The Legacies of Lyrei, Chapter 53-54

Things heat up in the jungle. Some people are off to Semmont

Chapter 53.

The Base

The buzzing sound of yet another buzzdrone filled the sky as Ornthalus turned to Blackfire and said, “You were right to have us set up the camouflage.”

“Our enemies are capable and determined. If we massed Inanimates and they knew that they were going to be launched, things would be far more interesting here.”

“Is that why you wanted to launch against Ishendell?”

“That was where the things were launched from that caused us difficulties at Lain Othrond. Discomfiting them there means that we won’t be facing surprises here.”

Ornthalus turned to Tannator and said, “How many buzzdrones do you think they have?”

“That is hard to say. They seem to launch them in flights of four, but they could be using more than one ship to launch them.”

“We should send Inanimates to discomfit the navy as well.”

“We will port some to Cleadsgate,” Blackfire said. “We haven’t sent some there as yet. We begin tomorrow.”

 The Junglelands

Tim looked at the base from the edge of the jungle through his binoculars. The squad had managed to evade or hide from the Inanimates through the dead zones and had only used the microportals they had with them twice to clear a path. Now they were on the side of the volcano, overlooking the base and in a position to see what was being prepared. Unfortunately the situation had turned bad, as Jumpers were lined up and were obviously prepping for an operation, soon. The base had a low power suppressor active, so Jumping out and reporting wasn’t an option, the radio had been left behind and the small portal was useless. On the other hand, they had managed to get close to the devise and had placed microportals in convenient spots. Jimmy joined Tim and said, “We can get to the suppressor. The problem is getting out if we blow it. I think that there is more than one. They definitely have two shield generators.”

“Let’s find the other one and rig both of them. They are starting things up soon, so we might be able to do more when they send people off.”

“Ok.”

“Let’s not mess the major up by being stupid. We all go home or mom won’t let us hear the end of this.”

“Nor will Mrs. Tollings.”

“Good point.”

Jorge looked at the jungle at the edge of the dead zone, turned to Captain Dillings and said, “You got us in. Now we just have to get us around the mountain.”

“They were calling Inanimates out of the zones here.”

“I know. I think that the landing on the coast attracted their attention.”

The major turned to Flytrap and said, “Having local cooperation makes getting to where we need to be much easier.”

Flytrap looked at the column of marines and grinned. “So does big soldiers. Where did you find all the giants?”

“Would you believe that the enemy made the enhanced. Then they handed them to us.”

“There is a tale there.”

Major Steelaxe grinned. “I will share it when this is over.”

The Base

Ornthalus turned to Arafiel and said, “Send the compelled through the portal.”

Arafiel waved and the compelled, backs hunched with their loads entered the portal. The noise of Jumpers entering Jump could be heard in the background as the rest of the operation got under way. Blackfire said, “We are committed at last. I hope that we can win this.”

“We will.”

“I need to start the Inanimates.”

The Lower City

The slave moved unnoticed through the crowds toward the Mana Service as the Lower city looked forward to another day in the Conclave. Reaching the service entrance, the slave entered the Mana Service and walked through the almost empty offices and down to the control room. Just outside, the slave pulled a cord attached to the thing on his back. Thousandths later, the Mana Service office was converted to rubble.

Nebula looked at Hal as windows rattled and the rising cloud could be seen in the distance. “Lock things down and pull the guns. Nothing gets in here.”

“What did that?”

“I don’t know, but we don’t want it happening here.”

As Hal set up a guard, a figure could be seen approaching. Hal fired over the figure’s head and there was suddenly an explosion. The fact that the guard posts and walls had been reinforced after the Darkmage’s takeover saved the guard post and the Portal service from the blast.

The operators at the Lower City Central Telegraph office were looking at the two smoke clouds when the slave entered the office and pulled his cord. The office and the operators were obliterated instantly.

Ilythe was at the kiosk near the Residence, taking what would be her last duty before her wedding when she sensed the figure walking across the park. The slave felt Silverin and must have felt the resonance, as he turned and screamed, “Kill me mistress!”

“What?”

“I am compelled. Kill me or I will carry out my mission. Do it, NOW!”

Ilythe pulled a carbine off the rack, worked the bolt and fired. The figure fell.

She walked over and could see the slave’s load of a mana battery and the cord. The dying slave said, “Thank you, mistress. You have let me win this battle.”

“Who are you?”

“You are Silverin. Avenge me.”

The slave died as Lower City guards arrived.

The Imperial army barracks had been on alert and the guard posts manned because a strike had been expected. The astonished guards looked at the rising clouds from the explosions and the sergeant looked at the approaching slave. Since the slave was not familiar, he called out, “Stop!”

The slave pulled a cord and the guard post and part of the wall disappeared. The barracks and army headquarters only had some broken windows. The blast knocked General Grevaris off his chair. He got up and was looking through the shattered window as Captain Thenelis came into the office. “Sir, there was an explosion outside the guard post. There have been other explosions throughout the city, probably at the Portal Service, the telegraph office, the Residence and maybe the Mana Service.”

“Somebody was trying to essentially decapitate the Empire. The lights are out.”

“If the Mana Service was destroyed, we can expect that.”

The lights came back on. “Somebody was on top of that. Get some people out and find out just how bad things are.”

“They didn’t do this the last time.”

“We learned things and so did they.” 

Imperial way

The parade was in full swing with the landdragons leading as the folk on the side of the street cheered. Suddenly Inanimates appeared, right in front of the landdragons. Harry looked at the other landdragons and bellowed, “Stomp them!”

The landdragons charged into the emerging mass, crushing it. Seeing what was happening the flameriders roared up to flank the landdragons as the two Qinvaris combines used their mass and cutting heads to block the street as the guard and high guard cleared the street. With the flameriders keeping the Inanimates from the sides of the street, the landdragons broke off the charge and retreated to the edge of the street as the combines reversed slowly to give the mounted Projectors a clear field of fire as the high guard cleared the civilians. The Projectors cleared, they opened fire on the Inanimates, turning them to dust.

Mhaenal turned to Delseran from his post at the top of the stairs to the palace and said, “They didn’t assault the palace. At least not with real troops.”

“Should I pull the Seats?”

“Get them to the park portals, but let’s see how things go.”

The emperor joined them and said, “This doesn’t look as if it is a serious assault yet.”

“We were just talking about that, your majesty. So far, it hasn’t been.”

Nebula appeared  and said, “Mhaenal, the Mana service, the telegraph office, the army, the Portal Service and the Residence all had attacks by suicide bombers. The Mana Service and the telegraph office were destroyed, the Portal Service and the army were only lightly damaged and Ilythe stopped the bomber at the Residence.”

“Why was she in a position where she needed to do that?”

“Your majesty, you can talk to the Justiciar about that. I’m just delivering the report for my boss.”

“What can you tell me about the suicide bombers?” Mhaenal asked.

“So far, they have all been slaves. At least all the bombers witnessed were dressed as slaves. The Lower City Guard only has one body, since the others were all destroyed. The bomber that Ilythe killed was compelled, but was able to free himself briefly. That was the body recovered. I need to go. Most of the portals are down, and the rest are running on battery.”

Richard walked up and said, “The park portal has a mana battery. I can have people here if you need them.”

Narbeth looked at the disintegrating mass of Inanimates and said, “I think that we are fine here. The Lower City may need assistance.”

“Ok, I will send somebody to the granary and send people from there. At least they haven’t started suppressors yet.”

“I imagine that they are coming.” 

The Base

The Inanimates for the South Republic, mostly animals with the Blight launchers attached were assembled and launched. More Inanimates were prepared and launched at places in the Republic and the Fellowship. Suddenly, the portals went dead. Ornthalus turned to the technicians at the portal control and said, “What happened?”

“We were shut down from a master panel. We’re working around it, but it’s going to take a day, because the code was wiped from the panel.”

“Who did that?”

“The Portal Service,” Blackfire said. “They have access to Ishendell and the ancient portal facility. If they are operating there, that would explain some things. We need mana control.”

Semmont

Jilly turned to Mardi and said, “What’s that noise?”

“I don’t know. What are those things?”

Frally appeared from Jump and said, “We need to Jump to the capital. Some enhanced and other types just took over the Rock and the city gates. We are the last here, since we sent the others with the paper away. So we can leave and tell the queen.”

“Did they use portals?” Mardi asked.

“They came in some sort of strange floating wagons that can Jump. Sister, we need to go.”

They Jumped away to the capital.

Arafiel looked at the control room and grinned. Staff were already starting things up and the mana taps were all responding, those that were keyed to the Mana Service. There was enough mana to go easily to phase two. He looked at the panel and said, “Why are the Lower City and the rest still connected?”

“They are receiving mana from the estate, milord. The panel can’t change or cut the connection from here.”

“So the cities were not shut down. Where is the mana coming from?”

“I don’t know. It may be a dedicated tap or some artificial source.”

Arafiel looked at the power levels. The estate had taken most of the mana load for the entire Empire. That was not good. The Project had anticipated turmoil in the cities when the power died. On the other hand, the power was something that Project could potentially use. Arafiel left the facility and went to his Jumper. The suppressor, Animator and shield generators were being unloaded from Jumpers and being prepared. At least this part of the operation was going well. Unloaded, the transport Jumper lifted and returned to Jump.

The Umevan Estate

The Jumpers emerged from Jump and enhanced soldiers dropped out at the toll gate, the castle and the guard post, only to discover them empty. Moving forward, the soldiers only found servants at their tasks. The major points secured, the major in charge of the assault signaled the all clear. Mórsairon and Dúhael emerged from their Jumper and the major said, “The estate is secure, milords.”

“Prisoners?”

“Just the staff, sir.”

Mórsairon looked around and said, “Where are the children?”

“What?” Dúhael said.

“There should be children here. For that matter, where are most of the people?”

“I want to find that traitor, Nat.”

“Let us look for him and some others.”

While the operating staff for the dam and the transmuter were at the estate, there was no trace of Nat other than the empty shop, office and house. Mórsairon and Dúhael lined up the staff and Dúhael said, “There are some missing people. Where are they?”

“If you are talking about some engineers, they went to Ironton after they finished here,” the slave that was in charge of the operators said.

“Finished what?” Mórsairon asked as his brother began to have an angry expression.”

“Two mana converter devises. We got them operating and are running them.”

“Show me,” Dúhael snarled.

“What are you styled, slave,” Mórsairon said.

“I am Stadlee. I am in charge of the operation of the various things at the estate.”

“Then you know Nat?”

“As I said, he went to the Republic with the others to continue the work that he was doing.”

A Jumper appeared in the sky and landed. Arafiel got out and said, “Things seem to have gone well here. At least we gained control here with no undo difficulties.”

“Why are you here?” Dúhael asked.

“We took control at Semmont and there were some large mana sources here that we could not control from the panel. I wanted to get them locked down before things went much further.”

“This slave is responsible for operations. Perhaps he can tell us what they are.”

Stadlee looked at Dúhael and said, “Milord, you have already stolen the devise once. I can show you where it is. Unfortunately that will not do you any good. The devise and another one are in a chamber that is locked for radiation safety reasons and will not unlock as long as the devise is operating.”

“Harald’s devise is operable?” Arafiel said. He turned to Mórsairon and Dúhael and said, “You said that the devise had failed at some point.”

Dúhael frowned. “The devise we had had failed at some point. On the other hand, there was more than one here. Slave, take us to the devise.”

“It will not do you much good, master. Follow me.”

Stadlee led the three and a pair of guards past the transmuter to the bunker where the two fusors were operating. They entered and Stadlee pointed at the panel. “You can see that the devise is operating. The space is locked until the devise is shut down.”

“Can you do that from the panel?” Arafiel asked.

“The devise is controlled from a tablet. We would have to shut it down from the tablet.”

“Where is the tablet?”

“I don’t know. The Lord put it someplace before going to the Conclave.”

“Can you change Mana assignments?”

“Not from here. I can from the bunker, but the Lord locked that as well.”

“Is the tablet in the bunker?”

“I don’t know. It could be. In any case, the bunker is locked.”

“What is the status of the transmuter?” Dúhael asked.

“Operating at full power.”

“Can you change fuel rods?”

“Master, I can do that, but if you are looking for Plutonium, don’t bother. The rods are poisoned. The Plutonium is all nonfissile by now.”

“That was deliberate. Where is Lord Umevan?”

“He was attending the Conclave.”

“Jorge Umevan?”

“I do not know where he is. He was in the Republic when the last report was sent around, but he could be someplace else.”

Py watched the three emerge with Stadlee and sighed. He was on top of the dam and had a nice easy shot. Unfortunately, his grandfather had ordered Py to let them begin to discover certain things. The three got in the Jumper, it lifted off and entered Jump. Py turned to the sergeant and said, “They didn’t look happy.”

“No they did not, milord. They thought that they would be able to march in and take over. They did march in, but taking over wasn’t that easy. I like how your grandfather does things.”

“Handing them what they want, but not how they want it?”

“That, and getting our families out.”

“That’s the House and company policy. It has been for a very long time. Of course, if they do take family or staff hostage, they won’t like what we will do by the time we are done.”

“They should have learned that after they took young Tad.”

“Yes they should.”

Noxbury

Geral Ironaxe turned to Thaetmaeg and said, “That doesn’t look good.”

“It isn’t. At least we have planes in the air and flame thrower and ammonia teams. You and your people have been a big help getting us going.”

“If we lose the grain here, a lot of ranchers are looking at being short when the cold starts. Where did you get the information on how to handle this?”

“My son,” Dan said. “I’m glad I came down for this. Richard was worried that they would do this here and after Luggergate, that could have been serious.”

“How did your son know how to handle this?”

“He had to in the Empire. He managed to beat the Blight there, but it was close in Astaire.”

“Why is your son in the Empire?”

“Paeris grabbed him and took him there. I think that if Richard had known who was there, waiting for him, he would have just boarded the boat and let Paeris take him. It all ended well.”

“That sounds like a story.”

“He found a wonderful lady and job big enough to make the dark things disappear. He was a remarkable surprise when we found him.”    
The Cloud City

General Grevaris joined the Emperor and Kelvahn in the palace and said, “I have troops with Projectors at key places, your majesty.”

“How did you get set up so fast? The portals are still down.”

“The Qinvaris’s new truck manager, Alinar Harper and Roger Bloodoot came to headquarters and coordinated. The Qinvaris had used Projectors against Inanimates in Vestia, so they could get Projectors set up very fast. The Qinvaris had set up at the old granary and were on the ball as things started. We’ve been telling people to stay inside. So far, the Inanimate incursions haven’t been that large.”

“They are just showing that they can, and keeping us occupied,” Kelvahn said. “General, keep this discreet, but we have an emergence scanner. I’ll tell Alen to coordinate with you.”

“We were lucky in the beginning, but this smells of a distraction and we want any more of those bombers very fast.”

Hagre looked at the mass of animals, dead orcs and fae that had emerged in the street and rang a bell. A fae boy appeared and Hagre said, “Tell Harrion or Tolith that we have an Inanimate incursion on the street, if you would, Firespear.”

“Yes Hagre.” The fae looked at the mass and added. “I’ll tell him to use the big Projectors.”

The fae disappeared as Hagre opened small cabinet and pulled out a hand Projector. Loading a mana battery, he opened fire. Members of the House guard joined him and the fire took chunks out of the mass. It still moved down the street. The heavy Projectors the House had discreetly emplaced long ago opened up and the Inanimate incursion started to disappear, turned to dust. Harrion joined Hagre and the others and said, “These are weak. They are starting to fall apart already.”

“They may have been animated for a very long time.”

It was a long ride to House Umevan from the Conclave, but Naertho enjoyed seeing the city of his youth. He had taken the House and while he had intended to hand it over to Jorge and Shael as a wedding present, the House would be useful as a headquarters since the portals were down and the enemy had presumably taken the estate. Reaching the House, the major domo handed him a message. “This came through the small portal for you, milord.”

Naertho looked at the message and grinned. The enemy was not happy with what they found.

Neuw Athlin

Joram was at his desk going through some things for the queen when Jilly and Mardi charged into his office. He smiled and said. “What can I do for you, ladies?”

“The dark has taken Semmont,” Jilly said.

“Who has done what?”

“Some soldiers came in strange machines and occupied Semmont. They went into the Rock and have taken the gates.”

“That seems strange. What is there?”

“Only the ancient Mana Service.”

“Why don’t we talk to Duc Geral and set up a guard around the city? We can look for Inanimates that will be sent out into the countryside.”

“I think that I need to speak with Tim,” Mardi said. “I’ll send a wire to Astia.”

The Junglelands

Jorge looked at the message and cursed. Then he looked at Tigerlilly, who had delivered the message and said, “Sorry about that, Tigerlilly.”

“The message was bad, wasn’t it?”

“The people under the mountain have started things. There is no communication from the Empire and apparently they have taken Semmont in the Mortal Kingdoms.”

“You are almost there.”

“I know, but they may have things to stop me. Thank you for delivering this.”

“You will win.”

“I hope so.”
The Base

Ornthalus was waiting as the Jumpers returned and Arafiel, Mórsairon and Dúhael walked across the landing stage. “How do things proceed?”
Arafiel looked at the other two and said, “We have most of the objectives. The Mana Service was destroyed, or at least shut down. The controls at the estate were locked, but they have two of Harald’s devises operating.”

“Two?!”

“We knew of them,” Mórsairon said. “Neither devise was operational when they were seen. Dúhael examined one of them closely, but we were not able to maintain hold of it and it was apparently taken to the estate.”

“So they can repair or fabricate the devises. Did you secure the people who performed that task?”

“Nat and any others that were probably involved were transferred,” Dúhael snarled. “The old elf wanted them someplace.”

“At least we can retrieve the two that do operate.”

“We cannot, at least not without shutting them down, and that won’t happen without the control tablet. The staff did not know where it is and it may be secured in a bunker that the old elf left locked.”

“Who is the old elf?”

“Naertho Umevan,” Mórsairon replied with a bit of a grimace. “He was exiled and built the electrical business in the Republic and just about everywhere else.”

“Where is he?”

“The staff at the estate said that he was at the Conclave.”

“So he is either in the Lower City or the old House. Have Ilyana ask Lady Petris if she can find out where he is.”

Tim was glad that the enemy hadn’t raised a shield as yet. He took some more pictures, returned to the squad and the squad started around the mountain. They were going to launch a balloon in the morning.

Chapter 54.

Astia

Dreddie was nursing a tankard in a tavern when Toral sat down across from him. “You don’t seem happy, Dreddie.”

“The Church hasn’t staked that mage I handed them.”

“There are reasons and I’m telling you to drop it.”

“We have a mage and a spy in the city and you don’t care?”

“He’s from the Republic, a navy officer and has diplomatic immunity. If they want to test navy officers at the Mage Academy, that’s apparently what they are going to do.”

“Why is he here, then?”

“I wasn’t told. Apparently Father Dalton is speaking with him and there is something going on.”

“Father Dalton, the Church’s spymaster?”

“I wouldn’t say that too loud. You might end up hurt.”

“There’s something going on.”

“There may be, but it doesn’t involve you and you don’t want to be involved. Leave the lieutenant alone and don’t worry about it.”

“He’s a mage.”

“He also has diplomatic immunity and things would get nasty for you if you annoy my uncle.”

“Your uncle has been enthralled by the witch.”

Toral laughed. “Is that what this is about? You are still hurt that Sarya beat you up, aren’t you? That’s pathetic.”

“She hasn’t beaten you up.”

“I didn’t try to get my cousin’s future bride hauled off to the stake.”
“She is a witch.”

“That’s another thing I wouldn’t go saying too loud.”

“She will come after me again?”

“No, but just about everyone in the city likes Sarya. They might get offended if you mouth off about her. I need to go.”

Dreddie looked and Toral’s father was at the door with Father Dalton and the lieutenant.

Tim looked at Dreddie, turned to the other two and said, “Coming here was a mistake.”

“Because of the young lord?” Dalton asked.

“Yes. He doesn’t like me.”

“He was annoyed that you didn’t end up on a stake,” Duke D’ Argent said with a grin.

Toral joined them and said, “What is it?”

“I want you to go to Neuw Athlin with the lieutenant, Toral. Semmont was taken over by the Project. There have been other assaults and Inanimate incursions.”

“I’ll go, father. I doubt that there is much here for me.”

They left the tavern and Duke D’Argent said, “The lieutenant showed the Father and then me the messages he received this morning. The first was from the Countess of Semmont, who was apparently what they call an Animal in Lain Othrond. The Project has apparently taken over the city and fortified themselves in an ancient Imperial facility under a hill called the Rock. There have been assaults on various places in the Empire and Southern Republic, where there was an attempt to spread the Blight using Inanimates.”

“Bad news all around, then. I take it that you want me to be a conduit and hand you and the Father what I discover.”

“The Project probably has people in the kingdom, but they have not exposed themselves. I want to have some warning that they are going to take action.”

“I will try to get that for you. Lieutenant, Dreddie is rather annoyed that you did not end up on a stake.”

“He doesn’t like me for some reason. I think it was a mistake to let the captain drag me to the Mage Academy.”

“Can you tell me why he would do such a thing?”

“He wanted a vault opened and guessed that I could if I was tested. Since I had all the clearances and am a member of the Old Families, getting me tested worked out for him. That way he didn’t have to deal with most of the contents of the vault.”

“What did you do with the contents of the vault?”

“Told my mother that I was busy in the navy and that I couldn’t deal with it. She took over and since the museums and so forth have a lot of recent ancient Imperial finds, handed the stuff to family members and some others.”

“So the junk was spread around.”

“I wasn’t going to have time to be involved and a museum was work. So she handed the stuff out.”

“How did you meet the countess?”

“That’s a bit of a story and can wait until we get on the train.”

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