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The moon is dead. - Various



Date Uncertain

    A scream broke the hum of the city night. Trent turned on the light and sat up as the scream turned into a chant.
    "The moon is dead the moon is dead the moon is dead...."
    "Oh, this can't be good," he sighed. All seven feet of Emily (plus wings) was thrashing wildly in the bed; he restrained her telekinetically. A brief moment of psychic contact later and he repeated, "Definitely not good." He picked up the phone, dialed.
    "I'm sorry, those circuits are dead," the computer informed him.
    "This is getting worse every minute." He got up, put on a robe, and dialed another number. "Steel, we have problems. Yeah, that's Emily chanting in the background.... I don't want to hear it right now. Something happened to Boston. No, no, not in Boston, to Boston. Just get over here as soon as you can."
    California, a private sanitarium outside Los Angeles
    A gaunt-faced man in a straitjacket was chanting, "The moon is dead, the moon is dead." From the scars, it appeared that some time in the past he had gouged his own eyes out.
    "He's at it again," a staff member observed, sliding the observation panel in the door open. "You know what that means, dial the number."
    A second man dialed. "We're having another incident. No, he's chanting 'The moon is dead.' I don't know. A few minutes. Okay. Thank you." He hung up.
    A voice behind him said, "What seems to be the problem?"
    The orderly spun around and found Apollyon standing behind him. "He's--"
    "Yes. Hang on a moment." Pause. "Thank you. It seems something has happened to Boston. Your assistance has been appreciated." He disappeared through the floor.
    "Why did we end up with this guy?" the shaken orderly asked his companion.
    "Do you know where the funding for this facility comes from?"
    "I assumed it was from the state...."
    "No. It's from 'this guy.'" He nodded at the door and the chanting man behind it.
    "Oh. Extra pudding for him."
    A screen lit up a dark room with the flashing red word ALERT.
    "Lights, on," Survivor snapped, striding into the room. After a rapid assessment of the situation he hit the all-call. "Everybody, get up."
    "Why? What on earth is the problem?" a groggy voice wanted to know.
    "I know you were at a photo shoot until two in the morning. I don't want to know what you were doing at a photo shoot until two in the morning. I don't care. New England has vanished. The satellite photo is showing nothing but a gigantic grey dome. Hurry up!"
    The Pentagon
    "I suggest we call in a bomb strike!"
    "I don't think that's quite called for yet, sir, we don't have enough information."
    "What sort of information?"
    "Like whether or not the bomb would just detonate on the outside of the dome and kill all our men."
    "Oh. Get that information! Do we know what happened?"
    "This just... appeared, about four hours ago."
    "Oh. Who do we have inside the dome?"
    "Well, there are some UNEarth members that were stationed in New York...."
    "We can't trust them."
    "Understood. However--"
    "What about Ground Zero?"
    "They're all dead, sir."
    "Didn't we have some replacement Ground Zero program?"
    "There are a few of them."
    "Well, contact them!"
    "They're inside the dome. We have no idea what's going on in there."
    "Where's it centered on?"
    "Oh." He looked doubtful. "Maybe they can handle it."
    Things at the tree had rapidly settled down into something of a routine; every day around sunset the three elvish illusionists set up their phantasm while Gretchen did her check; so far there was no sign she had noticed the deception. We had chased down a number of escaped gnolls.
    "How are things there?" Larry asked during his scheduled check-in through the magical wands some of our allies carry.
    "Quiet now that there are no more gnolls," Scott replied.
    "I'm not sure I want to know; I'll just assume that everything you're doing worked well. We have some information here. Part of the intelligence network that we set up in the Northern Wastes gathered something, and just after they transmitted it were promptly obliterated by some of Gretchen's troops, which leads me to believe that there is a degree of veracity in what they've passed along, since Gretchen went to the extent of killing roughly eighty percent of the community they came from. But apparently there is a worshipper of Sutha who went to ground somewhere up north, within the domains of Lord Fimbulwinter, outside of a town called Ambajejus. She is supposed to have information on an artifact that would in one strike obliterate Gretchen. I don't know whether this is accurate or not, however if even the potential of it exists, you might want to consider looking into it," he said seriously. "They weren't very clear what it was, they said something about an eye. But many Bathans died bringing us this information."
    "Okay, I suppose we will have to head north. Do we have a name on this person who went to ground? A description?"
    "Sutha worshipper. Probably a vampire. The name that we have here is Rajid."
    "We all know that Sutha does not particularly much care for Gretchen or Xyrgoth or anything of the sort. It's entirely possible we might be able to convince them to help. Just remember that Lord Fimbulwinter still has a nonaggression pact in place with Gretchen's forces; they are the strongest and best of allies. I don't buy that," he added, "but...."
    "It's the party line."
    "So if you guys get caught up there, there's a very good chance you'll either just be killed or, and this would be better, shipped back here. There's plenty of time for you to escape if you're shipped back here."
    "Thank you very much."
    "Otherwise, I think we're driving her pretty well nuts here, and I've been doing a creditable job pretending to be Phoenix every once in a while."
    "Tearing people's hearts out and showing them to them before they die?"
    "Well, I can't do that. I have however been working on my angst...."
    "Keep up the good work."
    "She may have realized that not all of you are here. Be careful," Larry warned, and the contact ended.
    "Maine," the golem mused. "Do we have any maps?"
    "Amba-what?" I asked when he'd passed on the information.
    We had been in the north of Gretchen's domain before, but not into Fimbulwinter's lands. Phoenix Talon talked to the commander of the Minotaur's forces at the tree and secured a guide, an oddly-accented dwarf named Septimus who was familiar with the northern region and knew some of the frost giant language. The commander himself seemed to find the three of us scary and didn't ask many questions.
    "What is the end goal of the mission?" the dwarf wanted to know when Talon informed him that he would be coming with us.
    "Gretchen in a box," Scott told him succinctly.
    "And this will help push that forward? I'm your man, then," he avowed.
    We were all recovered from the battle for the tree; after gathering some supplies we set out via Wind Walk for the border of Gretchen's land. Septimus was a little unnerved at first, but he adapted quickly. The landscape passed by at a dizzying pace. Our route led east for a bit, staying within Gretchen's domain where the cover was better. This was until we found that she had quite a few troops on the border of her so-close ally, and we ran the risk of being spotted. We did not want her to know for a fact that we were out of the city; we cut north as quickly as we could to avoid that chance. She might have stationed the pulled-back troops here as a matter of convenience, or she might have something in mind....
    The border was easy to find; first there were trees, then snow-covered trees, beyond which glaciers ruled the earth. Within Fimbulwinter's lands, the wind rose sharply and the snow fell in a nigh-blizzard. Wind Walkers would be ripped to pieces; we were forced to solidify and make our way overland.
    "I can lead you across the tundra. It will not be pleasant, and the journey will take some time," Septimus warned, shielding his eyes as we stared into the teeth of the wind at the waste of mountains and ice before us.
    Nothing for it but to start.
    "We should turn north," he directed a couple of days into the winterlands.
    We turned north. Septimus began sweeping away the tracks we left.
    "What do you think is tracking us?" Talon asked.
    "Nothing is tracking us yet, hopefully nothing will. But there was a covered trail there. Someone's been hunting through here and wanted to make it look like they haven't been. That doesn't make any sense, there's no way to miss frost giant tracks," he muttered.
    "There's other things that live out here," I shrugged.
    "It was very organized, though."
    "Could be yeti," Talon suggested.
    "Gretchen wouldn't possibly be sending troops into her ally's land...." Scott mused.
    "Nah," I agreed with a grin. "Gretchen? That sweet-hearted little old lady?"
    "Do we want to keep moving, or hide and see who this is?" the dwarf asked.
    "How old are they?"
    "Day, day and a half."
    "We'll keep moving," I said.
    We kept going north, turned again to continue on our previous course. This was, of course, much less easy going than the trail we were now avoiding. Self-mortification is fun for Phoenix Talon, but I wasn't enjoying myself--contrary to popular legend, elves are not immune to cold--and even less so as the wind rose even higher and the snow began falling in blinding sheets. We went on until it was obvious that we were wasting our time.


Game Date: 2/8/03. And yes, the title for this one is a reference to the Earthdawn campaign.

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© 2003 Rebecca J. Stevenson