Carmichael Chronicles

Carmichael Log -- Northport 4

Carmichael and Carmichael investigations received a new case from Opal Donahue. The job was to investigate a possible Gifted denizen of Northport: Everett Reichart, a soldier at Fort Fitz, who makes machines act oddly in his presence. Everett was being stalked and Opal wanted John to secure the soldier so she could protect and sponsor the burgeoning talent.

John’s investigation started at Fort Fitz, where he met Foster Talon yelling at the guards. “The people have a right to know!” John found out about Project Thunderbolt, a government project to develop a floating tank with a death ray. Housed by the Special Projects Pavilion, this project required Everett’s unique talents. John made a bargain with Foster—John would get him on the base in exchange for information about Everett, the military, and the elusive Army of the Eclipse.

Foster told John that the Army of the Eclipse used to be an order dedicated to protecting mortals from magic and vice versa—much like John’s own Coriander Society. However, in the last decades, the Order was reorganized into sleeper cells as the Army of the Eclipse. John noted that this happened right around when the recent wave of Gifted humans were born, and reasoned there must be a connection.

Next, Foster and John went to Pier 42, home of the secretive Knuckle Society—a bare-boxing fight club sponsored by The Mob. Gianni Pavlo was on site to broker bets and manage the fight, along with several Triad enforcers. Everett was up next to fight, against an older soldier, Corporal Burt Goodwin. Burt was taking this fight personally, screaming at Everett about a lady from the base—Madeline, a young nurse and a point of contention between the two men. Clearly, Burt was trying to put Everett down for good, and the fight got brutal. Then, all hell broke loose!

John saw three things at exactly the same time. First, he saw Mr. Lo’s Daughter, Sun Jia, in the crowd. Second, he spotted the elusive White Ghost lurking in the rafters of the warehouse. Finally, a shooter emerged from the audience, gun aimed straight at Everett’s heart!

John, Tesh-Xi and Foster leapt into action, knocking Everett aside. John yelled at Tesh to go after the shooter and he split off to chase down the White Ghost—his primary suspect as the Angel Killer!

Over the rooftops he hunted her down. She leapt gracefully and flowed through the shadows with supernatural alacrity. Eventually he caught up, and just as she turned to fight he unleashed his magical fury to hold her blade at bay. Cornered and outmatched, she yielded and answered John’s questions. Etelvina Maite claims that she is not the Angel Killer—but she thinks she knows who is. John extracts a promise to meet again later (if she’s truly trying to track the killer, she’ll help him).

Back at the scene of the fight, Everett escaped in the chaos, but Tesh and Foster tracked down the would-be assassin. The trail led to the humble-looking Grove Apartments, which concealed a lurking threat—an entire ring of college students who are secret Omelan spies! Omelas had its eyes on young Everett Reichart, and this very night they planned an act of sabotage against the Commonwealth! Not only the nurse Madeline (also an Omelan traitor) kill Private Reichart with an injection designed to make his powers run amok, but this would cause Project Thunderbolt to fail catastrophically. Then, another team of Omelan assassins would steal the project’s blueprints and assassinate the general in charge of the Special Projects Pavilion.

John decided it was time to break in to Fort Fitz and stop the Omelans. He formed a team—Haura, Tesh, John, Foster, and Chester Morton. One team would catch Madeline and reveal her treachery while the other interceded to save General Segomo. John had the foresight that morning to plant an anchor rune on a truck entering the base; now it was a simple task to target it with a teleportation spell. Once inside, they sprang into action.

Chaos ensued! John wrapped the pavilion in an illusion of an Omelan air raid, sending the base into high alert. While the rest of them went after Madeline and successfully captured her, John charged into the observation tower and ran to the General’s office. But along the way, several bruised and bleeding strangers fled in the opposite direction. The door to the general’s office hung open, and the sounds of the air raid and thunder storm echoed down the hall.

Inside, General Segomo sat calmly, wiping blood off his hands. Several dead assassins lay around him—one killed with a desk lamp, another with a telephone, and the last strangled to death with the general’s belt. This was not a pencil pusher or armchair general. The air was charged with danger, and the cloudy grey eyes of the man before John put doubt into the wizard’s heart. Undeterred, he locked eyes, determined to find out who the man truly was.

General Leucetius Segomo is an Infernal.

Shutting the door behind him, John realized that he was in a room with a very, very dangerous man. The general didn’t need magic to kill him—he was a warrior so supernaturally dangerous, he might move too fast for John to react. So the two exchanged words instead. John learned the following:

  • General Leucetius Segomo calls himself the Storm, or the War Crow.
  • He was once a member of an Infernal Cyst on a distant world. When the portal network collapsed, the entire base of the cyst was ejected from that world into this one.
  • Several of his fellow Infernals made the trip, but since the loss of contact with the Alliance, their uneasy relationships have fractured.
  • The General holds no true loyalty to the Alliance. It was only a means to an end, the end being War. Warcrow venerates War as holy, sacred, beautiful. His only goal in life is to wage and stir up war forever.
  • The General has no allegiance to his former allies. His goal now is to foment conflict between the Commonwealth and Omelas. With this latest attack, he may have what he needs to fulfill this goal.

John struck a deal with the powerful Warlord. Since Warcrow stated no interest in returning Uzhul to the world, John offered him passage back to the stronghold, if Warcrow would help John unlock its mysteries. The two parted ways with a curious pact binding them.

Meanwhile, the other team, led by Haura, executed a cunning ruse—they allowed Everett to continue with the experiment, and created the illusion of catastrophic failure. They faked his death and smuggled him out of the base. Everyone escaped successfully and John introduced Everett to Opal Donahue, adding him to the student roster.

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Downtime -- Northport 3
Investigation & Legwork
  • After closing the Doris Hampton case, Carmichael and Carmichael focused their efforts on uncovering the secrets of Northport’s occult mysteries.
  • John assumed the identity of a visiting academic (Dr. Severus Snape) and made contact with Dr. Oren Strickland. The two hit it off extremely well—Dr. Strickland is fascinated by John’s array of learning. They now meet once a week to play chess and discuss politics and history.

- Dossier Opened: Dr Oren Strickland

  • Careful inquiries on John’s part revealed that Oren knows Aloysius Carrington. Aside from interacting at the exclusive Elm & Yew club, Aloysius explored the Zoquian jungles in his youth, and the two often discuss Zoquian mysticism and history together. John used this connection to establish contact with Aloysius, under the Snape identity, and start corresponding.
  • Aloysius is eager to discuss matters mystical via letters and messages, but in-person meetings only go to those he truly respects as experts on the supernatural. If he decides that a given guru is not authentic, he will never see them again.
  • Aloysius’ main interest is in learning about gods of the afterlife, when they were worshiped, by what cultures, what evidence exists of their worship, what are their reported abilities and properties, etc.

- Dossier Updated: Aloysius Carrington

Jasmine

  • Tesh-Xi attempts to infiltrate Jasmine’s organization as the hulking bodyguard Mr. Grimm. He is subjected to a grueling interview, in which Jasmine asks several pointed questions. (Social duel. Tesh wins in three rounds, but four of his fortes are wiped out in the process: Motivation (Knowledge is Power), Past (immoth), Learned, and Claws)
  • Ultimately, after nearly getting thrown out, “Grimm” impresses her with his nonchalant attitude towards violence and objective perspective. Somewhat fascinated, she hires him. Tesh is not one of her closest body guards. Instead, he is placed on duty guarding her penthouse in Newton. Most of the time he simply nods at her as she comes and goes, accompanied by her more trusted bodyguards and hand servants. However, this does give him the opportunity to study her living quarters, identify those coming and going from her penthouse apartment, and open a dossier on her.

Dossier Opened: Jasmine Ruiz-Carrington

Phillip Carrington

  • Haura gathers information on Phillip by asking around, reading newspapers, interviewing those in the know. Eventually she arranges to be at the same nightclub as he’s attending and draws his attention. He’s there to meet someone, but she draws him in and manages to get him to buy her a couple of drinks—as a gentleman, though his interest is piqued.
  • As it turns out, Phillip is more than just business partners with Opal. He’s clearly rather taken with her idealism and spirit, and is subtly courting her. Haura ducks out before she’s noticed, leaving Phillip to hastily greet Opal, who is slightly suspicious.
  • Haura manages to get Phillip’s information so she can contact him later. She is playing the part of the mystery woman, drawing him in with curiosity.

Dossier Opened: Phillip Carrington

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Synopsis -- Northport 2
Case File: The Doctor and the Master
  • After solving several minor cases with incredibly speed and efficiency, Carmichael & Carmichael attracted the attention of Opal Donahue. She hired the firm to covertly help Doris Hampton, a young actress being exploited by her manager.
  • Research revealed the following facts:

- Doris is gifted. She can manipulate fire through her song.

- Her manager, Lenard Hall, was taking economic and physical advantage of her

- Doris goes missing for 4-6 hours once or twice every week.

- Doris recently secured a singing role in a Duke Studios production, Tlacelel vs. Amotxtli —A historical epic of forbidden love between rival monarchs. Her only role was to sing during a vast set piece of the court.

  • John sent Haura to tail Opal while he and Tesh-Xi traveled to the Studio District to meet with Opal and investigate her manager. John got on-property by impersonating a successful talent manager. He located Lenard and deliberately antagonized him, all while instructing Tesh to inspect the area. Doris was uncharacteristically late. John tricked Lenard into Doris’ trailer and moved in to confront him there.
  • Doris arrived shortly after John closed the trailer on Lenard. Tesh discovered that she’d forgotten about the shoot; when she went into makeup, she confessed that she’d forgotten her lines as well.
  • John interrogated Lenard. He learned that due to an arrangement with someone named Xorbius Brandt, he brought Doris down to Baily Hook on demand. There, Lenard would turn Doris over to a smuggler named Saul Henning, who brought Doris out over the water. Several hours later, he’d return with her, and she would have no memory of the event. Lenard was receiving regular payments and thought it best not to ask questions.
  • In the middle of interrogation, a group of grips, security guards, janitors and other workfolk on the set attacked the trailer. They flooded it with odorless, clear knockout gas. Lenard passed out, but John raised an illusion to hide the conflict from outsiders. Then he unleashed the antediluvian powers of the depths and black shadowy tentacles erupted from below his feet, seizing and brutalizing all of his attackers.
  • At the same time, Tesh burst into Doris’ makeup room, where the makeup artist was attempting to poison Doris with drugged makeup.
  • With everyone unconscious in the trailer, John settled into an oneiromantic trance and entered one of his attacker’s dreamscapes. As he prodded the thug’s unconscious mind towards the motivation for the attack, a wall of fire erupted and through the sheets of flame he saw a towering figure, eyes gleaming malevolently through the smoke. The thug’s mind had been bound, forbidding him from revealing his master’s name or secrets.
  • John knew that if he broached the mental defenses, it could destroy both the thug’s mind and his own. He made a swift decision, and unleashed his will on the barrier, defying its might and reaching through to pluck a name from the smoke— Ralzamon, Master of the Unknown!
  • Mental fire roared from the terrible visage of Ralzamon. Before it could char and ruin the minds of wizard and thug alike, John seized his attacker’s mind and dragged it to the roots of the curse that plagued John—the night twist. He deliberately exposed his attacker to the curse and allowed it to spread. A mighty thicket of dark, twisted trees rose up, meeting the onslaught of fire and smouldering in defiance.
  • John showed the unconscious mind of the thug that there were greater horrors in the cosmos than Ralzamon, and that if John was capable of resisting them, so too was this man. John resolved to take the thug under his wing and teach him to resist the power of the nightmares, accepting the burden of responsibility.
  • From the haunted but intact dreamscape, John learned the following facts:

- The attackers come from a group called the Unknowables

- The Unknowables are an Aleburg street gang comprised of former addicts and the mentally handicapped. Ralzamon altered their minds to free them from their addictions and compulsions, while replacing those wounds with obedience to him.

- The Unknowables were sent to capture Lenard and Doris and bring them both to their lair in Aleburg.

- Doris was targeted because Ralzamon claims she needs training and protection, which he can offer.

- Lenard was targeted because of his deal with Xorbius Brandt, Ralzamon’s hated nemesis.

  • After searching the thug’s dreams, John called him “Known” and moved on to Lenard’s mind. He learned more of Lenard’s deal with Xorbius, and left behind a compulsion: if Lenard ever attempts to take advantage of a woman, he will be compelled to break his own fingers.
  • John and Tesh took Doris off-site after she completed the shoot. Her memory has been damaged from her forays into the ocean, but Tesh was able to glean the following facts:

- Doris remembers Saul taking her to a submarine

- Saul seems a reluctant/unwilling participant in the scheme.
  • Tesh and John united Doris with Opal, who promised her protection and a new agent, procured and managed by Opal herself.
  • Ms. Donahue paid C&C handsomely for their services and promised to work with them in the future. Her objective is to open a home for the Gifted youth of Northport, and to find them help and training.
  • Further research revealed that Xorbius has invented a device which supposedly infuses ungifted indivudals with The Gift— but with an awful toll on their humanity.
  • Doris is naturally Gifted, as she developed her powers prior to Lenard’s arrangement with Brandt.
  • Dossiers were opened on the following individuals:

- Opal Donahue

- Ralzamon

- Doctor Xorbius Brandt

  • Case file on Doris Hampton has been closed
  • Case file: The Doctor and the master remains open.
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Synopsis -- Northport 1
Case File: Every Time a Bell Rings
  • John, Tesh-Xi, Haura arrive in Northport
  • Portal in Northport is in the middle of a museum. Tesh bursts through the display glass, attracting the attention of the security guards. They split up and use magic and cunning to evade pursuit, agreeing to meet at the City Hall building in two hours.
  • John makes his way to city hall, picking up information about the city/world on his way.
  • Upon arrival, John impersonates a Department 7 agent and gets the name Nancy Rain (she worked the Mercury Hospital bombing case). She is at a crime scene—the Angel Murderer has struck again.
  • John travels to the crime scene and gains access through his cover as a Department 7 agent. He “pulls rank” and gets Nancy to give him the scoop on the murder.

- Victim is Evvie Brown, cabaret singer.
- All victims are young women, between 18-21, black hair
- Victims include cocktail waitresses, strippers, sex workers, lounge singers, and a single C-list starlet
- No fingerprints have been found at any of the crime scenes
- All victims have two precise, deep cuts down their backs—right where an angel’s wings would be.
- Crime scenes are all over town, usually near the victim’s workplace. Two of the victims were killed in their homes, including the starlet, Lavender Lahey
- Killings have taken place over the last five months
-

  • John’s inspection of this crime scene revealed the following clues:

- Crime scene is in an alley around the corner from the Razzle Nook, Evvie’s cabaret.

- No sign of struggle along the way to the alley. Signs of struggle at the murder scene.

- No fingerprints found on the body.

- A makeup compact belonging to Evvie was found between the cabaret and the alley. Evvie’s fingerprints were found on the compact.

- Cause of death is uncertain. The same angel-wing cuts are present, but there’s not enough blood to indicate those wounds were cause of death.

- Blood pool indicates Evvie’s heart stopped beating before the wounds were inflicted.

- A gray handprint around Evvie’s neck shows signs of necrotic damage, in addition to standard bruising.

- An opium pipe belonging to a Giotto family thug was located nearby.
- Gianni Pavlo is rumored to fancy Evvie. He was at the show that night, but left early.

- A transient in an alley nearby saw a beautiful woman with black hair, white skin and wearing a white and gold feathered dress walk down the alley to the murder scene, as if she was waiting for someone. The transient did not witness anything else. Note: John obtained this information by inflicting irreparable mental damage on the transient.

- Witnesses report seeing a beautiful woman with black hair, white skin and red lipstick leave the cabaret right after Evvie’s act. The woman was wearing a black overcoat

  • John left the crime scene and traveled to Sihaitown, entering Guan Gui’s noodle shop. He interrogated the owner and learned two facts:

- The woman John saw was last seen leaving the noodle shop to go to Thornacre Manor. She is known as the White Ghost.. Northport_White_Ghost.jpg

- The White Ghost was last seen leaving Guan Gui’s noodle shop and heading to Thornacre in Highvale—the Giotto crime family’s center of power.

- Mr. Lo is putting some of his girls under additional protection.

- There are rumors that the Giotto crime family is behind the killings, to disguise hits on Mr. Lo’s working girls.

  • Finally, John tracked down Gianni Pavlo at the Black Rose and confronted him. In the conversation, he learned the following facts:

- Gianni did fancy Evvie Brown. He claims she has a reputation for promiscuity as well.

- Gianni left early to resolve a “business dispute” with a banker who was failing to comply with the Giotto family’s orders.

- The White Ghost is Mr. Lo’s personal assassin. She answers to nobody else in the triad. Her reputation as a deadly and efficient killer is well established.

- Rumor holds the killings are an excuse for the Triad to declare war on the Giotto family.

- When pressed, Gianni admitted the killings have a supernatural connection. He advised John to investigate the Carrington family, identifying them as key figures in Northport’s occult community.

  • John decided to regroup with his team, leaving the case file open. He reunited with Haura at City Hall and tracked down Tesh-Xi with magic.
  • While flying overhead, John saw a shadow passing extremely fast overhead. He believes it to be a flying vehicle of some kind and has dubbed the owner “Batman.”
  • Tesh-Xi was eventually located in the ruins of Mercury Hospital. Once united, the group secured funding by burglarizing a bank vault (security did not include dimensional barriers). With money in hand, they traveled to the Essex hotel and leased an office and three rooms.
  • In no time at all, John had established the private investigation firm of Carmichael & Carmichael.
  • A week or two passed while C&C filed as little paperwork as they could get away with, acquired office furniture, established contacts and otherwise made themselves ready for business. Katherine Rascal, receptionist and manager of the hotel, assisted with her vast network of connections, overseas and otherwise.
  • Dossiers opened on:

- Aloysius Carrington

- The White Ghost

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Synopsis Part 13
DraGun--The Squire
  • The Throden-Kothar are planning a terror attack on the coalition.
  • Red Cross Knights rally to defense
  • John reaches out to Konstantina and warns her, coordinating the defense efforts.
  • During the attack, Trundrachanderion (mature female blue dragon) is slain in combat by Athanius Voski
  • However, using illusions, John helps Gilwargis fake his own death.
  • The battle wreaks havoc on the Throden-Kothar forces. Aside from the apparent death of Gilwargis, it is a rout.
  • Once the battle is over, planning begins for the combined assault on the Voskii capital. The Red Cross Knights host a meeting of all the factions. Little help is coming from the Exarchate, due to the chaos sown by the loss of their Patriarch. Konstantina leads Coalition anti-air forces, the Red Cross knights deploy to attack where the fighting is worst, and Rinn’s Rebels harass from the side.
  • Daudhir’s raiders and Malef’s forces push from one side, but are instructed to meet the Voskii forces head on.
  • Jimbidakimbatuul’s air forces, including the nuclear arsenal, attack an outpost on the border of Voskii territory and fly straight for the citadel. John and Haura infiltrate the main attack ship of the fleet and hide on board.
  • Just outside of populated areas, John and Haura use illusions, deception and firepower to access the nuclear arsenal and set it off. They leap from the ship and wrap themselves in protective magic, teleporting from vessel to vessel in order to escape the exposion. Jimbidakimbatuul perishes in nuclear fire, along with the majority of his forces.
  • At the heart of the city, the wrathful and desperate Throden-Kothar send a small team of assassins to kill the psychic seers. John and Haura rush to save them, and Hakorcazglrtun bursts through a wall. The asmodean sorceress Hmeldr approaches John with confidence, bristling with unholy energy. John crushes her will simply by meeting her gaze. Horrified by what John has seen, she quickly falls to his magic, leaving John free to battle the massive godslayer.
  • Hatthm emerges and Haura faces him down, assailing him with bewitching spells and blasts of lightning. While they are distracted, Hakortu emerges from stealth and strikes with an assassin’s speed. Ultimately John and Haura triumph, but not before John recognizes Hakortu—she is identical to an assassin who first tried to kill John, then protected him, back on Earth in his youth.
  • John browbeats Kazimiir into accepting his son Athanius’ status as leader of the Red Cross Knights and helps form an alliance that will oppose the Ulhar. Voskii, Exarchs, Coalition and even Dragons unite to resist Ulhar domination and establish peace, some day.
  • With the help of the Exarchate, John and Haura reactivate the dimensional portal facility. John uses his knowledge of the Infernal Alliance’s secrets to connect the dimensional portal to a universe with a Cyst, and John and Haura leave DraGun behind.
  • Garrit and Rasmus Briarjoin Daudhir’s raiders as envoys on behalf of the Renegades and Coalition, respectively.
  • Gilwargis remains in hiding.
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Synopsis Part 12
DraGun-- The Saint and the Sinner
  • John reunites with the Red Cross Knights, meets their leader
  • Discovers that their leader is Saint George the Dragon Slayer, from Earth
    > George swore years of service to the Fairy Queen before he could unite with his wife Una. On such a quest, he walked a fairy path and was stranded in DraGun. Sworn to protect the weak from the oppressor, he took up arms and founded a knightly order to oppose the Ulhar and do what he does best—slay dragons.
    > He carries with him a small Coriander Flower, given to him by his wife as a token of her favor.
    > He knew King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
  • John tells George everything about his quest.
  • They decide that the Vignar have to be stopped—before they can assassinate the Voskii Seers, and before their shadowy power can wreak ANY more evil. The best way to do this is to cut off the head, and kill the Vignar’s master, Dreargakaduayarte.
  • To kill an ancient dragon, especially one wreathed in unholy power, they need a special weapon. John works with Manda to create a special railgun. The warhead itself is crafted from the most advanced materials possible and enchanted with layer after layer of deadly runes. John dubs it, The DraGun.
  • Before leaving on their Journey, John gives Gilwargis a gift—a beautifully illustrated copy of St George’s own story, from 21st century Earth. In return, Gilwargis gives Carmichael an enchanted cordial gifted to him by King Arthur himself, said to be capable of curing any ill.
  • John and Haura depart, leaving Rasmus and Garrit behind with the Knights. By stealth and magic they infiltrate Vignar territory and find Dreagakaduayarte’s lair, a cave wreathed in shadows.
  • John goes to challenge the dragon. A tense standoff emerges, as John hears the ancient dragon’s voice, carefully moving to avoid being detected. Dreagak reveals the fact that Falazure knows John’s name and that Varin back on earth knows about John’s presence here, and taunts John with the knowledge that Death is loose in his homeworld and cannot be stopped. Just as the monster lunges at John, he fires the DraGun straight into Dreagak’s heart. The magic there cripples the Dragon’s spirit, infusing him with the same necrotic power that fascinated it.
  • Dreagakaduayarte is dying. John makes him an offer—Dreagak can avoid death by becoming a guardian, fusing with the dark cave to protect other dragons there. He will also protect a shard of Uzhul. Any blue dragon hatched there will be infused with the shadow of falazure and the unholy strength of Uzhul. However, only one hatchling will survive from each clutch, absorbing the power of the others. Dreargak, finally face to face with the death he’s anticipated for so long, accepts the offer, binding himself to the land and the shard, and sowing the seeds of horrors in years to come.
  • John completes the guardian ritual with Dreargak, a dark act with consequences to follow. Then he takes the communication center he finds there—the nerve center of the Vignar—and impersonates Dreargak. He announces to all the Vignar that they have passed the grand test—that all along, they have in fact served not the will of Falazure, but of Chronepsis, the SIlent Watcher. Their task complete, it is their sacred duty to withdraw, to observe, and not to intervene. Wearing the shroud of Dreargak’s soul around him, he succeeds, and the Vignar withdraw completely from the political landscape, forsaking their allies and vanishing.
  • Upon their return to the Knights, John confesses what he’s done to Gilwargis. He gives the Red Cross Knight the location of the unhallowed ground and imposes on him the task of ensuring that each generation of hatchlings born their is slain before it can become a monster. This means that Gilwargis cannot leave, not without ensuring that new generations of Paladins will take up the cause. Gilwargis warns John that such dark actions leave a mark, not only on the world, but on John’s own soul.
  • Having dealt with the Vignar and robbed the Ulhar Conspiracy of a key ally, John and his allies turn their attention to the next phase of the plan—a Throden-Kothar attack on the Coalition.
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Synopsis Part 11
DraGun--The Bishop and the Knight

Exarchate territory enjoyed the fruits of sophisticated technology. Robotics and cybernetics brought productivity and community. In exchange, the Exarchs themselves—AI merged with human consciousness—laid out a strict plan for behavior and lifestyle, sacrificing freedom of expression in the name of progress. The Exarchate focused on discovering the lost technology of the previous civilization, to learn from their mistakes and advance the cause of humanity.

To this seeming utopia came John, Haura, Garrit and Rasmus, bound together on a mission to prevent the Dragons from crushing human resistance. At the borders they faced the firepower of a massive Exarch wardroid, narrowly escaping its plasma cannon. Through show of force and reasoned words they made contact with an Exarch Justiciar, who led them to the capital city, and an audience with the Patriarch.

The ultimate leader of the Exarchate vision had no human flesh—a mechanical body infused with the wisdom of countless AI processes. It showed John the fruits of their labors. Through careful study and scientific inquiry, the Exarchate held a theory for the temporal difference John experienced between this world and the Pyre.

The Dragons and their dragonspawn hordes burst from the portal some centuries ago, But that facility—the one from which John emerged—was only one of two. This world was once part of a vast civilization that spanned the stars, and this was but an outlying, distant world. Scientists and researchers came here to conduct clandestine experiments into the fabric of space and time. Two primary facilities were at the center of the planet’s efforts—one exploring the existence of other universes, the other trying to peel back the mysteries of time and master it. The dimensional facility was the first success, opening on the world the denizens of the Pyre knew as Ashen. Colonists from DraGun went through, becoming the Strangers of Ashen lore, the ones John learned of from the Dragon Guardians. John realized that the humans of Quelya were not native to that world, nor even that universe—Domnika, Akuma and all of their fellow humans were the ancient descendants of colonists from DraGun.

As the colony was reaching its zenith, the temporal research facility gazed beyond the veil of time, upon something that should not have been seen. In a single moment, the stars above dragun shifted abruptly, all contact with the interstellar network was lost, and dragons and their kin erupted from the dimensional portal, laying waste to the unsuspecting world.

Through their study of the changed stars, the Exarchate realized that time was frozen on the world for millenia. The dragons that entered the gate in Ashen did not emerge until time resumed here, on DraGun. Hope returned that John might still see the Pilgrims of the Pyre, as long as time was running at equal paces in both universes.

But time was running out for the patriarch. Even as John spoke of the burgeoning alliance between the human factions and warned the Patriarch that the Vignar planned his demise, Ichero’s plans bore fruit. A sentient, arcane virus erupted into the Patriarch’s mind, corrupting and possessing his systems. It retained enough self control to ask John to stop the corruption before it could proceed. John executed the patriarch, purging its systems with arcane fire that rushed out back to the source of the virus, flushing the system and slaying the myriad techmages in service to the Vignar, operating under the pseudonym of Ichero.

Though he’d saved the Exarchate from servitude to Falazure, their systems were thrown into disarray. The Justiciar who’d escorted him to the Patriarch now pursued him as an assassin, and the four companions were forced to flee. Deep in Exarch territory, surrounded by machines and networks, their path seemed blocked. Only the intervention of Rinn, sister to Manda and rebel against the Exarchate, secured them a way out.

Fleeing from the civilization they’d saved, John received a message from Rinn’s sister. The Red Cross Knights were coming. It was finally time to meet the elusive Gilwargis.

Carmichael warned it that the Vignar techmage Ichero planned to corrupt the Patriarch itself, to undo the unity of the Exarch and turn their connectedness against them.

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Synopsis Part 10
DraGun--Coalition and Council

Martial Law and military pride reigned supreme among the myriad provinces and cultures of the coalition. Their lands were largest of the three human factions, but they often found themselves outgunned by the psionic Voskii champions and the sophisticated Exarch robotic technology. To get their hands on the Ulhar intelligence, John sought out the camp of General Edwin Shel, a popular and aggressive leader of coalition forces.

Before they arrived, they passed through land frequented by a ruthless band of renegades. They came across a convoy of the outlaws as they pursued a young coalition boy, Rasmus Briar, alone on his motorcycle. His driving talents nearly got him out of the mess, but ultimately Garrit, John and Haura intervened, dispersing the renegades violently. As so often happens to those rescued by John Carmichael, Rasmus found himself pressed into service. He would help John’s team infiltrated the General’s camp by posing as would-be recruits.

Navigating the entrance interview, bypassing security and ultimately slipping away from the recruiting center, John and Haura reached the central hub of Edwin Shel’s stronghold. There, he put his studies of Ichero’s technology-magic fusion to work, wreaking chaos and confusion in the control room while he stole the information. Together, they fled—and they took the hapless Rasmus with them, unwilling co-conspirator, bound up with their fate.

With Manda‘s help they cracked the encrypted information, and learned that an Ulhar war council was planned, hosted by Malef—Ulhar Suzerain of the frontier territory. John wrapped himself in magic, transforming his skin into that of a dragon, and posed as the Suzerain’s son, Daudhir, to pass through security and gain access to the council. He learned that several powerful Ulhar planned a united offensive that would cripple all the human factions, allowing the Ulhar to march over human territory. This alliance consisted of Malef, the local suzerain; Jimbidakimbatuul, a young and brash but influential suzerain, whose access to nuclear weaponry made him a powerful ruler; Trundrachanderion, emissary of the zealous and diabolical Throden Kothar; and finally, Ichero, the same techmage John thought he’d slain, as a representative of the Vignar. This council of dragons had the combined resources and access to destabilize the Exarchate, sabotage the Voskii and crush the Coalition with their combined might. John burst into the scene disguised as Daudhir and laid his own plans amongst theirs.

The false Dragon claimed that he knew where Susvorel, John’s alter-ego, could be found. All the members of the council spoke darkly of this rogue power, who’d crushed Dartak and thrown their plans into jeopardy. “Daudhir” claimed that he could reason with the mage, and harness his power to work with their plans. Most of the council looked suspiciously at his claims but ultimately Malef vouched for him, and they begrudgingly accepted his help.

To make good on his web of deception, John had to get in contact with the REAL Daudhir. They hurried away to the wastelands, where Daudhir’s raiders were known to operate, and blasted through rival renegades on a collision course with the young dragon. John revealed his true identity to Daudhir, a levelheaded and ambitious outsider who’d yet to cast his lot with the Ulhar. He agreed to help the Dragon overthrow Jimbidakimbatuul, whose insolent advances on his mother and hunger for her territory infuriated the son. John laid out a plan to Daudhir that would end with the failure of the Ulhar coalition, but at everyone’s expense except Malef and his own.

Having forged the first links of an actual alliance with the blue dragon overlords, John left—once again, in a hurry—to thwart the first stage of the Council’s plan—the corruption of the Exarch Patriarch.

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Synopsis Part 9
DraGun--Knights and Nobles

A border town ruled by the Voskii Principality was beset by ruthless Ulhar raiders—the merciless Throden-Kothar, adherents of Tiamat, led by Dartak the Terrible. John and Haura moved to intervene, battling massive dragonspawn in the streets of the city. As the battle raged, an unseen sniper laid down heavy fire on the Ulhar. Dropships roared over the hills, and a Red Cross Knight Mecha joined the fight. Between John, Haura and the Knights, Dartak was captured and the Ulhar raiders thrown into disarray.

With Dartak in custody, John met with the field commander of the Knights, Athanius Voski, and their technical expert, Manda. A guerilla faction comprised of idealist from all the human nations, the Knights swore an oath to protect humanity from draconic oppression and to help the needy wherever they were found. John sensed a strange magic around them, the presence of the divine. He brokered a truce between the Knights and the untrusting Voskii, giving the former Dartak and the latter his technology. John also convinced Athanius to arrange a meeting with Gilwargis in the future. Manda, sympathetic to John’s cause, upgraded his 20th century smartphone with sophisticated technology and provided him with a direct line to contact her in the future. She also equipped Haura with two powerful firearms, ideal for John to continue teaching her his unique brand of gunmagic.

Acting on a tip that someone in Voskii society was open to forging a multi-faction alliance, John gained access to the heavily fortified Voskii capital. A society ruled by psionic aristocrats, the Voskii believed in humanity’s transcendence and the glory of heroes. Though the world without was wracked by war, the capital was a thing of beauty and sophisticated technology. There, the Vignar struck again, through insidious and bizarre magic. They subverted the capital’s security system and cast a powerful curse on John through the cameras themselves. John was dying, and Voskii security forces were moving in to apprehend him—even as Vignar assassins closed to finish him off. Haura took matters into her own hands, seizing John and escorting him to safety while returning fire against anyone who stood in her path.

Delirious and in pain, John clutched the Red Kiss that dangled around his neck, and reached out with its sadistic power. The Gift of Vengeance gathered all the malevolence of the Vignar curse and sent it back sevenfold. At the other end of that thread of power he saw Ichero, the Vignar techmage, thrash and die by his own dark magic.

After making good their escape and recovering his health, John and Haura together made contact with Kazimiir Voski. Brother to Prince Voskii himself, Kazimiir held the secret but politically unpopular view that it would be more productive to unite with the Coalition and Exarchate against the Ulhar, rather than conquer the other human factions. He invited John to the opera, a portrayal of the founding of House Voskii after the Dragons burst into DraGun, and there he asked John, as an outsider, to be his envoy and try to forge the alliance. John warned him this would mean collaborating with the Red Cross Knights as well—the only faction Kazimiir hated, for his own son, Athanius, had left his position in society to take up arms as a Knight. Kazimiir told John that a coalition commander, Konstantina, was potentially sympathetic, and that she had intel on an Ulhar offensive that would threaten all humanity. John and Haura left to seek out the intel and determine what the Ulhar were planning.

Outside the city, the Vignar struck again, sending kill teams to eradicate John, Garrit and Haura. They evaded their would-be killers with Garrit’s superior driving skills and vanished into the rocky badlands on their way to Coalition territory.

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Synopsis Part 8
DraGun--Renegades and Assassins

When they entered the gate, John felt the familiar tug of the Astral Plane, hurtling them along a portal conduit to another world. It wasn’t quite the feeling of a magical portal, but similar. For a brief moment the conduit wound past one of the Infernal Gates, and John saw Anamnes’ surprised face. Then it was over, and Haura and John were hurled face-first onto a metal floor.

Their surroundings were dark, rusted, radioactive and partially collapsed. John quickly determined the technology in this facility was far more advanced than earth’s, yet the place was old, very old. As soon as they arrived the portal collapsed in a hail of sparks. There was no going back.

Haura and John cautiously explored the facility, seeking an exit, and learned they were not alone—a group of scavengers wearing hazard gear and communicating via radios were attempting to plunder the area. John got the jump on and aggressively subdued one, killing the other as a demonstration. The terrified survivor, Garrit, led John to the surface. There, a war-blasted wasteland smoldered, and a chaotic battle between armed soldiers, mechas, and lizard-riding troopers raged. John and Haura had arrived in a world they came to call DraGun.

They forced Garrit to lead them to his vehicle and fled the multi-sided battle into the wasteland. John grilled the renegade scum for information about the world. He swiftly learned that the humans of the land lived in fear of the Ulhar, terrible inhuman overlords—Blue Dragons. They were the same dragons that had left Ashen millenia ago, yet here only two centuries had passed. John realized with dismay that a temporal differential between this world and the Pyre could mean that all his friends in that world would be long dead if he ever returned, and he could never let them know what’d become of them, or see them again.

Shaking aside the dismay, they came to an outlying settlement under Ulhar control. With magic learned from the Rift Guardians John impersonated an Ulhar Dragon in human form. He learned that the Ulhar were opposed by several human nations—the Exarchs, Voskii and Coalition, along with the mysterious Red Cross Knights. Hearing tales of the Knights defiance and humanitarian efforts, he decided to seek out their legendary leader, Giwargis, in hope that it might lead to a way home. But as he tricked the local governor into giving him access to their records, shadow-cloaked assassins burst in, slaughtering the local ruler and making an attempt on John’s life as well. They wielded the magic of shadows as well as sophisticated stealth and weapons technology. This was John’s first brush with the dreaded Vignar, cultists of the Night Dragon.

Pressed into action, John and Haura fled the city and laid a trap for the Vignar, challenging them to meet him there. Well beforehand, John prepared the site with countless runes. At the time of the meeting an unseen Vignar aircraft fired a sophisticated holoprobe into the ground. The image of a masked figure calling itself Ichero manifested. A techmage in the service of the Vignar, Ichero revealed that his masters knew John’s real name, and that he was not, as he claimed, a rebellious Ulhar scion. Soon he realized that when he entered Haura’s dream to find the Chronepsis Rift, the Night Dragon had looked back through that dream and perceived him. The Necromancer lurking in the city depths back on earth was a favored servant of Falazure, whose gaze was not bound to one world. Now John had an enemy who could follow him no matter how far he fled.
Given the gravity of the situation, there was only one appropriate response—kill every last assassin sent to dispatch him, steal the holoprobe, and flee. They followed their only lead—the Red Cross Knights had been seen moving towards Voskii territory. As they went into the wilderness, John spent his time browbeating the scurrilous Garrit and training Haura. Her innate magic was powerful, befitting of a dragon, but her formal knowledge had plenty of room to grow. John also feared the day that she regained her memory—he felt that day would come or he would be forced to tear back the lies and unleash the dragon in a moment of desperation. He determined to try to be her friend and companion, not just to use her like a tool.

And night after night, as they traveled across the waste, horrific nightmares wracked his sleep. John drew up wards and turned all his dream-lore learned from Medwethyn Lithdiir to protect himself—sometimes it worked, sometimes he could not hold back the curse of the night twist.

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