors. Now, Marius and Morgaine have artifacts befitting their new status, ‘exalted masters’ as Beryl puts it.

They have suits of armor, giant magitech suits as big as houses, things out of Apollo’s imagination perhaps. Marius has guns that shoot lightning…and Morgaine has new tiger-claws, crafted from the remains of dead gods.

And they will need them.

Arrival
 

One Last Ritual: The New Horizon Council has not let up on our intrepid heroes; in fact, the stakes have only gotten higher. Fortunately, things probably couldn’t get much worse, unless they fail.

The Order of Hermes gave their all to a planet-shifting working of High Ritual magick, demanding the assistance of many from other Traditions in the process. This was supposed to take place while the cabal was busy hunting down the source of the wave of earthquakes and vulcanism wracking the Earth.

Naturally, the Order failed. Not so much a failure, though, as a counter — the Red Star shifted as well, accelerating, losing mass, almost as if they were using Void Engineer technology to convert the Red Star’s mass into energy. It’s smaller, but still more than enough to shatter the planet on contact.

Faced with this persistent failure from the Traditions, Marius was fed up — it was time they dealt with this, personally. Raising the Sky Island was just a test of what the Defiant’s gravity engine could handle. Now, they plan to use the ship as their focus, to build a repulsive, anti-gravity effect, so that further pushing by the Nephandi will only repel them faster.

After some soul-searching on their part, representatives of the Order, including Marius’ long-time nemesis, the Lord Gilmore, confronted Marius — with an offer of assistance. Naturally, being Hermetics, this better resembled a demand or a threat than an offer, and Marius tested out his new lightning-gun on one of Gilmore’s Sentinels.

Morgaine was able to show up in time to help salvage the deal. And so, some of the most powerful remaining Hermetic Magisters, including Gilmore, will be working with them as part of the ritual. Marius and Gilmore sealed the deal with a handshake, all iron grips and icy stares. Whatever they have meant to each other, whatever they’ve done to each other, in the end they must work together for the world’s sake. Unity — what Morgaine’s preached all along.

Unfortunately, the plan also includes Morgaine, using her special power over the Avatar Storm to shield the ritual from Nephandi countermagick…which stands to use up the Storm, so to speak. It could return the astral plane to the Awakened, in a saved world; or, it could leave Earth vulnerable to the final assault of the Nephandi.

Who knows? It could be both.

Arrival
 

A Return to Vienna: Before any world-saving rituals, however, there is another loose end for the cabal to consider: eliminating the last of the Maeljin Incarna in their vampiric shells.

Mari and Alicia, their Garou friends, had left the Defiant once they returned to the surface world. Their mission, to find the Margrave and whatever was left of the Garou Nation, as the Margrave had vowed to destroy the last of the Maeljin personally. As rumor had it, after Absimiliard met his end against the Defiant, the Margrave had grown tired of being upstaged.

Now, spirit messengers and a forgotten CNN van parked outside of Glastonbury have brought word of the Margrave’s forces. The last of the redeemed Silver Fangs tracked the remnant Garou Nation to Vienna, where apparently one surviving Clan founder remains. Which, as Morgaine pointed out, brings them full circle.

Gehenna, the proper apocalypse, seemed to have begun there, with Marius and Morgaine foiling a Tremere ritual intended to restore the Tremere, as in the House-and-Clan founder, to Antediluvian status. The botched ritual claimed the souls of all of the House and Clan, sucking them all down to Hell…or Malfeas…turning the local Gauntlet into Swiss cheese.

And, nearly claiming our heroes’ lives in the process. Not to put too fine a point on it, but they fled Vienna that night, unable to stop what was coming next. It seems so long ago; it hasn’t been, really, but it seems. He was still insane; she was still a Cainite. How things have changed.

Their initial remote scrying of the Hellmouth, as Morgaine poetically named it, was quickly discovered and countered. In that short time, they determined that a sizable force, including military, had occupied the city. A small encampment outside the city seemed to be where their Garou allies were dug in. When jet fighters scrambled from Vienna to investigate Glastonbury, Marius used them for target practice in his new ‘warstrider’.

But the enemy knows they’re coming, and Marius has set the Defiant’s crew on a tight schedule, with just a few days to attack Vienna before the final, grand ritual. Beyond that, with the two of them in their new armored suits, it falls to others to pilot the Defiant into battle this time.

After talking it over with Morgaine and the others, Marius chose his would-be assassin, Sebastian, for the job — with some help, and with the Euthanatos Rebecca watching him for another backstab (or to deliver one of her own). For whatever reason, Marius decided that this was what Sebastian was there to do — something greater than the fate the Lord Gilmore had in mind for Sebastian, at least.

So, the battle lines are almost drawn, not much further to go. The cabal can see the end from here — perhaps even beyond, if they dare to hope.

Arrival
tytalus

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